Remodeling kitchens

Time to upgrade?

Time to upgrade?

A reader asked whether it makes sense to pay up for the most popular brands of kitchen appliances when redoing her kitchen. I stand ready to be corrected by my readers but my impression is that it does not. A GE Monogram refrigerator, for instance, is rated by Consumer Reports to be far superior to a Sub-Zero. Neither appliance is cheap, but the Sub-Zero is far, far more expensive. Same for Sub-Zero’s “Wolf” brand of stoves. Why pay more for less, if the next buyer won’t care?

It’s my experience that while buyers may look for the Greenwich brands like Sub-Zero, and builders all install them because buyers of new homes expect them, that doesn’t mean they’ll pay extra if they’re there – kitchen remodeling is often on the top of the to-do list for these people, so what do they care, really, about the brand of appliances they’ll be tossing in the dumpster?

And speaking of dumpster diving, I have recommended Green Demolitions here many times because it’s a great organization that offers incredible bargains on practically new kitchens donated by remodelers. $15,000 for a $100,000 kitchen is typical: granite counters, custom cabinets, appliances, the whole deal. If you’re in the mood for replacing your kitchen you’d be well served to contact them and see what someone else has recently donated. All top-of-the-line stuff, all really well priced.

So my advice on appliances is about the same as it is for most improvements: buy for yourself and don’t worry about resale. If you want a pool, go for it. Write off its cost when you install it, enjoy it during your ownership and if you make some of it back when you move, that’s a nice bonus. If you want a Bosch dishwasher (I do, they’re great) or an LG washer/dryer, pay up and get them for their performance – just don’t think you have to spend that money to sell your house later. A three-year-old appliance will still work perfectly but is worthless in terms of resale.


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37 responses to “Remodeling kitchens

  1. craigslist

    moving leads to bargain – have truck, take bargain

  2. Anonymous

    $100,000 to fry an egg!

  3. Anonymous

    I really disagree. Whether GE Monogram is as good a product as Sub Zero and Viking or Wolf, if the incremental cost in getting the brand name appliances for is a few thousand dollars more I think you will definitely get it back on resale. I would go so far as to say that on higher end houses it would be negative not to have top brands. I am talking about fridge and range, easily replaced stuff like dishwasher and washer dryer I agree matters little. I think you could save on the wood cabinet manufacturer and hardly anybody will notice or care. I am slightly biased. My New York City apartment had GE appliances and the sub zero style fridge broke down twice, and I had to deal with a terrible customer service line in India to get any kind of warranty service. Since moving to Greenwich both my houses have Sub Zero appliances and the aftermarket service is top notch (but expensive).

    • My experience is that it’s like energy efficient devices – nice to have but not worth paying more for. Which in the case of a super efficient furnace is bat shit crazy, in my opinion. You’ll save hundreds a month in heating costs and make back your money in no time, then pocket the saving the next winter. But a Sub-Zero? Eh.

  4. Anonymous

    well, if you have a multi-million house with GE appliances. it just looks odd. I am not against GE products. they are great. you need to find products fitting your house. just like no ikea furniture for multiple-million houses

  5. Anonymous

    last year when buying a new stove, i asked the salesman out loud if the pasta tasted any better from water boiled on a $15k viking stove vs. the $600 general electric model i was buying.

    he chuckled, albeit quietly, because a newly-minted affluent couple sitting to the left was being sold a full-tilt kitchen for their showcase showdown by his colleague.

    by the way, bosch dishwashers suck. i’d gladly trade mine straight up for a basic no frills model from g.e.

    that same stove salesman talked me into it that day, saying the efficiency and energy savings vs. a comparably-priced low-midrange g.e. model was huge (the bosch was a heavily discounted, end of year model).

    i got suckered on that one, no doubt.

  6. Anonymous

    I agree with Chris, but perhaps things are different at rarified heights of Greenwich real-estate.

    I wouldn’t pay any extra money for older used appliances when I buy a house, so long as what’s there is decent and in working condition. i.e. If it’s home depot bottom of the line, I’ll be suspicious, but otherwise we’re talking single digit percent money of the total house purchase to replace everything if necessary with decent but not high end stuff.

    And like Chris says many of those “high end” appliances don’t actually have good reliability or performance compared with the still higher end, but more upper middle class brands and as to customer service pfft… most of it is either part replacement or replace entire unit, after 5 years think the latter, unless they’ve been using the same parts for 35 years and just changing the exteriors – which is likely.

  7. RaisedinRiverside

    It depends on the price range and the types of buyers you’re attracting. Most people looking at 4mil+ homes off Round Hill Rd are not going to be satisfied with basic/functional kitchens. But a lot of younger couples looking for starter homes would be fine with it, as long as everything worked and didn’t need a total gut renovation.

  8. Anonymous

    i wish most of buyers in greenwich can be as rational as you guys. lol….

