Cutting Down on Upkeep Trimming cleanup time and effort is an essential aim of many kitchen remodels. That's why the Wildes chose a wipe-clean ceramic-tile backsplash, which also adds a touch of traditional elegance, and an electric range with an easy-to-clean glass top and a self-cleaning oven. And while the old textured-vinyl floor trapped dirt, the smooth patterned-laminate flooring that replaced it wipes clean easily. Counters that can take it. At less than half the cost of solid-surface countertops, laminate was the obvious choice for the Wildes. And, laminate can stand up to the stains, scratches and other punishment kids can dish out. The couple highlighted the white countertops, which brighten the kitchen, with a complementary solid-surface edge from the same manufacturer. Home centers carry a limited selection of low-priced, standard-size countertops that aren't too tough to install. But because the Wildes had the complication of two different materials that required precision joining, they opted to have their counters fabricated and installed by a pro. Appliances that Fit
Although the Wildes didn't change the layout of the kitchen, the face-lift made it work better. One example: The integral drainboard at the sink maximizes the limited counter space because it doubles as work surface when needed. But most of the functional improvements to the kitchen came with the new appliances. Smarter cooking and ventilation. The over-the-range microwave, for example, saves valuable counter space and includes built-in ventilation. And the refrigerator features adjustable shelves and flexible on-the-door storage for items like gallon containers of milk. Budget constraints meant price played a large part in the choice of appliances. But Lynne's prime requirement was the size of each appliance. "Because we weren't moving any cabinets, we had to choose appliances that would fit in the spaces we already had," she explains. An added bonus: The energy-efficient appliances cut the Wildes' electric bill by $30 the first month they had them.
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