Honest opinions about how to buy Appliances and Lighting.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Return of The Yale Card

The Yale Card used to be a primary payment option until 2-3 years ago. Then in 2007-2008, the market for financing crashed, but now like all things cyclical, financing has returned in a completely different form.

Gone are the 12 month 0% deals with payment at the end. In their place are 6 month (and the occasional 12 month plan) with 0% interest and monthly payments. Question is:

Should you finance?

My answer is maybe. There are credit card rewards. Unfortunately, points you redeem are for artificially high priced items. For bigger ticket items, financing may be a good option.

Lets say you buy a kitchen of appliances and are not ready for delivery. If you finance, you only start paying upon delivery, and then it is only monthly payments. In other words, with financing you schedule a delivery 4 months from now, you start paying in month 5......but only 1/6 of the actual purchase.

I do not expect financing to be as huge as it was in the past (that is a good thing). However, if used properly, it is a good tool for consumers to manage their cash flow.

The Trap Door

You have to check out this wine storage system.....It is so cool.

For most of us a spiral staircase full of wine may not be practical. When buying a wine unit, insure it addresses light, vibration, humidity and temperature. Any deviation of these factors will alter the taste of the wine itself.

The full description on the Spiral Cellar can be found at Thekitchn.com Spiral Wine Cellars

Monday, November 29, 2010

What's Hot

Had a sales training today, and the rep emphasized the output of his ranges burners.....So I started thinking.....what is the hottest?

As a reference, average burner BTU is 12,000

Answers as follows:

Capital Range - Their 30 inch range has a 25,000 BTU burner.

JennAir - Their units have 2 20,000 BTU burners.

Viking - Their 30 and 36 inch sealed burner stoves have 18,000 BTU.

Wolf - Their non sealed burners are 16,000 BTU.

Of course any induction will be hotter than any gas unit...

Friday, November 26, 2010

Black Friday

Enjoying Black Friday?

Everyone now has a Black Friday special almost without exception. Even Yale has a $199 dishwasher. Understanding what you exactly want to buy is the key to saving on this insane day

Lowes, Home Depot, Sears, Best Buy and Yale all have something....figure out which "something" is best for you and then buy it

In other words be loyal to the products not to the stores. You will save money, aggravation and time

What Happened

You don't want me in your house. I will subconsciously look at all your appliances, lighting, plumbing, tiling and your decorative style.

I was over my friend Jane's house yesterday. Loved her house. She wants to remodel her kitchen, but she actually renovated it well in the early 80s. I will always tell clients amd friends to spend money wisely, and keep what is still relevant and likeable.

Her appliances were interesting more as a cautionary tale for even the best brands...Have a peek.


In the early 80s, for upscale appliances, your choice was Thermador, JennAir and SubZero. That's it. JennAir stayed mired in the downdraft segment and totally missed the boat on the professional segment. Still, the downdraft is somewhat compelling in an island and their slide-ins are still interesting.


From 1980-1992, if you wanted a great dishwasher, you bought KitchenAid, period. It was built better and lasted forever (or until the next remodel). Then the Europeans invaded with much quieter dishwashers, integrated controls and stainless tanks. For whatever reason, KitchenAid was slow to change. They didn't realize quietness became an issue when the kitchen was opened to the living room. They have had a competitive dishwasher for about 5 years after waiting about 7.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Pine Street and I

I have been a supporter of Pine Street for years, and have volunteered to serve on Thanksgiving for the last 7 or so years.

It's a reminder: My worst day is someone else's best.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Be Quiet

Does anyone ask if dishwashers wash dishes anymore? Quiet became an issue when the kitchen and living space became merged.

If you are looking for quietness, Bosch, Asko, Miele, JennAir are all quiet. In fact, the difference between some of these is not detectable by the human ear....

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Ginger Park

Ginger Park is one of my favorite restaurants in Boston.

Gorgeous, isn't it? I cannot eat in a restaurant without critiquing the lighting, which in most cases is not a good idea. Restaurants typically will use ambient or accent lighting as a basis of a lighting plan. In other words, the light is directed up, or at something like a table.

Ambient and accent is only part of your lighting plan. You would need a task element like track or recessed to illuminate the space. Eating is not a task application. You can figure how to drink or eat without direct lighting...shaving, cooking, applying makeup or reading require some kind of (task) illumination to assist.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Return of JennAir

We are back with Jennair for two reasons (actually 1.5).