  9. Anony

    Prior to putting my house on the market I furnished my $4 million dollar Fairfield County home with many pieces of Ikea furniture bought specifically to modernize and neutralize the decor. Total cost $5000

    I also installed a new $130,000, 15 x 18 sq ft kitchen prior to selling which included the latest kitchen doodads: deep sink, fancy spray faucet, 6 burner Viking, Sub-zero fridge, Miele dishwasher, etc. The appliances I chose wouldn’t have been my choice if doing the kitchen for our family’s lifestyle.

    The selling broker told my broker the buyer’s wife fell in love with the kitchen and neutral decor. My home sold in a week for 1% off asking so I guess spending about 4% of selling price on Ikea furniture/updated staging and a fancy new kitchen was money well spent.

    • Anony, I’d never argue with success – you did very well (and my compliments for pricing so well too). But my point was directed more to the reader who was remodeling a kitchen for her own use, who wondered whether the most expensive appliances would add to its resale value down the road. A new kitchen like yours is not the same as a 4-5-year-old one.
      But your general point is also valid: a fresh kitchen and a clean look will usually produce a sale faster than a home without them. Faster is always good, and worth quite a lot in its own right.

  10. Anonymous

    Bosch and Asko dishwashers are not good…..go for the Meile….much better record and cleaning…..

  11. Anonymous

    will a bowl of heated ikea meatballs put out during a broker’s open generate buzz?

  12. Anonymous

    I hate the Asko dishwashers and Bosch washer/dryers that came in our new house–both have needed service in their first 2 years of use and don’t perform nearly as well as less expensive brands.

    But, so far so good with Sub Zero fridge and Wolf ovens and range

  13. The Duke of Deception


  14. Anonymous

    I’m the one with the wet dishes and the dirty clothes because I’m still waiting for the cycle to run!

  15. Top of the Washer Line

    Bosch Washer—At start says 1:00 hour…
    15 minutes later says 1:07 …
    another 15 minutes says :57 …
    No matter what, a load takes 2 hours
    Bosch Dryer–has no sensibility for wet or dry

  16. Funny article in the NYT about real estate listing lingo. One thing they point out is today, it’s all about the toilet. The heck with the fridge and stove. People want a Toto.

  17. kraftynewbroker

    btw. worse dish washer ever = 1) fisher & Paykal .. 2) my wife.. .

    best in my experience.. 1) miele..

  18. Guest

    I looked at the price of replacing my GE Monogram fridge and it was $9,000. That must be the same as Viking or Subzero. They are selling rebuilt GE Monogram fridgies for $5,000. Mine has worked for 17 years but the kitchen is not used so much.

    I agree with these comments. My 8 room NYC apartment has a 16′ by 16′ kitchen, but i am waiting to remodel until it is closer to the time to sell. In a high end New York City coop you should do what the commenter above described – remodel right before sale with Woodmode or better quality cabinets and high end appliances if you want to clean up on resale. In Greenwich, the appliances would be less important, but if I wanted to sell a $4 million + house I would surely put in the same high end kitchen.

    I am sort of on the fence about bathrooms for my apartment, though. I like Waterworks for some of the stuff, like traditional tiles, but am not sure if the remodel needs to be new. I wonder how old the bathroom remodel would need to be before it gets stale on resale.

    In Greenwich, the whole house would need to be up to snuff before any of these remodels makes sense. If you are in an area where everything from the 1950s is being torn down or drastically remodeled and your house is from the 1950s, the kitchen and baths and maybe even the appliances are the tail wagging the dog.

  19. anonymous

    Just don’t get Jenn Air. The worst.

  20. allan

    No..we have had Jenn air. 2 different houses…in 25 years never a problem. Works just great never serviced..will buy another one!
    Also, Sub Zero….same…and no one wants GE in a hi end least not me..

  21. anonymous

    Traulsen used to be the gold standard in refrigerators.

  22. Anonymous

    An 8 room apt in NYC with a 16×16 kitchen? Agonizing over what kind of fridge to put in? Oh, the horror! How do you manage, pray tell?

  23. LAK

    Bosch sucks! Never again!

  24. Walt

    Dude –
    Kitchen appliances? KITCHEN APPLIANCES!! This is what you choose to “write” about?

    When did your fascination with appliances start? When you got your first EZ Bake Oven as a toddler? After you tired of the Barbie Dolls? Will EZ Bakes still work with the new light bulbs, or has Barry put them out of business too?

    Anyhows, why didn’t you post about Al Roker shitting himself at the White House?

    Now that is something worthy of discussion. But only because he did it at the White House. People shit themselves all the time, but not at the White House!! That is pretty cool!! You think he flushed the wears, or just left them on the floor? What do you do with yours when this happens?

    And if a side effect of this fat, obese, gross elephant man gastrointestinal surgery is you shit yourself, don’t you think he should wear pampers, or at least carry a spare set of underoos?

    And I would like to know who he sat next to at the press conference. And if he shook Barry’s hand.

    Your Pal,

  25. shoeless


    I think this might have been the moment Al Roker sharted: