The laundry pair that’s got your back…literally

October 17, 2013 by

It’s the reason I was set up with my now-fiance: height. He’s tall, I was told. But I digress…

I’m not the only one who thinks height matters. GE just got taller.

GE’s newest laundry innovation acknowledges that only 60% of consumers buy the washer dryer pedestals recommended to front-load laundry owners to prevent uncomfortable bending and hunching when loading and unloading.

white laundry pedestal

The RightHeight washer and dryer’s built-in risers raise the machines 7 inches off the ground, making it just under 4 feet tall. A traditional laundry pedestal will raise the top of the machine to about 4-½ feet tall, which GE argues limits the function of the top of the machine to storage space instead of a folding surface, as illustrated below:

laundry-pedestal

*Disclaimer* Laundry-doing man & well-behaved child sold separately.

There are a lot of other features that are worth considering, but my favorite is single-item wash, promoted like this:

“Ditch the environmental guilt with this uniquely designed cycle that offers great wash performance for single items.”

In my house it’d be more like:

“Stop feeling like a failure for never getting around to the laundry and just wash outfits on demand!”

Perhaps most importantly, the RightHeight washer and dryer come in fun colors that either match a beautiful, trendy laundry room or grant respite from a hideous basement dungeon area like mine. Introduce some tall and handsome to your dark laundry room ;)

Best Bosch dishwasher features review

October 8, 2013 by

The appliance that hands down gives our customers the most headaches are their dishwashers. They don’t clean, they’re loud, they don’t always fit my big dishes or enough of them at a time.

Note: if this sounds familiar, it might be time to stop making excuses and start making plans for buying a dishwasher.

Certainly there a lot of cool features that dishwasher-makers are coming out with, but I have to give props to a brand that focuses on being the best in those three areas that cause the greatest heartache. Bosch dishwashers are the quietest in their class and are often recognized for their cleaning power. And the newest generation of Bosch dishwashers tweaked the design to free up even more space for dirty dishes.

Dishwashers should actually clean your dishes

It’s a novel concept: a dishwasher that washes your dirty dishes so well that you don’t wash them yourself before loading. It’s a bad habit that many can’t shake, but being the past owner of a bad dishwasher myself, I can empathize.

When I visited the Bosch training facility last year, my favorite room was the small, enclosed dishwasher room. Cozy on purpose to amplify every sound a dishwasher makes.

bosch dishwashers

This room was small, so you could really hear the difference a decibel makes.

We put every imaginable mess on plates that you’d usually soak or rinse off before handing them over to the dishwasher.

But they came out clean every time — by no accident of course. This is how they are designed and tested. But it was especially fun to witness this process. And to not be the one having to load and unload the dishes.

Is this thing on?

Our best Bosch dishwasher in terms of sales registers at 47 dBA, a sound level between hand washing and typing. (FYI, the quietest Bosch dishwasher is 38 dBA, which is scientifically equivalent to a tree falling in the woods when no one is around.) Translation: they’re super quiet.

They achieve this stunningly silent operation through a combination of insulation, water jet trajectory design, and quiet-focused mechanics.

Some Bosch dishwashers are so confusingly silent, engineers added InfoLight to beam a small red orb onto the floor beneath to indicate that it was, in fact, running. TimeLight goes a step further to beam the time remaining. Unnecessary? Probably. Cool? You betcha.

Nice rack

We’ve all experienced the anxiety of “will it fit?” And I’m not just talking about your skinny jeans in January.

Bosch’s RackMatic design totally gets that the tallest stemware is a favorite for allowing the largest “just one glass of wine” pour. And the tallest cookware (roasting pans, cookie sheets, frying pans) are the ones we least like to tackle by hand.

The unique V-shape of Bosch’s rack means never having to handwash.  Simply by lower or raise the RackMatic rack to accommodate all the awkwardly shaped wine glasses and pans you want.

That sounds expensive

It’s not that bad. We bundled together the best-selling Bosch dishwasher (on sale for $599) with all its kitchen counterparts and then cut the price by 25% ($3699)…while supplies last.

bosch kitchen set

And actually, a kitchen full of high-efficiency, German engineered appliances sounds very quiet.

