Good Better Best: Kitchen Appliances

Appliances can make or break a kitchen. You could have the best-designed kitchen on the block and still dread cooking if your appliances aren’t up to the same standards. The trouble is that when it comes to appliances, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. When considering which appliances will work best for your needs, helps to look at the options in categories of good, better, and best. 

At Lamont Bros. Design & Construction, our team has worked with hundreds of Portland homeowners to transform their kitchens. When it comes to selecting appliances for a new kitchen, we understand the delicate balance between finding high-quality products without breaking the bank. With the thousands of options on the market, the challenge is often sifting through the sheer volume of appliances to find the one that meets your needs and your budget.

In this article, we’ll break down several different types of appliances into good, better, and best categories. After reading, you’ll understand the three cost tiers of kitchen appliances and which features you can expect from each. With this information, you’ll be able to make an informed decision on which types of appliances you want in your kitchen. The options we’ll discuss include:

Good: Basic and Reliable

When outfitting a kitchen on a budget or focusing on simplicity and reliability, the “Good” category of appliances offers the most practical solutions.  These products will meet your essential needs without any additional frills. 

Appliances in this tier are characterized by their affordability and straightforward functionality, making them an excellent choice for first-time homeowners, rental properties, or those who prefer ease of use and minimal maintenance.

kitchen remodel with blue cabinets
Appliances in all black often fit into the “Good” category.

Good Dishwashers

Basic dishwasher models typically feature front controls, making them accessible and easy to use. These dishwashers handle day-to-day cleaning efficiently, although they might lack some of the advanced features of higher-tier models.

Good Ovens

A standard 24-inch wall oven with radiant heat, self-cleaning functions, and electronic controls provides for everyday baking and roasting needs. The self-cleaning feature is a convenient addition that helps keep the oven maintenance-free.

Good Ranges

For those looking to combine their oven with a cooktop, a 30-inch electric range has a smooth glass radiant heat element and a convection oven. This setup offers uniform cooking temperatures for baking and provides an easy-to-clean surface, making it ideal for regular kitchen activities.

“Good” tier ranges include stainless steel models with glass-top radiant elements.

Good Fridges

Available in side-by-side or top freezer configurations, these fridges include essential features like ice makers and water dispensers. They provide ample storage for a household’s weekly groceries, keeping food fresh and drinks chilled.

Good Microwaves

A freestanding 2.2 cubic feet microwave handles all the basics, from reheating leftovers to cooking meals. Some users may find the “Good” level microwave too small for some applications.

Good Wine Fridges

Even in the “Good” category, a wine fridge can still add an air of luxury to your kitchen. With a capacity to hold 52 bottles, this single-zone wine fridge will keep your collection at a single temperature, ensuring each bottle is ready to serve at a moment’s notice.

Good Hoods

Simple under-cabinet or microwave hood models offer effective ventilation for everyday cooking, helping to keep the kitchen air clean and grease-free.

Good Washers & Dryers

Standard capacity, top-load washers are energy efficient and straightforward in design, catering well to basic laundry needs without complex settings. Matching the washer, the standard capacity dryer focuses on fundamental drying capabilities, efficiently handling regular laundry loads with a few basic function settings.

Better: Upgraded Features & Functionality

Moving up to the “Better” category introduces appliances that offer improved durability and sleeker designs, typically finished in stainless steel. This tier is ideal for homeowners who seek a balance between cost and performance, with appliances that provide greater efficiency and a more modern aesthetic.

Better Dishwashers

Top control dishwashers in this category feature integrated controls on the top of the door, creating a cleaner, more streamlined appearance. These models are also quieter and offer more wash cycle options compared to the basic options.

Stainless steel dishwasher
“Better” level dishwashers feature a clean front surface, with controls typically hidden at the top edge of the door panel.

Better Ovens

Expanding in size, wall ovens in this category range from 27 to 30 inches and come equipped with both radiant and convection heating. The flexibility in heating options helps achieve more uniform cooking and baking results. The convection feature promotes better air circulation, cooking food faster and more evenly.

Better Ranges

Ranges at this level are typically 30-inch slide-in models, available in gas or induction options with convection ovens. Induction cooktops offer rapid heat and precise temperature control. Gas ranges are the top choice among chefs due to their consistent heat and ease of operation.

Better Fridges

French door refrigerators in this category feature a more spacious layout and advanced cooling technologies to keep food fresher for longer. These models also often include external water and ice dispensers and more adjustable shelving and storage configurations.

