When to choose stainless steel
Although it’s hard to go wrong with this option, here are a few situations where stainless steel is an especially strong choice.
When your home is ultramodern
Note: Polished metal finishes look brighter but will show fingerprints more. If you want that polished shine, just be prepared for a little more upkeep to maintain that spotless brilliance.
When your cabinets are wood
This is another case where including a similar metallic finish elsewhere, such as in the cabinet handles, will help keep the whole room looking tied together.
When you covet transitional style
When you’ve got the blues
When to choose black
When you love the drama of black and white
Black appliances paired with white cabinetry achieve this look with just enough black to be bold but not overbearing. Warning: Your appliances should be spread out enough so that the look isn’t too heavy or lopsided. In a compact kitchen without much cabinetry, this look is extra risky, so designer beware.
When your cabinetry is very dark
When your cabinetry is a moody gray
When your kitchen is spacious
If your kitchen is large and well-lit (lucky you!), the best design move may actually be to break up your long wall planes a bit with some dark appliances to keep the space from feeling too vast. A few bits of black, or appliances like these that combine black and steel, will bring in the walls a little and make the space feel more intimate and relaxed.
When to choose paneled
Panel-ready appliances are designed to accommodate a custom door front that matches your surrounding cabinetry, rather than having their own front finish. This essentially camouflages the appliances.
Besides letting you match the cabinet material, this also allows you to match the door profile (such as Shaker style) and even the hardware for total consistency.
You can panel multiple appliances or just ones in particular areas. Fridges are a popular choice to panel since they are generally very tall, wide and visually dominating.
This approach, while almost always more of an investment than standard appliances, can solve lots of little design dilemmas, such as the following.
When your kitchen is super compact
Paneled appliances (especially a fridge) help create a much more streamlined look, which can make the kitchen seem much larger and more put-together.
When you love wood, wood and more wood
When your look is already high-drama
When to choose white
When your cabinetry is a pale tone
Note: For white refrigerators, you can easily notice the difference in texture between different models. For a more elegant look, I recommend choosing a quality white fridge with a flat, easily wiped surface rather than the ripple-textured models that can catch grime more easily. Fingerprints may show a bit more in the short term, but over time, the appliances will be easier to keep looking new.
When your ceiling is dark
When you want to mix and match
When you have light counters
Notice here how the counters pick up on the white of the glossy fridge, and also pick up the gray of the cabinets (via the rich veining), with silvery handles added to tie the latter two to each other. All the colors are repeated somewhere for a truly cohesive palette — subtle genius at work.
When to choose color
When you love retro diner charm
When you’re ahead of the curve
While stainless steel appliances have been the top of the trends for quite some time, some experts are predicting that colored-metallic “black stainless steel” will be the next big thing. This finish is almost as neutral as the classic silvery stainless, but tinted to a soft charcoal black for more drama and better smudge-proofing. If you have a busy family kitchen, or simply like to be ahead of the curve on trends, black stainless might be just the right option for you.
When your kitchen needs a little something special
If you have classic white cabinets, demure hardware, subtle sophisticated tile and hidden, perfectly functional lighting, you may have everything you need — except a little oomph. A fiery red oven or a cheerful blue fridge can add a lot of pizazz to an otherwise humble kitchen.
To keep it classic, try an Italian kitchen-inspired red oven in a bold firetruck-approved shade. While trends may change, this look will stand the test of time — and always be a great conversation starter.