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Custom home trends: Butler’s Pantry and upper-level laundry room

March 12, 2014

In honor of the Parade of Homes, I asked fellow blogger Nina Lindquist of Homes by Tradition — a custom home builder in the Twin Cities metro area — to share with me a couple of the new home design trends related to appliances that she’s seeing.

Butler’s Pantry 

You know when you’re a guest at someone’s home and they say, “Help yourself” to you? Well, butler’s pantries are the physical manifestation of this familiar phrase.

For those of us (myself included) who want our guests to just enjoy themselves and stop meddling in the kitchen, a butler’s pantry is genius.

gourmet-kitchen-minnesota

Butler’s pantries are designed to be an extension of the kitchen but are areas mostly for food and beverage serving and servingware storage. I love this example from Homes By Tradition because it incorporates a refrigerator for beverage self-service that can also be used for overflow food when entertaining. Who couldn’t use this around the holidays?

custom-kitchen-lakeville

In this luxury home, the wooden floors continue and a soft arch is used to marry the butler’s pantry to the kitchen instead of closing it off with a door. Not only is this pretty, but it keeps access to the pantry convenient.

butlers-pantry-mn

Ceiling-height cabinets make a dramatic statement while squeezing every last drop of storage out of this room.

custom-pantry-mn

See the empty wine rack? That’s about all that my kitchen and this amazing butler’s pantry have in common.

Also (don’t get me wrong, granite’s great, but) the dark stained wood countertop makes me drool. It’s just exactly how you would want to wow your guests, complete with warm, under-cabinet lighting to say, “Hello! Look at our gorgeous and distinctive custom countertops.”

Upper-Level Laundry Room 

You have two cars, so why wouldn’t you have two laundry rooms? OK, so maybe that’s a stretch (but try it on your significant other anyways). But when designing their dream home, many families create spaces that maximize their time and ultimately, happiness — which is why upper-level laundry rooms have become a must-have in new home construction.

laundry_1
The rolling laundry carts, cabinet storage and super-capacity laundry pair heighten the convenience factor of this laundry room  by Homes by Tradition, which is more beautiful and spacious than my bedroom, by the way. Can I move in?

This is clearly not your standard, dank utility laundry room. The neutral colors really pop against the cheerful wall color, and it’s roomy enough to give a place for everything (and keep everything in its place!).

laundry_2

The Parade of Homes runs through March 30, 2014 so hurry over to learn more info on Homes By Tradition‘s Spring 2014 home, which Nina blogged about this week.

Smart appliances: A Q&A with Warners’ Stellian’s Carla Warner on the latest in high-tech items for your home

March 28, 2013

We were so excited when Southwest Journal editor Sarah McKenzie interviewed Carla Warner for the Spring 2013 Home Guide. We love the Southwest Journal and have counted its readers among our customers for decades. We couldn’t find it online, so we’re sharing the tips with our readers here: 

Do you often forget what you have in your refrigerator when you’re out grocery shopping? Have no fear! There will soon be an app for that. LG is developing technology that will allow you to investigate the contents of your fridge from your smartphone. The Southwest Journal recently interviewed Carla Warner, vice president of Warners’ Stellian, to get up to speed on the latest in high-tech home appliances.

 

SWJ: What are some interesting/noteworthy trends in appliances you’re noticing these days?

Steam is popular for both cooking and cleaning. Steam ovens prepare anything from fish and veggies to baked goods in an efficient and healthy way.

 

ImageFor cleaning, steam washing machines sanitize clothes and linens, which is great for families with babies and elderly or allergy and asthma sufferers. These groups also appreciate a steam dryer, which can eliminate dust and allergens from nonwashable items like decorative pillows and stuffed animals. 

 

Stainless continues to be the most popular finish, but many choose to integrate appliances like their refrigerators and dishwashers with their cabinetry. The result is a “hidden” almost furniture like look.

 

Also, aside from just increasing their capacity (bigger fridges, laundry and ranges), consumers also look for appliances that multitask, like double oven ranges and convection microwaves. 

 

What are the most innovative, high-tech appliances out there now?

