Kitchen appliances are investment items, so it's important to do your homework before you buy. Like deciding on a budget, carefully measuring what space you have available and considering what colours and styles will complement your kitchen design.
Fortunately, the style choices are endless – classic country, sleek and contemporary, retro or rustic – as is the variety in form and function – freestanding to built-in, gas to electric. But sometimes all the selection can leave you indecisive.
In need of help? Follow this Wren Kitchens guide to choosing the right appliances for your kitchen so you know exactly the right thing to get.
Freestanding or built-in? Single or double? Stainless steel or coloured? With so many options, choosing an oven can be a challenge.
If space allows, a free-standing oven will create an attractive focal point in the room. Available in gas or electric, it's simplest to stick with the supply point you already have in your kitchen to save yourself the hassle of moving pipes or wires, but you'll have to consider whether that's a worthwhile compromise if it means passing up an alternative dream kitchen layout.
A built-in oven – usually at eye level – makes it easier for the cook of the house to handle hot food, with no need to bend down. Single ovens are the compact option for small kitchens with limited space, while the twin cavities required for double ovens demand more space but provide more cooking options and allow you to more easily cater for big family meals or parties.
A good hob is a must in every modern kitchen.
The latest trend is an induction hob – energy efficient, ultra-quick and safe – it's a practical choice for a busy family kitchen. It works by heating the pan rather than the hob, so heat is only conducted once the electro-magnetic coils beneath the hob's surface come into contact with a suitable pan.
Traditional gas hobs are still popular options; offering instant heat. Modern versions come with touch controls and an easy-clean finish.
For those who regularly host dinner parties, consider a domino hob – mix and match fuels and cooking surfaces such as griddles and hot plates to create a customised cooktop to suit your lifestyle.
Microwaves can consume a lot of space no matter where you put them; on the worktop or built in to your cabinets.
You can create more flexibility in the kitchen with a built-in microwave, particularly if you're limited on worktop space. Even position it over your hob or next to a built-in oven to truly optimize space and usability.
There's also the option to save more space with a combined microwave-oven – hot air and grill functions recreate traditional oven-cooked results, but at the speed of a microwave.
While white appliances are still a firm favourite, black and stainless steel offer a more contemporary look; bright colours give a retro finish; or for a traditional kitchen opt for classic country cream.
Do you have room for a dishwasher as well as a washing machine? Both freestanding appliances largely come in white, black or stainless steel.
If the colour doesn't compliment your kitchen, consider a semi-integrated appliance which can be hidden behind a cabinet door with only the control panel on show, or a fully integrated design which can be completely concealed behind the cabinet for a seamless finish.
Before you buy a fridge-freezer, carefully consider how big it needs to be to suit your lifestyle and how much space you have available in your kitchen. The width of a fridge is crucial – standard tall fridges usually measure between 50cm and 70cm wide, while heftier American-style fridges are much larger – up to 90cm wide.
It's important to allow for space for ventilation at either side of the appliance too, to keep it working at its best.
The sink is often an after-thought in kitchens, but it's worthwhile to choose one at the same time you select the cabinets that will go underneath so you can be sure of a smart finish.
If you opt for an undermount style, where the rim doesn't hook over the work surface, the sink is generally installed before the countertops, so be mindful of that.
Consider the purpose of your sink too. If you're an avid cook, you might benefit from a dual basin - one to prep food and one to clean the dishes.
A costly item to replace, ensure you get the right style for your kitchen design: while farmhouse sinks suit country kitchens, stainless steel and granite sinks look sleek and contemporary among a modern theme.
As you're sure to now appreciate, function is just as important as flair when it comes to selecting the appliances and features of your kitchen. But with a little planning you can have a room that's both practical to piece together and marries up with your dream look.