When the Toronto Interior Design Group dreamed up a kitchen for one of its cooking-obsessed clients late last year, it opted to anchor the space with a suite of black-stainless-steel appliances from Samsung. The finish made a splash on the online community Houzz. Houzz editors even used an image of the art-deco-meets-modern kitchen to accompany a poll on black-stainless-steel appliances, in which users voted in favor of the new finish by more than two to one.
What major appliance manufacturers such as LG, KitchenAid and Kenmore are trumpeting as “black stainless” is essentially traditional stainless steel coated in a sleek, dark finish. The hue varies by brand. There’s no denying that this new shade on the block is sexy — well, about as sexy as dishwashers, ovens and refrigerators can get — but does it have staying power?
According to home improvement expert Karl Champley, the move toward darker appliance finishes started in Europe and is slowly making its way westward. Champley said that although black stainless won’t dethrone classic stainless in the U.S. market anytime soon, that doesn’t mean homeowners shouldn’t consider it now.
Houzz editor Sheila Schmitz said an increase in user-generated images featuring black stainless prompted the site’s research team to add it to the 2017 Houzz Kitchen Trends Study. The survey results revealed that 7 percent of homeowners who are planning, working on or have completed a kitchen renovation are choosing black-stainless kitchen appliances.
“What makes it powerful is the look and the ease of maintenance,” said Champley, referring to its appealing, smudge-proof coating that is resistant to fingerprints.
As good as that sounds, there’s one drawback that anyone with a high-traffic kitchen should consider: It can scratch.
“If you accidentally run your engagement ring up it, it’s going to scratch,” said Champley, who added that scratching is rare and fixable. For anyone worried about Lego-wielding toddlers, he said, “It’s pretty unusual to hit an appliance hard enough to scratch it.”
Scratches aside, perhaps the biggest question on the mind of those about to invest thousands of dollars in new appliances (black stainless can run an extra hundred or so per appliance) is whether it will become a decision they’ll regret in a few years.
Schmitz’s biggest piece of advice: “Don’t be swayed by trends. Choose the thing that makes your heart go pitter-patter.” And if you can’t decide between black or traditional stainless, try mixing things up and using one black-stainless appliance as a statement piece.