Looking Outside the Stainless-Steel Box

My poor fridge is on the fritz. It’s making gasping-for-breath noises, so we know it’s not long for this world. I’ve been shopping for a new one with the realization that I may need to replace the rest of my appliances, as well, and wondering whether to go the stainless-steel route or not. Everyone keeps saying that stainless is on the way out. Well, if that’s true, then what’s on the way in? I’d like to get something that won’t look totally dated in 2019.

During my research, I ran across this new line of appliances from Rangemaster in the U.K. and it opened my eyes to the possibilities. Why stick with basic white, black, or stainless when you can have a hot-pink zinnia painted on it?

Okay, so maybe that’s not very practical for most of us.

Then I read that bronze appliances are the new stainless. Silver is out and gold tones are in. Jenn-Air has this new Oiled Bronze Suite:

But to be honest with you, the bronze doesn’t work for me. It reminds me too much of the old brown appliances I grew up with. I’m having flashbacks to the ’70s (and not in a good way).

Yesterday I ran across an article that claimed that colorful retro appliances are the Next Big Thing in kitchens, like this one from Smeg. Wouldn’t it look fun with my red KitchenAid mixer?

Rachael Ray has a light blue Big Chill fridge on the set of her daytime talk show (click here to see it) that I like, too. Not sure I could commit to that much of one color in my kitchen, though. It would be hard to redecorate on a whim if I had all-red or blue appliances. So those wouldn’t work for me, either.

After much consideration, I’ve decided that this is what I want–and the beach house to go with it, please:

Yep. That one works for me! (Hear that? It’s the sound of my checkbook laughing.)

What do you think? Do you believe everyone will be rushing to switch to bronze appliances, or forking over the big bucks for something that looks retro? Let’s take a poll and I’ll buy whichever appliances get the most votes. (Just as soon as you all chip in to help me pay for them. Ha.)


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  1. says

    I am going to stick with my boring old white appliances. They’re cheap, always available, and blend with my white cabinets, making the whole stretch look bigger (and brighter).

    But I’ll invest in more Mr. Clean miracle erasers–white sure shows a lot of spots and fingerprints!

  2. says

    Love the cool appliances! When I saw you tweet “is stainless on the way out?” My thought went straigt to countertops. I have a job with some stainless counters in the drawing board stages. They are way cool.
    For appliances, I think stainless is still hot, but these new choices are AMAZING! I love colored appliances, but not “retro”. Thanks for an inspiring post!

    Remodeling Guy’s last blog post..One Month and 10,000 visitors!

  3. hookedonhouses says

    I’ve got basic white appliances now that came with the house, and I swear by those Mr. Clean magic erasers! Love those things. In fact, I started out writing a post about them and then my mind wandered to the appliances themselves. -Julia :-)

  4. says

    I like classic white appliances too.

    I was just thinking of you and your blog earlier tonight because I learned that we got new custom cabinets for our flip house for free! (long story) But now I’m trying to figure out what color countertop to do… They’re a fairly dark, milk chocolate type brown stain. Hmmm…

  5. says

    We upgraded to stainless appliances in our new house. We really did go back and forth wondering if it was going to date the kitchen really badly or not. Oiled bronze wasn’t an option with our builder, though I really like the way it looks. We have dark cabinets and dark granite, so it was either stainless or black. We had black in our old house (left from the previous owners), so I guess we were ready for a change.

    I love the look of the brightly colored retro stuff, but it just doesn’t seem practical for the majority of homes.

    I’ll admit that the appliances with flowers on them make my eyes burn. :)

    Lindsay’s last blog post..Giveaway! Giveaway! Giveaway!

  6. samantha says

    My fridge is bright orange. My brand new spiffy side by side failed just out of warranty and I couldn’t afford to replace it. So…I dug out the old one that came with my house when I bought it and painted it with high gloss paint. It is retro-ish and very funky. Lemons=lemonade.

  7. Kay says

    I have stainless and don’t like it as much as I thought I would. It’s way too hard to keep clean and polished. I never hear anyone else complain about that.