Samsung is coming out with a four-door refrigerator in April that will dispense sparkling water at the push of a button. Using the same control panel you would use to select between water or ice, you can select up to three levels of carbonation for sparkling water. It uses a standard SodaStream 60L CO2 cylinder that rests in a small, concealed area inside the left refrigerator door. 

 

Image

Though induction has been around since the 1970s, the super-efficient method of electric cooking that uses magnetic fields to directly heat cookware didn’t catch on until the last several years.

 

Thermador’s Freedom induction cooktop takes that technology one step further by recognizing the cookware size, shape and position to deliver heat without the boundaries of burners. Basically, the entire surface can work as a burner. Think of heating the entire surface of your roasting pan when making gravy or being able to accommodate side by side griddles for breakfast preparation.

 

Many new appliances allow internet integration. Samsung’s WF457 laundry can be remotely operated using a smartphone app, which can also diagnose operation issues on your washer and dryer. LG is coming out with a line of “smart” kitchen appliances that allow you to search the contents of your fridge from your smartphone (think grocery shopping). Its LCD touchscreen gives you access to online grocery shopping, calendars, photos — even Pandora. The new LG range lets you monitor the cooking progress from your smartphone as well.

 

If you can’t afford to replace an existing appliance, do you have some tips to keep common appliances working more efficiently?

The best tip is the most simple: keep them clean.

 

Cleaner burners useless fuel. Cleaner dryer vents and refrigerator coils don’t need to work as hard. Running vinegar through your dishwasher and washer every month can improve their performance.

 

What are the benefits of investing in an Energy Star appliance? 

Often the investment to upgrade to an Energy Star appliance is minimal and the payoff is quick. Though they often cost more upfront, you can expect great overall savings throughout its lifetime. For instance, we estimate that the money you’ll save by replacing your washer with a new, Energy Star washer will pay for the new dryer to match it.

 

How do you know when it’s better to replace an appliance versus fix an existing one?

That’s the preference of the person writing the check. It will likely vary by appliance type, but generally speaking you should replace when repair costs rise to 50 percent of the replacement cost or if the product is more than eight years old.

Microwaves are the exception, though. Because of their shorter shelf life and replacement cost relative to repair, we tend to recommend replacing over repair. 

Appliance warehouse sale 2013: what you should know

March 7, 2013

Our Extreme Warehouse Sale this Saturday and Sunday is no clothing clearance rack. I’m talkin’ big-ticket items at huge discounts: you need to prepare a bit. The savings are so hot, all sales are final.

Lucky for you, I’ve compiled the secrets of the pros — tips that will prepare any appliance rookie for the big league.

Here are some Extreme Sale pros, lined up before the sale.

Before the sale

Don’t be a fool; Use this tool.

Get a sneak peek
Our sale has become so successful, we supplement our floor models and scratch and dent items that we’ve always had with discounted appliances by the truckload. We feature the best of these “special buys” in our advertising and to those who sign up for our “sneak peek” email.

Measure your space
Don’t learn the hard way: there is no “standard” in appliance sizes. Use a measuring tape on the available space — not the existing appliance — and write down dimensions to bring to the sale.

Also, measure the width of the doorways and staircases the appliance will need to travel through.

Know your fuel type
You’ll need to know whether you have a gas or electric hookup when buying a dryer, a range or a cooktop.

Consider your hinges
For example, some refrigerators on sale will be left hinge only. Wouldn’t it be terrible to find a great deal on a fridge only to get it home and not be able to open it? Also know what side you want the hinges on a front-load washer and any type of dryer, in case there’s an option.

Do some research
We’ll have more than 2,000 appliances available at the start of the sale, so have something in mind to avoid frustration. The best tip? Know what you like and don’t like about your existing model. Check out our website for more ideas on what features are important to you.

Get preapproved
You MUST pay for your purchase at the time of sale, though we certainly have financing options to help you pay. Save time by getting approved online at home. Just make sure to bring in your approval slip with your new account number for our files.

Also, even if you’re financing the purchase, you must pay the sales tax at the time of sale.

The day of the sale

Bring a hauling vehicle
Usually, we offer free delivery on purchases $499 and above, but this sale is anything but usual. Our warehouse is full of products, so we encourage customers to take their purchases with them the day of the sale. We’ll help you load it up and everything.

