Call an interior designer or contractor about your upcoming kitchen project, and the first thing he or she asks you might surprise you: Have you picked out your appliances yet?
It may sound a little backward, but selecting these fixtures of your home’s cooking and entertaining hub early on has huge benefits.
For one, appliances are the backbone of your kitchen. The size and functionality of your fridge, range, and dishwasher will determine not just how your family cooks, bakes, and hangs out, but also the best layout for your space. There are many to choose from, and your opinion likely will change as you learn about them all. It saves time and effort—for you, your designer or contractor, and the whole project—to design your kitchen’s layout around your final appliance choices.
Your designer or contractor, if you end up working with one, will be your main ally later on, when you’re trying to get countertops installed or painters to finish up. An appliance specialist, on the other hand, is your ally in the beginning. He or she can really speak to how you get the most out of every inch, and show you what is new in appliances including available sizes.
Nailing down the latter—the sizes—is the most important step to getting your kitchen project rolling. Read on to learn about the standard dimensions and options for the appliances you’ll definitely want—and ones you might not have considered before but may want to add.
If you have a larger kitchen or home, a second machine offers flexibility and convenience. It can save you the trip to your main kitchen from your bar or pool area, or whisk away the glasses that so often get left in the sink after a dinner party. We recommend a compact bar 18 inch dishwasher or a single dishwasher drawer.
As for height, 35 inches is standard for a full-size machine. However, ADA dishwashers, which are an inch shorter, are available if they better suit your personal needs or if your counters are low due to raised kitchen floors.
The other important factor is depth: Dishwashers can be flush with your cabinets, or “proud” (meaning they protrude a bit). European models fit flush; that sleek style is part of why they have gained such a big market share in the U.S. (It also doesn’t hurt that manufacturers such as Bosch and Miele excel in quietness and cleaning performance. Most American-made dishwashers sit proud.
In high-end kitchens, depth is an important visual factor. Many designers opt for panel ready dishwasher fronts to blend in with the surrounding cabinets. To achieve this look, your dishwasher should have a maximum depth of 23 1/6”. Almost all European models meet this criteria; American-made models tend to be deeper.
Finally, when fully open, a standard dishwasher door extends 27 inches. You’ll want to keep this in mind when thinking through your layout, to avoid blocking traffic.
LOOK FOR: 24-inch width, 35-inch height, maximum 23 1/6-inch depth
CONSIDER: A secondary 18-inch dishwasher
In addition to all the high-tech features now available (door-in-door access, digital cameras to remotely check what’s inside), fridges now come in a wide variety of sizes. The most common widths are 36 inches, 42 inches, and 48 inches. Suburban kitchens usually have a 36-inch model. Most freestanding fridges require about a 72-inch-tall opening; built-in fridges require about an 84-inch-tall opening.
There are also columns, full-size fridges and freezers you purchase separately. These come in a broader range of sizes, so you can mix and match them to meet your needs and suit your space. You’ll find widths of 18, 24, 30, and 36 inches. The most popular column combination we see is a 36-inch-wide fridge with a 24-inch-wide freezer. Wine columns are also available, in 18- and 24-inch widths.
LOOK FOR: Minimum 36-inch width, if your kitchen layout allows
CONSIDER: Separate column refrigerator and freezer (36-inch-wide fridge; 24-inch-wide freezer)
3) Under-the-Counter Appliances: Wine and Beverage Coolers, Refrigerator or Freezer Drawers, Microwave Drawers, Ice Makers
You may be thinking: A beverage cooler is the same as a wine fridge, right? Well, not exactly. A beverage fridge gets cooler than a wine fridge. Wine fridges are designed to maintain a steady temperature with less vibration from the motor to keep your wine at the perfect temperature. Beverage fridges cool at a range of temperatures. As a result, you may want to opt for one over the other—or for one of each. Both give bulky bottles and cans their own space, and let you maximize your main refrigerator’s shelves for your groceries. They can also help with the flow of your kitchen, since no one will be reaching in for a juice box while you’re trying to prep dinner. Most of these appliances are 24 inches wide, though there is a limited selection of 15-inch-wide wine and beverage fridges, too.
Many of us have microwaves that sit on our countertop or are mounted above our range, doubling as a range hood. Choosing a microwave drawer instead frees up counter space, allows you to have more powerful ventilation, and places this appliance conveniently at waist height. Countertop/built-in microwaves and microwave drawers come in 24- and 30-inch widths; these have identical interiors but different-size face plates. We find that they fit great into an island, and help maximize the space. Over-the-range microwaves are typically 30 inches wide.
At only 15 inches wide, undercounter ice makers are the ultimate convenience. You’ll get perfect ice with consistent quality. Plus, depending on your freezer options, you may find it more practical and functional to invest in a standalone ice maker rather than a built-in one.
LOOK FOR: 24-inch width for most undercounter appliances; 15-inch width for ice makers
CONSIDER: Building in a microwave drawer or ice maker
4) Cooking Appliances: Range, Rangetop, Cooktop, Wall Oven & More
How often (and ambitiously) you cook or bake determines this choice. Your options include:
Don’t worry, this isn’t some strange new appliance you need to buy. Most of us just call it a stove or an oven. “Range” is the industry name for the all-in-one appliance that combines a cooktop and an oven in one unit. They come in a variety of standard widths: 30 inches, 36 inches, 48 inches, and even 60 inches. French-made La Cornue stoves come in an even wider selection, including 43, 65 and 71 inches. A 30-inch range is typical for small apartments; 36-inch and 48-inch models are more desirable for a suburban home.
LOOK FOR: Minimum 36-inch width; counter depth (24 to 25 inches) for a modern-look kitchen, full depth (25 inches or more) for professional-look kitchen.
Rangetop or Cooktop
Industry jargon can make untangling the differences between these two countertop options a little tricky. Both come in common widths of 30 inches, 36 inches, and 48 inches. And both integrate into your countertop, but in different ways. Rangetops take the place of a full section of your countertop, backsplash to front edge. The control knobs face out across your kitchen rather than up. These look best in widths 36 inches and bigger. Cooktops, however, are set into your countertops, so that the countertop material shows on all four sides. Their knobs and gears all sit on top, facing up. These look most proportional in 30-inch and 36-inch widths. Another distinction: Rangetops allow only for storage underneath; with a cooktop, you can opt for storage or a wall oven underneath. Go to our rangetop versus cooktop guide to learn more about which option is right for you.
LOOK FOR: Minimum 36-inch width for a rangetop; 30-inch or 36-inch width for a cooktop
If you prefer the look of a rangetop or cooktop—or bake or cook regularly enough to need a second oven—consider a wall oven. You can choose either a single or double oven format, which gives you even more flexibility and capacity for your culinary adventures. (It’s worth noting that wall ovens tend to come with more features than ranges, too.) You can also pair your wall oven with a specialty oven, such as a speed oven or steam oven, or a microwave. Today, the most popular width is 30 inches—and that’s what we recommend for a combination setup. We love a French door option as part of a double-oven pairing, too. In years past, 27 inches was more prevalent, but now these are hard to come by. European wall ovens and many speed and steam ovens standard commonly are 24 inches wide. Just remember: You can’t fit a large turkey in a 24-inch wall oven.
LOOK FOR: 30-inch width
CONSIDER: A double wall oven or combination setup: oven and microwave, oven and speed oven, or oven and steam oven; a French door opening
5) Ventilation/Range Hoods
You can simply buy a range hood to match the width of your range, but there’s nothing stopping you from sizing up. A larger hood will be the focal point of your kitchen; choose one with a unique decorative style, such as an architectural shape or an eye-catching finish, like the one in this Ringoes, New Jersey, kitchen and you can’t go wrong. There are three primary styles of range hoods: wall mount, under cabinet, and downdraft. The latter is a style that pops up out of your countertop, for situations when you can’t have one above your range. Wall mount and under cabinet ones come in standard widths of 30, 36, and 48 inches, while downdraft hoods come in 30- and 36-inch widths. We recommend choosing a range hood that is slightly wider than your range to help pull more cooking fumes up and out, improving your home’s air quality. Also be aware that your hood must be 30 to 36 inches from your cooking surface.
LOOK FOR: Minimum 36-inch width
6) Built-In Coffee Makers
For coffee lovers, waking up to one of these machines is a true luxury. Options like the popular Miele coffee maker offer stellar performance and consistency, for a perfect cup every time. They also keep your counters clear of clutter. Most measure 24 inches wide. You can also opt for a trim kit that extends the width to 30 inches, allowing you to stack them neatly with a 30-inch wall oven.
LOOK FOR: 24-inch width
CONSIDER: Adding a 30-inch trim kit to match the width of a wall oven or warming drawer
7) Washer and Dryer
Washer and dryer sets come in different sizes, for households with different needs.
24-inch width washing machines are considered compact. They’re ideal for apartments or as a secondary set. The best thing about them is their flexibility: Since most do not need to be vented to the exterior of your home, you can install them under your kitchen counter, behind mudroom cabinets, or in a bathroom or coat closet. (That’s how many Europeans do laundry.)
27-inch width machines are now considered standard size. These are usually mounted on pedestal drawers, which provide storage space and ergonomic ease—no need to bend over or reach too far to grab all the clothes out of the drum.
30-inch width is considered jumbo. The number of models to choose from at this size is slim, and they can be difficult to install. (The last thing you want is to discover your set won’t fit through your doorways or in your space.) Unless you wash large items like comforters or rugs often, choose standard machines. We seldom see people—even big families—opt for these.
If you’re replacing an older set, take the time to carefully measure your space. Washing machines are bigger now than they were 10 years ago, and the last thing you want is a tight squeeze.
LOOK FOR: 27-inch width
CONSIDER: A second, 24-inch-wide compact washer and dryer
Now that you know the standard appliance sizes, take time to visit some in person. Seeing your dream range or dishwasher in a showroom will give you a truer feel for how large it is and how well it will fit into your home, as well as a chance to learn about the latest finishes and features that are available. No matter what you choose, you’re making an investment, and seeing these machines with your own eyes—before they arrive in your kitchen or laundry room—will definitely pay off.
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SIDENOTE. This post was last modified on August 2, 2021. However, we regularly update our content as we test more products and new models are released. We also listen to the feedback of our customers and make changes to our product recommendations based on their experiences. So don’t be surprised if you see some old comments below! Since reader comments contribute to the topic, we have decided not to delete them.