Although stainless steel appliances have been the norm in mid-level luxury home ownership for the past two decades, a new trend, ushered in by Café – GE’s line of high-end appliances – Ilve, Samsung, Smeg and others are slowly growing. Kitchens are beginning to reflect whimsy and personal tastes with colorful appliances in shades such as bright blue and lemon yellow.
“White has been the main appliance on the market for many, many years,” says Albert Fouerti, managing director of e-commerce platform Appliances Connection. “When stainless steel appliances came out, that was a major differentiation.” Now, Fouerti says, brands are evolving again, recognizing that homeowners spend a lot of time in the kitchen and want to personalize the space. They therefore offer bespoke colors, materials and options that allow consumers to express their creativity. “You have beautiful appliances that work well, but also different customization options that suit your needs,” he says.
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Personalization was once reserved for the highest tier of luxury consumers, an appliance market driven by those buying items over $10,000 each. But truly personalized products, available in finishes that go beyond standard stainless steel or black and white, are now accessible to a cross-section of buyers defined as middlemen. (Those in the market for refrigerators between $3,000 and $5,000, for example, or single- or dual-fuel stove-oven combinations between $4,000 and $12,000.) These are buyers who like this they like, and what they like is a little pop.
The evolution toward color in appliances, says Café Senior Brand Manager Wayne Davis, has been slow but steady. Consumers fell in love with the colorful devices remotely for several years, but they also knew they came at a prohibitive price. “When they went to the store, their budget really only allowed them to have stainless steel as their first choice,” he says. “And so, we saw an opportunity to say, Well, how do we take what’s happening in luxury and incorporate it into what we call ‘mass premium’?”
For Café, the result has been a range of appliances – ranges, ovens, dishwashers, refrigerators – available in matte white, matte black and stainless steel that have customizable hardware options in brushed black, bronze, copper and stainless steel. Davis says the matte black and white devices, in particular, have been enthusiastically received.
He attributes some of this stylistic shift to the coronavirus pandemic. “Because we were all stuck at home, we spend a lot more time in our space,” he says. “…We were all saying, ‘What can I do to make this space more mine?’ “Changing the color of a stove, a dishwasher or a refrigerator was an act that felt personal to me, and that feeling has endured,” he says.
The options are now more open than ever, says Gina Sims, owner and lead designer of Gina Sims Designs in Atlanta. “We love color. We never back down from an opportunity,” she says. Working with a dynamic device, Sims says, can sometimes be tricky, but one way to circumvent overpowering is to make wise choices. “Select one to be the main event,” she suggests. “I see stainless as a kind of jeans in an outfit. It exists for a purpose. If you want a statement device, you need everything else to bow out a bit.
That signature item might be a lemon-yellow Bertazzoni range, covered in automotive paint (the same appliance Sims installs in an 1980s-inspired kitchen); a matte black Café dishwasher with bronze hardware; an Ilve Majestic II dual-energy cooker and a Majestic hood in emerald green; or a Samsung Bespoke refrigerator with a limited edition blue and white winter design.
Nothing is off limits, says Sims. Homeowners shouldn’t worry about whether styles will change, assuming the color or style they’re attracted to is something they’ve loved for a long time and matches the overall look of their home. “If you look at something and you’re like, ‘Oh my God, that’s so me, because I’ve always loved green my whole life,’ then I’m going to love this green stove, because I always liked it,” she says. However, she cautions against buying something just because you’ve seen it everywhere and find it momentarily appealing.
Sims also suggests adapting the kitchen to meet your functional needs. Focus on choosing appliances first, rather than cabinets or backsplash first and appliances second. Homeowners can match cabinets to appliances or pull appliances into the backsplash – decisions that can be made once appliance colors are determined. “Let him have his moment,” she says of the device. “Just have fun with it.”
For those looking to incorporate color but prefer to stay on the safe side, some appliances, like Forté’s retro-style fridges, come in more neutral tones (think mint green, cream and sky blue) that blend into the color palette. ‘a kitchen. Smeg’s Portofino line is available in white and black, as well as olive green, red, orange, yellow and, of course, stainless steel. Ilve’s popular blue-gray option blends easily with various shades of granite and marble.
But homeowners shouldn’t be afraid to make bold choices. Like stainless steel, which also remains an eternal choice for those who continue to love its reliability, colored appliances are not unique. So grab the whole box of crayons, if your heart desires. “Color is here to stay,” says Fouerti.
Hannah Selinger is a freelance writer in New York.