You drop by the grocery on the way home from a rough day at work. A meeting dragged on and on and you missed lunch. Now famished, you weigh your options—a frozen pizza or a can of soup. You really want the pizza but waiting on the oven sounds like an eternity. You pop the soup in your cart.
Imagine, if you could tell your oven to preheat from your phone while you’re checking out at the store. That would make the pizza just as fast as heating the soup. Sound like something out of the Jetsons?
“No,” says Paul St. Clair, store manager of Vinton Appliance Center in Roanoke County. “WiFi-enabled appliances are becoming the norm. With some ovens, you can even ask Alexa (or Google) how much longer until the pie is done while sitting in your easy chair.”
One thing’s for sure, these appliances are smart.
More tech in the kitchen
Ovens aren’t just remotely controlled, they take control. If your mother-in-law complained of your dry turkey last Thanksgiving, this year let a new oven tell you what went wrong. Between preset recipe settings and probes that tell the oven when the turkey is done, your mother-inlaw will be making plans to return for Christmas dinner, too.
Ovens aren’t the only tech-savvy domestic devices. Forget to buy dishwasher detergent? No worries. The Wolf Subzero Cove dishwasher will automagically add it to your Amazon Prime order. Smart refrigerators have dedicated zones set at different temperatures, so you can keep your milk icy cold and your lettuce, in another compartment, not as much. There’s even a “soft freeze” area that keeps meat fresher, longer, according to St. Clair.
Who makes these dream appliances? “Every brand has something that connects to WiFi now,” says Casey Leach, showroom manager of the Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery in Lynchburg. But, she says, the most exciting technology in the kitchen is GE’s Kitchen Hub.
“It’s like a computer monitor built into your vent hood,” she says. And this thing does it all. Functioning like an iPad, but the size of a small microwave, it controls all the appliances in the kitchen and streams your favorite shows while you cook.
“You can pull up recipes, or a cooking guide,” Leach says. “It takes a lot of the guesswork out of cooking.” Hands covered in ground beef and you need to turn on the oven? GE’s Kitchen Hub is voice-activated.
Smart appliances don’t just make your life easier. They make the repair technician’s life easier, too. Many appliances self-diagnose and alert you to which part needs replacing or they give an error code to pass on to the technician. This eliminates a trip to your house to diagnose, saving you both time and money.
Alternative cooking methods
Real foodies cook with steam, says Leach. Using water supplied by either a dedicated line or a tank, these steam ovens deliver delicious and nutritious meals that retain their moisture.
“They’re popular with people who want to eat healthier,” says St. Clair. “And, they’re idiot-proof. You can’t overcook your food in a steam oven.” If you’re adding steam to your “dream” list, get a model with a convection option for the browning ability.
Another trending item, he says, is the induction cooktop. This glass surface only heats where the pot connects with the glass. And according to St. Clair, it’s faster and more responsive than gas.
The minimalist kitchen
If you’ve joined the throngs of people keeping only things that bring them joy, replaced your upper cabinets with floating shelves, or otherwise don’t like cluttered countertops, appliance drawers are for you.
That’s right, push a button and a drawer slides out. Insert leftovers, press a few buttons, it closes and cooks. Voila! A microwave in a drawer. According to St. Clair, these babies are a hot ticket item.
Need more fridge space? Consider a cooler drawer. It looks like any other drawer in your island or butler’s pantry but inside it’s a mini fridge. They’re popular for keeping bottled water, kids’ drinks, or even wine.
Speaking of the refrigerator, it’s not just for keeping your food cold and dispensing ice and water anymore. You can order a Keurig coffee maker to fit your GE Cafe or Profile door. “It’s good for the coffee lover who doesn’t want to give up the counter space,” says St. Clair.
Snazzier than Grandma’s avocado green
Stainless steel is still the most popular choice in the kitchen. But hot new finishes include slate, black slate, black stainless and matte, in both white and black, according to St. Clair.
But Whirlpool has a Sunset Bronze that Leach says is absolutely beautiful. And if you want to add color to the kitchen, she says to do it with accessories, like lighting.
From smart technology and new ways of cooking to hidden appliances and fun new finishes, the appliances for the 2020 kitchen are out of this world. ✦