What I Gave Up for the Perfect Appliances (and Why It Was Worth It)

The perfect appliances . . . don’t you have that ideal set of appliances that you dream about at night? Well, neither do I. But Mr. Man and I have been trying to decide on the perfect appliances for our period kitchen for years now – we’ve made do with frequent repairs as our old ones have been limping along.



It’s not like I wanted the AGA stove that costs more than a nice automobile or a sub-zero commercial refrigerator. I just wanted retro appliances that fit appropriately into our vintage kitchen and didn’t cost a stinking fortune like Big Chill and Elmira. So we waited.

And then, one of the those things came up that forces you to FINALLY complete the unfinished projects in your house. You know what I’m talking about, right? Here are two of those things:

1) You’re Hosting a Party at Your House


2)  A Magazine is Photographing Your House


When the design editor of This Old House magazine called and asked if they could do a photoshoot of our old home’s renovation, I grabbed Mr. Man and we went appliance shopping immediately. Here’s the old refrigerator that you’ll never see in the photos I post of my kitchen:

2015-10-30 11.21.48


This refrigerator has broken down three times in the last couple of years, and I get tired of ruining good food. Plus, it ain’t exactly pretty.

The stove served its purpose, but I’ve never been crazy about the microwave above it. Oh, and its handle broke off 6 months ago, and hot glue only held it back on for so long. We finally gave up on the handle and sometimes had to pry it open with a butter knife to warm up leftovers.


photo taken prior to microwave handle falling off

I wanted to ditch the microwave for a beautiful copper hood to match our 1960s backsplash. It was only THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS, so we looked at the standard ones like this:




Yeah, not very special. I hunted around until I found this more substantial one on Amazon:


black range stove hood


I decided to do the refrigerator and dishwasher in white, but chose a BLACK stove and hood. I also wanted to switch from an electric stovetop to a gas one, mainly because it just looks cooler. But it also heats up instantly, which is a plus! Here’s how the new combo worked out:

black ge artistry gas stove

GE Artistry gas stove

I think I’m in love with it. I chose black because it ties in with the floor tile and because we couldn’t afford the jadite green ones that another company sells. And no more ugly microwave! I may eventually add a band of copper on the bottom edge of the hood to customize it for less $$.

ge artistry stove


But there was no time to waste – we barely got the retro appliances installed and hooked up the night before the photoshoot with This Old House.

retro kitchen renovation


Check out my beautiful new GE Artistry refrigerator and dishwasher!

ge artistry refrigerator



I love the low handle on the refrigerator, as well as the freezer on the bottom. Much cooler vibe than the old side-by-side.

retro refrigerator


My kitchen feels happy and period-appropriate. It just needed retro appliances, right?

copper backsplashcopper finish faucets complement the old backsplash

So, here’s what I had to give up to get my dream retro appliances:

1) Counter space (where a new microwave will have to sit)

no problem: we ordered a microwave/toaster oven combo, so we will have some space if we remove our current toaster oven

2) Water/ice in the refrigerator door

no problem: we already have a filtered water thingajiggy at the sink and I prefer room temperature water anyway, plus we bought the add-on ice maker for the freezer

3) Pan storage beneath the gas stove

no problem: this forced us to pare down the infrequently used cookbooks and move the pans to there, which is nearby

You want to know what the best thing about my new appliances? I got the retro look I was hoping for for about 2K. That’s all my GE Artistry appliances at half the price of just one appliance from the pricier retro appliance companies!


By the way, we’ll be featured in This Old House sometime next year – I’ll keep you updated!



  1. Elizabeth Scruggs

    Nothing like new appliances to make a girl happy!! I love them!!!

  2. Kathi

    Looks fabulous,Kristie- I am really loving the copper accents that are out now-it is amazing how cool appliances make a kitchen look so special! Great job, as usual!

    • Kristie Barnett

      Yes, I love the copper! And I’m fortunate that it’s “back in style” since my backsplash was put in during the early 1960s 🙂

  3. Paula Van Hoogen

    Kristie! How great for you guys!!! Don’t you love the lower freezer and… Not having to bend over to get the fridge stuff out of the bottom drawers?!! These appliances are like having the right toothbrush. They are a TOOL. The wrong/ broken ones make life miserable daily.
    Your life is WAAAY to complex to have to use broken tools. Much as I love all the pretty stuff, getting the basics right is just…..well, basic. ENJOY!!! Blessings, Paula.

  4. Kelly

    You will LOVE cooking with gas over electric. Big improvement right there! All looks great. Can’t wait to see your photos!!

    • Kristie Barnett

      Thanks, Kelly – we had a gas range in the house we lived in last (over 15 years ago). Loved it!!!

  5. Sara B

    I love your kitchen. It’s so unique and pretty. The new appliances and the mix of white and black works so well. I’m looking for new appliances, but I have builder-grade golden oak cathedral cabinets. I’m looking at stainless steel because I have to worry about resale, but I’m having a really hard time picturing them in a “country” kitchen. Thanks for sharing photos of your kitchen. It’s very inspiring to see how you’ve made it beautiful on a budget!

  6. Catherine

    They look awesome! Congratulations on another photo shoot of your beautiful home. 🙂

  7. Joey

    Lovely updates.
    I commiserate with you, as just last month my husband and I removed the gargantuan over-the-range microwave and we’re still shopping for a vent hood. (I hadn’t even thought of Amazon, so thank you!) I have no complaints about my range.
    Additionally, I have a fridge similar to your old one. Like you, we have filtered water, so I never even use the outer door feature. Mine has been working perfectly since we moved here, so I cannot justify a new one, but the Artistry fridge would be my pick as well. Love the simple lines and vintage feeling.
    I don’t use my dishwasher and I long for the day when I can replace that entire section of the kitchen with a drainboard sink.
    I’m glad you found good reason to purchase more beautiful and functional appliances. I look forward to your This Old House spread.

    • Kristie Barnett

      Thanks, Joey! I must say, a dishwasher is the ONE THING I could not give up in my kitchen 🙂

  8. Patricia L McCoy

    I am curious…… black gas range and a white fridge (which I am in love with). I know you said the black was chosen to tie into the floor. But why not a white one? Looking forward to your reply, and the future article with This Old House. pat

    • Kristie Barnett

      Good question, Patricia! I wanted to make it a focal point – to “customize” the look. Kinda that way we are moving away from matching dining room and bedroom suites of furniture.

  9. LaPriel

    Great new appliances. I like the look of the fridge. I often look at the “other” companies stoves and fridges and think “I’m just going to do it!” Then I look at the prices again and say no way!
    I was wondering if you could tell me about the new toaster/ microwave you purchased? I am remodeling a 1920’s kitchen and I trying to decide About the microwave. Thank you for your wonderful blog .

  10. a reader

    Perfect choice! Basic is good, and they will probably need fewer repairs that the appliances with all the electronic fancy stuff.

  11. Jenny B.

    I had no idea microwave toaster oven combos existed! Do you have a link for the one you bought? That would solve an issue for me. I want to put in a real vent hood, but that would mean the microwave over the range would have to go, and we don’t have a lot of counter space. I use the microwave and toaster oven daily, though, so I need both! 🙂

  12. Linda

    You’re so lucky to have gotten the GE Artistry while they were still being made. Considering new appliances, but the prices of Big Chill, Elmira, and SMEG leave me shuddering. The search continues!

    • Kristie Barnett

      I know! Can’t believe had such a short run. I love my refrigerator especially.


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