Refrigerator Buying Guide

It’s probably safe to say that the refrigerator sees more traffic and hands-on use than any other appliance in your home. Kids as young as two or three years old are usually keen to figure out the magic of this snack-producing coldbox, and that’s to say nothing of the teens and adults that are already opening and closing the doors all day. In other words, every member of your family will have their hands in, on, and around the refrigerator every single day.

What does this mean for you? It means more thought goes into your refrigerator selection than you initially realized.

No matter which style of fridge you choose to add to your home, there are three main requirements that nearly every consumer wants out of this major appliance purchase:

  1. Reliability and Dependability – Now that you’ve gotten a glimpse of how involved refrigerator purchasing can be, you probably don’t want to do it again anytime within the next decade or two. Whichever unit you choose has to perform a single, but tremendously important task: it needs to keep your food cold, and it needs to do that without fail. Look for manufacturers with a long history of producing high-quality products. Be sure to read customer reviews, and speak to sales associates about their experiences with any refrigerator you are considering.
  2. Appropriate Price Range – If you’ve taken a stroll around an appliance showroom, you may have already realized how wide the price range is for refrigerators. On the lower end of things, you may be able to find a modest but still full-sized unit for under $1000, whereas the top-of-the-line models come in somewhere closer to $10,000 or more. Factors that will affect the price are special features, customization options, size, efficiency, and finish. There will be something for you within your budget – just do your research to make sure you are getting everything you need at the best possible price.
  3. Matching Decor – Refrigerators are large and very noticeable appliances. This means they have the ability to wonderfully enhance your existing decor, or clash with it terribly. It is important that your new refrigerator fits in with the stylistic choices you’ve made for the rest of your kitchen, or even the rest of your home. Given many of the customization options available out there, you may be surprised to learn just how seamlessly a refrigerator can blend into your kitchen.

Now, let’s take a look at some of the different styles of refrigerators available to you, to help you narrow down your selection even further.


Top Mount Freezer Models

Top Mount Freezer

If you were to think of a standard refrigerator/freezer combo, you would probably think of this model. This is a rectangular unit where the top third is freezer space, and the bottom two thirds are refrigerator space (approximately).

Pros: If cost is your main concern, the top-mount freezer model is going to offer you the lowest starting prices. This design also lends itself well to smaller setups, meaning if you are looking to save space in the kitchen by installing a shorter or narrower refrigerator unit, you are more likely to find them in this standard arrangement. Top-mount freezers also extend to the full width of the unit – so, unlike side-by-side freezers, you will have a nice broad space which can handle casserole pans and pizza boxes with ease.

Cons: The freezer is at eye level, but it’s the refrigerator that you need to access more frequently. Most people are reluctant to stoop all the way down to peer in, and this can lead to food getting “lost” at the back of the fridge. In terms of efficiency, cold air naturally sinks, so putting the coldest part of the unit up top might require unnecessary energy.

When to Choose This Style: If you are looking for a standard refrigerator that won’t cost a lot up front, or if you are working with compact spaces, this model will be your best bet.

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Small Kitchen Ideas


So, you have a small kitchen. If your cabinets are overflowing, you’re constantly searching for counter space, and you bump into someone every time you turn around, you probably already know it’s time for an update – but what’s the best way to make this work?

Despite what home renovation shows or cooking competitions on TV would have you believe, you can get an awful lot done in a small kitchen. Some homeowners panic at the thought of knocking down walls or jack-hammering up floors in an effort to expand a tiny kitchen. As it turns out, you may not have to.

There are a lot of great small kitchen ideas out there, and somewhere there is a design layout which will be absolutely perfect for your situation. With years of experience in helping families make the most out of cramped or awkward kitchens, we have assembled some great tips  and ideas that will help you get some inspiration for your own project.


Bright Colors Can Widen Narrow Spaces

Dark cabinets or dark painted walls can make it feel like the entire room is closing in on you. Lighter and brighter colors such as cream, a pale yellow, white, a bright and cheery orange, a spring green, or a robin’s egg blue can make the space appear wider than it is.

Never underestimate the effect that colors can have on your mood. If you are in an overly dark kitchen, you might enjoy the room less because it seems to closed in or depressing. Brighten it up both literally and figuratively.


Make a Bright Focal Point to Draw the Eyes Away From the Walls

If you would rather stick to mostly neutral colors in your kitchen, you can still create a bright and interesting focal point to draw the eyes away from the walls. A bright red refrigerator, a bold pink back-splash, or even sunny yellow laminate countertop can add just the right splash of color, without overwhelming the room.

