About catherine
Catherine is a CPA-turned-creative entrepreneur. She is the founder of Beginning in the Middle. an interior designer, photographer, writer, and business schemer.  She loves being cozy at home, miniature everything, and has a not-so-secret dream of living on an island one day.
SEARCH the blog
Before & After

Appliances: How to Get a Designer Look for Less


What’s worth splurging on when it comes to appliances? There are a few rules of thumb we keep in mind on every kitchen when balancing budget and overall design aesthetic.

This post is sponsored by Lowe’s.

Splurge on the range

If we could only choose one appliances to splurge on, we’d pick the range every time.  A fancy range has the power to make any kitchen feel fancier in a way that a fancy fridge or dishwasher can’t quite do as well.  Here’s an example of a kitchen refresh we just completed at our GV Townhome Airbnb, where we replaced the appliances, installed a new backsplash and added paneling to the walls.



The new appliances steal the show, right?!  We bought the Forno 30″ gas range for this space, which was the most excellent deal for the quality and design.  Many designer ranges can cost upwards of $10,000, but we found a few options at Lowe’s that achieve the same look for less.

Image links: 1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5

Don’t be afraid to mix appliance brands, but…

… make it cohesive.  For example, if you pick a matte black range with a stainless steel handle and knobs, it would be appropriate to install a stainless steel range hood instead of finding the perfect matte black match.  Going this route could save hundreds, if not thousands of dollars! Because a range and range hood are so close, we’d suggest finding a model that doesn’t have a brand name on it or opting for a hood insert that can be hidden behind a cabinet or custom hood (more on exactly how to do that here).

Another mix we like incorporating is panel-ready appliances.  In our White Cape Cottage kitchen, we paired a GE range and fridge with a Bosch panel-ready dishwasher. The mix feels completely cohesive and elevates the look of the whole kitchen.

opt for a panel-ready dishwasher

Panel-ready appliances are made to have custom panels installed on the face, which makes them blend right into cabinetry.  We love this look, but it’s pricey — they tend to be higher-end brands and models, and have the added cost of the panel that also needs to be purchased.  Typically, a panel is in line with the cost of a kitchen cabinet door(s), but sometimes they need to be custom made.  Fridges cost $4,000 on the low end to over $15,000 on the high end.  Dishwashers can be a bit more affordable, but still have a really big impact on the overall feel of a kitchen.

Pro tip: when shopping for panel-ready appliances, check the scratch-and-dent section. Cosmetic dents can often reduce the cost of these appliances significantly, and because you’ll be covering the front with a new panel anyway, they don’t matter!

Ditch the over-the-range microwave

If you’re someone who uses a microwave sparingly, or if you have space to store it somewhere else, ditch the over-the-range microwave.  Not only are these big, bulky, and more costly than smaller microwaves, but they also can take away from the overall design of a kitchen because they’re so prominent.  If you have the space, incorporate your microwave into an appliance cabinet or base cabinet for a streamlined look.  We have a basic, inexpensive countertop microwave like this in our kitchen that works so well for us.  It was 100% worth saving here so we could splurge on other areas of our kitchen!

+ show Comments

- Hide Comments

Add a comment

  1. Brenda says:

    We’ve lived in our house 14 years, and the range is the only kitchen appliance we haven’t replaced. When we replaced our dishwasher and fridge last November, I looked at inexpensive new ranges thinking I should get a new one to make sure all of the appliances matched. After reading this post, it completely changed my thinking. When I replace the range, I should make it intentional and focus on making an impact. Thanks for this useful post and change of insight.

  2. chris gianoli says:

    I think it is time for a mom and dad commentary on their new house and some feedback on how great it is to live close to family. lots of folks my age move to some warm climate thing where they know no one and aging becomes a weird deal. You and your folks made a different choice and one that can be missed by that 60 ish crowd. They have been dreaming of some non-winter world and they sell and move. And, they miss plenty. And they get lonely. So – let’s hear from the Grands.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Catherine & Bryan Williamson moved from NYC to Columbus, OH in 2013.  Beginning in the Middle is a journal of the couple's design and renovation projects, real estate investment and Airbnb hosting journey, travel, and other life happenings.



Gift Guides





I grew up in New Jersey and always had a dream of living in New York.  There was something about the energy of the city that drew me inOur journey started unexpectedly in 2012, when we decided to make a big move from New York to Columbus. The glamour of climbing the corporate ladder was wearing off, and we knew that renting an expensive small apartment and dealing with crowded subways everyday was not going to work forever. We wanted to start creating something for ourselves, and although we didn’t know exactly what that something was, we knew NYC wasn’t the place for it.

We decided on Columbus because Bryan grew up here, and we were intrigued by all of the development going on in the downtown area at the time. We drove through many of the neighborhoods and admired the boarded up old houses, most of which were built in the early 1900s, and started dreaming about the things we could do here.

I'm Catherine, and I'm the founder of Beginning in the Middle.

read the whole story



join our email list

Let's Stay in Touch

We send out a monthly newsletter and other occasional updates exclusively to our email pals. 

sign up






© Beginning in the Middle | All rights reserved | Legal | TONIC