Replacing Dated-but-Working Appliances...?

GenX-LudditeJanuary 20, 2014

So here I am, a first-time homeowner, in my new-to-me condo kitchen, with all-bisque appliances: a 1980 GE range and hood, 1991 hotpoint DW, and an 18 cu. ft. 2000 Crosley top-freezer fridge. Dark oak cabinets, curling, dented beige linoleum, and stained beige formica counters. I don't think I even need to post a photo, right?

New floor and countertop are easy to justify, since the current ones are damaged. Soon to arrive, a quartz (Cambria) countertop, a monochrome matte+gloss glass tile backsplash, a hardwood floor, and I'm painting the cabinets creamy-white. All good.

The appliances, though, are keeping me up at night, only because....they were well made. 14 to 34 years old, they all work flawlessly.

Sure, I'd prefer a new gas range, and a quieter DW, and a fancier fridge with a freezer I can actually organize -- but I don't *need* these things.

It seems, well, wasteful to toss out working machinery for purely cosmetic reasons. (I don't think the efficiency gains are enough, since it's just a 1-person household. I run the DW once a week, so a new one will save me, what, $1.50 a year?)

And frankly, what I hear about the failure rate of new appliances -- anything I can afford, at least -- terrifies me.

So... is there any way I can make the mid-80s bisque look not- so-dated, while I wait for the stuff to stop working so I can buy without guilt? (Fear of faulty motherboards on its own, I could probably handle. Fear and guilt together -- not.) Or should I just suck it up, make my landfill contribution like every good American, and see what I can do over at hhgregg?

Please help me stop losing sleep over this. ;-)

This post was edited by GenX-Luddite on Mon, Jan 20, 14 at 20:26

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Can you donate your appliances to Habitat for Humanity?

I understand how you feel - I got a new range and fridge as part of a recent kitchen remodel (both were 24 years old, working perfectly). I gave the fridge to a friend to use in his lake cabin; I put the range on the curb with a sign saying it worked (with the owner's manual inside), and it was gone in less than a week. I felt a lot better about buying new when I knew someone was using the old.

I have a friend who has a lot of rental property, if I had talked to him 2 months sooner, he would have bought my range.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 8:30PM
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The refrigerator is probably really inefficient, --and it's in use continually, if that helps.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 8:35PM
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The nice thing about "normal" appliances is that they are pretty easy to change out when they break or you just decide you don't want them anymore.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 8:44PM
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Sometimes the older dishwashers have front panels that can be flipped around. I might switch out the frig cause it's an energy hog. I'd donate the old one.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 8:47PM
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larecoltante Z6b NoVa

Is it the color of the appliances that bothers you, the outdated styling, less than optimal function...? I ask because in the kitchen renovation I did three houses ago, I kept two appliances and had them repainted. I found a specialty painter who used appliance paint. The difference was pretty amazing. It was completely worth it for the dishwasher--it was an early Kitchen Aid that I used daily, sometimes twice a day, for 8 years (after it had been in the house for 20 years). My dishes were spotless and the cycles were short. (The only dishwashers I've had that were better are Mieles--wonderful, energy efficient, quiet machines).

It wasn't really worth painting the frig, although it looked nice and was a huge improvement over the original coppertone. It just wasn't energy efficient and it was very loud. I put in a new one just before we sold and wished I had had the benefit of it...

Just a thought.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 9:32PM
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Check with your utility company as well, there may be a rebate and recycle program on your old refrigerators. It definitely will deliver energy savings. The recycle programs also exist on DW as well. You will benefit from a DW that is far less noisy and consumes less water per cycle. I believe scrap metal value keeps this stuff out of the landfills, after the toxic stuff is dealt with.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 9:53PM
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Older appliances are so much more reliable than the ones made today and last a lot longer. I'm still using my 32 year old washer/dryer and they still work great and my 32 year old fridge is still working fine in my garage as a backup fridge.

Fortunately my 11 year old appliances from my remodel are all still working but I have had minor problems with some of them. Given all the bad reports of current appliances, I sure hope I don't need to replace anything in the near future.

