Kitchen and Laundry Appliances: What's New Right Now?

Tom Chapman/flickr

Make "hub," not "hubbub," the word that best describes your kitchen this year. The latest appliances for cooking and washing offer clever features to make life a little easier, less frantic, and quieter. For example, the soft close cabinet trend is spreading to include appliances as well, and black is ... well ... the new black, replacing fingerprint-prone stainless steel. The increasing focus on ergonomic and energy-efficient design is healthier for you and for the planet. Above and beyond, here are some of the outstanding innovations in kitchen and laundry appliances right now.

Oh, Those Ovens

There's a new appliance in town, a "double" oven with a difference -- it's a convection oven capable of cooking two dishes at the same time, each at its own optimum temperature. This remarkable feat is accomplished with the help of a divider, which can be removed when you need to roast that gargantuan Thanksgiving turkey.

A second type of innovative oven works with microwave heating technology but adds convection to cook foods more quickly and evenly. Imagine baking a whole chicken in 14 minutes, instead of the usual half-hour-plus in a conventional microwave!

A Refrigerator Compartment -- or is it a Freezer?

If you're still getting used to the newfangled idea of "freezer-on-bottom" fridges, wake up and smell the orange juice. The latest for 2016 and onwards is the flexible cooling zone. Half of the lower section can be adjusted to work as a refrigerating or a freezing compartment, with temperatures from -9 to 41 degrees Fahrenheit possible. Imagine how handy that will be right around a major holiday like Christmas or Passover -- oodles of freezer space in advance of the feast, and then just switch over to fridge temperature when the time comes to store all the delectable leftovers.

Dishwasher Solutions for the Tiniest Kitchens

If you're pressed for kitchen cabinet and floor space, you need to be creative to fit a dishwasher in. Now there are models purpose-built to be installed in that often underused area beneath under the sink. Should your kitchen be too tiny even for that to work, the drawer dishwasher is the ultimate space-saving solution. When you rent, rather than own, your home, you can invest in a slim portable dishwasher that will be all yours. Since it doesn't require permanent installation, you'll be able to use this dishwasher on wheels anywhere you have access to a hot water supply -- in your kitchen, your laundry room, this apartment, or your next abode.

What's New in Washers and Dryers?

Factory-mounted pedestals raise your laundry machines to a comfortable height for both loading and unloading. You can even fold your fresh clean clothes on top without straining your back.

Do you ever find yourself juggling two loads of dirty clothes -- like dainty delicates and deep-soiled work duds, both of which need to be cleaned yesterday? Just pop them in the brand new double washer, which features two separately controlled washing compartments.

In the midst of a busy binge-on-housework kind of day, you will have your hands very full. Stay on top of your wash, even when you're away from the laundry room, when you have an electronic washer and dryer with Wi-Fi connect. Install the appropriate app on your smartphone and you can keep track of where the wash cycle is at, download special custom laundry cycles, and receive alerts if the clothes are not removed promptly.

The Heart of the Home is the ... Refrigerator?!?

The kitchen has long been a favorite place for family members to touch base. Now the focus of that connection is shifting from the kitchen table, the bulletin board, and the household command station ... to the refrigerator. The fridge of the very near future offers a Wi-Fi touchscreen to strengthen your connection with family and friends. Leave each other messages and post your calendar of activities. Use it to play music, news, or favorite television programs. And, since you are in the kitchen after all, organize your food supplies and order groceries for the many delicious meals you'll share.

Laura Firszt writes for

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