News, updates and the latest kitchen and bath information from Thompson Price Kitchens, Baths and Home

What We Can Learn from Hotel Bathrooms

They’re sleek, functional and they make you want to never leave.  Yes, we are talking about hotel bathrooms and how the nicer hotels know how to lay on the charm, in a very intelligent way.  We’ve always said, “The smaller the room, the more important the design becomes”.  Think about it, every inch counts in a small space.  Efficiencies and storage become very important requirements and that is why we say we can learn a great deal from hotel bathrooms when we start thinking about renovating bathrooms in our own home.

Style.

No matter what your style preference is, most can agree that the modern styles of newer hotels make beautiful spaces.  Take a look at the furniture in one of these beautiful rooms.  Everything from the desk and chairs to the floating vanity feature clean lines and touches of modern elegance.  (Note the wood veneer on the refrigerator/bar area)  

Accessibility.

The floating vanity isn’t just for show; it also allows those with disabilities to utilize the vanity area of any room without a need to design ADA specific rooms.  This is a growing trend not only in hotels and commercial spaces but also in residential applications due to the increasing age of the population and the trend for people to stay in their homes longer.  In fact, there is a growing amount of ranch-style homes or curbless shower enclosures which feature shower bases that allow the bather to roll right in.  

Simplicity.

Sometimes when we’re designing kitchens and bathrooms, we have a tendency to over-complicate things.  In hotel bathrooms, simplicity is key.  Many new hotel bathrooms feature one single light switch for the bathroom area.  This single switch turns on all the light fixtures at the same time.  The wall light at the vanity, the shower light and the room light (if applicable) are all wired together.  Not only does this save the electrician a good amount of wiring time, but it also saves on switches and wall space.

Ventilation.

Speaking of the fan, have you ever noticed how quiet most hotel bathroom vent fans are?  This is often due to hotels dedicating ventilation systems to ventilate all of the bathrooms at the same time.  Running all vents together reduces costs by eliminating point of use fans at each bathroom.  This same trend is growing in our homes with growing concerns of energy-efficient homes running the risk of indoor air pollution with radon, chemicals and volatile organic compounds.  A house-wide dedicated ventilation system will help to get those harmful items out.  

Lack of Tubs.

For years, we have advised clients to ditch their tubs in favor of larger showers for years. The trend for hotel bathrooms to eliminate the tub in favor of a walk-in shower is just further proof that we’ve been right all along.  Our busy lifestyles have really made it difficult to relax and most people don’t have the time to fill up a tub and then sit in it for 20 or 30 minutes.  Getting rid of bathtubs allows us to create a larger shower enclosure with all the bells and whistles to better fit our in and out lifestyles.  

Desire to Return.

We hear it often.  Customers come in and want to design the bathroom in their home to reflect a bathroom in a hotel they have recently stayed in.  That’s how Thompson Price designs our projects.  We want the homeowner to have a bathroom they can’t wait to return home to and enjoy for years to come.  Hotels figured this out long ago by creating beautiful bathrooms that keep their customers coming back.  

Next time you stay in a hotel, take a deeper look at the configuration of the bathroom.  You might just find a few traits you will want to bring back to your bathroom at home. Needless to say, all of us here at Thompson Price will be happy to help you do so.      

Lighting For Your Home

Lighting is my favorite category in a kitchen or bathroom project because lighting alone can transform the look, feel and performance of a living space at a better value than any other category.  Unfortunately, it’s often the most overlooked; so, here’s some information that will help teach you about the main types of lighting that can be used in your home.  

First, we need to understand the difference between the types of lighting:

Ambient Lighting

According to the American Lighting Association (ALA), Ambient Lighting provides an area with overall illumination. Also known as general lighting, it radiates a comfortable level of brightness without glare and allows you to see and walk about safely. In some spaces, such as laundry rooms, the ambient lighting also serves as the primary source of task lighting.  It can be accomplished with chandeliers, ceiling or wall-mounted fixtures, recessed or track lights or with lanterns mounted on the outside of the home. It is fundamental to a good lighting plan to have a central source of ambient light in all rooms.

