Archive for the ‘Appliance Design’ Category

Homes By Architects Tour — Sept. 17-18

September 14, 2011

Architect Jean Rehkamp and Carla Warner check out a kitchen on the Homes By Architects Tour.

So, you’ve heard of the Parade of Homes, but this weekend visit a select group of homes in Minnesota designed with all the thoughtfulness and beauty an architect can lend.

Now in its third year, the Homes By Architects Tour runs Saturday, Sept. 17 and Sunday, Sept. 18 from 10-5.

Want a sneak peak?

Carla Warner previewed Home #6 in Edina with architect Jean Rehkamp of Rehkamp Larson Architects about integrated appliances (streamlining the look of appliances into your kitchen cabinets).

And in case you missed it, a couple months ago, I visited with the owners of  Home #11 in Grant and learned how a perfect kitchen is created for the Homes By Architects blog.

>> Read “For the Love of Appliances”

Dana Wheelock photo

I was jealous of their setup, to say the least. It’s a must see!

Since Warners’ Stellian is featured in several of the homes (also #7 and #10), we’re sponsoring the tour.

Buy tickets online through Friday or at the door at any house Saturday and Sunday.

ENERGY STAR appliances add ‘Most Efficient’ category

September 1, 2011

(At the risk of sounding pretentious) My beloved theory of chase and flight posits a privileged class of people whose behaviors and tastes subordinate others “chase,” thus motivating the former to run — fast.

What does this have to do with appliances? Think of commercial-grade appliances and then look at the stainless steel kitchen package we sell for $1499 (through Sept. 5!).

Same goes for energy efficiency.

ENERGY STAR was created by The Man in 1992 to encourage the purchase and manufacture of energy-efficient home products through a voluntary program labeling the most-efficient products.

Think Studio 54 for dishwashers.

But now that ENERGY STAR is old enough to vote and buy cigarettes, entry to the club is less exclusive; 75% of dishwashers qualified as ENERGY STAR by 2009 standards.

Says Consumer Reports:

It’s good news that products have become more energy efficient. But when many or most of the products in a category qualify for the Energy Star, it makes it harder, not easier, for consumers to identify the truly exceptional products.

It would seem the manufacturers won this chase, until ENERGY STAR’s Most Efficient program was launched this year.

The 2011 efficiency clique calls out the best in four categories, including clothes washers and refrigerators.

Here’s a sampling of the best washers and refrigerators:

LG 3.9 cu. ft. True Steam Washer in Cherry Red (#WM3360HRCA)

Not only is it sexy, this LG washer kills allergens, can maintain cleaning performance without heating the water and has a 15-minute wash option for us procrastinators. And it’s also on sale through Labor Day.

Frigidaire 4.2 cu. ft. Affinity Washer with Ready Steam (#FAFS4272LW)

This Frigidaire steam washer offers a little more capacity, NSF certified cleaning power and power saver cycle that apparently reduces energy use by 60%.

Frigidaire Affinity 4.4 cubic foot washer with Ready Steam (#FAFS4474)

This Frigidaire washer is the big sister to the previous (more capacity) plus an allergen cycle.

Electrolux 5.1 cu. ft. Perfect Steam Washer (#EWFLS70JSS)

This Electrolux steam washer also is NSF certified plus it fit the most clothes in one cycle and it has the fastest wash and dry time (if you have the dryer: 15 and 14 minutes, respectively).

And refrigerators: there were only two and there’s practically the same, save for depth. One will stick out from your cabinets, the other will sit back in line with them and set you back an additional $400.

LG cabinet-depth French-door refrigerator (#LFC21776ST)

LG's French Door Refrigerator (#LFC25766ST)

GE Cafe range: pro-style range at home cook price

August 8, 2011

I visited this summer with a homeowner on the upcoming AIA Homes By Architects Tour who loved to cook. Wolf Range makes the go-to cook’s range, but she hated the way it looked.

She loved the look of the GE Cafe dual fuel range, which also happens to be quite a bit more affordable, at $2799. It’s worth taking a look at, due to its professional styling and features:

  • Dual fuel means  combines the precise temperature control of gas on the stove top and even heating of electric in the oven
  • Convection system promises even air and heat circulation, plus it converts temperatures for you automatically.
  • Super big (5 cubic foot) oven cavity with meat probe, ideal for large roasts and — since it has convection — multiple racks of dishes
  • PowerBoil 18,000 BTU gas burner means water boils really quick, plus high heat for more professional-style cooking

Mini refrigerators and dorm microwaves for college cooking

August 5, 2011

Getting a decent meal on campus one of the biggest challenges students deal with. At least that was my experience.

But having a fridge helps keeping fresh food on hand both affordable and easy for the busiest college student. And having a microwave or oven means you don’t have to rely on the dining halls or takeout if you don’t want to.

Here are some affordable and functional options for your dorm or college apartment:

If you don’t need a freezer (and really, you might not) in your dorm or office, maximize your fridge space with this Danby 2.5 cu. ft. mini refrigerator (comes in white or black). The can dispenser makes beverages easy to grab and having space for a 2-liter or big wine bottle can be really handy and free up a lot of space on your shelves.