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12 Kitchen Countertop Options

Homeowners can easily become overwhelmed by the dozens of kitchen countertop options fanning out before them. When choosing to redesign your kitchen (or building a new one from the ground up), countertops can often become a sticking point.


Because, like every other aspect of your kitchen, the countertops are expected to look great, handle any workload you can throw at them, and stay dependable for decades. It’s not an area of your kitchen to skimp on. It’s an investment.

So to help make sure you’re making the right investment for your home and your family, here is a list of 12 different types of countertops, and the pros and cons you should consider for each.



Granite Countertop


  • Many different colors and grains are available, meaning a granite countertop would match any kitchen.
  • Highly durable material when well maintained.
  • Widely available and often affordable. Some types of granite might cost as little as $50 per square foot.
  • Timeless looks. You won’t have to worry about this natural stone looking “dated” in 10 or 15 years.


  • Granite countertop prices can be all over the place. While it’s true that many people find great deals, some of the more exotic pieces of granite could easily climb to $250 per square feet or higher.
  • Yearly maintenance is recommended. Granite is porous, so spilled coffee or wine might become permanent stains if you don’t reseal your countertops regularly.
  • Durable but not indestructible. Heavy objects dropped onto granite might cause chips or cracks.

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11 Kitchen Island Ideas

Adding an island to your kitchen is more than just trendy: it’s a smart and efficient way to increase those much-needed counters, workstations, and even seating for your family. But just like people come in all shapes and sizes, so do kitchens, and trying to shoehorn the wrong type of island into your kitchen can cause many more headaches than it solves.

We looked back across the hundreds of installation jobs we have helped families with over the decades, and have come up with our top 11 kitchen island ideas. Each one has different attributes, pros, and cons; but we are confident that one of the islands on this list will be absolutely perfect for your home.

Consider the following designs:


Basic Built-in Island

Basic Built In Island - Kitchen Island Designs

The word “basic” in this heading is somewhat misleading. There are plenty of bells and whistles that can be added on to any island, including a rectangular built-in. Of all the kitchen island designs, the rectangular built-in is the one you will see most frequently. This island is a permanent installation, typically placed opposite your existing counters, and it accomplishes two main objectives: increased storage, and increased workspace.

The countertop portion of this island will be on a single level (usually the exact same height as your other counters) meaning it is more ideal for working than eating.

There are numerous styles and materials available to choose from when selecting a basic built-in island. These islands can be matched to your existing kitchen decor, or can be installed as part of an overall kitchen upgrade.

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Kitchen Design Layout

How much does kitchen design layout affect your daily life? More than you may realize. A lot of study has gone into finding more efficient ways to set up appliances, more ergonomic layouts, and creative ways to maximize the space you have to work with.

Having a kitchen that you enjoy working in is essential for many individuals, and families. An efficient kitchen design will allow you to more easily prepare healthy and nutritious meals, and a kitchen renovation that allows for extra space can turn it into more of a social gathering place.

A large portion of anyone’s daily chore list revolves around the kitchen. Seeing as how we all spend so much time there – whether we are eating, cooking, cleaning, socializing, taking phone messages, or completing homework – it is in your best interest to make sure that you are making the most of this essential room in your home.

Let’s take a look at different layouts, and the advantages they offer.


Galley Kitchen

kitchen cabinet design - Galley Kitchen

 A galley kitchen is sometimes also referred to as a walk-through kitchen. Picture an exceptionally wide hallway with kitchen cabinets and appliances on either side. Some galley kitchens have two solid floor to ceiling walls, while others have one solid wall, and one half wall, allowing for counter space on both sides of the kitchen.


There is a reason that galley kitchens are the preferred layout of restaurants. This floor plan most easily allows for the “work triangle” – that being the triangle of space created between the sink, the refrigerator, and the oven.

This layout gets its name from the galley of a ship. There isn’t a lot of extra elbow room on a ship, but there are dozens, if not hundreds of mouths to feed. This is a kitchen that has to maximize efficiency and output, while working with minimal space.

A galley kitchen makes excellent use of a narrow space. Older homes with irregular shaped rooms may find that while other kitchen layouts would be difficult to shoehorn in, a galley kitchen can usually be installed or renovated with very little fuss.


If you think you will have more than one cook working in this kitchen, you may end up tripping over one another more frequently in a galley kitchen. By necessity, the space through which you pass is narrow, so picture two adults trying to hurry past each other while carrying wide cookie sheets. It can get a little interesting.

For those who enjoy the layout of an eat in kitchen, the galley won’t work. There are some exceptions, of course. For instance, if you only need to set up a small bistro style table with two chairs, you could probably fit this in a galley kitchen. Otherwise, you will need to have a separate room or nook set aside for dining.

