The kitchen is probably the most important room of your household. It’s where the food that sustains your family is prepared, cooked and stored on a daily basis. An ideal kitchen should therefore be a place of cleanliness. It should also be visually appealing and contain useful appliances that make preparing and cooking food, as well as cleaning up afterwards easy. Last but not least, it should be energy efficient – not only will this help the environment, it will reduce your electricity bills. Here are some quick tips on choosing the right appliances to help you create your ideal kitchen.
The first step in buying an ideal oven involves choosing between a freestanding cooker or cooktop/wall oven. A freestanding cooker is an all-in-one unit with the hotplates on top and the oven underneath. The biggest advantage of a freestanding cooker is that you don't have to buy a cupboard to mount it in, which makes them easier to install.
A cooktop/wall oven has the hotplate mounted to a kitchen bench, with the oven installed in a nearby wall or cupboard. Cooktop/wall ovens allow the kitchen to have uninterrupted bench space for an attractive integrated design, and can also be a great space-saving solution. A wall oven also eliminates the need to constantly lean down, as they are generally installed at waist height. This also keeps them out of reach of toddlers and small children.
The most common width for cooktops and ovens is between 600mm and 900mm. A 900mm oven will generally have five or six hotplates, along with optional extras like wok burners, BBQ grills and even separate oven compartments. The increased width of the oven also means you can fit more inside, which is great if you regularly cook large meals for friends or family. If you live alone or have a small kitchen, you may want to consider a miniature 300-360mm bench-mounted cooktop instead.
Cooktops come in a variety of designs, including different hotplate types. Gas cooktops have burners with a safety gas cut-off should the flame go out. Electric cooktops have metal or ceramic hotplates, or an induction-cooking surface. Metal hotplates provide the most cost-effective cooktop choice. Ceramic hotplates have a glass-ceramic surface with the heating elements under the glass surface. This makes them easier to wipe down and keep clean.
There are also self-cleaning ovens available that have special internal liners on which fat and food particles lodge themselves. To clean the oven, you simply run the empty oven on a very high temperature after cooking and these particles burn off. As expected, a self-cleaning oven is generally more expensive.
Appearance is another important consideration – consider purchasing an oven that matches the overall style of your kitchen (e.g., if your fridge and dishwasher have a stainless-steel finish, it may makes sense to go for a similar finish on your oven).
Other features to look out for include separate grill compartments, dual-fuel (gas and electric) hotplate spacing and door glazing (for reduced outside heat).