Are Fancy Appliances Worth the Extra Money?

High-end luxury kitchens might be splashed all over your Pinterest boards. But when it comes to your budget and lifestyle, are those fancy appliances worth the money?

Do you dream of a gleaming gas range with a double oven or a smart fridge that lets you see what’s inside without opening the door? High-end appliances with all the bells and whistles can be very tempting. But are they worth the impact on your budget?

Luxury, professional-grade appliances are standard in upscale new construction. But it’s debatable how many people will get their money’s worth over the life of those appliances. Fancy appliances look impressive on social media, but if you aren’t using that SubZero fridge or Viking range on a regular basis, then it might not be the wisest investment.

The New Standards of Luxury

Once upon a time, a high-end kitchen featured a suite of avocado green enameled appliances. I distinctly remember my grandmother insisting that all of her appliances come in “almond,” an off-white that managed to look dingy even when knew. That’s the 90s for you.

For the last couple of decades, stainless steel has replaced black as the must-have finish. If your appliances aren’t stainless, then they’re going to look dated to prospective home buyers. Eventually, though, the trend will shift again. Black and Tuscan stainless steel are gaining traction in some design circles, while other interior decorators are embracing the appeal of retro enamel colors or rich, Le Creuset-inspired hues.

retro blue fridge

Fridge styles have changed over the years, too. A freezer-on-top model is tough to find new unless you are looking at the lowest tier of pricing. Side-by-side models are still popular, but the trendiest setup features double doors on top to access a wider, deeper fridge than years past, with a pull-out drawer style of freezer below.

For your range and oven, gas is considered much better than electric. Although it requires an additional utility bill, the heat control and temperature precision of gas can’t be beat. As a bonus, you can also cook during a power outage. Convection ovens, which circulate the air, are now the standard. Oh, and did you know that a convection oven also works as an air fryer? Some can also function as a dehydrator.

Do Fancy Appliances Add Value to Your Home?

If you’re thinking about upgrading your current kitchen, then you should consider whether those upgrades will benefit you now and if you decide to sell your home in the future.

Unfortunately, your investment might not have the return that you hope. A professional kitchen might simply be “too much” for your home, given its age, size, and location. While the market for luxury homes might demand a fancy kitchen in a turn-key listing, your modest ranch probably doesn’t.

kitchen interior in new luxury home

Buyers in the market for mid-range properties aren’t necessarily looking for designer kitchen upgrades. Therefore, they won’t be impressed if you try to pass on the cost of your upgrade to the next buyer.

In addition, kitchen upgrades can be very personal. If you’re a tech-savvy, gotta-have-those-gadgets homeowner, then a smart fridge makes sense. However, if a future buyer has concerns about privacy–or simply doesn’t see the need for a fridge with an app–then you’re unlikely to turn your costly upgrade into a future selling point.

How Quickly Do High-End Appliances Depreciate?

Like cars, high-end appliances depreciate from the moment you buy them. The question is how quickly that happens. As with many issues in life, it depends. Are you extremely careful with your kitchen appliances? Do you keep up with regular cleaning and maintenance?

Stainless steel, which remains the most popular finish, is tricky to keep clean and requires special polish. It also dents the minute you look at it funny, and those cosmetic imperfections can also make a dent in the item’s potential resale value.

If you’re looking at resale value, a few big-name brands stand out. For ranges, Viking is the standard in American professional kitchens. It’s a name people recognize, and having a Viking range is sure to increase the wow factor of your kitchen. However, Viking isn’t known for having exceptional quality in any of their other products, which include dishwashers and refrigerators.

When considering a top-line, whole-kitchen makeover, Thermador is a good all-purpose brand. Based in California, they’ve been rated among the best of the best for 75 years. While they focus on ovens, including convection ovens, they also make incredible refrigerators.

Another legendary brand is Sub Zero, maker of what are arguably the best refrigerators in the world. The family-owned, USA-based brand also makes excellent ranges. You can always spot one on Pinterest or in a decorating magazine thanks to their distinctive red knobs.

Le Corneu range

Finally, for the ultimate in European luxury, look no further than La Cornue. You may have seen these ranges in Architectural Digest tours of celebrity homes. That’s mostly because even their entry-level ranges cost as much as a decent used car. However, the timeless styling and luxury-vintage vibe puts their ranges lightyears ahead of the industrial stainless models offered by other brands.

Small Appliances, Big Luxury?

We’ve mostly focused on the major players in the kitchen–ranges and refrigerators. That’s because those upgrades are the most expensive and require installation. But what about small appliances?

This is where your lifestyle and budget make a major difference. A dedicated fan of barista-quality coffee might consider the De’Longhi La Specialista Maestro Espresso Machine to be worth the $1,299.95 price tag. However, a more casual coffee drinker would be content with a Chemex for the occasional pour-over.

De'Longhi La Specialista Maestro Espresso Machine
Williams Sonoma

Baking enthusiasts know that a KitchenAid stand mixer is a necessary piece of equipment for the kitchen–but if you only turn on your oven to cook frozen pizzas, then that expensive mixer would probably just gather dust. Speaking of ovens, I use my Cuisinart countertop convection oven several times a week to roast vegetables and reheat leftovers. Because it is smaller and more efficient than my full-size oven, it saves me money on my power bill.

One word of caution about trendy countertop appliances. Single-purpose appliances, such as an air fryer or a soda maker, are only worthwhile if you plan to use them regularly. Otherwise, you’ll end up losing valuable counter space (or cabinet real estate). But appliances with multiple uses built in, such as an air fryer that also serves as a grill, might have a lower overall performance. The key is to spend money only on the things that match your existing lifestyle. Gimmicky specialized appliances often come with a high price tag that you’ll never earn out through use.

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