If you do choose to have it delivered, it’s $75 and you must take delivery within 14 days.

Know your schedule
We’ll arrange for delivery and any installation for built-in appliances (available for additional charges) at the time of sale. We’ll call you the day before the delivery with an AM/PM estimate and our crew can call you before they arrive if you need to meet them at your house.

Pack a stroller
Our warehouse is a warehouse. It’s clean and safe, but it’s also big and crowded and without a play area. Strollers work well to keep small children nearby when you’re shopping the selection.

appliancewarehousesale

After the sale

Receive delivery/install time estimate
You’ll receive a call with an AM/PM estimate the day before your scheduled delivery and/or install. Or you can track your delivery at our website (how cool is that?).

Apply for rebates
You could qualify for even more savings by rebate. Once you receive your product, you can fill in the serial number (the delivery crew can help you locate this) on your rebate forms and submit them promptly, as they expire.

Don’t waste your investment because you lack product knowledge.

Read your manual
Knowing your new product can help you save time and improve the quality of your cooking and cleaning. Stow it somewhere memorable to refer to for troubleshooting and general operation questions.

Don’t ignore accessories

If you get a dishwasher, buy rinse aid to help dry your dishes. If you buy a smooth-top electric range, you’ll want cooktop cleaner to keep it looking new. The water filter in your fridge will need to be replaced every six to 12 months. And please, for the sake of your breathing, don’t overstuff your vacuum bags!

Visit my blog
I attack the FAQs plaguing our industry. Hard-hitting questions like, “Why is my washer smelly?” and “How do I clean stainless steel?” It’s also an easy way to reach me if you need help. Plus, you’ll be the first to know about the next Extreme Sale!

November 20, 2012

Julie Warner Warner Stellian:

Just like that horrible pair of holiday socks from your aunt, I’m regifting this blog post to you from last Christmas. It’s perhaps even more relevant for Thanksgiving, as this holiday can’t lean on gifts in the absence of decent food. DON’T SELF CLEAN!

Originally posted on Warner Stellian Appliance:

Just like you might get an oil change before going on a road trip, you might have considered cleaning your oven before hosting a holiday party.

Here’s some advice:

Don’t.

Every holiday we get a panicked call from a well-meaning customer who ran the self-clean on her oven and afterwards, the oven didn’t unlock (in this cautionary tale, Northland Service was able to unlock the oven in the nick of time). Of course, this isn’t what’s supposed to happen; the self-clean mode should just work like a charm.

But we all know that things don’t always turn out as they should, and if it’s going to malfunction, Murphy’s Law dictates that it will be right before your in-laws show up.

Instead, follow my tips on how to clean your oven manually. You don’t even need oven cleaner.

And then you can use your self-clean function AFTER the holidays.

 

View original

tell us a story and you could win big

October 5, 2012

Recently, we realized that although we excel at providing excellent appliance experiences from selection to installation, we’re horrible archivists. 

Thus, we’re bribing you all to help us out. 

In conjunction with our Customer Appreciation Sale, celebrating almost 60 years as Minnesota’s appliance specialist, Warners’ Stellian is gathering the best original stories, memories, photos — you name it — of our past and present.

Send us your stories, photos, Warners’ Stellian “swag,” receipts — you name it. 

ImageWe’ll reward the owner of our favorite submission with a Romantic Winter Weekend Getaway to Grand View Lake Lodge in Brainerd worth over $630. The getaway package includes two nights lodging, breakfast, a $100 Dining Card and a Couples Massage at the beautiful Glacial Waters Spa (good on Friday evening or Sunday morning of the stay). The stay is good from Nov. 15, 2012 through March 3, 2012.

For an example of what we’re looking for, check out this blog about a time when our delivery crew went above and beyond.

 

To enter, send you name, address, and phone number along with your story or photo to contest@warnersstellian.com. If you prefer mail, send your entry and contact info to:

Frozen In Time Contest
Warners’ Stellian
550 Atwater Circle
St. Paul, MN 55103

For full details, visit the contest page on our website. Good luck! 