  8. says

    And I thought stainless was here to stay! I’m not to sure about the bronze, I can see what you mean about it looking like the old brown…why don’t we just bring back harvest gold and avacado while we’re at it! I think it really depends on the rest of the kitchen as to what works best. I love the retro look but it wouldn’t look right in my current kitchen. Can’t wait to see which direction you decide to go!

    coco’s last blog post..switching gears…

  9. hookedonhouses says

    Samantha–I love that you painted yours bright orange!

    Kay–My sister-in-law just got stainless appliances last year and complains about them all the time. Says the fingerprints and smudges drive her crazy. You’re not alone! -Julia :-)

  10. says

    I’m sorry, I still love my stainless. I don’t think that it’s going anywhere any time fast. Almost every newly remodeled kitchen or newly built home has them. People can’t afford to willy nilly get rid of their appliances. I think that stainless will be around for at least the next decade. But if you buy stainless, buy good. You can tell by the texture. Good stainless cleans easily and looks great! Don’t forget to pop by Julia, it’s my 100th post give-a-way! ~ Robyn

    Robyn’s last blog post..My Pink Saturday 100th Post Give-A-Way!

  11. says

    I’m due to replace my fridge and dishwasher and am having the same debate re stainless vs black (the current look is almond, circa 1980). I love the retro look but it’s not for everyone and I doubt it is EnergyStar.

    Robin’s last blog post..The cheesy prom pose was his idea

  12. says

    I love the bronze it is so my taste. I have all stainless right now including the kitchen sink and I cant handle it. I have babies at home who love to add tons and tons of finger prints to it all.

    Courtney’s last blog post..Getting Back to Books!

  13. Diana says

    I don’t think I care for the bronze. Rustic, old world style isn’t for me, and that’s the only type of kitchens those work in.

    Stainless works well I think in a wide variety of kitchens, from modern to family-friendly. But I’d certainly love it if the ever-affordable white came back in style.

    For folks who have stainless, manufacturers make dozens of finishes that are fingerprint-proof. All of our stainless has been fingerprint-proof and I’ve never had a problem with anything showing.

  14. says

    Oh MY. Those are…um…a statement.

    And I was totally thinking the same thing about the bronze as you…Too much like the super 70s brown fridges!! I also remember a friend of mine’s family getting a SUPER SIZED old school microwave (when they were the size of Hondas) in the same brown to match their appliances. Now THAT…was a statement. :-)

    laura @ the shore house’s last blog post..Real friends, real estate, real good times.

  15. says

    Oh, I love that oiled bronze! It’s beautiful. It doesn’t remind me of the 70’s appliances at all. I’ve never been a fan of stainless. It’s pretty until someone touches it, then it’s smudged up. I personally prefer the appliances that are disguised to match the cabinets. Pretty.

    Mom in High Heels’s last blog post..Many Mini-Metas

  16. says

    Oh my god, I’m in love. I can’t believe that those are real. The floral appliances in the first picture, I mean. I LOVE THEM. This cements it. I need to find a way to get my British husband to move us all back to his home country so I can have a gerber daisy painted stove. Seriously — I love them and now will be dreaming of owning one of these, one day….thank you Julia. This post is being emailed to all my friends and family!!!

    christy’s last blog post..Ms. Foo Rolls Over Again

  17. says

    I had to look twice to see that those first photos were appliances! WOW. Don’t the British have such beautiful things?!
    I’m always going over (online) to the UK to find things I like.
    They really know how to dress up a home! Love this post!

    Kathi’s last blog post..The Official Standard

  18. says

    I had those brown appliances when they weren’t retro!!

    Julia…I was watch Fox and Friends on FNC, this morning. Mitt Romney is selling two of his four homes. I heard one is in Utah, didn’t hear where the other one is. Might be interesting to have a look at those.

    Pat’s last blog post..~The Island Project~

  19. says

    I’ve never cared for stainless as I always thought it was a bit industrial looking–and in my older homes, it wouldn’t have looked appropriate anyway. I’m drooling over the retro styles, but my budget would never allow it–so basic white it is for me!

    bungalow_bliss’s last blog post..Be My Guest

  20. says

    If I had to choose, I’d love built-ins to match my cabinets. Right now, we have stainless and black, and it works nicely with our cherry cabinets. However, I do think I’m the only person on planet earth who does not like the flat top range (I’m not lucky enough to have gas!).