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Making the decision to redo your kitchen means that you are about to embark on a journey that will rely heavily on your budgeting skills, your eye for design, and your ability to keep a cool head in a stressful situation.

Kitchen remodeling deasign ideas are as varied as the people who come up with them. It is always a good idea to look for inspiration either online or in catalogs, but the onslaught of Pinterest boards and architectural photography can also feel very overwhelming. What you need right now is a focus.

We have seen many homeowners metaphorically (hopefully not literally) pulling their hair out when they realize the vastness of the options available to them.

With so much information overload coming your way, it can be easy to get distracted or to lose sight of the kitchen that you actually want. The last thing anyone needs is to find themselves standing in the middle of a very new, and very expensive kitchen that they are unhappy with.

Want to make sure you are on the right track?  Here are 10 important tips to follow when looking to make the right design and remodeling decisions.

Step 1: Make Your Choices Timeless

Design - Make Your Choices Timeless

Most people will only redo their kitchens once over the course of the time that they spend in their home.

The reason for this is twofold:

First, kitchen renovation can be very expensive, and doing it more than once is not likely to generate a return on investment.

Second, the process is disruptive. Not many families are looking forward to the prospect of living without a functional kitchen for a number of weeks, if not months depending on the scale of the renovation.

With this in mind, it is important that you make sure that the work you do on your kitchen won’t begin looking horribly dated in a matter of five, six, or seven years from now.

One of the best ways to accomplish this is to stick with clean and simple lines throughout your design. Treat your kitchen as more of a backdrop – and up-to-date, efficient, and beautiful backdrop to be sure, but still a backdrop.

Leave the personalization to decorative items, wall hangings, or even paint colors – all three of which can be changed much more easily and cheaply than cabinets, countertops, and appliances.

White and/or neutral colors tend to work much better in making a kitchen seem timeless. Bolder colors can assign a decade or era to your kitchen (remember that avocado colored refrigerator in your first apartment?) meaning you may not be as happy with the design later on.

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Average cost of kitchen remodel

An inefficient kitchen design layout leads to all kinds of headaches. If you don’t have adequate counter space, you’re constantly balancing plates and platters (occasionally losing one in the struggle). If your cabinets are cramped, you can expect periodic avalanches as things come spilling out. If you have outdated appliances, you may be paying way more than you need to in energy costs. In other words: if you’ve been daydreaming about a kitchen remodel, you’re not alone.

But what is the average cost of kitchen remodel projects? Can you afford it? How can you be sure you’re getting a fair price?

We get these questions all the time, and in an effort to shed some light on the subject, we’ve come up with this kitchen remodel estimator. Whether your budget is humble or grandiose, whether you’re looking to add some more modern touches, or rip everything out to start over, we’ve got you covered with this handy guide.


Design ideas - modern luxury kitchen interior

Design ideas – modern luxury kitchen interior


Design ideas - Luxury light green kitchen

Design ideas – Luxury light green kitchen


Design ideas - Green walls and stone floor

Design ideas – Green walls and stone floor


Let’s Talk Numbers

Here’s what you came here for:

The average cost of kitchen renovation falls somewhere around the $20,000 mark – but we want to stress the word “average” there. Depending on how much square footage you’re dealing with, and how involved you want your project to be, costs could be significant lower or higher than that.

In general, homeowners report spending between $10,000 and $30,000 on their kitchen makeovers. Obviously, smaller kitchens fare better if you’re angling for a lower price, but even larger kitchens can come in at reasonable prices, if you’re willing to do some of the work yourself, and/or stick to “facelifts” as opposed to complete rip-outs.

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Kitchen Cabinet Handles

If you’ve recently had some kitchen renovations done, chances are you’re already standing at the center of the room admiring the new scenery. You may be admiring the new looks of your kitchen countertops, feeling completely elated with your new floors, but do not forget about the little things that can boost the overall look for your kitchen even further.

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Refacing Kitchen Cabinets Chicago

There are times when you look at your kitchen and decide that you would want to remodel some parts of it just to make things fresh and stand out more. One of the possibilities that you might be thinking about is to give your kitchen cabinet an upgraded look. But the question is, would you opt to replacing or refacing kitchen cabinets entirely with something entirely new?

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Kitchen Cabinet Remodeling Chicago

Kitchen cabinet remodeling can be a great hassle, especially if you don’t know how to do it properly. This seemingly “small” task can become a larger problem to deal with if you practically do not know how to go about it. Due to this, you would need some sort of guide. Luckily, you’ve stumbled upon the right place.

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