You Should Reconsider Stainless Steel Appliances (and What to Use Instead)

Ah, the kitchen is a room so important to modern life that it has become a tense battlefield. According to Remodeling Magazine , this is the most expensive renovation you’ll ever see, with an average mid-range kitchen renovation costing around $76,000. This cost and stress infuses every design decision with intense emotion and dread, which is why trends and default design choices are so comforting—and why stainless steel has become so commonplace in our kitchens. You rarely saw stainless steel in the kitchen before the 21st century, but a combination of forward thinking and more men doing food preparation has made stainless steel the standard choice for stylish appliances.

But is stainless steel always the best choice? Depending on your design preferences and personal taste, there’s no reason why your finish should be stainless, and while more traditional options like white or black have become (largely unfairly) associated with “cheap” or “budget” , sometimes they represent the best design. decision. Let’s see why stainless steel isn’t always the best option.

Stainless steel has pros and cons

Okay, before we go too far down the rabbit hole, let’s get one thing clear. Stainless steel is an excellent finish choice for several reasons:

  • Durability. Stainless steel is amazing. It will not rust, melt, or warp under normal cooking conditions, it is relatively easy to clean, and minor damage can often be repaired.
  • Appearance. In 2001, we weren’t mesmerized by the look of stainless steel – it’s very pretty, evokes a professional vibe, and works with almost all design palettes.
  • This is consistent. If you are not very confident in your design abilities, using stainless steel will always be the safe choice.

But just because stainless steel is generally a good choice doesn’t mean it’s always the best choice, because it comes with some disadvantages:

  • Cleaning. Stainless steel will show every stain, spill and crumb in your kitchen. If you have kids or pets, this will look like a crime scene with all those fingerprints and paw prints. You will be constantly cleaning.
  • Consumption. Stainless steel isn’t always the most expensive finish, but it is often and rarely the most affordable option.
  • Magnetism. It may seem minor, but many stainless steel finishes aren’t magnetized, meaning you won’t be able to slap takeaway menus or holiday cards on the fridge. Considering how often we use our kitchens, minor annoyances can end up driving you crazy.
  • Illusion of quality. We tend to associate stainless steel with high-end appliances, but just because an appliance has a stainless steel finish doesn’t mean it’s first-class. At the end of the day, it’s just a finish – what really matters is the function of the fixture itself. You have to look past the good looks to make sure you’re buying an appliance that will do the job and last a long time.
  • Design restrictions. One of the most often overlooked drawbacks of stainless steel is that it limits your design choices. While stainless steel is suitable for almost all kitchen designs, it is still one ingredient that is often repeated over and over again, resulting in a somewhat “monochrome” look.

Is there an alternative to stainless steel?

The good news is that this is your kitchen and you can choose something other than stainless if you want. The alternatives can be pretty awesome:

  • White. The classic old school finish remains an excellent choice. There will be a lot of dirt on white appliances, it’s true, but they’re also usually easier to clean than stainless steel. They also pair well with just about any choice of cabinetry, backsplash, and countertop. And, again, they will be the most affordable option without sacrificing functionality.
  • Black. Black appliances can be a bold choice, especially when paired with white cabinets and other light-colored finishes. Black appliances are an increasingly popular trend because they give a room a modern, sleek look that sets it apart from other kitchens. Plus, black finishes are extremely easy to clean and show little to no daily grime, so you don’t have to worry about guests leaving your home whispering about your cleaning skills.
  • Other colors. Did you know that you can buy appliances in finishes other than white, black, or stainless steel? It’s right! You can find home appliances from big brands in just about any color, from red and yellow to brown and, uh, beige. And if your home appliances are bright, vibrant colors, they can be a great design choice that will bring joy to your heart every time you enter a room and make people buzz in your kitchen.
  • Other stainless steel coatings. Stainless steel comes in different grain sizes. Most appliance manufacturers offer stainless steel in brushed, slate, or black, in addition to the shiny version you see most often. You can stick to the comfort of stainless steel while adding a unique touch that makes your kitchen stand out.

Mixing and matching home appliance finishes

So a stainless steel kitchen might not be the best choice if you hate cleaning, have kids or pets, or have a more flamboyant design. But this is not a zero-sum game. You do not have to match all of the finishes on your appliance. The secret superpower of kitchen design is that you can choose a different finish or color for each appliance if you put your mind to it.

Why mix and match finishes? It’s practical, first of all. Having a refrigerator that is not made of stainless steel while everything else is made of it can eliminate the constant wiping of fingerprints while maintaining the longevity of a stainless steel oven. There’s also the design factor: if you allow yourself to mix your fixtures, you can get some pretty impressive results. Here is a quick guide to mixing and matching the finishes of your appliance:

  • Show restraint. Mixing colors and finishes can go wrong very quickly. If you have four or five different finishes in your kitchen, it will look less like a design revolution and more like the result of a garage sale. A great strategy is to choose one appliance as a “splash” of color – for example, a red oven or a cool pastel blue refrigerator can draw attention and tie everything together.
  • Consider longevity. Do you know the advice on how not to make too personal home design decisions because it can negatively impact resale value? This is three times more for kitchens. Think carefully about color combinations. A bold kitchen with different finishes for appliances could be a selling point, but only if the color choice is considered fashionable five years from now. We’ve all seen those 1970s homes with avocado-colored light fixtures and wondered what these people were smoking when they chose them. Don’t be this person unless you know you’re going to die in this house and you want to.
  • Think about your past. When choosing colors and finishes to mix, pay attention to walls and cabinets. Are your backsplash and cabinets light in color? Soft, pastel colors for your appliances will create a calm, zen look. Bold, vibrant colors will energize your kitchen, turning it into a place where your noisy family gathers for food and arguments. If your cabinets and walls are darker, choosing deep, darker shades will tie it all together, while brighter colors will probably seem out of place.
  • Go subtle. Just because you’re mixing finishes doesn’t mean the colors have to be bright and vibrant. Matte black or graphite finishes are unobtrusive but look luxurious and sophisticated. The navy blue steel finish won’t grab attention right away, but it can subtly blend in with the rest of the design options for a cool, calm effect.

There are literally dozens and dozens of color and finish combinations available, so the top tip here is to take your time. Check with an interior designer if it’s within your budget (or check with a creative friend), or steal ideas from the internet, but take your time. You’ll be living with your kitchen for a long time, so don’t make any avocado-related decisions you’ll regret later.


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