Task Lighting

Task Lighting helps you perform specific tasks, such as reading, grooming, preparing and cooking food, doing homework, working on hobbies, playing games and balancing your checkbook. It can be provided by recessed and track lighting, pendant lighting and undercabinet lighting, as well as by portable floor and desk lamps.  Task lighting should be free of distracting glare and shadows and should be bright enough to prevent eye strain.

Accent Lighting

Accent Lighting adds drama to a room by creating visual interest. As part of an interior design scheme, it is used to draw the eye to houseplants, paintings, sculptures and other prized possessions. It can also be used to highlight the texture of a brick or stone wall, window treatments or outdoor landscaping.  To be effective, accent lighting requires as least three times as much light on the focal point as the general lighting surrounding it.  Accent lighting is usually provided by recessed and track lighting or wall-mounted picture lights.

Now, we need to apply these lighting types to the design.  It is critical to determine how the kitchen or bathroom design will be utilized by the home-owner in order to design the lighting plan around the different tasks that will be taking place where that specific lighting will be used. Thompson Price automatically integrates lighting design into every one of their project designs to try and make sure we utilize our lighting options in the best way we can.

Next, we need to figure out how we want to control the different types of light. Will the new lights be on regular switches?  Is dimming necessary?   With the newer LEDs, the need to dim lighting for energy conservation has basically gone away because LEDs themselves are so energy efficient.  However, some customers still prefer to dim lights to create a certain mood or atmosphere.  This means we need to confirm that:

1.  The particular LED fixture we’re specifying is dimmable.  

2.  To determine if we need to specify an alternative driver or dimmer to dim the fixture.  

Sometimes, this requires different equipment that are needed specifically for dimming. Thompson Price’s goal is to make sure the different lighting elements work seamlessly together from a both a visual stand-point and a control stand-point.

Our higher end lighting systems allow control of multiple fixtures via an app on your smartphone or wirelessly.  These products allow us to create ‘Scenes’ where the different light fixtures are automatically set to pre-programmed lighting levels.  For example, at my home I use a scene I have labeled ‘Entertaining’ which dims the main lights to a lower than normal setting but raises the level of my accent lighting and task lighting below the wall cabinets in my bar area to draw the eye of my guests to that part of the room.  When the guests leave, I hit a single button to return all the lights to their highest setting to help make clean-up a breeze for me.

Some of our newer products allow for some really cool control options like door sensors where the interior of a cabinet can be illuminated by opening the door, controlled by a remote or even controlled by a timer that can turn lights on or off at a certain time of day.  Do your kids always leave the lights on downstairs?  You can set a timer that turns off every light downstairs at 10pm each night.  There’s really no limit to what Thompson Price can help you do with lighting in your home.      

Here are a few quick myths about lighting:

Lighting is for high-end projects only.  

False. Thompson Price has basic lighting for even our most cost-conscious customers.  By changing the fixture type or the actual wattage, we can integrate a lighting plan into the simplest of projects.  

 

Lighting has to be expensive

False.  Granted, it’s easy to drive the budget up by going overboard with interior accent lighting and some of the cooler control systems or color changing features; but again, Thompson Price has many lighting products to accommodate most price-points.  

 

Lighting really doesn’t have any purpose other than looking pretty

I think we cleared this up earlier.  Ambient lighting and task lighting are really critical for both safety and functionality reasons.  The accent lighting is really the only lighting that is purely aesthetic, but it can really highlight all of the your surfaces, products and finishes when you add accent lighting to your home design.

Lighting is too complicated

It may be if you try to go it alone, but Thompson Price knows our lighting products in and out and we can help make adding lighting to your project a breeze.  Stop by our showroom or submit a quote request to see how easy to add lighting to your kitchen or bathroom.  

Don't Be A Mannequin Shopper

My wife and I recently remodeled our basement and as the project neared completion, we began searching for the perfect couch for our new home theater area.  Our criteria wasn’t absurd.  We were hoping for a sectional, but not leather, because my wife hates leather couches.  This sectional needed to be especially deep so we could sink back into it and achieve that ultimate level of coziness. Reclining was a necessity, but electronic reclining wasn’t.  Space for eight or nine people would be ideal.  We also needed it to fit our decor, which put us in a taupe-ish neutral color because we decorated our new basement living space with warm golden tones and dark chocolate accent walls. So, one sunny, Spring Saturday afternoon, we headed out with anticipation of visiting five different furniture stores in search of that one special piece.  You heard me right...five.  