Better Microwaves

Microwaves increase in functionality and capacity, ranging from 1.5 to 2.2 cubic feet. Over-the-range models save counter space and typically include integrated ventilation systems that replace the range hood for steam, odors, and grease filtration.

Stainless steel wall oven and microwave
“Better” level wall ovens and microwaves are commonly stacked together.

Better Wine Fridges

At the “Better” level, wine fridges expand to include dual-zone temperature controls. This feature allows for different storage conditions for reds and whites. Units in this category are generally built-in, offering a seamless look that integrates well with custom cabinetry.

Better Hoods

Upgrading to chimney or cabinet insert hoods, these models are exceptionally stylish and offer a more powerful extraction capability. Hoods in this category are available in widths ranging from 30 to 36 inches. They are designed to fit seamlessly with kitchen cabinetry, providing efficient smoke, steam, and odor removal.

Range hoods in the “Better” tier come feature more sizing options and visual appeal.

Better Washers and Dryers

Washers in the better category often feature larger capacities, quieter operation, and additional wash settings, including specialty cycles for different fabric types. Many are available in both top-loading and front-loading models. Dryers also come with a higher load capacity, advanced drying features like steam options, and sometimes connectivity features for smart home integration.

Best: Premium Performance and Elegance

In the “Best” category, kitchen appliances feature nothing but the best of innovation and design. These products offer the highest quality construction and features, incorporating cutting-edge technology. They are typically offered in black stainless steel or other specialty colors. This tier is perfect for homeowners who prioritize exceptional style and top-tier functionality in their kitchen.

Best Dishwashers

Dishwashers in the “Best” category feature the seamless control options of the better category with the added feature of panel-ready surfaces, which allow the dishwasher to integrate into the cabinetry. Other features include multi-level washing, food disposal systems, and better-engineered drawers for more efficient loading and unloading.

Best Ovens

Premium wall ovens typically measure between 27 and 30 inches and include advanced features like dual convection, Wi-Fi connectivity, and steam capabilities. These ovens allow for remote monitoring and adjustments, providing exceptional convenience and control in baking.

Best Ranges

The best ranges are available in sizes 36 inches or larger, featuring gas or induction cooktops. These ranges may include additional burners or modular components, such as griddles or wok burners, tailored for gourmet cooking and greater culinary flexibility.

“Best” level oven range, featuring 8 gas burners and 2 oven compartments.

Best Fridges

Top-of-the-line refrigerators come in larger sizes, often with panel-ready surfaces to seamlessly integrate into the kitchen’s architecture. Features include advanced food preservation technologies, customizable compartments, and smart systems that adjust conditions based on user controls.

Best Microwaves

Premium microwaves range from 1.7 to 2.2 cubic feet. They are generally built directly into the cabinetry, either as standard door models or the increasingly popular drawer microwaves. Microwaves in this category offer advanced features like sensor cooking, inverter technology, and Wi-Fi connectivity for greater convenience.

Best Wine Fridges

Best-level wine fridges are typically panel-ready to match kitchen cabinetry, featuring multiple temperature zones and specialized storage systems to accommodate different varieties of wine at their ideal storage conditions.

Best Hoods

In the “Best” category, range hoods extend to 36 inches or more. They may include styles like island hoods or downdraft systems. Many in this tier are commercial-grade and come with make-up air systems to comply with regulation codes due to their high airflow ratings, which ensure efficient and powerful venting.

Custom white range hood
A custom range hood in the “Best” tier

Best Washers and Dryers

Washers in this category incorporate features like steam cleaning, advanced fabric care, and customized washing cycles that are controlled via smart home systems. Dryers match these innovations with extra-large capacity, advanced moisture sensors, and energy-efficient technologies.

Looking For Inspiration For Your Kitchen Design?

Now that you’re an expert on good, better, and best-level kitchen appliances, do you have a better idea of which tier is best for your kitchen? Keep in mind that you can mix and match, choosing some appliances from one tier and others from a different one based on your needs and preferences. To continue educating yourself on kitchen design, take a look at our Kitchen Portfolio! There, you’ll be able to see photos from past projects completed by our team at Lamont Bros. and gather inspiration for your next kitchen improvement project.

Ready to dive in and start designing your dream kitchen? If so, don’t face the process alone! Click the link below to schedule a free design consultation with a member of our design team. We’ll help guide you through the remodeling process as you transform your current kitchen into the kitchen of your dreams.