In my interior design work, I am often asked about kitchen appliance colors during the course of a remodeling or new construction project. While each project and each home is different, following are some guidelines to help you make the best appliance color choice for your upcoming design project.
In general, kitchen appliances offer more utility than fashion. They serve their purpose – either for cooking, washing or keeping your food cold – but quite often clients do not want them to become the focal point of the room. (Although, there are exceptions…have you ever seen the amazing vintage-reproductions ranges? Gorgeous, and definitely a focal point!) Choosing an appliance color to blend into your cabinetry and other kitchen finishes is the best way to ensure a seamless look. Appliance colors should complement the space, not hog the spotlight.
White appliances, while not the most popular option, do have their place. If you have white kitchen cabinetry, they can blend into the kitchen and become less noticeable in the room. Or, with very dark cabinetry (think charcoal or black), they can be a stark contrast and a ray of light in the room. The high-end “floating glass” appliances can be stunning in a modern space with lacquered cabinetry, as well.
Black appliances have a bit more of an upscale look, but can create an overwhelmingly dark space in some circumstances. Consider them if you have stained wood or dark painted cabinetry. The “floating glass” options, again, have a smooth, upscale look. If you like high contrast, consider using them in kitchens with very light cabinetry.
Stainless steel appliances are by far the most popular choice for appliances today. In truth, they do work in almost every situation. Whether you have white or colorful painted cabinetry, dark or light-stained wood or lacquered cabinetry, stainless steel will integrate beautifully into any space. They work in both contemporary and traditional homes.
Clients often wonder if their choice of stainless steel appliances will keep them from using other metal finishes in their kitchen or home. For example, they would like to use oil rubbed bronze light fixtures, but they are concerned about mixing that metal finish with stainless steel appliances.
My response? Mix away! To me, stainless steel appliances are like blue jeans – they work with just about anything. I consider them almost a neutral color, so I have no problem mixing them in with other metal finishes. Do not feel trapped into using matching light fixtures or cabinet hardware when choosing stainless steel appliances.
Of course, you always have the option of either partially or completely hiding your appliances away. Most manufacturers offer appliance options that will accept custom cabinetry panels, so you can make your refrigerator or dishwasher look like just another cabinet.
A unique option offered by Jenn-Air is their Oiled Bronze appliance finish. This rich, dark metal finish blends in with warm wood cabinets beautifully.
One caveat to both stainless steel and bronze appliances: they are more difficult to maintain. While all appliances show fingerprints to some degree, stainless steel requires constant cleaning to retain a fingerprint-free and streak-free surface. Children and stainless steel don’t always play nicely with each other.
Another option is the “stainless look-alike” finishes for appliances that require less maintenance, like this one from Whirlpool. Their “Satina” finish is easier to clean and shows fewer fingerprints than stainless steel. Another advantage to a stainless-look finish: magnets work on its surface. Magnets do not work on real stainless steel, so if you like to use your refrigerator to display photos and reminders with magnets, be aware of this fact.
One more note about appliances: just as your black shirt doesn’t necessarily match your black pants, and there are 357 shades of “white,” all stainless steel finishes are not alike. For best results, purchase all of your stainless steel appliances from one manufacturer to ensure a finish match. While this is also true for other appliance finishes, it is most noticeable in the stainless steel finishes.
There are hundreds of choices when it comes to appliances. Hopefully, these tips will make your shopping trip just a little easier.
[…] As it turns out, each color has its pros and cons: […]
Thank you so much for posting this blog. We are in the market for new appliances and have been struggling with the finish choice as we live in an old farm house. Stainless seemed too modern but black and white seemed problematic as well. After reading your blog I feel I have permission to buy stainless and the “design police” won’t come after me!
I’m so glad you found it helpful! Thanks for visiting… 🙂
Love your input regarding stainless steel versus other choices of color. We are getting ready to re-do our kitchen and the biggest problem has been on what color to choose for the appliances. I love the bronzed fixtures and questioned using stainless steel, but thanks to you my mind is made up. I can mix and match.
So glad you found it helpful! Thanks for stopping by…
I was wondering what your advice is about mixing appliance colors. We have natural finished birch cabinets which after 15 years have aged into a beautiful golden color. We currently have white appliances but our microwave has a big, black window with a black “border” on it. We’re looking for a new dishwasher and found a Bosch at a really good deal, but its in blank. Our walls are a deep red and the floor is vinyl in that common white tile with green diamond pattern.
Hello! Typically, I recommend keeping your appliance color consistent throughout the room, as it keeps them from becoming a focal point. Too much change in color can create a “jumpiness” in the space. However, that doesn’t mean you need to replace them all at once.
Think about what color you would LIKE to have in your kitchen, and start buying appliances in that color…after several years, they will all be new and in the proper color.
Consider, too, whether you would like to use “panel-ready” appliances – those that will accept cabinet panels to disguise them. Dishwashers and refrigerators are available this way. Good luck!
I am so much conscious with the designs and style of my kitchen . I always select the appliance that is perfect match for my kitchen . These tips above i like that you discovered .
Thank you these interesting tips it will be helpful but i think in major appliances you don’t have large range for color variation. So selecting standard color is good that matches your kitchen or homes interior . I like the black or silver color .
I am replacing all appliances in my 30 year old house and am having difficulty in deciding on the finish to use: stainless steel or the black glass finish. I have medium – medium dark stained hickory cabinets, stainless steel sink and antique brass cabinet hardware and door hardware. Floor is light 18″ ceramic tile. Plan to get a new solid surface countertop that is very light colored. What are your suggestions? Currently I have black wall ovens, and cooktop.
Thanks for stopping by – I’m so sorry your note slipped through the cracks until now!
I’m sure you’ve already moved forward on a selection, but for everyone else’s benefit, I figured I’d leave a reply anyway…I would probably tend toward the stainless steel appliances, but really, either would work. It sounds like you have a more rustic kitchen, given the description you offer – hickory tends to be a bit more rustic, and the antique brass cabinet hardware is likely not super-mod either. Given that, the stainless will blend in nicely. In your case, I think the black glass may look a bit too sleek for your space. I hope that helps – and that your are happy with your result!
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