These questions should help point you in the right direction when you begin selecting kitchen appliances.

Appliances and fixtures can easily account for a quarter of your kitchen remodeling or kitchen renovation budget. That’s why it’s essential that you determine exactly what you need and what will work best for you before you begin to buy. A qualified professional remodeler who is well-versed in kitchen remodeling and renovations will have lots of ideas – and possibly work with a designer, as we do – who can help ease the selection process, keeping you on track and on budget. However, there are some basic questions you’ll want to consider before you talk with them that can help them guide you in the right direction. Here are a few of our favorites:

1. Can you take the heat?

Your heat sources will determine many elements in your kitchen, from where and which type of utility lines will be run to the brands of appliances your contractor recommends. Here’s a very quick breakdown: Since they heat with a flame, gas cooktops offer rapid heat, great control and a clear visual indicator of when they are on. Electric cooktops are less costly to purchase and maintain lower temperatures better. Induction is a type of electric cooktop that uses electromagnetic coils beneath a ceramic glass surface to transfer energy into metal pots and pans. The plus is that induction heats food more quickly and the surface stays cool to the touch (making it a safe choice for young families). However, only certain types of cookware can be used with an induction surface, which some users don’t like.

2. Do you bake?

If you do, you might want to consider an electric oven, which some experts say cooks more evenly than gas. Gas ovens do have the advantage of heating up more quickly, since electric ovens typically alternate between the bake and broil elements to initially warm up.

3. Do you want a range or a cooktop and oven?

When designing your kitchen, you’ll choose either a range, which combines a cooking surface and oven in a single appliance, or split your cooking space between a cooktop and a separate oven (or double ovens). Ranges are traditionally considered less costly options, although that’s not always the case as commercial-grade range prices can quickly soar. Ranges are fine options if most of your cooking is standard and you want the same type of heat source for both the surface and oven. Separating the two gives you more flexibility; if you like gas for cooking and electric for baking, for example. It also allows you the design versatility to position a cooktop in an unconventional place (such as in an island). Finally, double wall ovens give you flexibility if you are cooking multiple items at varied temperatures – or hosting a large gathering.

4. Do you like to chill?

Before you look into refrigeration – take an honest look insider your current refrigerator and freezer. Which is stuffed to the brim, and which is empty? Folks generally tend to favor fresh or frozen foods, so make certain that the refrigerator/freezer you choose gives you ample space for your favorite – whether that’s storage for “buy 2 get 3 free” ice cream or frozen pizza deals or your weekend fruit and vegetable haul from the farmer’s market.

5. Which foods do you chill with?

Once you determine what size your refrigerator should be, you should look at what you typically store in it. If you live for fresh produce, make certain you have ample space (and possibly convertible space) to store it. Likewise, cases of adult beverages require different storage set ups than juice packs (that you’d like to have easily accessible for young children). Consider through-the-door options for little hands and more traditional storage for larger bulk items.

6. How often and when do you wash dishes, and what type of dishes do you wash?

If you have a large family and/or run the dishwasher every night, select one built for reliable performance and longevity. If you run it during the day as other activities are occurring (or at night if a bedroom is near the kitchen), your top concern might be how quietly it runs. Drawer dishwashers are wonderful choices if you typically run small loads (or have varied dishes that run the gamut from delicate stemware to pots and pans). What’s more, you can place an additional dish drawer where it is most needed (such as near a food prep or entertaining area or at a child-friendly height).

7. Do you like fast food?

If you microwave a lot, consider investing in a quality appliance with all the bells and whistles or even a convection microwave (that allows you to brown food like a toaster oven). If all you use a microwave for is reheating coffee and an occasional bag of movie popcorn, a standard option can give your budget a needed break.

8. Who will be in your kitchen?

We touched on this in our space-planning article, but it’s worth noting here, too, because your appliances should be designed with your family in mind. Families with young children may want to consider refrigerator drawers from which kids can easily pull healthy snacks. Consider microwaves equipped with a control or safety lock if you have young children, and place them where they are not a reaching hazard for older residents. Likewise, look at where cooktop controls are placed to minimize the danger of reaching over a hot surface.

9. What are you passionate about?

Finally, don’t leave out those specialty appliances – if you actually plan on using them! Wine coolers for a wine aficionado, grill tops for the aspiring BBQ champ, griddles for pancake lovers, or even grates that accommodate woks for the Asian food fan are all options that you should consider if you plan on using them frequently. Also, consider a more powerful and/or efficient exhaust hood depending on what type of cooking you are doing. (They are essential for foods that can have strong odors, such as fish, onions, garlic, etc.)

These questions should help point you in the right direction when you begin shopping for appliances. Next time, we’ll consider questions to ask before you select the cabinets and surfaces for your kitchen.