The end of stainless steel?
Diana Vreeland, one of fashion’s important icons, once said pink is the navy blue of India. But is white the new stainless of your kitchen? Some of the appliance icons would like you to believe that.
Appliance sales have taken a hit right along with home sales during the financial downturn, but appliance manufacturers are looking to the future, as both markets start to slug their way back. Their gamble not only is on the resurgence of the market, but also on some trendy new finishes for their lines of kitchen appliances.
Major manufacturers have placed on the market their vision of the future, and it does not include the predominant stainless steel. While stainless steel is still the prevailing look, there are indicators pointing to the demise of the popularity of the 25-year-old stainless steel design. In its place, appliance manufacturers are introducing into the marketplace finishes and colors that will blend with existing kitchens, while still providing an updated and slightly less industrial look.
Whirlpool, the world’s largest home appliance manufacturer, has introduced a collection they call Ice. Although the Ice Collection is a bit of a throwback to the 30s and 40s, when the only color kitchen appliances came in was white, they certainly don’t look the same as your grandmother’s kitchen. The Ice Collection features a gloss white or black finish for appliances with metallic handles adding a little pizzazz.
GE is playing it considerably safer, assuming that most people don’t want to replace all of their appliances at the same time just because one of them has stopped functioning. They’re going with what they call a slate finish, which is essentially a muted gray or silver matte finish. Per their website, slate appliances are designed to blend with other stainless steel, black or white appliances, as well as flat screen TVs and iPads or make a statement by themselves.
In addition, GE points out some of the benefits of slate over stainless is its ability to resist fingerprints, making it easier to keep clean, and its stylish brushed metal touch points. Other major manufacturers like Wolf, Sub-Zero and Miele are also rolling out high gloss or glass finishes on their new models.
Even though the purpose of the new designs is to blend in rather than to dominate their surrounding, shiny stainless steel still remains most manufacturers’ bread and butter and will not be discontinued. Nevertheless, appliance manufacturers are still assuming that stainless fatigue has either already set in or is not far from it.
The new colors are certainly keeping a low profile, which could hit the exact right note after what we’ve been through in recent years. Remember the vibrant colors of the 60s when your mother was so proud of her harvest gold, avocado green and copper colored appliances. Then the 70s took over with the ubiquitous almond setting us up for the flash of stainless.
Home buyers love new trendy appliances, so if there’s a new appliance in your future, before checking out the Sunday sales, do a little homework. Consider a more refined look to replace the big shiny object dominating the kitchen, a style that can be expanded on as the need requires and one that could gradually position you for a small, but significant, upgrade appealing to buyers.
I know the old days are gone, but it still seems like yesterday when I was waxing the copper tone refrigerator in my mother’s kitchen. White may be the new stainless, but it still seems so, well white.