On the other hand, you have absolutely no reason to feel guilty about buying new appliances. If you have the money and you won't have to cut back on other things, then buy what you want and enjoy it.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 10:15PM
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See how you feel ice the Reno is guess is the appliances will look old and icky next to new everything else. You can sell them on craigslist or donate to Habitat so no landfill, no guilt. Our appliances were 15 years old when we remodeled. They would not have looked good and weren't as efficient..we donated them.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 10:26PM
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GenX, I could have written your post 14 months ago... I agonized over getting rid of perfectly good functioning appliances I installed in1986, (the refer was from '83) but we were just ready for that last kitchen "freshen up" as we hit empty the nest stage. I donated the appliances to a guy that re-furbishes them and then sells them at a great discount to underprivileged families. It felt better than just sending them to the dump. I'll just be happy if the new ones last half as long as the old ones.... ;)

    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 11:03PM
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If they bother you so much and you can afford it, why not replace them? I But there is some truth to the older ones being made to last longer than the new ones. I have a 31 yr old refrigerator in my basement, formerly in my kitchen but when I got a new one for the kitchen the old one went down there as a backup. The new one (actually not so new anymore, its 10 yrs or so by now) has had a couple of service calls and recalls on parts, the old one - nothing! 31 yrs and still runs like brand new. It probably does use more energy, but my guess is it will outlast the newer one. Don't they sell some kind of veneers that look like stainless steel? I thought I saw that on some home remodeling TV show. Just a thought, if you want to keep the appliances while they still work.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 11:50PM
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Habitat in my area won't take appliances that are more than 5 years old.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2014 at 12:03AM
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If you decide to keep them, measure new appliances and compare the sizes to your current ones. I've had two friends buy new fridges only to find out that the newer fridge was ever so slightly larger than the old fridge and didn't find in the old location.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2014 at 12:22AM
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Lots of good ideas here, thanks!

Habitat in my town is pretty picky as well: they only take appliances that are "saleable," whatever that means. I will call them and ask, though; and if not, I bet I could find someone who could use an extra refrigerator, for the garage, or what have you.

I will definitely look up the option of a new dishwasher panel: I think that would be an easy way to prettify it until I need a new one (and the DW is the appliance that bothers me least: it's noisy, but I'm usually not in the kitchen when it's running.)

With the range, it's a matter both of style and function: it's got that K-Car 80s esthetic -- just not attractive -- and it's a coil-electric. So, not what I'd prefer, but for what it is, it works. The fridge is annoying in its layout, and it has no icemaker. But the temperature control is good and consistent. I guess I wouldn't want to invest in new finishes for these, since there are functional things about them I actively dislike. But they're not "broken," and I guess I have never before made large purchases like this unless there was an immediate need.

Meh. First-world problems.

But I am totally excited about the new countertops etc., and you're right joanie, once I see it I may be absolutely driven to make everything else shiny and new. I'm following other threads on this site with great I hope when it does come time to buy stuff I'll be ready.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2014 at 12:58AM
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you could put them on craiglist for free and someone would be happy to have them but if you don't care about their dated looks, keep them. it depends on how much it bothers you. personally i would just keep the dw since it runs fine and the stove if you like it and swap out the fridge since that is the most inefficient appliance you own.
just think in 20 years, the appliances we buy today will be dated so it's all relative!

    Bookmark   January 21, 2014 at 7:23PM
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Joaniepoanie makes a good point that they probably will look dated and out of place once you make all the other improvements. We finished our remodel last year and our old appliances went various places. We donated our DW to the Salvation Army and when they came to pick it up they were both gracious and grateful to take it. Our contractor asked if he could buy our 20 year old range and OTR microwave for his hunting camp, we put our fridge in the garage.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2014 at 10:47PM
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I'd paint the fridge with chalkboard paint. Always wanted to try that with an old fridge, but they died too quickly.

Also, google painting dishwasher.
I'd probably replace the range.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 12:51PM
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nosoccermom, the clutter in that second picture makes me shudder!

    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 12:56PM
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nosoccermom: many days I come home from work *covered* in chalk dust -- an occupational hazard -- plus I'm a lefty, which makes the chalkboard even trickier and messier. So you can imagine my first reaction to that photo...

I bet people who can draw would really get a kick out of that, though!

