A Few Thoughts on Brands and Quality

Over the weekend, I spent some time visiting with friends who had recently moved from Doylestown, Pa., into a newer home just north of Baltimore. Their new abode, which is about 10 years old, features a really deluxe kitchen with a giant copper-cladded hood over a huge island cooking station, among other niceties. There are also beautiful handpainted murals all over the house and a very nice entertainment room in the basement.

My friends love their new place. And they had some valuable feedback for me, as a remodeler.

The old kitchen appliances had all failed and been repaired several times. As a result, these homeowners have no confidence in the brand now. Their new Thermador appliances are bulletproof and work great. I have seen the quality of Thermador Appliances firsthand because we have remodeled many 30-40 year old or older kitchens that contain them — still in great condition. Because of the quality and longevity, I’m always sorry to toss these items when we renovate, so we put them on Craig’s List. You can get a Thermador dishwasher at the same price point as lower-quality models ($950-$1,200 and up for a top-of-the-line model). While that’s still fairly pricey, it’s well worth the investment.

Cheap microwaves wear out, and their sizes and proportions change with time. So don’t custom fit a cheap microwave in such a way that the cabinet can’t be easily reconfigured to accommodate a new microwave when it’s installed. FYI, a more expensive microwave, such as a Viking, will prescribe a trim kit to make your installation look great. Use it.

TVs and how we watch visual entertainment is changing fast. My friends’ new flat screen TV is sitting inside a cabinet that was custom built for a large projection TV. I showed them how the good quality cabinet’s components might be tweaked by a good carpenter to accommodate his more modern TV system.

Trash compactors invariably break and then become expensive garbage cans. I don’t know anyone whose trash compactor has not failed.

Top quality, hard-wearing materials — like stone for counters, tile for flooring, stainless steel for appliances — last a long time and look great with use. Lower quality “stuff” looks cheap and begins to wear out quickly.

Personal touches are appreciated by home buyers when you are ready to sell. In my friends’ kitchen, a lot of very nice custom copper detailing was used by the previous owner on the giant vent hood and elsewhere in the kitchen. The home’s lovely handpainted murals are treasured by my friends now. In fact, these personal tasteful selections sold my friends on the house. So if you want something custom, personal and smashing in your own kitchen, don’t hold back!