HOW TO: clean grill and get it ready after winter

March 29, 2012

If you haven’t noticed, along with shorts and mosquitoes, grilling season got an early start this year. Follow these tune-up tips to make sure your gas grill or charcoal grill is BBQ ready.

Clean the interior using a putty knife to scrape off burnt-on food particles inside your grill. This isn’t just aesthetic. Build-up prevents your grill from heating correctly.

To clean your grates, Weber Grill suggests putting them in a dark-colored plastic bag with a cup of ammonia into the bag. After a day in the sun, residue should easily hose off (hat tip Shelterpop).

If you have a grease drain, make sure it’s unclogged by running a coat hanger down it. Just keep your hands away from the grease bucket, because the grease will drain out fast and could burn you.

Season the grill. Use nonstick cooking spray to oil the grates, drip pans and inside of the grill. This helps keep food from sticking to the surfaces and speeds cleaning. Light the grill and let it burn empty with the lid closed for 30 minutes to burn off the preservatives.

Level the grill. If one side of your grill burns burgers while the other leaves them raw, it’s probably not level. Check both side-to-side and front-to-back to ensure even heating.

Check for leaks by inspecting connections for tightness and hoses for cracks. Another good way to scope out leaks is by brushing non-ammonia soapy water around the fitting with an old toothbrush. Turn the gas on and watch for bubbles.

 

Discounted appliances you’ll see at 2012 warehouse sale this weekend

March 6, 2012

We’ll have thousands of appliance deals on hand for Warners’ Stellian’s (now-famous) Extreme Warehouse Sale, taking place 7 a.m. to 5 :30 p.m. Saturday, March 10, 2012 and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, March 11, 2012.

No matter how many people come to our warehouse sale door this week and call our sales line, there’s absolutely no early shopping allowed. But…I can give you a sneak peek of the deals smart shoppers will be snapping up at our St. Paul appliance warehouse (550 Atwater Circle, 1 miles north of I-94 & Dale).

See my tips on how to shop for appliance deals

All prices are good only while quantities last. Prices shown for electric dryers; gas dryers extra.

frenchdoorstainlessfridge

SAVE $1000! Now just $1299.97 - while quantities last! Stainless steel 26.1 cu. ft. French-door refrigerator with external ice and water dispenser. 69-7/8"H x 36"W x 33-7/8"D

$399.97 while quantities last for this GE 16.5 cu. ft. top-freezer refrigerator in white. 64-3/4"H x 28"W x 31"D (#GTH7JBCWW)

SHE43RL5UC

BOSCH - $599 stainless steel (pictured) or $549 for white or black 4-cycle dishwasher. While quantities last! Prices after rebate. (#SHE43RL5UC)

$299.97 for a white (pictured) or $399.97 stainless steel GE 4-cycle STEAM dishwasher with nylon racks. While quantities last! (#GLD4908TWW)

MER7775WW

$599 for a white or black Maytag electric self-clean convection range. (#MER7775WW) While quantities last!

MGR7775WW

$599 for a white or black Maytag gas self-clean convection range. (#MGR7775WW) While quantities last!

 

Save $700 on this cherry red LG steam washer & dryer for only $1499 while quantities last! 3.7 cu. ft. steam washer with 9 cycles. #(WM2450HRA). 7.3. cu. ft. electric steam dryer (DLEX2450R). Gas dryer extra. Sold in pairs only. Pedestals extra. Pair can be stacked!
PTWN6250MWT-&-PTDN600EMWT-2

Save $500 on this GE washer & dryer pair, now only $899 while quantities last! 3.6 cu. ft. high-efficiency washer (#PTWN6250MWT). Electric dryer (#PTDN600EMWT). Gas dryer extra. Sold in pairs only.

EIFLW55HIW-&-EIED55HIW

Save $500 on this Electrolux washer and dryer pair, now only $1299 while quantities last. 4.1 cu. ft. IQ-Touch washer with 11 cycles (#EIFLW55HIW). 8.0 cu. ft. IQ-Touch electric dryer (EIED55HIW). Gas dryer extra. Set can be stacked! Pedestals extra. Sold in pairs only.