JennAir was actually the first company to actively market a french door refrigerator. Of course now there is GE, GE Cafe, GE Profile, KitchenAid, Samsung, Frigidaire, Electrolux, LG, Bosch and Maytag to name a few, so it is not quite an advantage as it was previously.

Downdraft Ranges

Still a proprietary item....The downdraft is within the range, and the only alternative is a hood, which is not a good idea in a replacement scenario.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Products I Would Buy Now

Black Friday has become Black November. Appliance manufacturers are no longer ceding Holiday business to electronics and apparel . In fact, they are starting early.

Examples as follows:

Frigidaire Gallery Dishwasher - $199 after a ton of rebates. It's only available in black, but this is a very good dishwasher at $329-$349.

Bosch Dishwasher - $399....Normally sells well at $629. Good cycles, stainless tank and super quiet.

Bosch washer - $499 (normally $749). This will save you money even if your's is new. It is 4.5 cubic feet and uses very little water, electricity and detergent.

Frigidaire Electric stove - $299 in white, black...$399 stainless. Self-cleaning ceran priced well.

Frigidaire gas range - $499 white, black...$599 is stainless. Five burner with griddle burner.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Frigidaires' New Niche

Frigidaire has a new front load washer. This company has traditionally operated under the radar by being the low cost supplier and actually having decent products.

Lets have a peek...


1. Bigger - from 3.5 to 4.2 cubic feet.....

2. More Features....Hey why not

3. Steam...It seems like it is now something we cannot live without

Now the price. Presently, through November, there are $300 in rebates, so the price drops to $449. Buy it at this price (although the Bosch has similar rebates to $499, but lets stay on point).

However, without rebates this brand is vulnerable, at $749, Frigidaire no longer becomes a value.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Does Your Stove Work?

This is a very simple post. Turn on your range now. Scheduling service near Thanksgiving is not easy, so try cooking now.

If you need service, call this week before the holidays


We have focused on induction in a bunch of posts, because it is the best form of cooking available. Faster than pro and even commercial gas units. Here are a few more reasons...

1. Less heat retentive

2. Requires less venting (no expensive hoods)

3. Virtually child safe (won't start without a metallic pan and cools much faster)

4. Less expensive than professional units

Simmering is almost instantaneous as this video tried to show. With induction, you can achieve a full simmer from a full boil in a couple of seconds.

I have to re-learn this Wolf cooktop...It's embarrassing.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Your Dishwasher Works

At the risk of losing immediate dishwasher sales, your current dishwasher works. You may have recently noticed streaking or spotting. The dishwasher is fine. Your detergent is not. There are new laws requiring dishwashers to use less phosphates.

Evidentally, phosphates are the cleaning agent, but they also do a pretty good job at creating assorted environmental issues like algae blooms. The best low phosphate detergent is this one.

Finish seems to clean the best, so try it....before scheduling a service call and paying a repairman $100 to say the same thing.

Speaking of dishwashers....Look at this one

The Bosch SHE43P is $399 in black and white and $599 in stainless after $200 in rebates until 11/17.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Green Payback

By now most of you have figured, that I am somewhat passionate about lighting design, green technologies, induction, LED and in general spending money wisely for renovations.

When I look especially at Green, I understand people need to see a return on their investment for the higher initial price, especially now. If you search the three plus years of posts, you will read plenty of examples.

Here are a few more examples of how you can save money in your office or home.


We now have our own camelbak water containers and have eliminated bottled water throughout the company. Payback to the environment is immediate as 104 people have stopped throwing away water cups on a daily basis. Payback to the company by eliminating cups and bottled water totals over $20,000.


We are in midst of converting the showroom to all LED and compact fluorescent inside and outside. Ongoing savings $60-70,000 (at least)..Then again, we have 3500 lights on display.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Novel Way To Save Some Money

Bottled water always intrigues me. This is great marketing. Charge $1.29 for 16 ozs of fitered (Aquafina and Dasani). If a family only buys 2 bottles of water a day, the yearly cost will be $928.

The Everpure PBS-400 will filter 4000 gallons of water for $398....Now do the math and save some money.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

KitchenAid Refrigerators?

Whirlpool purchased the KitchenAid division from Hobart in the 80s in order to leverage what was then the best dishwasher and disposer brand in the world. Hobart should have continued, because they actually started manufacturing decent cooking products.

Flash forward to 2010, KitchenAid dishwashers are under assault by Bosch, Miele and Asko. Their cooking products are not as compelling as Electrolux, Bosch and GE Cafe.

