Hell's kitchen

Last reviewed: July 2011
Illustration of a woman screaming because her appliances are on fire
Illustration by Gary Sawyer

Of course, no one sets out to design a debacle. It just sort of happens. "You take one look around and say to yourself, ‘Oh, no, what were they thinking?' " says Jim Hamilton, a California real-estate broker. To help ensure that your good intentions don't go hellishly awry, we pulled together a kitchen filled with the worst performers from our latest tests.

Refrigerator

Viking Professional VCSB542, $8,000

This 42-inch built-in refrigerator cost more than most, and it had dismal energy efficiency in our tests, so it will increase utility bills. And temperature performance is merely average.

Dishwasher

Miele Optima G2472SCSF, $1,900

Even after a fairly long 125-minute wash cycle in our tough tests, dishes didn't come out clean from this high-priced dishwasher. Miele promises a fix, so stay tuned. It's also noisier than many less expensive models.

Range

KitchenAid Architect Series KGRS807S, $1,800

This 30-inch gas range has a professional name, but its poor simmering score helped sink it to the bottom of our Ratings (available to subscribers), with an overall score of 31.

Flooring

Cliks by Daltile, $5 per square foot

Though this new do-it-yourself system is a snap to install, a single dropped pot could be enough to cause serious cracks.

Countertop

Bamboo, $40 to $100 per square foot, installed

We like some bamboo flooring, but the first bamboo countertop we've tested is one of our lowest-scoring kitchen products, given its tendency to stain, scorch, and scratch.