But sometimes you’ll want a freezer for pizza (or Jell-O shots). The Avanti 4.1 cu. ft. mini refrigerator comes in white or black and, best of all, has glass shelves to catch the inevitable spills and mitigate the damage.

This LG microwave has got to be my favorite. Who doesn’t want a pizza oven in her dorm room? But it’s not just for pizza; this stainless steel microwave can bake cookies and pretty much any other slim object you can dream up. I call it the best grad gift ever.


If you’re not so into pizza or if you have a tiny space, you’ll appreciate this 0.5 cu. ft. Whirlpool microwave, made specifically to fit into tight corners. Despite its compact footprint, pull the pocket handle on the door and you’ll find space for an 11-inch plate.

Vintage refrigerator for the modern retro kitchen

July 27, 2011

Move over Big Chill. There’s another brand of retro fridges called Northstar (part of Elmira Stoveworks, which also makes antique appliances).

Those decorating their houses in midcentury modern style want to continue the retro look into the kitchen. But it’s not the best idea to use actual retro appliances.

Why? They’re extremely inefficient, offer smaller capacity than conventional appliances and often run loudly. Plus, if it breaks, good luck finding decades-old parts.

Luckily, Northstar makes retro refrigerators with all the modern features:

  • Modern configurations like bottom freezer style, which keep the food you need most often in easy reach
  • Energy Star rating saves you money on your utility bill
  • 19 cubic feet accommodates way more food than an antique refrigerator
  • Comes in your choice of colors (shown – Cherry Red, White, Bisque, Flamingo Pink, Robin’s Egg Blue, Buttercup Yellow, Textured Black, Mint Green and Quick Silver)
  • Interior lights and freezer baskets
  • See more features and benefits

We’re showing this model, the 1950 in Cherry Red, at our appliance store in Edina across from the Galleria if you want to take a peek. And we deliver and install these for free to our local customers :)

Front load washer capacity means you can take a load off – literally

July 22, 2011

If you’re deciding between a top load or front load washing machine, consider capacity and the value of your own time.

What used to take me four loads in my 15 (or so) year old top load washer now only takes me about two loads in my front load Electrolux washer.

The capacity — and lack of agitator — in a front load washing machine really makes that much of a difference.

Plus, a standard clothes washer can’t handle a king- or queen-sized comforter like my front loading washer can.

Just a thought I had today when I realized how little I think of having to do the laundry these days since I replaced my top load washing machine. Because I have to do the laundry much less.

Now, what to do with all this free time? :)

Short refrigerators that are long on style

July 13, 2011

Our more…experienced…customers like to bemoan how “they” don’t make em like they used to (often in refers to refrigerators; see example of how they used to make them).

Unfortunately, pretty much everyone copes with the sorrow of planned obsolescence these days so that statement is pretty obvious.

No, they don’t make them like they used to. But they also don’t make refrigerators as tall as they used to.

You say,

But, that’s awesome, because then I can accommodate dozens of barely used condiment bottles more fresh fruits and veggies! 

Perhaps.

But older homes with kitchens designed around now outmoded appliance dimensions can’t fit today’s 68-, 69- and 70(plus)-inch refrigerators.

Thankfully, top-freezer refrigerators come in a variety of sizes and tend to be shorter. But if you’re looking for more upscale form and function, you should check out a Fisher & Paykel refrigerator.

The Australian appliance-maker sells short bottom-freezer refrigerators in stainless steel…even with a water dispenser on the front! These short refrigerators also come in white.

Fisher & Paykel is pretty much our go-to brand for refrigerators under 68 inches.

No. 1 cause of appliance returns

June 6, 2011

So you’ve fallen in love with a new appliance, and it looks great and has the features to do all the stuff you want it do.

And you plunk down a sizable chunk of change (appliances are no small expenditure!), and schedule the delivery.

So imagine your sadness when the only thing our highly complimented, professional crew delivers is the bad news that your beautiful new appliance won’t

  • fit through your doors
  • into your allotted space
  • work with your existing connections

This isn’t a rare occurrence that only happens to those with irregular house situations; It happens ALL the time because all houses are irregular.

Heck, my new refrigerator nearly didn’t fit because the width changed between the upper cabinet and lower cabinet, and I had only measured the latter! (Luckily, our guys are pros and made it work for me.)

Also, consider the space needed to use the appliance. For instance, is there enough room for the door to open? Not only was my space almost too narrow for the top of my fridge, but in switching from a top-mount refrigerator to a freezer-on-the-bottom model, I failed to consider that the freezer drawer would need to clear the window frame along its left side only a couple inches ahead. Again, our guys are pros and made my selection work despite all its challenges.

If you’re purchasing laundry, consider which side your washer and dryer are on and make sure that the doors will open appropriately.

Ideally, the machine on the left should have hinges on the left side of its doors and the machine on the right should have its hinges on the right side of the door.

Bottom line: Assuming you need “standard”-sized appliances is dangerous because standard doesn’t exist. And every house is different.

