Decorating With Appliances: My Love/Hate Relationship

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Last week my dishwasher touch panel started acting up. On Friday – it died.  You know what that means, don’t you? Something I hardly ever have to do –

I had to wash and dry ALL the dishes, pots, and pans we have used since then by hand!

It has been life altering.  :)

I don’t even have a dish drying rack in my house, that is how much I take my dishwasher for granted. It is always there, I never even think twice about how much easier it makes my life.

White-Kitchens Decorating Ideas

So instead of working on fun projects over the weekend, Ed and I were in a “lets see if we can fix it” mode.  Ed is very handy and can usually fix things – not this time, though – gotta call the Maytag repairman today.

This is where the hate part of my relationship with decorating with appliances comes in. Will it just require a new part, say for $170 dollars, plus labor $100 – $150 an hour for the in-house service visit? A few hundred dollars later – Cha-ching…cha-ching!  This scenario gets me to thinking, Will it be more cost effective to just buy a brand new dishwasher and save the frustration of having to pay for the service visit, just to have the repairman say – “Can’t be fixed, you will need a new one.” Double cha-ching!

Decisions decisions…

It has been a long time running this love/hate relationship with my household appliances.  I am sure you know what I am talking about. We love them, since they make our life easier, but hate them when they stop working or start looking dated as the cha-ching factor can be quite steep.

When we first moved into our house – I picked out a nice Tappan range that was in our budget.   I remember after about 14 years of living with it, I starting to navigate to the shiny appliance aisles at Lowes and Sears just to see what was new in the way of oven/ranges.  I was dreaming of a new stove, but with two college educations to pay for, it was just a fantasy since the classic white one I had worked perfectly fine.

Then one day, around 6 months later – it stopped working – just like that, honestly I did nothing to it. Ed tried to fix it and when I heard the words come out of his mouth, “We are going to have to get a new one” – I did a happy dance – literally,  time to celebrate –  Oh! happy, happy day – I could finally have the shiny new oven I was dreaming about.  This is the Love part of the relationship.  I polished it every day, took photos of it, got special cleaner to keep it shiny and new.   Life was good.  I still love it. It is a GE.

Painted Kitchen Cabinet tutorial

My friend Debbie has lived in her house about 3 years longer than I have in mine. Both our homes were brand new when we moved in, so all the appliances were bought at the same time. I remember her saying around her 12 year mark, that all of her appliances started to stop working – one after the other.   It is like they have an internal time bomb program placed in them that says after 12 years – start acting up and/or stop working.

About 3 years after hearing Debbie’s appliance break down woes – like clockwork my Kitchen Aid microwave went first, dishwasher next,  then the oven, washer and dryer, and now the dishwasher again.

How to Clean a Refrigerator

The only appliance that has hummed along happily without any problems (I hate even writing it here, as I don’t want to jinx it) after the 19 year mark is our Whirlpool refrigerator. It is the only original appliance left in our house.

To thank her for her years of fine uninterrupted service, I decided to give her some love over the weekend. She is not quite vintage, but after 19 years, she is getting a lot closer to being included in that classification. Her gaskets still seal the doors tight.  She is doing remarkably well.

Kitchen-with-white-painted cabinets

supplies needed to clean a refrigerator:

My refrigerator cleaning tools of choice that have helped me to get all the crud, dried spills, and other gunk off the tight and recessed surfaces.

  • toothpicks
  • razor blade
  • scouring pads


I removed everything, tossed all the sauces and bottles of stuff I bought to make a new recipe and never used again. Washed the glass shelves in the sink, scrubbed the outside, and vacuumed the underside.  Top to bottom she got the best cleaning she has had in a long time.

Cleaning a refrigerator

She runs smoothly, but has a few blemishes – a rust spot under the water dispenser. Fixed that with some appliance touch-up paint.

Rustoleum Appliance-Touch-Up-Paint

There is also a crack in one of her door shelves – nothing some duct tape could not fix. Wish I still had some Herringbone duct tape left – could have fixed her in style.