This post was edited by GenX-Luddite on Sat, Jan 25, 14 at 10:16

    Bookmark   January 25, 2014 at 10:13AM
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For the fridge, when I first moved in here (I was renting at the time), the old 1979 Hotpoint fridge was still going strong, but eventually it died. Of course the landlord replaced it with the cheapest fridge out there, a bottom of the line Frigidaire, which has an energy rating that's pretty much off the right side of the chart, but even so my electric bill dropped $20 a month in an area where electricity is relatively cheap.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2014 at 11:31AM
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OK, I get it. Chalkboard paint is out. How about just paint?

Here is a link that might be useful: DIY painted fridge

    Bookmark   January 25, 2014 at 12:07PM
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Now THAT I could live with!

    Bookmark   January 25, 2014 at 12:41PM
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I'd definitely buy a new range. Especially if you do cook, you will find that to be a very worthwhile investment and something that will make cooking meals for yourself and perhaps friends, a real joy. I'd keep the dishwasher until it failed but I would replace the refrigerator too.

In our area there's something called Freecycle and you can list things you want to give away for free on their website and there are definitely takers. Got rid of my refrigerator that way (but just be careful of letting people into your home, etc!)

    Bookmark   January 25, 2014 at 12:42PM
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the K-car! Exactly. I used that exact reference with my DH the other day. But, DH said, it's like a what? This from a "car" guy. Technically he is Gen X ('76) but on the other side of the spectrum from me ('69).

It sounds like the range is the "clunker" for you. Even though it works, it is still a clunker. I would replace it.

FWIW: I would figure out how much money my old frig cost me to run on an annual basis, then I would decide. I would put a skin on the dw because you run it so infrequently and the skin solves the aesthetics (though not the acoustics).

    Bookmark   January 25, 2014 at 1:13PM
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If you use the calculator below, and plug in model year 2000 at 10 cents/kwH, you save less than 50.00/year over 5 years if you replace with an energy efficient model. Annual cost would be 91.00/year total vs 43.00/year. Seems hardly worthwhile to invest in a new model based on electricity savings, not to mention energy costs to produce a new fridge.

Here is a link that might be useful: electricity calculator

This post was edited by nosoccermom on Sat, Jan 25, 14 at 14:09

    Bookmark   January 25, 2014 at 2:07PM
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Ahhh, your first place! How exciting! I say live with your appliances until you have saved enough to swap them out or until it becomes a real priority for you. You could try painting the DW and fridge. The worst thing that could happen is that you have a reason to replace them :) New homes and sudden repairs don't come cheap. So while it is wonderful to have stunning kitchen or other space, it is even more wonderful to know that your space reflects you and not a creditor's windfall.

P.S. I recently did a kitchen refresh and actually used bisque appliances....on purpose :)

    Bookmark   January 25, 2014 at 2:20PM
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In your shoes I'd wait until all of the other things are in place. I think you'll have an immediate gut-level response as to whether you feel you need to put in new appliances because the current ones look so out dated.

We just replaced counter tops and bought a new range. Now the (still working) wall oven micro wave combo looks outdated because it is trimmed out differently than today's appliances, and my dishwasher has an outside control panel whereas all of today's dishwashers have hidden control panels. These are things I never really noticed when living with my kitchen; they became more apparent as I was shopping and searching websites like this one.

But, my "newer" fridge that is seven years old and is a piece of junk whereas the thirty year old one we moved to our basement is still going strong. Super ugly looks but still works.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2014 at 3:12PM
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Depending on what style you are drawn to, the treatment the blogger of the Old Painted Cottage gave her fridge might work for you. If you enter the kitchen section of her blog, she explains how she attached beadboard to her old 70's hand-me-down fridge. The explanation is in the Q & A section near the bottom of the kitchen tour page.

Here is a link that might be useful: Enter the kitchen here.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2014 at 3:43PM
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GenX-Luddite, Something to consider is that a new fridge may not fit as easily into the old cabinet scheme/layout. Or you may find that frigs that fit and are efficient and good looking will bust the budget.