If you’re considering replacing any of your appliances soon, this checklist will help you prevent the expensive and time-consuming mistake of purchasing the wrong product for your space.

Our salespeople will qualify you, but as in the case of my refrigerator, even I didn’t measure diligently enough!

Measure the opening    

Measure the area where your appliance will be placed rather than the size of your existing appliance. And take it from me and measure along several spots of your opening.

Size up the pathway

Those living in older homes especially, take note! Ensure that your appliance it will fit through each hallway and doorway of the entire path to its final destination.

Of course, you can remove railings and doors if necessary, but you’ll want to do this in advance and remeasure to ensure that this too allows enough space. When in doubt, discuss the situation with your sales rep.

Check your connections

You need the appropriate electric outlet within 3-½ feet of the space you’ve selected for your new product. Make sure the outlet is grounded (accepts a three-prong plug), since most appliances require one. For electric dryers and electric ranges, be sure to check for a 240V electric connection.

Measure twice, cut once

Take another look at the pathway en route to the final destination of your appliance and ensure that your product will fit through the designated space.

It could save you more than 25% of the purchase price, your valuable time and (if you’re like me) your ego.
>>See our complete list of tips for buying appliances and having them delivered

Microwave with Pizza Oven = Best Grad Gift Ever

June 3, 2011

Despite my personality, I managed to be one of the most popular girls in my dorm’s wing during my freshman year of college.

How?

A microwave. But this was no ordinary microwave, which every Megan, Katie and Laura owned. My microwave had a toaster built in.

Just another perk of being appliance retail royalty. (And my very first Warners' Stellian purchase; I've since given it away, unfortunately)

And toasters, as you may our may not know, belong in the can’t-have-in-a-dorm-room category. So you can imagine my novelty among the carb-happy set.

LG since discontinued that microwave, clearly to make room for a countertop appliance that would change college life forever.

A microwave that can support the other thing besides ramen that college students eat: pizza.

The LG LCSP1110ST includes a 1400-watt pizza oven below its microwave cavity capable of baking the frozen staple as well as other nutritious goods like frozen french fries and cookies.

And the LCSP1110 is really just a countertop microwave in its essence, so your treat-making should operate sans censure.

Can you say best graduation gift ever?

Don’t worry about trusting your grad with an oven, either. This LG microwave’s AUTO PIZZA function takes all the thinking guesswork out:

Four pizza bake functions are preset in the oven. The AUTO PIZZA feature automatically selects the best cooking method and time for various pizza types. The cooking guide shows which AUTO PIZZA function is recommended for the the pizza you are cooking.

A regular-crust frozen pizza bakes in only 15 minutes in the pizza oven. That’s faster than delivery, or even taking the stairs down to the dining hall.

Anyone who says you can’t buy friends didn’t dangle the right carrot, er, pizza. And this one’s a steal in my opinion at $200.

5 ways to preserve food longer

May 12, 2011

With the opening of the Mill City Farmers Market last weekend and the start of many people’s summer CSA shares, the perennial topic of food storage becomes fresh again (see how I did that?).

Numerous ways to extend the life of fresh fruit, veggies, meat and dairy exist, but here are the 5 I could think of.

What do you do to try to make your food last longer?

1. Use your crisper

Those clear drawers in your fridge aren’t just for convenience. Many models allow you adjust the humidity of your crisper drawers to suit their contents. Consult your use & care manual for specifics on your model, but in general, set humidity to high for green, leafy vegetables and low for fruits and vegetables with skins.

2. Pick your spot

Brands might create the perfect space for gallon-jug storage on your refrigerator door, but consider how quickly you will use highly perishable foods before storing them here. Why? Consider the temperature fluctuations of this region of the refrigerator.

If you go through a gallon of milk every couple days, then maybe it doesn’t matter, but those of use who just use a sprinkle in our coffee should definitely select a cooler spot, like the back of the fridge, which is less affected when the door opens.

Accordingly, produce like broccoli, asparagus and apples benefit from colder temperatures located near the rear, while corn and berries — for example — benefit from the warmest spot in the refrigerator, so choose those for the front.

3. Use a paper towel to keep your greens…green

I love making big salads, but we all know that greens (especially leftovers) quickly become yellows and browns.

I arrange washed greens between paper towels to absorb excess moisture and seal them in punctured plastic bags. I’m not sure how “official” this is, but it’s allowed me to eat salad leftovers for two days before.

4. Don’t pass gas

Ethylene gas, that is. Foods like apples, peaches and pears produce ethylene, a gas that kick-starts ripening, which can cause premature aging in some fruits and damage in others. Avoid storing ethylene-producing foods near others sensitive to it (see list here) or keep them in a plastic bag to contain the gas.

5. Know what NOT to refrigerate

Sometimes the refrigerator can do more harm than good — as in the case of avocados, bananas, tomatoes, pineapples, mangoes, potatoes and squash — which should be stored at room temperature. Cold temperatures can dehydrate and damage these foods.

Plus, I think that refrigerating tomatoes sucks all the flavor out, doesn’t it?


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