Uses for Duct-Tape

She is shiny, shiny, shiny now inside. If my girls were home, they may think we got a new fridge – she is so shiny.


I keep opening her up, just to see the efforts of all my scrubbing.  It makes me smile to see her so clean.

Now I have to make some love happen on the other side of the kitchen.

Affordable Kitchen Decorating Ideas

I am going to call Maytag after I post this and see what the repair is going to cost for a 6 year old dishwasher. I know it will be at least a few hundred dollars.  Love/Hate – which way to go.

Will keep you posted.

What is the oldest appliance in your house. Any over 19 years?


Related Posts:

How to Paint Kitchen Cabinets


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  1. Hi! I just happened to come across this post….love your blog by the way….I don’t believe it but I have the exact same Whirlpool refrigerator! Even the inside of mine is the same as your’s. It was in my home when I bought it 10 years ago. There is a small label inside the door with the manufacturing date- 02/94. So in February mine will be 20 years old! It still works great!

  2. Have you ever considered changing out all your hardware to black or silver so it doesn’t clash with the silver appliances? I love your kitchen. So cozy and so spotless!

    1. Hi Alissa – The stainless appliances are new. I will eventually switch out the hardware when the budget allows. I also don’t mind letting my rooms evolve. I have been around long enough to know that when it comes to decorating – nothing goes out of style faster than the latest trend :) I don’t want to just do it to get it done. I find joy in the process of finding just the right items. When I find pulls and a faucet that I truly love – I will make the switch. I also don’t know if I will be staying in my house, when I know that answer, I will spend more to pick out hardware I love or if we move -just go with the silver tone hardware that is popular now.

  3. Now you have me worried – all my kitchen appliances are 13 years old! At the time we chose a bisque and black stove that was within our budget and had a drawer at the bottom for baking pans. So we had to go with a bisque dishwasher and fridge. As we work this year to stage our house for resale, I’ve been trying to decide whether to replace or facelift the dated bisque. The appliances very well may take that decision out of my hands!
    The oldest appliance in my house is our chest freezer in the garage. It was my parents’, purchased new in the early 80s. Originally it was gold, but I’ve since repainted the top and two visible sides with Rustoleum in Almond. Still works like a champ!

  4. I wish mine had just stopped working. LOL. Instead it caught fire a week ago Wednesday. I kept hearing something and finally got out of bed and at about the same time Flames shot out of the dishwasher. It was 11:30pm.
    That was fun. The new one will be installed tomorrow. I’ll be posting some pictures on my blog post sometime this weekend.

    Never a dull moment around our house.
    Wanna come clean my fridge? No . Oh well a girl has to ask.
    Have an awesome weekend.

  5. I FEEL your pain. We haven’t had a dishwasher working for a few months now. But I don’t want to buy a new white one because we want to redo the kitchen soon and replace all the appliances with SS… so do you replace one at a time or all at once… we can’t decide so we are hand washing. Lots of dishes. Every. day. Good luck with your decision!

    1. Hi Krista – In a perfect world – all at once is the way I would want to go. In real life – one at a time is all that I can afford to do. I have found since my cabinets are off white and tile backsplash – white – I can get away with a mix of white and SS appliances until they can all be one color. I think I will be getting a new SS dishwasher. Too much $$$ to get the old one fixed. With that new addition though – I may have to change out all my shiny brass pulls. I don’t mind doing that though to keep the decor looking fresh. Always something, right?