HOW TO: buy a refrigerator

October 2, 2013 by

Buying a refrigerator can be a difficult decision, considering all the sizes, styles and prices available. But most importantly (after making sure it fits), the refrigerator you choose should reflect the way your family uses your kitchen and accesses fresh or frozen food.

stainless-steel-refrigerator

Top-freezer refrigerators position the freezer at eye level while the refrigerator compartment offers wide shelves, making it easy to store large trays of food and allow access to items in the back of the refrigerator.

side by side black refrigerator

Side-by-side refrigerators feature the freezer on the left and the refrigerator on the right. Side-by-sides require less door swing clearance, perfect for kitchen layouts with narrow walkways or an island.

stainless-bottom-freezer-refrigerator

Bottom freezer refrigerators are today’s most popular refrigerator style. The refrigerator is opened nine to 10 times more often than the freezer, so it’s convenient to locate the refrigerator at waist or chest level.

four door french door refrigerator

French door refrigerators, the industry’s fastest growing style, is like a bottom-freezer but with French doors (side-by-side) opening from the center. The symmetrical styling allows easier installation with less door clearance to impede a walkway or island. Wide refrigerator shelves easily store large party trays.

samsung french door refrigeratorSome models, like the one pictured above, come with a fourth drawer. Depending on the model, the fourth drawer is a second refrigerator compartment or a second freezer compartment. However, as is the case with the Samsung refrigerator pictured to the right, sometimes the fourth drawer offers more temperature options (think chilling wine versus storing meats) than you’d probably select with your main fresh food compartment.

‘Cool’ features to consider

• A Dual-Compressor System cools the refrigerator and freezer separately. This preserves food substantially longer, better retaining the food’s natural internal moisture.

• Chilling Drawers brings air directly from the freezer into a sealed refrigerator compartment to, for instance, cool a warm beverage to ice cold in 15 minutes!

• Hidden Hinge extends door heights to cover hinges and create a more built-in look.

• Gallon Storage Door Bins hold large milk and juice jugs in the door to free up precious shelf space.

Cabinet-depth models provide a sleek and seamless appearance. The shallow 24” depth aligns with surrounding cabinetry, again, offering a more “built-in” look.

Tip: A common mistake when buying a new refrigerator is not properly measuring the maximum height, depth and width of the space it will fit into. There is no “standard” in refrigerator. However, if your opening is 36” wide and 70” high, you will have a wide selection of models to choose from. As a rule of thumb, you should allow 1” of clearance on each side of the refrigerator for breathing room.

Tips for buying a dishwasher

September 25, 2013 by

Sizes & styles

Though dishwashers are relatively standard in size at 24” wide, you may have less than 34” in height if, say, new flooring was laid on top of old flooring. Or your countertops are slightly lower for handicap accessibility.

In these cases, you will need to seek out a “short tub” or ADA compliant dishwasher. An increasing number of dishwashers now offer hidden controls along the top of the door instead of front controls for a more seamless appearance. For a truly integrated appearance, several manufacturers offer models with an unfinished door, able to accept a custom wood panel.

Frigidaire's OrbitClean alternating arm action  focuses four times more water and detergent in a  concentrated area while rotating around the interior.

Frigidaire’s OrbitClean alternating arm action focuses four times more water and detergent in a
concentrated area while rotating around the interior.

Basic models offer just one or two spray arms, but most dishwashers have a spray arm on the bottom, in the middle, and at the top of the dishwasher tub. These spray arms typically have a direct feed of water as opposed to the indirect tower design of the past.

European-style models (i.e. Bosch, ASKO, Miele, Electrolux, etc.) use a slightly different approach to cleaning. These models feature high wash temperatures (30-40 degrees more than comparable models) and increased water pressure. The increased water temperature and water pressure creates a more effective wash cycle, able to cut through even the toughest baked-on grease.

miele-cutlery-tray

Traditionally, silverware baskets are located front and center in the lower rack, but some models feature a long basket on the side of the lower rack, which often can be split into sub baskets and relocated or removed. Some high-end dishwashers offer a flat, dedicated silverware tray at the top of the dishwasher that frees up more space in main racks.

dcs-tall-dishdrawerFor flexible use options, consider dish drawer dishwashers, which can be purchased as single drawer (using half the water and electricity of a standard dishwasher) or double units (each drawer runs independently for convenient flexibility). Drawers also reduce bending for those with back or knee problems.

Features to consider

  • Anti-Leak Safety – shields hardwood floors from damage in the case of an internal leak. Water will be contained within the pan, shielding hardwood floors from damage. A sensor within the safety pan may also shut down the dishwasher to prevent further damage.
  • Internal Water Softener – ensures soft water is used, which reduce fogging and etching to glassware and improves cleaning power of detergent
  • Stainless steel interiors are less likely to absorb odors or stains than plastic interiors and results in a quicker overall dry time through condensation
  • Third racks may be adjusted and nearly removable to use otherwise-wasted space. Sometimes used as a glassware rack for the frequent entertainer.
  • Hard food disposers typically grind up food particles and flush them out, but European-style models’ high wash temperatures and increased water pressure emulsify food waste that is washed away at the end of the cycle. Not using a disposer means less energy consumption and fewer moving parts, resulting in fewer breakdowns and quieter operation. A food trap prevents more durable items, such as chicken bones, from entering into the mechanics of the unit.

