Kitchen and Bath Features Worth the Investment

Remodeling? Narrow the options with our list.

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Stainless steel sinks are hygienic and have a high tolerance for abrasion.

Stainless steel sinks are hygienic and have a high tolerance for abrasion.

When remodeling a home, the kitchen and the bath can be the most expensive rooms to complete. Most of the budget will probably go toward the high-ticket items you just can't live without, such as a sink, a dishwasher and a refrigerator. With the abundance of brands, styles and technologically advanced machines, it's hard to weed out the good and the bad and pick what's best for you. To make your decision easier, the National Kitchen & Bath Association offers this list of features worth seeking out as you deck out your new kitchen or bathroom:

• Dishwashers: Look for brands with low energy consumption, a delay timer and an economy cycle or half-load button, all of which save water and money.

• Refrigerators: Look for designs that prevent frost build-up in the freezer. By circulating air inside the freezer compartment rather than using a defroster, this feature will help you say goodbye to freezer burn.

• Sinks: Reliable sink materials include stainless steel, which is hygienic and has a high tolerance for abrasion, and more traditional fireclay and ceramic for their solidity and wide range of colors.

• Ovens: Multifunctional ovens may be worth the investment. They offer both a traditional cooking option and fan-assisted cooking and grilling. The combination provides cooks with more options, such as browning and thawing.

• Ranges: Ranges are either freestanding or built-in. Worthwhile accessories include a cooker hood, a splashback, a grill, griddle plates, a rotisserie, a wok burner and a fish-kettle burner.

• Taps: A cost-efficient option is the three-way or tri-flow taps that eliminate the need for bottled water and other purification systems. Some models also offer dual-flow for hot and cold filtered water.

• Countertops: Formica and Corian are among the most common surfacing materials, but Luxore, a non-porous heat- and chip-resistant stone, and Swanstone, a reinforced surface with seamless joints, which is moisture-resistant and requires no fabricated edges, have also become popular.

• Flooring: It can cost as much to install flooring as the material itself costs, and harder options such as tile can be tiresome to stand on for long periods. Softer, more absorbent materials include cork, carpet and vinyl and, most of the time, are much cheaper.

• Fans: When remodeling, these are essential to preventing wallpaper peeling and mildew and keeping the air clean. Look for fans that are powerful enough for the size of your room, and make sure the noise level is to your satisfaction. Utility exhaust fans are great for fighting odor and moisture in the kitchen, while fan-forced heat models are most common in colder rooms such as bathrooms, since they provide extra heat.

• Lighting: More light is not necessarily better. Make sure to match the amount and quality of light to the function of the area.

Reprinted with permission from NKBA

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