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Consumer Reports Kitchen Planning and Buying Guide

Consumer Reports Kitchen Planning and Buying Guide January 2020

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Consumer Reports Kitchen & Planning Buying Guide will help you get the kitchen you’ve always wanted at a price you can afford. Filled with our exclusive buying advice and ratings, best & worst products, real-world and test-based approach, you’ll be shopping smarter and getting the best kitchen—for less

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United States
Consumer Reports, Inc.

in this issue

1 min.
your makeover map

Taking the first steps toward your dream kitchen? It’s an exciting and sometimes overwhelming time. There are so many decisions to make—cooktop or range? granite counters or quartz? wood floors or tile? —and of course there’s the budget to consider. It would really help to have a hand to hold through the process, right? Good news: CR is here for you. Our team of home pros—editors, engineers, market analysts—will help you along the way, sharing insights straight from our labs on everything from fridges to flooring, and more. When you’re ready to shop, turn to the Buying Guide on page 34. You’ll find hundreds of ratings and reviews based on our exhaustive in-house tests and on our surveys of CR members’ experiences with the products in their homes. You can trust our…

6 min.
transform your kitchen

Fresh and Fun for a Family “Light, bright, and colorful was the name of the game for these clients,” says kitchen designer Sarah Robertson of Westchester County, N.Y.-based Studio Dearborn. With this design directive in mind, Robertson worked to improve the kitchen’s flow while keeping it sun-drenched and cheery. Small layout tweaks. The kitchen was fairly large and had a visual connection to the family room through the cutouts above the sink. “The cutouts let in light from the south-facing windows, so we just gave the openings a more modern look,” says Robertson. The team also bumped out the back corner of the kitchen to add a dining banquette (not shown). Better flow, new colors. Adding those 5 extra feet at the end of the room allowed Robertson to spec a slightly larger island to…

6 min.
the most reliable appliance brands, revealed

When Russell Schwager, a software engineer in Boston, was preparing his house for Passover, he didn’t think much about hitting the self-clean mode on his Electrolux ovens. But that move led to a holiday headache when the range door locked up and the wall oven stopped heating, rendering both ovens unusable. “It definitely made our lives more difficult,” Schwager says. His family keeps kosher, so during Passover they couldn’t rely on takeout. Instead, they survived on leftovers from his in-laws and pizzas from kosher kits cooked in the toaster oven. Several weeks and about $600 in repairs later, Schwager was suffering a serious bout of buyer’s remorse. He and his wife had purchased five Electrolux appliances four years before, largely because of the design and dimensions, and only the microwave had remained…

2 min.
appliance reliability

There are various ways to assess an appliance manufacturer’s reputation for reliability—personal experience, word of mouth, marketing. But nothing beats real-world data. That’s why Consumer Reports is introducing our Appliance Brand Reliability Rankings. In the chart below, you can see at a glance how reliable one brand is relative to another across multiple appliances. The results are based on data CR collected from our members on more than 381,000 kitchen and laundry appliances purchased between 2008 and 2018. To calculate predicted reliability, we ask members how many times the products they own broke or stopped working as well as they should. We use that data to estimate how new models from a given brand will hold up over the first five years. Here we include only brands for which we have sufficient data…

5 min.
what’s wrong with this thing?

Every year the Survey Research team at Consumer Reports gets tens of thousands of responses from our members about problems they’ve had with their kitchen and laundry appliances. Here are 2018’s most commonly reported problem areas—let’s call them complaints—from finicky fridges to wishy-washy washing machines. Our reporters also reached out to appliance repair pros to find out which parts most often fail; see “What Breaks” in each section below. In the process, we picked up a few tips on simple repairs you can do yourself to save some money on service calls. Refrigerators BIGGEST COMPLAINTS 17% No water (or ice) coming out of dispenser 13% Icemaker won’t make ice 7% Buildup of ice in the fridge 6% Water leaking 5% Refrigerator not cooling 5% Broken or faulty control panel or circuit board 4% Not keeping food cold 3% Blocked drain…

2 min.
how long will your appliances last?

Once you’ve gone through the hassle of shopping for and installing a new refrigerator, you may find yourself wondering how long will it be before your next fridge fiasco. If you’re like the average CR member we’ve surveyed, you would assume any new major appliance will last about 10 years. “Consumer expectations across major appliances are remarkably consistent,” says Simon Slater, associate director of survey research at CR. Manufacturers tend to agree. We asked makers of more than 20 brands, and most say their appliances should last about 10 years. (A handful won’t say.) Certain brands make far bolder claims about longevity. Miele, which positions itself as a luxury brand, and Sub-Zero/Wolf, maker of aspirational chef’s kitchen centerpieces, claim 20 years; Speed Queen, which makes laundry machines it touts as commercial-grade, 25…