I’m not exactly sure what either of us were expecting.  We never really purchased furniture in the past. I mean, this was our first home and many of the pieces that made up our main living areas were hand-me-downs and pieces that we picked up over the years.  None of them were deliberate accents to new rooms that we created.  So, when it came time to buy our new piece of furniture, we just assumed this was how we were planning to do it - go place to place and eventually something has to jump out at us, right?  Wrong.  

We weren’t in the first place long.  We walked in and we were greeted promptly by a salesperson who kindly directed us to the sectional area.  Once in the sectional area, my wife spun around in a circle eyeing everything in the immediate area before blurting, “Okay, let’s go.  I don’t see anything here”.  I couldn’t believe it.  We had been in the store a mere two minutes.  How could she have possibly entertained every sectional option under the roof of this furniture store?  Regardless, she’s the boss, and with that, we exited the store and proceeded to the next furniture store on our list.

Friends, you’re not going to believe this but we got to the second store and the exact same thing happened. This time, I stopped her.  “Honey, what do you mean there’s nothing here? Haven’t you heard anything the sales people have said? They can literally give you anything.  Whatever size, configuration, texture, color - whatever you want, they can make it for you.  So, again, what do mean there’s nothing here??”  Her response was, “I...just...don’t...see...anything...I...like”.  Her words reverberated in my ears for what seemed to be an eternity.  Here I was, face to face with those words I’ve heard all too often from would be clients who were as I like to call “Mannequin Shoppers”.  Only this time, that mannequin shopper was my own wife.  

To clarify, “Mannequin Shoppers” are the same people that can’t buy an outfit without seeing it on a mannequin.  They tend to be visual and they often tend to lack creativity.  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s just the way some of us are programmed.  I’ve had customers visit our showroom which contains 5,000 square feet of kitchen and bath displays and tell me, “I don’t see what I want here”.  Mannequin Shoppers don’t understand that we have literally thousands of style and color combinations from several different manufacturers. We just cannot display them all in the showroom. Mannequin Shoppers assume we don’t have what they’re looking for because they didn’t see a kitchen or bath display in the exact style/color they were hoping to see but if they went through our selection area or worked with one of our designers, they’d see how easy it is to assemble the exact look they’ve been wanting. It’s really like working with a personal style consultant and it’s a built-in feature of our design service.    

So, back to our sectional hunt.  I stared at my wife and she stared back at me. I realized I needed to do what I do with any of my clients when it comes time to make style decisions and we started eliminating options.  We started at the very end of the sectional area and went piece by piece determining what we liked or didn’t like about each piece.  For example, one of the units had a built-in armrest in the center of the unit that doubled as a cooler and a charging center for mobile devices.  My wife pointed out how bulky she thought it looked and that it took away from the otherwise clean lines of the piece.  A helpful passerby salesperson told us the unit was available without the bulky armrest cooler.

The next issue was the color.  Neither one of us were fans of the particular color shown on the floor.  I asked the salesperson what other color options were available and he quickly pulled out a swatch ring with about twenty colors on it.  We quickly narrowed our options down to two and played paper, rock, scissors to make the final color decision.

My wife had one final hesitation.  “The one side might be a bit too narrow”.  You see, one leg of the sectional was longer than the other.  The salesperson said, “No problem. The shorter leg is a loveseat.  We can make that leg a full sofa and it will be the same length as the other leg.  If you’re interested, I can probably do that for the same price.”   

So there we were.  We went from a situation where there was not a single possible product that would fit our needs to finding the perfect sectional for our basement in about twenty minutes. All we had to do was understand what we were looking at, what options were available, asking the right questions and having a helpful designer or salesperson. These are the exact same traits the Thompson Price team brings to every single kitchen or bath project.  Am I generalizing here a little bit?  Absolutely.  However, the concept and the idea is the same.  Just like with shopping for clothing, the perfect outfit doesn’t just fall into place or accidentally happen; the same is true when trying to create a beautifully designed kitchen or bathroom.  There are an unbelievable amount of products and selections to consider, and the right design team can help make it an easy and enjoyable process.  