Nosoccermom, great resource. Thanks, and I agree with you.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2014 at 4:18PM
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It can be tempting to upgrade, or replace items that break with something better. You should consider, however, whether you really need to replace or upgrade. More often than not, a less expensive and less difficult option can be better all around. These downgrades could be used items or they can be new, less expensive to maintain items. Downgraded items may also run on human power, which can be better for your health as well.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2014 at 4:41AM
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I replaced my DW and fridge pre reno and reused the 2 appliances.
The DW is so much more quiet than my old WP.
The fridge worked but I always hated it. The new one is great. The energy savings is fine but food stays fresh so much longer, so less wasted food.
I feel both were a good option (Miele DW and elux fridge). When I replaced them, I didn't realize there was a remodel in the future.

I replaced my cool range with induction. You mentioned you have a coil and want gas- but if you can't get gas, induction is great!

My GC does some work for people in need and took the range and a friends daughter with a dead fridge snagged the fridge.

Utility company also gives rebates but that goes to the landfill.

My parents original GE fridge lived in the basement and it would have been over 50 years old and still going strong.

Good luck with your decisions.

Which Cambria are you using?

    Bookmark   June 20, 2014 at 6:34AM
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This topic was from January and curious what the OP did about the appliances. Thought I would post of my recent dilemma with appliances.

We just did a makeover with no concrete plans with what to do with the bisque appliances. Fridge was only 4 years old and HATED that thing. Struggled at the time as to bisques or black, but the bisque looked better with my old color scheme. There was an air pressure issue when you closed the fridge the freezer door would pop open and lots of time would be slightly open without us realizing it. It also had an interior water dispenser (never used it) that took up so much space you had to bend all the way down to get things from the top shelf.

As another person mentioned it was slightly oversized in the space and hard to move it. The range had to go as it was 25 years old though I liked the combo of black and bisque but the oven irregular and the chrome trim rusting. The black GE dw was also trimmed out in chrome so had to go.

As someone else mentioned, as you go along the old appliances really stand out like a sore thumb. I was very fortunate to get $75 for the range on Craigs List and $420 for the fridge. A guy bought it for the lunch room of his business. Also sold the above the range microwave on CL for $60 and took $40 for it as the guy was kind enough to offer to remove it for us which we couldn't do after firing the contractor helping with the kitchen.

So now I have all new black appliances and they are proving to be a pain in the neck. I read so much about SS being hard to clean that I didn't even consider them and now wish I had taken my time.

The stove is gas with 5 burners and continuous grates that weight a ton, and one spatter can cause 15 minutes of wiping. I do like the grates as extra space to set things after cooking, good for cookie sheets and larger hot items. Also got a new black microwave which was a struggle as they all looked so cheap but do like the one I chose (Kenmore like the stove) but it scratches if a paper towel is used. I now only use microfiber cloths on the appliances. One to clean and one to dry.

I LOVE my new Maytag fridge as doors and freezer snap tightly closed, it is a little smaller and perfect set up inside for just DH and myself. Also loving my new Maytag dw that you can barely hear and nice stainless interior and better rack design than my old GE.

Bottom line is I also like bisque appliances and almost wish I would have been able to use them again. My old appliances were a mix of black of bisque which is the best of both worlds and black does look good with my new color scheme. Also completely agree, they don't make things like they used to! And off topic, I can't wait for the day to replace my "new" HE Maytag Bravos washer!!!! My laundry does not smell fresh, everything tangles and wrinkles and I regret the day I got rid of my 28 year old Whirlpool washer on a whim as thought it was "old."

    Bookmark   June 20, 2014 at 7:10AM
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I'm so glad I found this thread as I'm in the middle of a small kitchen remodel. All new appliances weren't originally in the budget but I am for sure getting a new range because I'm finally converting from electric to gas! YAY! The other appliances will have to come as I can afford -- or if I just can't stand my white fridge and dishwasher once the remodel is done - both of which I've replaced since I bought this house...Looking for a good stainless gas range that isn't too terribly expensive - doesn't have to be fancy - Recommendations?

    Bookmark   June 20, 2014 at 11:29AM
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The good thing about most dishwashers and ranges is that they are a standard size.

If your existing range is a common size like 30", you could leave it and replace later without disrupting the kitchen. All gas ranges are often very simple devices so I wouldn't worry about reliability if you decide to replace it instead.