Star-Sapphire_time

  • LED electronic read-outs – show the time remaining in a cycle. Wash times are longer today than they were in the past to make up for today’s more eco-friendly but less-potent detergent. A normal wash used to be 45- 60 minutes, but is now between 90-135 minutes, depending on the model.

5 appliance myths that waste your time & money

September 4, 2013 by

washing-machineMYTH: Cold water won’t properly wash your clothes

FACT: Modern washers are designed to clean in cold water and 90 percent of a washer’s energy goes toward the water heating. So by washing with hot water, you’re pouring money down the drain.

MYTH: You must rinse your dishes before they run in the dishwasher

FACT: Dishwashers and detergent clean best when starting with dirty dishes. The detergent needs food to activate and many dishwashers use sensors to determine the “turbidity” level of the water so if the dishwasher thinks the dishes are already clean, it will run shorter and colder.

Today, an Energy Star dishwasher uses only 4 gallons of water or less, and some estimates say you’ll use 20 gallons of water from your faucet pre-rinsing dishes. So it’s better to run the dishes through 4 times than to put them in rinsed.

MYTH: More soap = more clean

FACT: Just because dishwashers and washers now require less water to clean properly doesn’t mean that everyone has gotten the message to reduce our detergent use in conjunction. Too much dishwasher detergent can leave a white film on dishes and too much laundry detergent can cause oversudsing in the washer, reducing the performance and lifespan of a washer not too mention leaving soap residue on your clothes that didn’t properly rinse out.

MYTH: Using an old refrigerator as a second beverage refrigerator is a money-saving idea

fridge-cost

FACT: The electricity to power an old refrigerator over several years will cost more than an energy efficient replacement…and then some! Energy Star’s website cleverly offers a Refrigerator Retirement Savings calculator.

I plugged in what I consider some common figures and found that the cost to a homeowner of a 20 year old top-freezer fridge (probably 18 cu ft) would be $620 over 5 years. A new Energy Star model costs about $40/year to run vs. $125/yr PLUS many local utilities will actually pay you $35 or more to let them come haul away your second refrigerator.

MYTH: Buying a more powerful A/C will cool down your space faster

FACT: The A/C will just cycle off more frequently when it reaches the temperature in the room, reducing efficiency, lifespan and causing uncomfortable temperature fluctuations. Buy a window air conditioner or room air conditioner that’s just right for your space.

MYTH: When the oven’s preheating chime sounds, it’s fully reached temperature

FACT: Some preheat chimes are on a timer so it shouldn’t be trusted for finicky bakers, who should test the temperature with a thermometer. For your everyday pizzas and casseroles, you’d be fine however.

MYTH: You don’t need to turn on your ventilation until there’s smoke

FACT: You should start running your ventilation 10 minutes before you start cooking to create an airflow and leave it running 5 minutes after you’re done for best results.

Colored appliances that trump stainless steel

August 28, 2013 by

In recent years, stainless steel appliances gained ubiquity in kitchens throughout Minnesota. Heck, I’ve switched out all of my outdated, white appliances from the last millennium to a stainless steel refrigerator, range and dishwasher.

But despite — or perhaps because of — stainless steel’s popularity, not everyone is looking to replace colored appliances with stainless.

In fact, some publications hint that white is the new stainless, bolstered by manufacturers’ efforts to modernize a color recently associated with outmoded kitchens.

Whichever camp you fall into, here’s a selection of neutrally colored appliances that no one will call mundane.

GE Slate

GE Slate looks similar to stainless steel, but is darker and more matte. Not only is it a visually a departure, but hey, fewer fingerprints to clean off!

geslatekitchenset

GE’s new Slate finish

Because I appreciate using a thesaurus to cure writer’s block as much as GE’s writers apparently do, I’ll re-publish the official copywriting about Slate:

Welcome GE’s new fashion-forward finish, Slate: a color that is just as stylish and sophisticated as stainless steel but with a strong, earthy feel. Sophisticated, modern with a twist of verve, and a dose of stunning. It’s a timeless new finish that beautifully blends in, to help you truly stand out.

