Monday, 19 October 2009

I wasn't kidding about it being very slow going

Hence the lack of posts. Despite the fact that our contractor pulled a permit to begin re-doing the Red Brick Building's roof, and our architects promised to have us the plans by the first week of September, it's only last week that they were turned over to the structural engineer for him to be able to do his engineering drawings. Yup, it's been six weeks of hounding and hounding and even more hounding of architects. Not fun. But we are hoping to have turned a corner, and the engineer promised us the plans by tomorrow.

Meanwhile, I've been doing a little showroom visiting today and last week, since some of the spatial dimensions within the rooms are becoming more defined. I visited a local appliance showroom and did a quick whip 'round Sears' appliance section, for comparison purposes. I went in with some "musts" and came out with a few strong contenders.

For the tenants, we're going with all stainless, since that's what most people seem to like these days. A side-by-side fridge/freezer, since it strikes me as the most "neutral" choice (not deciding whether the future tenants are more from-scratch cooks or frozen food reheaters). The Bosch was the clear winner among those I saw, in terms of attractiveness, a feeling of quality, good internal illumination and space configuration. Plus it has the ice/water dispenser in the door, which is a nice touch. For their range, I liked the Bosch and the GE Cafe model. The Cafe seems a little more practical and intelligently designed, the Bosch is a little more elegant-looking and has the "brand-name" factor. Also, apparently if you buy several applicances from the same manufacturer you get a discount. And the saleswoman was saying that the Bosch dishwashers or washers and dryers (I forget which) are the highest rated. But I haven't even gotten to dishwashers and laundry yet. It feels less urgent since there are fewer variables in terms of size and hook-up.

For our own unit, I want white appliances, a French door fridge and a gas cook-top on our free-standing (or rather, as I learned it is called, "slide-in") range. My favorite fridge was the KitchenAid, though there was a Whirlpool Gold that was acceptable, if cheaper-feeling, and half the price. This after going back and forth about whether we need an in-door ice and water dispenser, consulting with my cutie and deciding we don't. Our range was trickier, because I want something white and attractively designed and my boyfriend wants something similar to the Thermador in our rental, which means something more professional style. My other requirements are something with a decently big oven, 4 burners, no or minimal backsplash, and no gimmicky electronics. This morning I went to a showroom that specializes in ranges and deals mostly with European brands. In particular, I wanted to check out Blue Star, Aga and, if possible, see a white KitchenAid range.

Well, after strolling around the showroom and speaking to one of the salespeople, I fell in love with the Blue Star. It reminds me of the ranges I cooked on in restaurants with its open, flush and dropped-in burners. And it comes in white! (as well as over 100 other colors) Apparently the oven is the most capacious of any range its size and the broilers get mega-hot. There's a convection fan to keep things baking evenly, a pull out foil-lineable drawer that catches spills and crumbs, you can take the grate off for true wok cooking, and unlike the Thermador, the simmer setting maintains an evenly low simmer, rather than switching on and off on a timer. So enamored am I that I am even tempted by the possibility of adding a 12 inch grill to the 4-burner 30 inch model that I was originally eyeing, so getting the 36 inch model instead.

Of the other options, the Aga did nothing for me (can't see what's going on inside, except with one model, has non-continuous burner plates, and little ovens which, the saleswoman told me, take surprisingly long to heat up). I think it's best for someone who's a real back-to-basics kind of person (which I emphatically am not). The KitchenAid they had on show wasn't white and it had lots of electronics to control the oven. Plus, it just doesn't hold its own, style and heft-wise with the pro-style ranges. The surprise of the visit was an Italian brand called Ilve which was gorgeous. Comes in a half-dozen colors including white and optional copper trim. Cute styling and nobs, but pricier than the BlueStar (which itself isn't cheap), non-continuous grates and none of the other advantages of the BS.

After these visits, it feels great to know what I'm putting on the appliance wish list. We'll still need to cost it all out, though, before we reach any decisions.