Most dishwashers are 24" though there are some compact 18" ones. We found that our dishwasher had a panel below the controls. Our GC had a local metal fab place fabricate a stainless steel panel for almost nothing - it was just a metal rectangle - to update the look. We liked keeping it because it was a very solid one. However it failed about 3 years after the remodel with substantial cost to repair so we replaced it with a newer quieter one that has been trouble free so far.

I guess the moral of that story is if you want to replace your dishwasher now to get a quieter one, don't feel bad about taking out the old one. But if you aren't bothered by having a slightly noisier one (and in a 1-person household you can probably usually choose to run it when the noise isn't an issue), you may be able to keep the old one and update its looks. If the front of the dishwasher looks like something flat with a metal rim around it, it's probably a replaceable panel.

Refrigerator sizes vary. Most new ones are taller than the old ones. 36" wide is a common size now and wider than older ones though there are some narrower sizes. If you aren't replacing the fridge now, you might want to do some fridge shopping anyway to check what sizes would suit you and make the fridge space big enough to accommodate a new one.

We did that and the old fridge died a few years after the remodel.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2014 at 12:36PM
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What a great topic! I lived for 10 years with a kitchen which was pretty bad by gardenweb standards. But... everything worked. It felt wrong to replace perfectly functioning things just because they were a bit dated or not to my taste. So, I waited. Eventually the dishwasher started to not get the dishes very clean. The fridge started to leak water into the interior. The cheap cabinet MDF started to disintegrated and all of the hardware stopped working. The range would have probably lasted another 20 years had I kept it, but it was bisque with wood grain hardware and so gosh-darned ugly that I didn't feel THAT bad giving it away to a guy who hauls away scrap metal.

Is your fridge a compatible size with modern fridges in height and width? I would at least plan to accommodate that in your cabinetry. You can always swap out your appliances later if you decide that they don't look good with your other new fixtures. And you can always try one of the funky painting solutions as shown above!

    Bookmark   June 20, 2014 at 1:42PM
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I really like bisque. Seriously, I do. If I had your kitchen I would actually paint your cabinets to match the appliances. Wood floors and fresh counters will help a lot. And crisp white walls? I'd hold off on picking a backsplash - I usually prefer ones that are not too busy and are not a focal point, but that's just me.

Those coloured appliances are coming back big time. This Meneghini one costs $12,000 in the UK:

My friend bought a gorgeous light gold Aga fridge recently too. Bisque and light gold look so great with wood, and look softer and a bit old-timey.

I bought a builder grade appliance recently and was horrified by all the lemons in the reviews. They don't make them like they used to, that's for sure.

We just bought all-new stainless appliances (dh) but the look is definitely on the way out IMHO. Our cheaper stainless fridge shows prints horribly and already has numerous small mysterious dents. Also, builder grade white and black finishes these days can be pretty awful. I really hated the plasticky alligator skin finish on the crummy Frigidaire fridge that I had for a decade that always made noises like chickens clucking.

This post was edited by feisty68 on Fri, Jun 20, 14 at 15:43

    Bookmark   June 20, 2014 at 3:40PM
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I think the moral of the story is, builder grade can be pretty awful regardless of when it was made. It's all normally newer stuff because all the old cheap stuff quit long ago.

It's funny to me because I remember my parents getting a new Suburban in 1992, and I kept hearing how it was nice but they don't make them like they used to from some of the car guys they knew. Jump forward to now and my daily driver is a Volvo from the same year. It's sort of hipster cool and still looks nice, and people will look at it and comment about how it's a great car because they don't make them now like they used to. It's sort of confusing when you think about it.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2014 at 3:59PM
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I hear you! Still in the midst of our kitchen remodel and seems like a colossal waste to throw out my circa 1999 stainless Whirlpool Gold fridge, double oven, OTR microwave, dishwasher and cooktop. I put them on Craigslist, will see if anyone wants them. They all work perfectly after 15 years! Replacing them with Viking / Sub-Zero and truly a little nervous. Never had a problem with the Whirlpool, who knows what issues I will have with the "upscale" brands!

    Bookmark   June 20, 2014 at 6:54PM
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