  6. After reading some of these comments, I’m doing the happy dance that i do almost every time an appliance dies. I have a fab guy in town who repairs and resells appliances. He used to come to the house to do repairs, but he has so many clients and parts got so expensive that he has to use parts from old appliances, and he has a shopful, so does the work there.
    The appliance dying started the evening before my husband’s funeral–the DW went– and kept on going for about five long years. After DW (named Abigail because i can’t afford a scullery maid) there went (not necessarily in actual order); kitchen range; refrigerator; dehumidifier; lawn mower; computer; coffee maker; food processor; iron; washer; dryer; and water softener tank. I adored my Asko DW with its steel inside, 3 gallons to do a large load, grinders to chop up any food scraps. It was a wonderful machine. But about 6 weeks before the warranty ran out it needed a new part and a year later another. My fab guy said to get a new DW. It was really tough on him pulling and repairing the Asko. So I got a Consumer’s Report best buy Whirlpool and I hate it. Dish racks inconvenient, noisy, awfully long cycle, and every item has to be inspected on unloading because it doesn’t get dishes clean.
    My convection/microwave, the dark brown Panasonic space hog, is 24, maybe more, years old and never lets me down.
    Instead of using a lot of kitchen appliances, i eat out a lot now, so they should last longer…….but i’m not holding my breath. The manufacturers want us all to buy the $2000 or more appliances. Might be cheaper in the long run, but most people move so often they are likely to get dents in the appliances from the moving. And one moving company we had took our money for the policy but apparently didn’t send the money on to the insurer. Had a heck of a time getting repairs done. But that was a long time ago….and seems like a sign of what was to come. What to do, what to do………..

  7. Most of my appliances are about 19+ years old. My fridge so needs to be replaced, but still humming along. Rust spots and all. My fear is when I talk to people about replacements all I hear is horror stories. Their new appliances have died within a short time or need repair right out of the gate. Makes my old ones that are still working, albeit ugly, look good. I am glad to hear about the touch up paint, didn’t think of that one since I have a bad rust problem with my fridge as well. Yours was a minor problem, mine is major. You will have to let us know about the dishwasher since that too is coming up I am sure, our is not working as well as it has done.

  8. I think I have the same dishwasher in our old house. I loved it and wish I could have brought it with me to the new place. Sorry to hear it quit on you, though. I hope the repairman can do some magic. There was a really crummy dishwasher in our “new” house that worked so poorly, I began to wonder why I bothered putting dishes into it. We replaced it with another Maytag, partially because I’ve always had good luck with that brand, partially because it was the only one that came in beige or bisque or almond or whatever they call that color I inherited in this new kitchen. Since then, I’ve discovered I don’t like the stove – the burners are too close together for you to use two large pots at the same time, one in front of the other – or the microwave – it’s fan sounds like a jet engine. That said, I hope they last a good long time. Everything is just too darned expensive!

  9. Actually, Diane, you DO have a dish drainer. Open your dishwasher and load it with your sink-washed clean dishes! They’ll drip dry just fine.

    Our appliances came with our house–all but the stainless stove were purchased back in the 90’s and used by an elderly widow. There’s plenty of life left in their mismatched state, which we’ll wear every bit out.

  10. It does seem that they used to be built well. Bought a new Maytag fridge in 1991 and it made two moves before going into the garage as the “pop” fridge. The house was new and we bought a shiny big side-by-side that died about 8 years later. Thank heavens we had the old faithful in the garage. Replacement fridge stayed with the house when we moved to KC 9 years ago, but brought the original along for the kitchenette built downstairs and it outlived yet another new one. So, while we went out and bought a big one for the main kitchen, the 22 year old still goes strong cooling soda and drinks and freezer is used to hold overflow. I expect it to out last me!

    1. HI Julie – Love hearing stories like this. It is nice having an overflow fridge and freezer. Perfect in the summer months and around the holidays to hold turkeys, beer, soda, cakes and pies – and lot of ice. We have them in our garage, but since we are now empty nesters – they are pretty empty. I am thinking I may turn them off as we don’t really need them. I hope your Maytag fridge lasts another 22 years :)

  11. Oh the horror of stuff quitting….. scares me to even think about such. I have NO idea as to how old these small appliances are in this home. No information on them what so ever! I replaced the belt on my dryer and it worked for awhile longer, not really much though…. and this ceramic top thing that is called a stove is a joke. It has had lot’s of maladies but with a burner staying on…. I flipped the circuit breaker and that seems to have fixed it, but I prefer the really, realy old electric stoves that I know how to replace the elements so easy…. but oh well.

    I sure hope you can get your dishwasher repaired without losing an arm. 6 years is not that old….. what a crock. There used to be insurance you could buy for all your appliances, I just can’t see it right now for me though.