So, next time you or your wife want to visit seven showrooms looking for that perfect kitchen or bathroom design to leap out at you, save yourself and your marriage, and talk to a sales person about your needs and wants. Don’t be a Mannequin Shopper. Make Thompson Price your first and last stop and we will help you create a kitchen or bathroom that looks best on you...not on someone else.

Kitchen Cabinet Options and Pricing In St. Louis

When you first begin looking at cabinetry you might experience sticker shock. Part of the sticker price can be attributed to all of the accessories and options available. Here, we break down many of our most popular cabinet accessories and their associated costs to help you better determine which accessories and options are “must-haves” and which ones are “can live withouts”. Here is a list and description of our most popular cabinet accessories

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Trash Pullout

The trash pullout is available in numerous options and types, it is one accessory no kitchen should be without.  Basic trash pullout models are mounted to the floor of the cabinet and are made of inexpensive wire or plastic. The more premium units are constructed of solid wood and mounted directly to the cabinet door to create one fluid motion when opened. Some of these premium units feature assisted open and closing. Single wastebasket units are available; however, we recommend double units for families that recycle. You can even ditch the drawer that usually sits above the unit, and opt for a full-height door if you have a large family and need a larger wastebasket. In our opinion, if you have a large family, you will definitely benefit from the larger wastebasket size. Our trash pullout units start around 90 dollars for a basic unit and go all the way up to 700 dollars for a luxury unit with assisted electronic opening.

Sink Tilt Out Tray

These units are available in plastic, metal and stainless steel and are a great use of wasted space in front of the sink where a fixed drawer face is usually located. While we like to keep scouring pads, sponges and Bar Keepers Friend in our sink tilt-outs, you can store anything you would like close to the sink in your sink tilt out tray. Depending on which style and size you choose, these units range from 30-75 dollars.

Paneled Ends

Paneled ends are a fantastic upgrade from your basic cabinet finish and can really bring a high-end custom look to your kitchen. Some more basic cabinet lines don’t offer paneled ends. The higher end cabinet lines offer more of everything from different styles to integrated options and working doors instead of fixed panels. The price for these units does range depending on application type, door style, cabinet type and the finish of the overall unit. On average, the Thompson Price brand line ranges from a few hundred dollars to several hundred dollars. If you are on a budget, you can choose to panel only the ends that will be visible instead of paneling every finished end or even just opt for our standard furniture flush ends.

Soft-Close Drawers

These are quickly becoming the industry standard. The soft-close drawer glides are a wonderful addition to any cabinet drawer. The quality of these units are not equal from brand to brand and we strongly encourage you to test all of your glide options before making a purchase. More specifically, test the fluidity and motion of the glide along with the closing function. A less expensive unit may not extend as much as our more expensive glides. Keep in mind, the closing action of a less expensive unit may not be as refined as a glide in a higher priced model. All Thompson Price cabinetry features full extension, soft-close drawers at no additional charge.

Soft Close Doors

Cabinet doors have finally made their way to the soft-close party! Instead of slamming cabinet doors closed, soft-close door hinges gently pull themselves closed when the door reaches a certain point. Some product lines charge up to 16 dollars per door for this soft-closing function but all of the cabinetry sold at Thompson Price, features soft-close doors for no additional charge.

Light Rails

One of our pet peeves is when you can see the actual light source of your under-cabinet light fixtures. The best way to avoid this issue is to integrate a light rail or a separate trim piece to the bottom of the cabinet. In our custom line, we like to do one of two things: 1) extend the actual face of the cabinet down further to hide the light fixtures; or, 2) flush finish the bottom of the cabinet and recess our fixtures into the bottom of the cabinet for a completely seamless look. For example, in frameless or European style cabinets, the bottom of the cabinet is not partially hidden by a face-frame. To resolve this, Thompson Price will extend the light rail of our house brand cabinetry for about 50 cents per inch. Light rails are not a big deal, but they are one more touch that can make a difference between an amazing kitchen and just another basic kitchen.

