ROSEMARY HARRIS: If you blindfolded me in my own kitchen I could not tell you what brand of refrigerator, stove or microwave I have. The only reason I know I have a Bosch dishwasher is because I hate it and I'm about to replace it and its fellow appliances. And I have been drawn into uncharted territory.
First off, who knew these #$%^ things were so expensive? I certainly didn't. Like airline tickets, I think they all should be under $1000. You can stop laughing now.
Apparently August is a good month to buy. There are lots of sales and they like it if you buy a bunch of appliances at the same time. After all, one salesman told me, "you want them to go." I had never given much thought to whether or not my appliances "went." One got food cold, the other got food hot. That was pretty much all I asked of my appliances.
Suddenly I found myself eyeing a stainless steel Viking as big and slick as an Airstream. Talk about sticker shock. I recognized a few of the other names and had a general sense of where they were in the appliance pantheon, but dang...who knew there were $15,000 refrigerators? And why? Other than size, cold is cold, right?
I thought it all faintly ridiculous until Alberto, the installer came to measure the weird (of course) space where the fridge went. "It's not standard, but we can shave the cabinets. You could fit a SubZero in here." Who said I wanted one of those? And then I felt it. The twinge of..what...appliance angst? Pride in my porcelain? Was my self-worth tied to my SubZero?
Will someone please stop me before I buy the Wolf stove or the Northland custom side by side?
JAN BROGAN: Having once fallen for the expensive Meile dishwasher - because it had a hard water filter I thought I needed - I can tell you, it's a waste of money. It was designed for small little German plates and cups and you couldn't fit anything in it. I hated that thing so much I pulled it after five years and am happy to be back with Kitchen Aid or whatever low-rent brand I actually have.
It's all about status. Especially the subZero thing. We all fall for some kind of status whether we want to believe it or not, but I choose not to fall for the appliance one - it feels so housewifey. Don't believe the resale argument either. We were looking at various condos we wanted to buy and as the real estate agent was pointing out the Subzero refrigerator, I was thinking GOD I WOULD NEVER HAVE THAT THING IN MY HOUSE. (Mostly because it had clear see through doors and who wants to see what's inside your refrigerator ALL THE TIME.)
HALLIE EPHRON: We buy the cheapest appliances and are never disappointed :-) -- When we went to our local appliance store, which was roughly the size of Rhode Island, to replace our stove, EVERY STOVE in the showroom was $2,000 or more. My budget was, ahem, a LOT less.
So I asked the sales guy What's the deal? All I want is four burners and an oven. He led me to a door in the back corner of the showroom (really), opened it, and VOILA there was another football-field's worth of appliances. Felt like I'd stepped through the wardrobe in the Lion, the Witch... A sea of white, all white, basic, and priced at hundreds not thousands.
As you all know, I LOVE to cook, but seriously. How many of those fancy "features" do you actually use? AND magnets don't stick to stainless steel.
HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: If you saw our appliances, you would laugh. They are from the dark ages. Jonathan keeps saying--don't you want a new oven? The broiler only works intermittently and the oven is unreliable and so coated with decades of stuff that it would take a blaster furnace to clean it. (Its not really that bad, I HAVE cleaned it. But it's not a gleaming paradise.)
But I keep saying no. I love our oven. Why? It's red, from the fifties, maybe, and how cool is that?
Our stove is an equally unreliable gas thing that I have to keep making sure still has a lighted pilot light. But I know how it works and I understand it.
As for the dishwasher. Ah. Another story. Ours flat out broke, no recourse but to replace it. And the ONLY replacement that would fit in the space is a..oh, I forget the brand. It's fabulous. Instead of a flip-down door opening, it has two drawers that pull out. So you can use both drawers, or just one. I admit. I am in love with it. It makes a lite beedle-beedle noise when you open the drawer, an it makes me so happy.
DEBORAH CROMBIE: No appliance envy here. When we remodeled our kitchen in 2007, we replaced everything except the fridge, which we'd just had to replace the year before. (Hank, I have the same dishwasher. Just wait until you have to work on it. Ha ha.) We didn't go for the Sub Zero price range, though, thank goodness. And I agree with Jan--who would ever want to have people looking at what's IN your fridge? And a fridge without magnets? Please. I do love my Jenn-Air gas stove with gas oven. I like to cook and you can't beat a good gas range. We've got a little drinks fridge (clear door okay on that one) and a Sharp drawer microwave. I love the microwave, but unlike the dishwasher, we haven't had to do repairs yet. I suspect it will be a nightmare.
RHYS BOWEN: Sorry, I'm a Kenmore girl. All our appliances come from Sears. I have friends with Sub Zero fridges and they look lovely, but so what? And my brother has a stove that belongs in Gordon Ramsay's kitchen but it uses the same gas that I do. I do love my Cuisineart which is the big one, but apart from that I'm content. We did just buy a lovely new washing machine, front loader, huge capacity and it really does get things clean.
However, I do confess to twinges of car envy sometimes. I buy a new Camry every four years. Reliable, good solid transportation, but part of me wants that low sleek sportscar with the rag top, or better yet the Mercedes sports car with the top that folds at the press of a button. I suppose I could afford one but the sensible side of me says WHY.
JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: Rhys, I am totally with you. When we need to replace something, we walk into Sears, pick the Kenmore that got the best rating from Consumer Reports and buy it. Sears has really reasonable delivery rates in our area as well.
I have to confess, I love reading shelter magazines (Traditional Home, House Beautiful, Southern Living) and I often fantasize about having one of those fabulously retro kitchens, where all the appliances have rounded '50s corners and come with cool pastel paint jobs and chrome trim. But OMG, have you seen how much those things cost? The frugal Yankee in me can't take it. I'm not willing to pay an extra $1,000 for pretty.
LUCY BURDETTE: We do have a fancy dishwasher because of the size it has to fit in, but Debs is completely right--repairs are a nightmare! We went through this recently--had to wait a month (washing by hand, mind you!) and then it ended up costing about the price of a regular new dishwasher. Hopefully, we have learned our lesson. I do adore my Maytag washer and dryer though--was completely sucked in by the lonely maytag repairman commercials:)
ROSEMARY: Tell us your nightmare appliance story and you'll be entered to win a free copy of Slugfest! http://tinyurl.com/6mdovca