    Angela’s last blog post..Tasty Tuesday: Cheese Danish

  21. says

    My appliances are black – they came with the house and look good in the kitchen. I would love the bronze, though – they would go with the fixtures throughout our house.

    Kathy’s last blog post..Giveaway Winners

  22. says

    Oh, I went into Expo yesterday (since they’re closing their doors, and all), and they had an adorable bar-sized orange Smeg fridge for the bargain price of $2500! I’m still lusting after the red ceramic AGA range in their first display. When it goes down to 95% off I’ll snag it up. It was $25k.

    Heather’s last blog post..That’s it! I am on strike with Photobucket!

  23. says

    I think they can all look good. What I don’t enjoy so much is the “spec-house safe choice” mindset: stainless, granite counters, tile back splash, 10′ ceiling. Those aren’t bad or good in themselves. It’s just what you get in almost every new house and renovation these days. I guess I’m a little resistant to being marketed to with the latest trends in kitchens.

    Terry Kearns’s last blog post..Little vernacular country house in Druid Hills

  24. Grace says

    I have white appliances. White might not be trendy or all the rage but it never goes out of style. When I bought my appliances in 1996 I considered going with almond. Thank goodness I didn’t because I still have my original stove. I do not like stainless at all. It just does not look homey to me. I don’t like the industrial look. It reminds me of my years that I worked at McDonalds. It had acres of stainless cabinets and counters all through the restaurant.

  25. Valerie says

    When we bought this house, we inherited black appliances. Black stove, black dishwasher and black refrigerator complete with a nice big eye level dent that somebody tried to buff out. We wonder who threw what at whom. A toaster, perhaps? The black appliances are a royal pain. Invest in Windex if you have them. Oh, and I LOVE that floor!

  26. says

    I’m so glad that basic white isn’t too far behind from staineless on the voting scale, because that’s what I like and will have…. because I do not like staineless and I’d be happy to wave it goodbye and not have to hear it anymore on HGTV -there staineless appliances are still promoted as must haves if you want to get the most for your kitchen (in case you sell).

    Maya@Completely Coastal’s last blog post..Home Decor from Nature Direct

  27. Jana says

    When building our home, I bought the sister models to the jenn-aire bronze. Mine are the jenn-aire black with a layer of glass over them. I love the look. Good luck making a choice!

  28. Kathy :) says

    Hi Julia,

    I had the stainless it was okay, but with my cream cabinets I just love the black appliances. No matter what you get there will be smudges…

    Do what you love !!

    Kathy :)

  29. says

    Yeah, I’ve heard that stainless is on its way out but I haven’t seen anything realistic that’s going to replace it. I don’t really like the oil rubbed bronze but the ones with a layer of glass over them that Jana mentioned are nice. That’s the only way I’d have black appliances. I like the stoves with the flowers on them- can’t imagine owning one but they’re pretty cool.

    Amy’s last blog post..La-de-da

  30. says

    It’s difficult to pick one style. How about a retro frig and coordinating Rangemaster? I love the floral stoves, but it may grow old quickly. If you like to redo often, I say basic white appliances.

    Janet’s last blog post..Fabric Accents for Outdoor Living

  31. says

    Wow, Julia I actually have a traditional kitchen…but I love that first set of appliances with all the colorful flowers on them. Wow! This is lovely!

  32. says

    We chose black when we built our house last year. We already had a black fridge. I like the look and the only problem I have with it is the stovetop…it shows every little speck of dust, crumbs, etc.

    Holly’s last blog post..WFMW–Taming the Paper Trail

  33. says

    We just had to break down and purchase a new range, I “let” my husband pick it out, because I was devistated that the old one wasnt working and needed time to mourn..I know.. I know.

    He came home with this black and stainless job and I wanted to VOMIT! Im so sick of all that. Seems like its sooo, how you say..trying to keep up with the joneses look?

    I would much rather have a kitchen that was warm and inviting(and size appropriate) than any of that overwhelming (overpurchasing) and underused( in some houses )ranges that everyone would love to have their friends be “impressed” with. I have a relative that had to have the top of the line thermadore, she wont even let her husband hardly use the thing.

    eeks, Im just an

    Lisa’s last blog post..Wordless Wednesday

  34. says

    I agree with you, the copper looks great but it does look a bit brown but the floor in that kitchen is gorgeous! We just remodeled our kitchen last September and we decided to go with the built-ins and we really love how easy it is to keep clean.