I don’t know about you, but that sure inspires some design FOMO in me. My kitchen certainly lacks earthy, twisted verve. To Warner Stellian I go!

Jenn-Air Oiled Bronze

Personally, the first time I saw Oiled Bronze in a showroom, I thought that someone ironically paneled the fridge using plywood found on 1970’s basement walls. But in the right application, as you’ll see below, it’s truly something.

cJennAirOiledBronzeAppliances

Jenn-Air’s Oil Rubbed finish, featured in the hood, ovens and refrigerator.

GE Artistry

GE Artistry Series Black

GE Artistry Series in Black

Though they look like a throwback, GE Artistry appliances were designed for the millennials, specifically first-time home buyers. GE said it felt this modern generation (my generation) would appreciate the reinvented retro look and the “entry-level” price tag of mid $2000s.

geartistrywhitekitchen

GE Artistry also comes in white with stainless steel accents.

Whirlpool Ice Collection

WhirlpoolIceBlackAppliances

Whirlpool Ice Collection in Black

Whirlpool modernized its colors from textured white or textured black that was so bumpy, you could cover imperfections with glorified nail polish known as “touch-up paint.” Whirlpool Ice Collection however, is impeccably sleek.

From Whirlpool: “Our contemporary form flows into modern colors elegantly energized with metallic finishes and subtle textures.” So, supposedly the handles are energized but I think they just mean “shiny.” Oooh pretty! Whirlpool Ice comes in White Ice, Black Ice appliances and yes, Stainless.

whirlpool-ice-white

Whirlpool Ice Collection in White

Appliance energy savings (on a stick)

August 23, 2013 by
stainlesssteelfrenchdoorrefrigerator

Check out the energy savings on THAT one! A fairgoer learns about the payoff of Energy Star appliances.

Again this year we’re educating Minnesota State Fair-goers about the money and energy you’ll save by using Energy Star appliances.

The Eco Experience, housed in the Progress Center building, educates Minnesotans about sustainable living practices from not throwing away your aluminum can (can you believe 60% do?) to keeping our drinking water clean to — the main event — Energy Star appliances!

energystarsappliancesThe federal government created the Energy Star label 20 years ago to promote to consumers appliances that went above and beyond the standards set for energy efficiency.

These energy-efficient appliances, though sometimes more expensive at point of purchase than standard appliances, represent a greater lifetime value when factoring in the money saved through lower utility costs.

Only refrigerators, freezers, dishwashers and washers currently carry Energy Star ratings, though the word is that dryers will soon follow. Not all appliances can be Energy Star rated because there’s not enough difference in energy use within the category to create a meaningful distinction for buyers. We’ll see if that changes.

New this year!

Warners’ Stellian is proud to partner with the University of Minnesota College of Design for the Gen Y Eco House  exhibit, designed by students to reflect the future of home design for Millennials. The students say that their generation cooks little but values energy and water efficiency so we’re featuring appliances that pack a punch in a smaller footprint: a Bosch induction cooktop, a Fisher & Paykel DishDrawer and a U-Line compact refrigerator/freezer. The laundry is stackable with an Energy Star washer and a sensor dryer. Instead of an oven, the students chose an Electrolux convection microwave, which works double duty to both reheat and bake.

 

3 refrigerators that will make you hate the one you have (sorry)

July 17, 2013 by

Remember when refrigerators were just a cold spot to keep your milk? Well, a few brands are recognizing the changing tastes of Americans and the growing role of the kitchen in today’s home with innovations that are convenient and just plain cool!

If you’re like me, you might start second guessing your current model and cursing it for not anticipating your every beverage or grocery shopping need.

Samsung SodaStream refrigerator

samsungfridge462x347_feature2For others like me who like a little pep in their water, the idea of a sparkling water-dispensing Samsung refrigerator is amazing.

You may select up to three levels of carbonation for sparkling water using the same control panel you would use to select water or ice. The sparkling water dispenser uses a standard SodaStream 60L CO2cylinder that rests in a small, concealed area inside the left refrigerator door, which is easily accessible to change when empty.

No more taking up precious fridge space with bottled and canned sparkling water nor creating all that packaging waste; now water dispenses on demand. In addition, you’ll ultimately save money (ultimately…) because sparkling water gets pricey and the cylinder refills aren’t that bad.

GE hot water dispensing refrigerator

gefridgeJust as easily as you can have cold water at the touch of the button, the GE hot water dispenser fridge means no more microwaving water or heating it on the stove for common needs! Think baby formula for gosh sakes. You’ll pour hot, filtered water from your fridge dispenser in minutes. How easy is that?

