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It’s time to give stainless steel a rest

Let’s face it, stainless steel in the kitchen may be on the verge of getting a little tired.

Let’s face it, stainless steel in the kitchen may be on the verge of getting a little tired.

Not that I don’t love the finish — it’s got inherent good looks and it’s flexible in terms of decor, but the love affair is starting to fade.

I’m not the only one who’s ready to move on. Austere is becoming a dirty word when it comes to kitchen style, and it seems that choices in appliance finish are finally starting to diversify. Rich, coppery tones and warmed-up whites seem to strike more of a chord these days.

Stainless steel always had its critics, to be sure. There were many who tried to warn me about the ubiquitous fingerprint pr­ob­lem before I bought shiny, sparkling appliances, but I wouldn’t listen.

Now, after hard-won experience, I will admit to spending more time than I’d like wiping fingerprints and other smears off my sometimes less-than-sparkly stainless steel appliances.

But even if fingerprints were not an issue, people would be starting to look further afield for something that’s warmer and friendlier than stainless steel. In online chats devoted to design, you can find plenty of folks complaining about the finish’s coldness and sterility.

Not surprisingly, appliance sellers are starting to respond to consumers’ requests for an alternative to stainless steel. White and off-white colours such as bisque, cream and a glazed white which looks like a well-aged ivory are appearing more and more.

Jenn-Air has come out with its Oiled Bronze collection of appliances, which is getting a lot of attention. The collection features a deep, rich bronze tone, which makes for a sophisticated and elegant look that could work well in both contemporary and more traditional settings. Check jennair.ca for a peek.

Crisp bright colour is another alternative to stainless steel that is finding its way into stylish new kitchens. We’re seeing some bright, saturated colours on appliances, such as cobalt blue, lemon yellow or red, as well as more subtle colours in glass fronts.

For example, check out the coloured retro appliances from Elmira Stove Works, elmirastoveworks.

com. Although the look is generally associated with the typical rec room, garage or cottage, Tony Dowling, the firm’s business development manager, says he’s increasingly seeing them installed in contemporary settings. The most popular colours are candy red, buttercup yellow and robin’s egg blue.

British and European appliance makers like Aga and AEG have long been more adventurous with colour, offering up bright reds and blues along with their more neutral tones. Professional-line ranges like those produced by Bluestar, Viking or Wolf have also not been shy about using colour.

Another intriguing alternative is Jenn-Air’s glass-front appliances, which come in onyx black or frosted white. Dacor’s Preference glass-front dishwasher also comes in striking and subtle floating glass col­­ours such as slate gr­een, anthra­cite gr­ay, st­erling gray, titanium silver, blue wat­­er or black. It’s a gorgeous sleek, contempor­ary look, although alas, glass fronts may require as much polishing as stainless steel. But glass fronts may be perfect if you live in an adults-only household and don’t mind polishing the glass regularly.

The moral of the story is, if you’re buying appliances, don’t be afraid to investigate something different. Stainless steel isn’t the only kid on the block anymore.

– Sylvia Putz is a journalist with an interest in decor and design. She’s written for the TV show Arresting Design; sputz@arrestingdesign.com.

 
 
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