Finished Bottoms

While some cabinet-makers do not even offer this option, Thompson Price does. We offer options to finish the bottoms of our cabinetry in certain instances where some cabinets will have finished bottoms by default and other cabinets near that same cabinet will have an unfinished bottom. It is something you probably would never notice until someone points it out. When we install cabinets, we prefer to have the most finished looking installation and finished bottoms to help achieve that finished look. Thompson Price can finish the bottoms of our house brand cabinets for less than a dollar per inch. For the other brands we carry, finished panels can be ordered and applied to the bottoms of the cabinets in the field for a relatively small fee.

Slide Out Towel Bar

Where do you leave your kitchen towels to dry when you are done using them?

Most people throw them over an appliance handle while others leave the wet towel on the counter top. If you would like a place to hang the towel to dry out of sight, our slide out towel bar is a great option to consider. Thompson Price can install a high quality metal telescoping towel bar beneath your sink base or in any base cabinet that will allow your towels to hang dry without being visible. This awesome product is usually available for less than 100 dollars installed.

Lazy Susans

While there have been several cool corner cabinet features that have come out in the last several years, there is still nothing better for efficient storage for a corner cabinet than a lazy susan. We find there is a love/hate relationship with these products and it tends to depend on which units the customer has had experience with in the past. We are not talking about the cheap pole mounted double spinning tray. Or the unit where the entire door rotates within the cabinet allowing for the possibility of someone’s fingers to get pinched in the process. No, we recommend a Super Susan, which consists of two independent rotating trays affixed to the floor of the cabinet and a fixed shelf halfway up in the base cabinet. This type of design gives the user maximum storage and usability without any of the headaches. While a typical lazy susan can be around 500 dollars, the Super Susan is usually in the 800 dollar range.

Pigeon Holes

When we mention a pigeon hole, our customers usually respond with a “deer in the headlights” look. However, a pigeon hole is really just a fixed and finished opening that makes a great place for storing mail, school work, bills, etc. Pigeon holes can be used in your kitchen, a desk area or even an office. The pigeon hole line Thompson Price carries give our customers the option to have the pigeon holes exposed or you can choose to hide them behind a door to help conceal the contents, just in case you are not the tidiest person on the planet or want your personal items to be kept out of sight.

Decorative Corners, Legs & Posts

One way to create an incredible touch of style or a unique look to your kitchen or bathroom cabinetry is to add decorative corners or legs. Thompson Price carries hundreds of styles available for turned posts, decorative corners, legs and feet. Some are created by our vendor partners and others are made exclusively by third party vendors. Either way, the leg is created and formed and then finished and applied to the cabinet. These items add a really nice look, but the product themselves are quite pricy; as is the actual installation due to the labor required to actually apply them depending on application.

Roll Out Shelves

Roll out shelves make accessing items at the back of the cabinet easier. In our basic product lines, the roll outs are factory installed at predefined locations. In our higher end product lines, the roll outs are completely adjustable allowing maximum storage flexibility for those who need it most. Thompson Price cabinetry also features deep, full-extension, soft-closing roll outs at no additional charge. This feature is a must have in any tall or deep pantry cabinet, or really in any application where getting to the back of the cabinet may be a challenge. Our roll outs typically add between one to three hundred dollars per roll-out depending on the product line chosen.

Tray Dividers

There is no better way to store your cookie sheets, cooling racks, muffin pans and miscellaneous flat items in the kitchen than a tray divider. The product line we carry features removable tray dividers, which allows you to store these items in relatively small amounts of space by storing them upright. This is a great option for separating your cookie sheets and muffin tins in an organized fashion. These tray dividers can be made of wood or metal and can be designed into a base or wall cabinet in any arrangement you desire: above the refrigerator, above the oven cabinet, below an adjustable shelf on a full-height door cabinet, or really anywhere else you desire. Thompson Price has two main types: 1) Inexpensive and simple chrome wire tray dividers which get installed in the field and start at around 20 dollars each; or, 2) Custom solid maple removable dividers which run the entire height of the opening and are priced closer to a 50 dollars price point. No matter which one you choose, tray dividers are great items to add to your kitchen project.