And not to mention…

  • KitchenAid ice and water stainless steel French-door refrigerator for $1799 SAVE $500 (while quantities last)
  • LG laundry pairs starting at $999 (while quantities last)
  • Frigidaire freezers SAVE up to 30%
  • Viking Professional ranges starting at $2999. SAVE $1400
  • Maytag white or black electric ranges $299
  • Huge selection of grills, vacuums and microwaves
  • Additional rebates and factory warranties apply

Choose the best bakeware for your recipe

December 1, 2011

If last year’s holiday breads and cookies didn’t turn out exactly as you hoped, don’t blame it on your oven — at least not yet.

The type of bakeware material you choose affects cooking results; some are better for browning and crisping than others, for instance.

Consult this handy guide of bakeware recommendations from Whirlpool so you know what to expect when using different pans and sheets.

Light-colored aluminum:

Light golden crusts and even browning. Use temperature and time recommended in recipe.

Dark aluminum and other bakeware with dark, dull and/or nonstick finish:

Brown, crisp crusts. May need to reduce baking temperatures 25°F (15°C). Use suggested baking time. For pies, breads and casseroles, use temperature recommended in recipe. Place rack in the center of the oven.

Insulated cookie sheets or baking pans:

Little or no bottom browning. Place in the bottom third of the oven. May need to increase baking time.

Stainless steel:

Light, golden crusts, uneven browning. May need to increase baking time.

Stoneware:

Crisp crusts. Follow manufacturer’s instructions.

Ovenproof glassware, ceramic glass or ceramic:

Brown, crisp crusts. May need to reduce baking temperatures 25°F (15°C).

Easy fix for water in the basement

July 18, 2011

As all Minnesotans were sweating during this weekend’s extreme high temperatures and dew points, so was my cool basement and probably yours too.

While doing laundry last night, I noticed water in my basement where the concrete floor meets the wall. Then I found some water in a storage closet. Then I saw that my basement bathroom was wet.

Surprisingly, I still have to learn the necessity of dehumidifiers the hard way.

If you don’t yet have a dehumidifier for your home, I strongly recommend one to prevent mildew and mold cause by buildup of too much moisture. They start at $159.95, which is a pittance compared to water damage.

I’ll be plugging in my new Frigidaire dehumidifier tonight and using a simple garden hose attachment to help it drain directly into my laundry tub (note: the dehumidifier must be elevated, as the water won’t drain “up”). Otherwise, these portable dehumidifiers are better than your last one, with a carrying handle and a no-splash design.

Take note that dehumidifiers are seasonal items not widely available throughout the year, meaning that supplies run low at most retailers during hot, humid periods of the year. Don’t wait till you find water in your basement; call any of our 7 home appliance stores to confirm stock of your desired size (25 pint, 50 pint or 75 pint).

They’re still not whisper quiet, but certainly, they’re quieter than yours was growing up.

Counter depth refrigerators or full depth: Which do you need?

July 7, 2011

There is no “standard” size in appliances and certainly not in refrigerators.

Knowing the maximum height, depth and width of your opening is crucial in selecting a new refrigerator. In fact, size is the No. 1 factor in narrowing down your options.

Most refrigerators today fit either a 30″, 33″ or 36″  wide opening and a 66″, 68″ or 70″ high opening. You should also also allow 1″ of clearance on each side of the refrigerator for breathing room.

But because refrigerators have become deeper within the last 10 years, you also should consider the depth of your space. Manufacturers have added more insulation to retain temperatures in the refrigerator to keep up with increasing efficiency standards, which has increased the overall depth of today’s refrigerators by 2″-4″.

Which means your fridge will stick out even more from the edge of your cabinets. Solution? Cabinet depth refrigerators.

Cabinet depth (aka counter depth) refrigerators give your kitchen a more sleek look. The 24″ depth allows your refrigerator’s cabinet to align with the surrounding cabinetry, creating more of a “built-in” look for your kitchen. Cabinet depth styling is most commonly found in side-by-side models, but can also be found in top freezer models, bottom freezer styles and French door refrigerators.

So why doesn’t everyone have a counter depth fridge? Basically, price versus capacity. A French-door counter depth refrigerator is going to offer fewer cubic feet of food storage for the money than a full-depth French-door refrigerator.


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