    Charlie’s last blog post..Happy Holidays…

  35. says

    I really like the retro firdges, but I must have the brain of a Grandma afraid of avocado appliance flashbacks because I’m all over the white stuff. Actually, I have a mix of appliances–white fridge, black and white stove and black dishwasher and microwave. We are just on the EDGE of trendy over here. It works, though, because i’m not a good housekeeper and if everything was white, well it would look more almond–and we all know how BLEH those appliances were.

    Aubrey’s last blog post..Untacky Valentines

  36. says

    Did you check out the colorful stoves from Rangemaster, cobalt and cherry color? I was dying to have one, but they claim they don’t ship over here. So I ended up with stainless….But I love them!

    Suzy’s last blog post..Black and White, and Confetti too!

  37. Kristin says

    I’m an Interior Designer and a military spouse. I’ve had a kitchen with every color appliance, even almond(gag). Right now I have black( for the first time) and really like it. Black is my favorite non color though. In my dream kitchen, which I someday hope to have when my husband stops dragging me around the country, I’d like to hide the appliances. I’m loving the new induction cooktops. I love the colored appliances and would only go there if it was my forever house and had been my favorite color my whole life. Not too sure about the bronze. It brings a 70’s vibe for me. The first photos remind me of a corset(pink and black, I swear)painted washer and dryer I saw at Maison & Objet(Paris Design Market) two years ago. I wish I had taken a picture. It truly is the craziest appliance I’ve ever seen.
    PS For those with Stainless, get Zep Stainless Spray it will make you love them.

  38. says

    Hi Julia :)

    I know that stainless is on the way out and anyway they are a PITA to keep clean. I have white appliances that came with this house and I forgot how easy it was to keep them clean and I would never buy stainless again. EVER.

    However, when the economy crisis is over or the other house sells, I’ll be going retro.

    As far as what is going to be in style forever (for a home that isn’t old), I think built-ins to match the cabinets are the way to go. A far as what you should do…. I would buy whatever you want! It’s your kitchen 😉


    rue’s last blog post..I couldn’t take it any longer

  39. says

    I love my white fridge. I’m boring that way. If I had to buy a new one though, I’d pick black. Then it wouldn’t look so dingy where my toddler always puts his hands!

    Angela’s last blog post..Works For Me Wednesday

  40. says

    Well, I PREFER white but it would look hideous in my kitchen and black is not “in” for me. I have a love/hate relationship with stainless steel, but it’s where I’ll stay for a while.

    Darla’s last blog post..Deerly beloved

  41. says

    I am loving those appliances in the first pictures. What a great way to spruce up something that is so boring! Love making it artful and fun:) Great post Julia!! Good luck with your fridge situation.

  42. ann says

    Oh Julia. I have changed my mind about 10 time just reading your comments! Your readers all have such good points. I think SS HAS to go out sometime! Omgosh, if HGTV doesn’t stop talking about SS applinaces…. I love the way it looks, but it gets SO dirty – it is just not practical with a bunch of little kids. I have white. I hate them – I think they look cheap in my kitchen. I had white before with all white cabinets and then I loved them! Maybe black is the best bet…

  43. Billy says

    SS is on its way out save for 36″+ ranges. Hate hidden appliances, i repeatedly open the bloody broom closet instead of the fridge. Always wanted a Coke machine red fridge, but my houses go up for sale with in 60 days of completing renovations, and i think a big red box might scare the children.

    Btw most first time sick fridges just need a $30 start relay/capacitor, it is a very easy fix.

  44. says

    Ohhhh…I’ll take that last one and the beach house, too. :-) My appliances are all white, but I do like the stainless look. It would be fun to have one of the colored ones, too!

