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Find out what’s motivating this kitchen design trend, plus pro tips to make it work.
Traditionally, backsplashes, cabinetry, and walls have been the major players when it comes to adding color and personality to a kitchen. But now, colorful appliances are coming in hot. With new hues, new styles, and a new place in kitchen design, today’s fridges, dishwashers, and ovens are nothing like the colored appliances of the 1970s (unless, of course, you want them to be).
Why Colorful Kitchen Appliances Are Popular Today
Colorful appliances, whether a bold red stand mixer or soft mint-green toaster, have long been found on the countertop. In contrast, major kitchen appliances have typically remained neutral, with stainless-steel finishes dominating this century (and white and black before that).
While designers and manufacturers anticipate stainless steel will continue to be most prevalent, three factors are converging to bring more color to large kitchen appliances: a demand for personalization, an increase in color appliances on the market, and a shift to more color in the kitchen generally.
What’s truly driving the colorful appliance trend today is a desire for more personalization. After spending so much time at home over the past few years, homeowners are looking for ways to get more out of their spaces, including appliances that give them the exact function and style they’re looking for. They don’t want to compromise on style or performance. “Consumers are looking for ways to customize their home decor to reflect their personal style and match their lifestyle needs,” said a spokesperson with Samsung.
Samsung’s Bespoke line, which debuted in 2019, is an example of the new color appliance options available, as well as the trend toward personalization. The color- and technology-forward collection touts customization, like the option to select the color of each individual panel on a refrigerator.
Other brands, like SMEG, have offered colorful kitchen appliances for decades, but have fanned the trend’s flames with updated offerings. “We’ve seen longevity in these styles and trends due to color palette expansion and adding innovative, new components to our beloved product lines,” says Paul McCormack, national sales and marketing director for SMEG USA.
Popular Appliance Colors
Simultaneously, the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) has generally tracked more color coming into the kitchen. Designers report that homeowners are moving away from whites and grays and incorporating more color. This trend is playing out with large appliances, too. A sneak peek at the NKBA’s 2023 trend report (out later this year) shows that designers anticipate using more colorful large appliances in the near future, increasing from 10% in 2022 to 20% this year.
So which shades are currently in style? Popular appliance colors are a mix of timeless classics and newer, fresher hues. Especially hot right now are lighter colors, which have the global stronghold when it comes to fridges, according to Samsung. White glass panels, which more easily blend with existing home designs, are the most popular for Bespoke, while beiges, pinks, and light blues are also being incorporated for a pop of color.
SMEG’s popular colors for the past decade include pastel blue, pastel green, white, and cream, as well as classic black and red. On the darker side, navy is outperforming for both brands. Although most color options are limited to refrigerators in Samsung’s Bespoke line, navy is one color available across the line, including a new washer and dryer that launched earlier this year. SMEG has also seen navy surge in their small appliances.
How to Use Colorful Appliances in the Kitchen
Some brands offer a full suite of colorful, coordinated appliances, while others have colors available only for specific appliances (often a range or refrigerator). A common design scenario is one stand-out colorful appliance with the rest coordinated in a neutral finish. This works great when replacing an individual appliance or making a style update that isn’t a major remodel. “Colored appliances are like the jewel in the room,” says Anne-Marie Brunet, owner and principal designer of Sheridan Interiors Inc. To help that jewel shine, she recommends selecting one or two appliances at most to be colored.
Love the character of a colorful appliance, but not sure how to make it work? Consider where the color could be used and how that will impact the kitchen; a colorful appliance can quickly become a focal point. With personalization at its core, there’s no single way to embrace this trend.
1. Create a Focal Point
Using color to draw attention to one area of the kitchen is a timeless design choice and a proven way to show off an appliance you love. It’s especially impactful in a monochromatic space, like the kitchen by Brunet, pictured above. “Not only is the range a vibrant color, but it brings in much-needed color in an all-wood structure that can sometimes read as dark and flat,” she says. A colorful, style-forward range not only breathes life into the room, but Brunet also says it creates a focal point for the entire cabin.
2. Blend with Surroundings
Colorful kitchen appliances can offer major benefits for those who like a tailored look. There are multiple ways to get colorful appliances that blend in rather than stand out. La Cornue, for example, sells cabinetry so their eye-catching aesthetic isn’t limited to the kitchen’s range and hood. Some manufacturers allow custom colors, so you can coordinate appliance colors to other surfaces, like your walls or cabinets. Or, match a paint color to the appliance and refresh the cabinetry around it.
3. Match the Aesthetic
“Consider the lifespan of that appliance and select the appropriate color that relates to their personality and to their surrounding furnishings (if not changing these),” says Brunet. Be careful mixing styles, however. A cheery retro fridge can totally mesh with a cozy cottage aesthetic, but it won’t work in a room (or house) that is otherwise sleek and modern. Be conservative—you’re bringing a long-lasting, not-easy-to-update fixture into the picture. Pick a style and color that fits the space and your home both now and in the future.
4. Coordinate Accents
If not already part of the home’s decor, Brunet recommends bringing coordinating and complimentary hues into the kitchen. This will help the colorful appliance feel purposeful rather than disconnected. Similarly, McCormack suggests drawing color inspiration from the design and decor of adjacent rooms in an open floor plan. The appliances might stand out in the kitchen, yet ultimately feel connected to the rest of the home.
You can also build a cohesive look by taking visual cues from other appliances and fixtures in the room. Some brands, like Blue Star, offer customization beyond body color, like a selection of trim, handle, and knob finishes. If other appliances in the room are white, see if the oven knobs can match. If your kitchen has chrome light fixtures and faucets, look for chrome appliance handles to tie it all together.
Tips for Selecting a Kitchen Appliance Color
Moving away from traditional kitchen appliance finishes can be a bit intimidating. These tips will help you feel confident in the decision.
1. Choose a Color You Love
“If someone is looking to bring in colorful appliances, first off they should do what brings them joy because colorful appliances will certainly bring joy,” says Brunet. Pick a color that you love and that will vibe with the rest of the house. Don’t just pick something that’s trendy now or available when you’re ready to buy. If you don’t love it, you’re more likely to tire of the look and want to replace the appliance. Plus, if you don’t really like the color, it will be harder to incorporate it elsewhere in the space, which is a big factor for successfully designing with a colorful appliance.
2. Test It Out
“I think that while making the decision to add a splash of color with large appliances, one has to spend time with a high-quality rendering,” says McCormack. “Leave the image in the environment and live with it to make sure it’s something you want and a decision you’ll be satisfied with.” McCormack also recommends getting appliance color swatches so you can see the exact colors and get a feel for how they look with the other colors, lighting, and surfaces in your space. Or start small by first committing to a countertop appliance in the color you crave.
3. Prioritize Function
The demand for colorful appliances is partly driven by a desire to have both style and performance in the kitchen. But if you can’t have both, don’t choose color over function. Picking a striking appliance in a color you love will not fare as well in the long run if it doesn’t do what you want or have the features you need in this hardworking hub of the home.