Deep Wall Cabinets and Refrigerator End Panels

Deep wall cabinets are great, especially for above your refrigerator unit. We still see many people installing a standard 12” deep cabinet over the refrigerator, which is actually pointless because it is near impossible to reach. Secondly, most people put items on top of the fridge in front of the shallow cabinet causing them to have to move these items in order to get to the contents inside the cabinet. This is less than efficient. A deep wall cabinet allows maximum storage capacity above the refrigerator and when combined with the refrigerator end panels, makes a much more finished look. In fact, it makes a less expensive freestanding refrigerator have a more expensive built-in look. Deep wall cabinets add a relatively small additional cost and the refrigerator end panels can add between 500 and 2500 dollars depending on the line, size and style.

Appliance Garage

An appliance garage is available in a straight run or under a corner diagonal wall cabinet and makes for great storage directly on the counter so items are close at hand, yet out of sight. We have several different door types available. Tambour doors roll up and retract back into the unit so the door doesn’t project forward requiring clearance. Standard doors are also available as well as flip up doors in multiple flip up types. These units vary in price depending on the brand and size.

Cutlery Dividers

The ultimate in utensil storage for drawers, are our cutlery dividers. These are great additions to any kitchen or bathroom. While we have the cheap plastic and vinyl products available, our main cutlery dividers are made of wood and sized to fit the drawer they will be going into. In fact, in our Thompson Price Cabinetry line, we can build a cutlery divider to your specification based on your storage needs for your kitchen or even a divider for your bathroom. These dividers work great for holding everything from utensils to brushes, combs, make-up and other bathroom related items.

Spice Storage

Most kitchens need a place to store spices that are used on a daily basis and we feel the best way to do this is to create a dedicated storage area for spices. Spice doors are racks that mount on the inside of your cabinet door in either a wall or a base. Some of them are adjustable so you can keep the heights based on the size of your spice canisters. There are also spice drawers, which make convenient display and allow you to access all of your spices in one convenient motion, all you have to do is open a drawer.  Pullouts are available as well and can be used for either spice storage or really any canned good or pantry type item. The simpler types of these spice storage items are usually less than 100 dollars while our custom or pullout units can go higher into the hundreds or more, depending on size and style.

Pop Up Mixer Cabinet

This unit is a great way to have your large KitchenAid mixer available at your fingertips. We install a premium swing up shelf and support in a base cabinet, which your mixer rests on. When you are ready to use it, simply pull on the unit and it will raise itself up and into a usable position. The only draw back is the space you need to dedicate in a base cabinet for the mixer but for heavy mixer users, the trade-off is well worth it. Our mixer units are usually between 400-600 dollars.

Wood Fronts

Wood fronts or paneled fronts are perfect for those who want their appliances to blend in with their cabinetry. We can size and apply matching finished cabinet panels for integrated refrigerators, dishwashers and other under-counter appliances specifically the built-in variety. With wood fronts, you don’t have to worry about your appliance finish or handles going out of style. Panels can range from 100-300 dollars for under-counter refrigerators or dishwashers depending on mounting application and door style. You should expect a higher price for refrigerator panels and similar products.

Crown Molding & Trims

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Crown molding and trim can add that finishing touch to your kitchen or bathroom project. It can be as simple as a small trim to finish off the cabinetry against the ceiling or as elaborate as multiple stacked trims to create a sophisticated crown molding stack. It all depends on your style preference and what you are trying to achieve. It also depends on the size of your wallet. When we see people bring in cabinetry quotes from other companies to compare, it is quite common for those companies to purposely leave off crown molding in order to keep the cost low. Thompson Price includes standard crown molding on all of our quotes and projects.

While we have listed many choices here, the list above is just some of our more common cabinet options. As you can see, there are plenty of choices to make, but it is really up to you and what you would find most useful in your kitchen. Contact Thompson Price today to get started with your remodeling project!

Kitchenaid Built In Ice Maker

I’m crazy about ice. I know, it’s weird but I love an ice-cold beverage with ice filled right up to the rim of the glass. When the liquid is gone, I am the guy who sits there and crunches on the remaining ice left in the cup. Personally, I feel the best kind of ice is the kind you get at restaurants. It’s wet, it’s soft and it is as clear as crystal, and believe it or not, it is available at home with a built-in icemaker. 

The built-in, under the counter icemaker is actually one of our favorite products here at Thompson Price. We recommend one for every kitchen or bar project. I know what you’re thinking, “But TJ, I already have a built-in ice maker in my refrigerator or freezer.” Honestly, those icemaker units are fine for some, but once you have experienced the magic of this luxury appliance, you will never want to go back to your refrigerator ice. 