    I so hope and pray you get a break and it can be fixed …… but dishwashers stymie me for sure.

  12. My hubby and I were given a used washing machine when we moved in together – in 1993. At that point, the washer was already 18 years old. It is STILL washing our clothes, at the young age of 38 years old!!! It’s a Maytag!

    1. Wow Angie – You win the owner of the oldest working appliance contest! Someone emailed me that they has a 27 year old machine – 38 years is pretty close to a world record! It should go down in the history books.

  13. I loved reading your article. Last week my Whirlpool dishwasher died……10 years old.what to do….Just like you I looked at the pro’s and cons…finally got a new one….Bosch. My problem is what to get stainless or white…I went with white because stove and refrig are white…now I’m second guessing myself……I have an 80’s kitchen…laminate cabinets. Don’t want to replace due to cost…..what to do….I could really identify with your appliance “issues”. Thanks!

  14. I think the oldest appliance we have in my dryer. It’s a Kenmore and we’ve had it about 11 years, I guess. We’ve never had a problem with it either. We recently replaced appliances in our kitchen to upgrade to stainless and black. We did what alot of people think is a bad idea – we weren’t brand specific. I wanted certain looks and really didn’t care which brand they were, so I have a Kenmore fridge – freezer on the bottom and love it – an LG over-the-range microwave, a Frigidaire gas range and a Bosch dishwasher. The fridge and dishwasher were bought used off Craigslist for $400 and $150, respectively. The microwave was a floor model from HH Gregg for $100 and the stove was new from Lowe’s. We actually spray painted the front of our dishwasher – it’s black – because it had some marks on it that we couldn’t get off and we opted to at least try this rather than pay almost $200 for a new front panel. So far it has worked beautifully! I can definitely understand your love/hate relationship. If you’re not opposed to used appliances, Craigslist is a great resource. Hope all works out!

  15. Remember a new one will be much more energy efficient than one that is 19 years old. Hand wash the dishes some more while you price and shop around, I am thinking a new shiny one to match the oven is in the back of your mind! LoL good luck!

  16. I replaced my dishwasher last year and the sizes and selections are plentiful…..I suggest you do extensive research. And get the extended warranty….none of them last as long as in days gone by….good luck.

  17. Never owned a Maytag and not having a working dishwasher would be a very sad thing in this house. My refrigerator is…ahem..27 years old and will not die! I want a new one – badly! I should be thankful for not having to shovel out that kind of money though. Your refrigerator looks beautiful!!

  18. Hi Diana, I am sorry to hear about your dishwasher woes. Yes, appliances do not last as long as they used to. I am a bit confused about the fact that your counters only allow for a Maytag!?! I have never heard of such a thing. Perhaps you can cut or manipulate the counter to allow for a new one? There are usually adjustable legs for leveling on the bottom, and perhaps if you removed them and just used a thin metal shim for leveling if necessary, you would be able to have the dishwasher you want. Maytag is not what it used to be, and for you to be saddled into one brand is a shame. I am so sorry for you in this dilemma.

  19. I agree with the 12 year mark! We call it “planned obsolescence!” They are meant to die to keep the manufacturers in business! LOL! We had to replace the fridge at the 12 year mark and the diswasher. We have an old upright freezer that we bought 2nd hand over 30 years ago and it is still going strong!

  20. I had the EXACT same dishwasher as in the picture! It worked for me about 8 years, but only after a couple Maytag visits. First problems we had were with the handle getting jammed. The second issues revolved around the push pad. Third issue was with the motor. At that point, we said enough is enough and purchased a KitchenAid. She purrs like a kitten and I will never buy a Maytag again. However, since your size requirements fall under only Maytag (doesn’t this seem odd with all the appliance choices out there?), I would definitely recommend purchasing a DW with a stainless interior. Also one with the key pad located on the top vs. the front of the machine and DEFINITELY one with a arm handle pull vs. the latch handle opening like you currently have. Just my thirty cents worth… :) Good luck!!

  21. Shop around, Diane! A lot has changed in appliances in the last few years. You may be surprised! There are some new brands out there and something else may fit. I suggest going to a couple of reputable, good appliance stores. You may pay a little more, but they have a lot of knowledge. We put in a new kitchen a few years back. My husband installed the custom cabinets we had commissioned. The designer told him this beautiful LG we chose was going to be a tight squeeze. And tight it was, too tight. I frantically did some research and found a Jenn-Aire that fit. All dimensions were online. I never even knew they made refrigerators. Good luck. And appliances just don’t last like they used to.

    1. Hi Kim – I have been online and on the phone with reputable appliance stores all day. I am working with the best store now and they told me I only have 3 options or rip out the counter. The only ones that will fit are the ADA compliant styles. They are smaller and don’t hold as many dishes. Waiting to see photos of all 3 they are sending me to see if I even like the designs. The appliance store told me 7-12 years is all you can expect out of today’s appliances as they don’t keep the parts for most of them any longer than that.

  22. Your are THE BEST Ms. Debbie!

    I have a Whirpool washing machine that has become very tempermental. It’s about 10+ years and doesn’t have a lint filter. 2 problems:
    1. Lint all over my clothes when I wash. Even though I turn them inside out, there is lint!

    2. The other, even more annoying thing, is that it stops a few times during the wash cycles. I find that if I open the lid and wack it back down really hard, it starts again, but I have to put a weight on it (usually a full gallon of water will do it) to keep it going . . . until it stops again. I repeat the same routine and finally get it through its cycle. SO annoying! But I can’t afford a new one or even a repairman.

    My suspicion is that there is lint building up in the mechanism under the button under the lid. I’m at a loss on how to fix this. I really don’t think I can take it apart.

    Any ideas on cleaning this out? Someone recommended using vinegar in empty loads for a few wash cycles. That really didn’t solve the problem. I’m wondering if I try snaking down that tiny hole where the cover hits the inside of the mechanism to get the cycle running again. I would be so grateful to hear your thoughts on this.

    Who knows why a washing machine doesn’t have a lint filter.

    LOVE your site! So many great ideas.

    Best regards,
    Linda V.

  23. Well, we FINALLY had to kick our old fridge out. It was 18 years old and would…not…die. It finally started leaking when we had to move it out of the kitchen temporarily. That pretty much sealed it’s fate. I can tell you that I love our new Samsung french door fridge and it is supposedly a lot more energy efficient.

    And now I have to give you a hard time about washing dishes. I did it for 6.5 mos, so no complaining allowed ;-).

    1. Hi Brittany – You deserve an award for living without your kitchen for so long. Doing the dishes reminds me of being back in college when my roomies and I didn’t have one. :) Your kitchen is looking fabulous. The sound of a dishwasher running, and good smells coming from an oven are going to be sweet rewards for all the efforts and time you have put into getting your kitchen fixed and re designed.

  24. Hubby and I have been married 22 years. In the last few years most of our appliances have been dying. The fridge went first and to be fair I bought it new before I met hubby, it was 21 years old. Then the oven and freezer died.
    Last winter we lost several appliances: the oil heater was handed down from Hubs parents and it was 37 years old when it died. The crock pot was also from them and it was 35 years old. We haven’t replaced the oil heater yet – we will see what winter brings this year (We live in Qld, Australia and heaters weren’t built into homes here as they are only used for a few months at the most.) The new crock pot is no where near the quality of the old one; it will over cook food and even burn it – you couldn’t do that with the old one.
    My favourite appliance though is my washing machine. It is nearly 20 years old and still going strong. We talk nicely to it because again the newer ones don’t last and are no where near the quality. I have been reading reviews of the newer water saving machines and I am not looking forward to what will happen when our old work-horse gives up. It lasted through three babies with cloth nappies and all through their growing years.

  25. Our appliances are all closing in on the 12-15 year mark as well. Love our dryer (14 years), stove (same) and refrigerator (12). Concerned about the dishwasher, but will keep using it until it no longer runs- and then I want a built in, because we have a portable, always in the way machine.

  26. We have a less than 5 year old Maytag efficiency washing machine. It took 5, yes 5 service visits for them to fix it! Thankfully it was covered under warranty. The downside of course, was having to be at home to get it repaired. Good luck with your dishwasher!

  27. When our dishwasher died, the service guy said we just needed a little part, no problem. A week later he installed the new part, but the machine still didn’t work. At that point, he said it would be cheaper to buy a new one, than fix the old one. They discounted the new one the amount of the service call!

  28. We bought our house 20 years ago when it was a year old. First we had to replace the built in microwave about 10 years ago, then the refrigerator started to leak water about 5 years ago and that got replaced. 3 years ago, the dishwasher died. Then last year, the old beige stove finally gave out. The oven stopped working!! I was so happy! I had wanted a smooth top stove for years! I waited a long time and I finally got one. It was worth the wait! I love it. I won’t replace an appliance or TV or computer, etc until the item finally gives out. I’m too frugal (aka cheap!)

  29. I wish I had gotten a new dishwasher when I remodeled 6 years ago. I remember the old sink cabinet was so small that the dishwasher I picked out had to go back. They said only the Maytag would fit. My son in law asked if I was getting all new appliances and I said no because it was a year old. It is just like yours. My latch broke and with the service call and parts and labor it was $156.00. It does a good job. I just hate to think I’m stuck with this brand. I would like to get a Bosch brand next time. They have one with the drawers that you can wash one at a time. It would be great for us empty nesters who don’t have as many dishes.

  30. We moved in our house three years ago. The stove and dishwasher were already here but we brought the rest with us from our prior lives. First the washer went out. It was old so it wasn’t a surprise. Next our refrigerator went out. This was right after I had an emergency c-section and my baby was still in the hospital (14 months ago). Then our dryer died. Luckily my Dad had an extra one so we got it. Two weeks ago (the night after my husband had surgery) our dishwasher died. With each one we have weighed our cost and decided it was cheaper in the long run to buy a new one. The first time we used our new dishwasher we learned the drying part doesn’t work so now I am waiting on someone to come out tomorrow to look at it so they will replace it.

  31. Knock on wood, all of our appliances are working. Except for our new washing machine is making this awful noise, and we need to figure out what the heck is wrong with it! I think we have the same dishwasher you do! We have had ours 7 years and luckily it still works great. Good luck with yours!

  32. 21 year old house—21 year old Whirlpool refrigerator. Still doing a good job. Always was too small for a family of five. It’s not the one we ordered when we built this house in 1992. Our cabinets were built so that that they are just a bit too small, so the larger refrigerator we ordered had to go back to the store the day we moved in.

    1. Hi Betsy – Same thing with our Whirlpool fridge. Luckily the contractor on the site had some extra time and took out the cabinets above the fridge and refitted them so the fridge would fit. If he was not willing to do that – I would have had to send it back and choose a new one, too.

  33. In our neighborhood, dishwashers are the first to go and only last about 5 years. Since our houses are all about the same age – 25 years, we enjoy comparing how long things last. The only original I have left is our Kenmore dryer. It has lasted 23 years and through 3 kids. We replaced the refrigerator when the gasket tore and it was 75% of the cost of a new refrigerator to replace it.

  34. Gosh, I know whatcha mean! I bought my house 3 years ago. It had a brand new fridge. The double oven & cooktop are about 12 years old, so now you have me worried – lol! Listen to this: the dishwasher is….28 years old! I looked it up based on the serial number. It actually works better than any dishwasher I’ve ever had, but it sounds like a jet engine when it’s running! I tell everyone she has a butter face – ugly, but her body works just fine. :)
    PS – Just discovered your blog recently & I’m really enjoying it.

  35. My mom’s fridge is, I believe, as old me – so that would be 36 :) It still keeps lettuce better than any fridge I’ve ever had!!! I really don’t think they make things to last like they used to.

  36. Our oldest appliance in our house when we moved in was the washing machine and dryer. We’re pretty sure they were original to the home, so 30 years! They were so worn, that all of the writing on them was worn off, so it was often hit or miss if my clothes got clean. We used it for about a month before I made my husband do the laundry one day. The next day, we went shopping for shiny new ones!