What they learned

The Slyes did their homework and give this advice.

Buy a refrigerator with a front designed for a panel insert. A panel lets you match surrounding cabinets for a modern look.

Research brands on the Internet. Then tour showrooms and visit retailers to see products up close. "Some things you just need to see and feel," Christopher says. "The Internet doesn't tell you how the door opens or the handle feels."

Check home improvement stores often. Store merchandise tends to change frequently, so if you don't see something you like on your first trip, return often.

Use off-the-shelf items in creative ways. Instead of using one cabinet color, the Slyes chose two plastic-laminate hues ― blue and green ― and added high-style handles for interest.

Useful Internet sources. Crystal Cabinet Works for cabinetry (800/347-5045), Fritz Industries for flooring (800/633-6451), and Too Home for fixtures.