There are two problems with refrigerator ice.

The first problem is that there never seems to be enough of it. The second issue is, it’s not that great. Icemakers that can be found inside of refrigerators or freezers are formed by filling a static ice mold with water. After 30 minutes to an hour of sitting there in the mold, the water freezes and becomes ice cubes.

Around that same time, the ice is dumped into a bin or sits in a compartment ready for dispensing, if it’s inside of the refrigerator. From there, all it does is continue to freeze and more often than not, usually ends up as one big clump of ice if it is not used in a timely fashion. The Kitchenaid Built-In Ice Maker is the answer to resolving these problems with refrigerator ice.

The first thing you need to understand about this fantastic built-in ice maker is that it’s completely different from the ice makers you find in your refrigerators. From an operational perspective, these built-in icemakers work exactly like the commercial style icemakers you can find in restaurants and other food establishments. 

“So, how does it work?” Well, I am glad you asked. 

Built-in icemakers are works of sheer genius. At first glance, many people dismiss them due to their relatively high price tags but once they understand how they work, that price tag is extremely justified. What’s more impressive is the core design the unit is based on has been around since the 1980s with improvements in operation and upgrades to certain parts along the way due to improvements in technology. Regardless of which unit you go with, they work the same way and have three main systems:

  1. The Water System.
    Obviously, the most important part of the icemaker is the water system. The water system is comprised of multiple solenoids and pumps that work in tandem to bring fresh water into the icemaker recirculate it over the freeze plate and expel the excess water from the unit.
     
  2. The Cooling System.
    The next most important part of the icemaker is the cooling system. The cooling system is needed to make ice, but this product also uses cooling in a much different way. Unlike refrigerators or freezers where the whole interior is held at a certain temperature, these built-in icemakers are not completely cooled. In fact, the cooling unit is only used to cool a metal plate near the top of the icemaker. This is the key to that perfect, wet, clear ice. 

    Have you ever seen an icicle? Did you notice how it’s perfectly clear and it shines in in the sun?

    That’s because of the way it was formed. Water drips or runs down an object that is held at a low temperature and the water slowly freezes more and more forming an icicle over time. Icicles are perfectly clear because the minerals in rain and water do not freeze but run off and fall to the Earth.

    These icemakers work off of that same concept. Water that enters the unit is held in a reservoir and is pumped or recirculated over this freezing metal plate over and over until a 12”x12” solid ½” to 1” thick square block of ice is formed and guess what—it’s perfectly clear! The minerals don’t freeze with the ice block but end up in the water reservoir ready to be expelled from the unit after the freeze cycle is complete. This freeze process usually takes place in about 20 minutes.
     
  3. The Heating System.
    You are probably asking yourself, “Why would anyone in his or her right mind put a heating system inside an ice maker?” Well, because it is actually necessary. When the ice block is formed, there is a sensor that lets the machine know the ice block is ready.

    At this point, the cooling system shuts down and the heating element activates to heat the cooling plate beneath the ice block. After a matter of minutes, the ice block releases from the cooling plate and gently slides down onto a series of heated wires arranged in a grid and divided into 1”x1” squares.

    That large ice block slowly melts and is cut by these wires into perfect jewel like 1”x1” ice cubes that fall into the unrefrigerated ice bin below. Since the ice bin is not cooled, the ice is slowly but continuously melting. This is the KEY to that wet, perfect, soft ice. 

These three systems combine allow you to enjoy restaurant quality ice at home.

Depending on the size unit you choose, it will produce between 30-50 pounds of ice on a daily basis. When you are planning a gathering or having company over, all you will need to do is scoop the ice in the bin into a small cooler a few hours before the guests arrive. By the time they get there, your icemaker will have almost replenished itself saving you another trip to the gas station or the grocery store. 

So, there you have it. You now know the benefits and how these great products work.

These built-in under-the-counter icemakers are every bit a luxury appliance and the benefits will more than justify the price tag. Here at Thompson Price, we fully believe these built-in icemakers are worth it; but, if you need more convincing, come by the showroom and try the ice for yourself. We’re sure you’ll agree after that! 

— TJ Price