Salvation can be derived in unexpected places for this venerable brand (does that read too melodramatic?). They actually have great refrigerators, or three in particular.

Shallow Depth French Door: At $1749, this is the least expensive for a shallow french.

Shallow Depth French door Part 2: This one is 22 cubic, which is the largest.

27 Cubic Foot Regular depth french door: This a very likeable product. It is larger with an interactive, digital icemaker and is not much more expensive than the standard 25 cubic footers.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Don't Do This

Kitchens and baths are really the only rooms which need proper illumination. Guess what, a real lighting plan is not difficult for any room. It includes elements of Task (recessed and/or track), Ambient (uplighting to wash the ceiling), Decorative (pendants and sconces) and Accent (highlighting objects). It is very hard to err.

Then I saw this bathroom...Do you see the problem?

In theory, there is enough light. However, by placing the light directly over the sink, your face becomes engulfed in shadows. If you have any task area; bath sink, kitchen sink or even the shed area out back, you want to cross illuminate.

Let's fix this: (you can do any one of these)

1. Shift the recessed, so it is on the either side of the sink

2. Place sconces at 65-66" high on either side of the sink

3. A less desirable option is to place a double sconce above the sink

Friday, November 05, 2010

Even More Rebates

This post is yet another example of how the recession has affected manufacturers. As I have written many times, the key to manufacturing efficiency is volume. Reducing by rebate is far more desirable than idling the plant.

Have a look:

Frigidaire Gallery gas range with griddle and power burners....$599 in stainless, $499 in white after $300 in rebates.

Frigidaire Gallery 5 burner electric range...$399 in stainless, $299 in white

As I have said many times, rebates are a huge part of smart shopping and saving money.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Shallow Depth

Shallow depth refrigerators do not protrude beyond your cabinets. Its really a much nicer look than a regular depth refrigerator. A shallow depth will deliver the same type of look as a professional (yesterday's post) at a fraction of the price.

But which one do you consider?






Buying Guide

1. Do you want french door or side by side?

2. Price varies from $1349 to over $3000

3. Consider rebates...they are huge, buy the same manufacturer if possible to maximize potential savings

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Professional Refrigerators

SubZero manufactured the first professional refrigerator back in the 50s. With the building boom in the last 20 years (deduct the last 2.5), every manufacturer produced these ultra high end refrigerators.

I have always defined a professional refrigerator simply as products with compressors on the top like a commercial refrigerator.

Here is what they look like and what to look for...



Thermador (Bosch, Gaggenau, Miele have the same box with different interior)




The best of the bunch is still SubZero with 2 compressors, the best seal and temperature control. In 2009, they added an air scrubber to keep food fresher and an advanced water purifier as well. However, there are less expensive alternatives...Here are the best of the rest.

Bosch, Thermador, Miele, Gaggenau: This is an integrated refrigerator, which is really great looking with panels as it blends perfectly.

Liebherr: This German company is also the greenest and has some interesting configurations of products.

Viking: Bought Amana's tooling 10 years ago, and has finally righted the ship

Buying Tip:

1. Rebates: Even the venerable SubZero company has one when combined with their sister company Wolf...There is not a huge price spread between all of them and features have been replicated.

2. Panel Vs Stainless: Look at the product with both.

3. Repair: Insure there is service available....it is different than fixing a regular fridge.

4. Price shock? Consider a regular shallow (non top compressor) refrigerator and save $5,000 plus.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Rebates (Yes Again)

Consumer rebates are the choice of most manufacturers these days. It is not permanent like a price drop with less consumer redemptions and can be timed for shorter durations.

Like this:

Frigidaire Gallery range with griddle burner, power burners and self cleaning for $599 or $250 short term rebates.

Timing rebates has become a critical part of shopping and saving money....be sure to inquire at your local, regional or national store of choice.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Cellar Dweller

This is another post in our series featuring respected local builders and designers and some of their projects to spot trends and hopefully inspire.

I really love this kitchen. Remarkably, this kitchen is in the basement, which is common in parts of Boston. Have a look at a really unique space:

1. This is the best use of color. Viking Red is really uncommon, but this shows what is possible beside the ubiquitous stainless.

2. A few posts ago, I showed an apron or farm sink....Have a look at one in black. It adds another design element to the room.

3. Notice the post and beam ceiling. You cannot install recessed in a post and beam. We posted about task lighting a couple of weeks ago, and they used low voltage track instead. Great substitute.

4. The island has a couple of decorative pendants adding visual depth to the space

Thank you to Charlie Allen Restorations for sending me these pics.