The one appliance that kicks off luxury kitchen remodels

Why a range that packs a punch is likely to be the centerpiece of your customer's kitchen.

By Jeffrey Lee
Staff Writer

Whether they're building a whole new kitchen or upgrading to a luxury kitchen, says kitchen designer Rebekah Zaveloff, homeowners tend to start their research in one place: top-of-the-line appliances.

"If they're not ready to do their project or they're saving money for their project, it's something that I think people start with right away," says Zaveloff, principal of Chicago-based interiors firm KitchenLab. "They can research appliances online, and without having to commit to a salesperson."

And when it comes to appliances, cooking is the sexiest of them all. "The cooking appliance is like the fun toy out of everything that you're picking," Zaveloff says.

Today's luxury consumer is looking for a range that packs a punch, both visually and in cooking power. With kitchens becoming the heart and the gathering place of the home, owners want an appliance that makes a statement and helps re-create the restaurant experience at home. Many homeowners are choosing professional-grade gas ranges to serve as the centerpiece of their dream kitchens.

Requirements in the 2012 IECC could affect common construction practices such as framing and testing.
BlueStar's new Platinum Series range features two searing 25,000-Btu burners for maximum, concentrated heat. Other new features include an interchangeable cast-iron griddle/charbroiler, so homeowners don't have to choose between the two options, and a power gas oven with a heat element in the back (rather than the bottom) to heat the oven more efficiently and improve the speed of preheat.

"People in this space are looking for a rugged, very professional-looking appliance," says Eliza Woolston Sheffield, vice president of marketing for BlueStar, a manufacturer of high-performance residential ranges. BlueStar makes its ranges customizable, from the configuration of the stove to the knob colors, trim, and even the choice of hundreds of color and finish combinations for the body of the range.

Those particulars are important for homeowners who are already taking the extra step with kitchen details like refrigerator paneling and inset cabinetry, Zaveloff says. "People are taking more risks and personalizing more, which is pretty exciting for designers, because you get to have more fun." She's seeing clients take a chance with bold pops of color — like mint green — in their custom ranges.

Professional power

While a range's custom colors may turn heads in the kitchen, it's culinary power that appeals to the foodie consumer. With celebrity chefs and cooking shows taking over TV, cooking is cool again, Zaveloff says.

"I think we've come back to realizing that cooking's a way to bring people together," she says. "The slow food movement, farm to table — I think it's part of a bigger trend. I think it's a part of a cultural shift in food consumption and a passion and interest in it, rather than looking at what's convenient."

For homeowners seeking to re-create a restaurant-quality kitchen at home, there's little doubt that gas cooking is the preferred choice, Sheffield says. "Gas really offers the most precise temperature control," she explains. "It really gives you the ability to get a really high high, and also a really low low."

"We had one client on geothermal [heating], and we brought in propane just for their stove."

BlueStar's new Platinum Series, for instance, will offer two burners with up to 25,000 Btu of cooking power. "So you're able to really crank it up to approximate that professional-grade searing and woking that people are looking to to re-create those restaurant-quality dishes," Sheffield says. "On the other end of the spectrum, getting down to that really precise low simmer allows you to do things like melt chocolate."

Flexible fuel

For serious home chefs, lack of access to the natural gas main is no deterrent to purchasing a gas stove. Propane is an ideal fuel source for those homes.

For instance, when Zaveloff and her husband purchased an isolated farm house in southwest Michigan with no gas source, they gutted the house, including piping in propane to fuel their stove and replacing the baseboard electric heat. "We would have lived with electric baseboards and still added propane for cooking if we couldn't have afforded to change everything over," she says. "I've done a couple projects out here where we've brought propane in for cooking. We had one client on geothermal [heating], and we brought in propane just for their stove."

If your clients are expecting a top-rate cooking experience in their kitchen, the range of their dreams is likely to be fueled by gas. Propane provides the flexibility to meet your customers' expectations no matter where their home is located.

To learn more about cooking with propane, check out these additional resources:

The amazing shrinking energy bill
The one appliance that kicks off luxury kitchen remodels
A simple way to make yourself a go-to pro for heating upgrades


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