If you’ve redone your kitchen or purchased an appliance in the last decade, chances are it has a stainless steel finish. Stainless has been the leader in kitchen décor for many years, and a sparkling new kitchen with granite counters and shiny appliances was the preferred style for many consumers.
As always, times — and trends — change. Available in a variety of colors, from neutrals like slate gray and black to bold hues like red and blue, matte finish appliances have arrived on the scene and are gaining in popularity in Western New York. Initially reserved for premium products, appliances like refrigerators, ranges and hoods in matte finishes are now available at mainstream retailers like Home Depot and Lowes.
Jeff Rexinger, longtime sales manager at Artisan Kitchens and Baths in Buffalo, said that matte appliances are trending for a number of reasons. Matte finishes in general have become popular in home décor — from cabinets to lighting to decorative pieces to even pianos — and kitchen appliances are following suit.
“Appliance manufacturers are starting to listen to the design community,” Rexinger said.
Randal Sanderson, president/CEO at Kitchen World in Williamsville, agrees. He also thinks the trend is just plain practical, too.
“We started telling people five years ago at Kitchen World, ‘we know you are interested in stainless, but keep in mind stainless appliances — especially large appliances like refrigerators — are difficult to keep clean.’ Matte doesn’t show fingerprints and is easy to clean,” said Sanderson.
Sanderson also thinks it was time for something new. “The stainless craze has been 13 years or more — and it’s not that practical. Regular high-grade stainless shows everything - it’s like a part time job to polish your stainless refrigerator. People don’t want to spend their evening polishing stainless steel.”
KitchenAid, GE and BlueStar all produce appliances including ranges, refrigerators, dishwashers and microwaves in matte finishes ranging from popular neutrals like gray and black to statement colors like red, blue and yellow.
At Artisan Kitchens and Baths, black and slate gray are the most popular matte colors. “GE Appliances’ Slate Collection is very popular and a nice alternative to stainless. It’s neutral and versatile,” said Rexinger.
A trend within the matte trend, said Rexinger, is customers selecting a range and vent in a bold color and sticking with a neutral for the rest of their appliances. “Customers want something that sets their kitchen apart. You can have a white kitchen and throw a sapphire range and hood in the middle of your cabinet run, and it pops and gives people a beautiful splash of color,” said Rexinger.
But is this trend affordable – and accessible? As for cost, these appliances are “certainly not the bottom of the price spectrum,” said Rexinger. However, there are deals to be had as manufacturers will bundle appliances and consumers can “buy a slate-colored fridge, dishwasher, range and microwave together in the $2,400 price range,” Rexinger added. They are also not exclusive to modern kitchens, said Rexinger: if you pick a neutral color, matte appliances work well in any style kitchen, from modern to Victorian.
Sanderson of Kitchen World sees the brightly hued matte appliances as a way to have fun with your kitchen décor. “We recommend people keep areas of the kitchen neutral that should last for 30 years — the cabinets, countertop — then buy interesting appliances. When it’s time for a change, replace your appliances. What’s not smart is to replace your cabinets, or put in a red granite countertop — you will get tired of that. With appliances, it’s fine to have a little fun.”