With four pre-programmed settings for the most common food and drinks, hot water is dispensed at a perfectly accurate temperature every time.

hotwater_temps

Simply select your temperature setting, then use the knob to dispense up to 10 ounces of perfectly heated water.

Plus, water is purified through the only refrigeration filter tested and verified to remove 98% of five trace pharmaceuticals* from water and ice, offering added peace of mind for your family.

The refrigerator comes in both standard-depth and counter-depth styles to suit your kitchen.

LG WiFi LCD screen fridge

lg-refrigerator-lfx28995st-large01lcd-food-management465x265Don’t you hate it when you’re at the grocery store and you think you have sour cream in your fridge but how old is it really? Wouldn’t it be sweet to access that information and an inventory of all your fridge’s contents from your smartphone? (Answer: yes, it would be sweet).

This LG French door refrigerator uses a 10″ WiFi enabled LCD display to manage calendars, check the weather, download recipes from The Food Channel, leave digital notes (“stop drinking out of the milk carton!” or “save that cake for Saturday’s party!!!”) and display family photos. Oh and yes, the “food management system” will help you remember what you have and how long it’s good for. From there, you can create shopping lists that can also be accessed via your smart phone. Super smart, right?

Sample and save at this weekend’s Grill Expo

May 17, 2013 by

Our tastiest event of the year happens this weekend – the Warner Stellian Grill Expo!

warners-stellian-grill-expo

This Saturday, May 18 and Sunday, May 19 at all Warners’ Stellian Appliance stores (except Minneapolis Outlet), you can see ­– and taste –­ the difference among the latest models of quality gas, charcoal and smoker grills during grilling
demonstrations by experts on top brands, like Weber GrillHolland GrillVermont Castings and DCS Outdoor.

So what’s new in grills? Japanese Kamado-style smoker grills like the Big Green Egg and the Primo Grill have soared in popularity. This ceramic charcoal barbecue and smoker can reach extremely high temperatures (past 700 degrees) to quickly fire a Neapolitan pizza, but allow total control — maintaining accuracy within a few degrees. They can cook a hotdog in four minutes or smoke a brisket low and slow overnight.

Like we’ve seen with ranges, gas grills are becoming bigger, more powerful and more feature-heavy (i.e. built-in rotisseries, side burners, sear burners and sleek stainless steel styling).

Warners’ Stellian will have discounts on all grills, plus free assembly and delivery on grills priced $499 and up. Better yet, buy a grill $599 and get 3 certificates for free products from No Name Premium Meats & Seafood.

WHEN:  Saturday, May 18 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. & Sunday, May 19 from noon to 4 p.m.

Buy Big Green Egg, get a pizza oven too

May 13, 2013 by

Some get excited for grilling season for smoky ribs, crispy chicken wings and veggies.

Not me.

I get excited for pizza.

big-green-egg-pizza

Pizza on the grill? Duh. Ceramic smokers like the Big Green Egg work very much like a wood-fired or brick oven you see used in Neopolitan-style pizzerias (but cheaper and in your backyard).

Because the Green Egg Smoker can reach temperatures upwards of 750 degrees, it can quickly fire dough and produce the slightly charred, chewy crust you probably overpay for at your local ristorante.

Once you get started, you’ll get hooked on the endless possibilities. Most grocery stores now keep fresh pizza dough behind their deli counters, and pizzas work for every meal and every craving. Crack eggs on top with crumbled sausage for breakfast pizza. Spread on chocolate ganache and peanut butter for one of my favorite desserts. Make a bunch of flatbreads and set out toppings for a fun and unique summer dinner party. And of course, you can’t go wrong with the classic Margherita.

How to turn your Big Green Egg into a pizza oven

Biggreeneggpizzaeggcessories

1. Buy Big Green Egg (sorry, couldn’t help myself)

2. Choose the proper Big Green Egg accessories (called “Eggcessories”). You’ll want the plate setter, to enable indirect heat cooking, and the pizza stone, for even  heat and brick oven crustiness. Note: you can buy Big Green Egg accessories online from Warners’ Stellian and get free shipping, too.

3. Fire it up. With the baking stone on the plate setter, heat the grill to 600 degrees. You’ll get the best crust if you start from a super hot Big Green Egg grill and pizza stone. Dough-only grilling should take about 5 minutes, so add time accordingly for toppings. You’ll learn as you go how long it takes to get the doneness you desire. I’ve learned that pricking the dough prior to grilling it keeps disks of dough from ballooning into footballs :)


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