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Welcome to the New Age

If you think kitchen appliances are boring, think again. Advances in design and function mean that a home’s hardest-working machines can perform better than ever—and look good doing it, too. We asked Dale Nolt, an appliance expert with Ferguson, to shine a light on the latest and greatest in kitchen appliances.

After finding much success in Europe, induction cooktops are finally gaining ground in American kitchens. “They have all the cleanability of electric cooktops with the responsiveness of gas,” says Nolt. “They’re also more energy efficient than their gas and electric counterparts and don’t throw off as much extraneous heat.” Induction ranges, which rely on an electromagnet to heat cookware, will only work with certain pans, however. If a magnet will stick to the exterior bottom of your cookware, you’re in business. Look for models at various price points from all the major brands.

Homeowners are going one of two ways with ventilation in the kitchen: streamlined hoods that all but disappear into the cabinetry or ceiling, or statement hoods that are meant to be an architectural focal point. The Italian-designed Best line by Broan offers chic examples of each.

Microwaves are frequently one of the trickiest elements in the kitchen to design around. The bulky countertop styles rob cooks of valuable counter space, while the above-counter built-in models are difficult for some users to reach. The solution: microwave drawers. Sharp makes a sleek model with a hidden display for those who appreciate a more elegant look.

Double ovens are indispensable for avid cooks, but instead of two conventional ovens, Nolt says that many homeowners are now going with a convection steam oven for their second oven. Slightly smaller than a typical oven, a convection steam oven is ideal for gently steaming fish and veggies, baking bread or breathing new life into dry leftovers.

Built-in coffee makers have become so luxurious that installing one in your kitchen is the next best thing to having a live-in barista. Wolf and Miele both offer high-tech models that can do just about everything short of bringing you the morning paper. There are even warming drawers for keeping mugs toasty. Push a button or two and voila! Your cappuccino, latte or macchiato is ready. The results are so impressive, you’ll be tempted to put a tip jar on your counter.

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