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Choosing the Best Kitchen Appliance Finish

by Rachel Lyon, Editorial Director for The House Designers®

When the kitchen is the centerpiece of your home, your appliances start the conversation. How much thought have you given to their look? It’s not just a matter of stainless steel or plasticky black or white anymore—options have expanded, and your design can reap the benefits in a big way. Whether you’re looking for a subdued look or a bold statement, here are some of the numerous appliance finish possibilities to consider for your kitchen!

Whirlpool Contemporary Refrigerator in Sunset Bronze

New from Whirlpool® in 2018, the Fingerprint Resistant Sunset Bronze finish offers a chic metallic look with a touch of warmth. It’s shown here on the 36-inch Wide Contemporary Handle Side-by-Side Refrigerator – 28 cu. ft.

Metallic Appliance Finishes

Long the darling of kitchen designers everywhere, stainless steel is not the only metallic appliance finish anymore. But don’t worry—it’s definitely here to stay! Stainless earned its popularity because it has clean contemporary looks that fit into any kitchen and instantly refresh the whole picture. You can find it in designs ranging from modern to traditional, so you really can’t go wrong with this choice. Still, many homeowners avoid stainless steel appliances because they are known to show smudges. If you don’t want to constantly clean polished surfaces, newer matte and brushed finishes can deliver the appeal of classic stainless without the concern. They’re not hard to find—fingerprint resistance is a major selling point for the average consumer.

For those who like the idea but find stainless steel to be too bright or cold, there are other metallic finishes to consider. Black stainless came onto the scene a few years ago and quickly established itself as an alternative that also matches everything. It looks sleek yet warm, and can also deliver an attractive matte, fingerprint-resistant surface. If you love black but you’re looking for something with more oomph than a plain black finish, this is perfect. On the other hand, homeowners who want to keep their appliances on the lighter side will be thrilled by champagne-colored steel. Imagine stainless with a soft bronze glow that reflects the warmth of the sun. The coolest thing about this finish is that, between interior lighting and sunlight from windows, appliances appear to transform through the day, so it creates a unique effect in every kitchen.

KitchenAid Commercial-Style Range

The 30” 4-Burner Dual Fuel Freestanding Range, Commercial-Style from KitchenAid® crams a ton of personality into a small space. It’s available in black, white, blue, and stainless in addition to this striking red!

Colorful Appliance Finishes

If the metallic look doesn’t do it for you, perhaps you’re interested in solid colors? Colorful appliances make a statement no matter the hue, and they are perfect when you want to build a design on contrast. Let them pop against your walls, cabinetry, and countertops to fill your kitchen with the personality of your choice. Try the warm end of the spectrum if you want to create an energizing space—passionate cooks are often drawn to red! To instill a sense of calm and consistency, a deep cool color like blue is ideal. White appliances look exceptionally crisp and clean with an enameled finish, so they could be perfect if you’re going for a simple, minimalist aesthetic.

While colorful appliances can be gorgeous, you must be careful to choose a color with staying power. So many fads have come and gone, leaving homeowners with reminders of the past that prematurely age their designs. Remember bubblegum pink from the 1950s, or avocado green from the 1970s? Color crazes through the middle of the 20th century taught us what not to do, and then led to the boom of white kitchens in the 1980s. Unless you’re specifically going for a retro vibe, avoid shades and tints. Pure colors are much more likely to withstand the test of time—just consider aqua versus blue, or pink versus red. And of course, pure appliance colors are easier to balance with other features of the kitchen, too.

Jenn-Air Trash Compactor

Can you identify the appliance here? It’s a 15” Trash Compactor from Jenn-Air®! This is just one of many panel-ready appliances that you can finish to blend into your cabinetry, or perhaps create something totally different to suit your vision.

Camouflaged Appliances

Some people aren’t drawn to any specific look, or they want to keep their kitchen designs as uncomplicated as possible. Appliances stand out against cabinets and countertops regardless of finish, so in these cases, homeowners opt to hide them in plain sight. Many built-in refrigerator and dishwasher models are available panel-ready, meaning they’re designed to be outfitted with the material they’re surrounded by, and that you will provide at the time of installation. You won’t find panel-ready ovens or microwaves—the heat factor is one thing, and they also have windows—but there are other appliances you can camouflage, like trash compactors and warming drawers. It might not be everything, but paneling even one appliance streamlines the overall look of a kitchen. If you take it as far as you can, your cooking centers will be the clear focus of the room, so think about how you want them to stand out.

No matter your style, there are fantastic appliances that’ll help you complete your kitchen. Every purchase is an investment, so take a look at different finishes and features online and in person at showrooms to make sure you choose best for your needs. We’ve only shown a few finishes here—there are plenty more to discover!