Remodeling an existing kitchen is much easier than starting from scratch, says Jan Cooper, a home economist who specializes in advising on appliances.
That's because you already know your work patterns. Furthermore, you generally know exactly where the current kitchen falls short.
If you are planning a kitchen renovation or starting from scratch with a new kitchen, Cooper, consumer education manager for Maytag Co., has a few tips to help you get the kitchen you want.
First of all, she suggested, take the time to find out about all the options available in appliances and cabinetry. This can be done by reading current publications on kitchen design and visiting a variety of kitchen specialty outlets to compare what is available in your area. You can also use as a comparison the appliances and cabinets offered by the large national chain retailers.
Some Like Gadgets
Many consumers have the same basic requirements for their appliances. These include, in order, appliances that will last a long time, require few service calls and, finally, appliances with special features for convenience. Easy cleaning, for example, is a feature that appears to be almost universally desired, she said.
Gadgets may be attractive to some consumers, but others eschew them. One group takes the attitude that simpler is better because there is less to go wrong. The other type of shopper is attracted to the latest features, even though they may raise the price and may not contribute substantially to the appliance's overall usefulness.
Nowadays, the appliance most likely to be added to an existing kitchen is a microwave oven. Industry figures show microwaves are the fastest growing kitchen appliance in terms of sales. Currently, about 39% of American households are equipped with a microwave, and if sales increases continue at the current rate, 64% of American homes will have them by 1990.
Since most kitchens don't have a special place for this relatively new appliance, finding an appropriate spot is often a poser. There is no single best place for the oven since its placement depends on what use a family makes of it.
Some families use it to defrost foods and warm up leftovers; others have integrated the microwave into family meal preparation. If the unit is used primarily by the cook for family meals, it should be located within the work triangle of stove, refrigerator and sink. But if other family members are most likely to use it, it should be placed out of the primary cook's path.
Ideally, the microwave's cooking shelf should be no higher than the user's shoulder. A location between 2 inches below and 10 inches above elbow height is considered ideal.
Several locations suggested both by Cooper and in "The Handbook of Good Cooking," a paperback recently released by Maytag, include: recessing the oven into a wall; dedicating an existing kitchen cabinet to it and refitting the cabinet, or installing the oven on the countertop but recessing it several inches into the wall.
Using a counter top for the oven is one of the least agreeable solutions because it means giving up what is usually sorely-needed working space. However, by recessing it (if feasible), the cook gains the use of the front of the counter top and the unit looks less bulky and clumsy.
Another possibility if you are considering a new stove is to purchase one with two ovens--a conventional oven below and a microwave above. The units are available in gas and electric models.
Which Oven to Use?
The presence of more than one major appliance for cooking has raised a new question in the kitchen, says Cooper:
Which is the best appliance to cook a particular recipe? Often, the best is a combination of several different cooking methods for a single dish, she said. For example, a cream pie with a meringue topping may best be prepared by browning the crust in a conventional oven and making the cream filling in the microwave oven, thus eliminating the need for constant stirring, and browning the meringue under a hot broiler for a minute or two.
(The Maytag "Handbook of Good Cooking" will be used by Maytag dealers for promotional purposes. In addition, consumers may order the book for a fee directly from the company. Write Maytag Consumer Information Center, Dept. 8PR, Newton, Iowa 50208.)