    Ms.Tee’s last blog post..Colander Crazy

  45. says

    I like the look of stainless appliances, but I am TIRED of hearing about them. Enought already, stainless appliances are not THAT great. Why do so many people want them so badly? They are a trend. Basic white is here to stay!

    beth’s last blog post..Project of the week-kitchen cabinets

  46. says

    I love the florals if they were just decals you could whip on and off …. but I am a retro girl at heart so do love the cream and silver with rounded corners – too cool for school …

    Julia as a side bar I took MIC on a Vday outing inspired by you – see you work magic across the blogomiles :) hugs le

    le’s last blog post..Frugal Date – with Julia Influences

  47. Karen says

    I am such a fan of a non-fitted kitchen. I don’t want what everybody else has or everything matching. I swore when I moved into this house that I could NO way live in such a small kitchen (has exactly two small, narrow drawers a two tiny counters). But I have made it work. Up until recently I had a Craftsman tool chest on wheels, with a butcher block on top, for an island. But my husband wanted it back and bought me a island on wheels that holds a ton of stuff! A $15 hutch I found at the Salvation Army (that came with two matching side tables – a bedroom set) that I have never repainted, holds dishes and below has four huge drawers for pasta, bread – you name it. I have two white appliances and when my built-in range died, I just about died at the replacement cost! Over $800 – and that was five years ago. Well . . my husband found an ad in the local newspaper insert for a FREE oven – just like mine! It has glass door with almond color surroung and stainless steel top. Has worked like a charm! It’s not self-cleaning, but so what? And to to really get everbody gasping, I love my kitchen carpet! With many critters running around and living in the country, it’s been a life saver. It all works and people tell me I have a knack for putting things together. And I didn’t spend a fortune. PS – but I do think those bronze appliances are pretty:)

  48. says

    If the man in your home loves to cook – consider stainless steel. Yes, SS appliances and counter tops (we have both) can look industrial, but they will stand up to the wear and tear of two cooks in the kitchen. Simple pine cabinets warm up our room and I love my white farmhouse apron front sink. A 19th century Canadian hutch with a time honored crackled patina and an old painted back door (also aged by decades of use) compliment the polished look of the SS. Stainless steel counter tops will scratch with use and I was forewarned before we had them installed. I don’t mind. Our home is more than a century old and everything about it is distressed and slightly imperfect.

    Denise’s last blog post..The Geek Squad hits Seattle

  49. Karen says

    I totally agree with Denise – my island has a stainless steel top that really takes a beating!I just don’t worry about it – I “Simple Green” it to clean and that’s it. In fact, I think the more wear w/ss the better! Kinda gives it a patina .. . and I think it looks great with warm woods especially.

    Distressed and slightly imperfect – Denise’s home sounds lovely to me!

  50. says

    I voted for the cabinetry look, but when that’s not feasible, I love good old basic white. It’s like toilets! White is never wrong!

  51. ida says

    i picked the black. i really like red in the washer and dryer. i personally have white in the kitchen becouse i was super poor when i bought them. same with my own washer and dryer. but, i have a red microwave that matches my red 1950’s counter tops in the kitchen. but, then i do have the hello kitty toaster. lol

    even though in many of my entries i have talked about red and black and going a little wild with color under no conditions do i ever say hey lets get the stove with the flower on it. now, that is just tasteless…………lmao…..lol so hard i’ll die.

  52. says

    I know I’m late to this post but wanted to chime in anyway :) We’re at the tail end of our kitchen remodel and I have helped many a client remodel their kitchens. While personal tastes (and budgets) always dictate, I have to say I’m a bit tired of creating “Stepford kitchens” as I call them for clients. . . you know: granite, stainless and perfect cabinets. All a variation on the same theme and no real personality. I’ve also got a concern that the granite/stainless look will become a “design fingerprint”, if you will, that IDs the time those kitchens were created – kinda like the avocado appliances of the past.

    Personally, I went with all white appliances in our kitchen. As many have stated, white and black have withstood the test of time (and it’s funny – quite a few clients have regrets about their stainless. They have kids and even though they “bought the good stuff” it’s not fingerproof despite the claims and they are soooo tired of wiping off fingerprints.) We selected an AGA 36″ range in vintage white – it was a splurge but not nearly as much as a Viking or Thermador and sooo much personality! It perfectly complements the old-fashioned wall mount sink and gives the kitchen a timeless look as opposed to a period look. I’m hoping to be able to post pics soon!

    Diana@TheDevineHome’s last blog post..A Mouse (or Two) In the House

  53. barbiefish says

    It’s a matter of taste — folks need to get the look that pleases them. Of all the comments, what Denise describes sounds the most appealing to me. But deep down, I really want to have a heavy-duty, restaurant style kitchen, with some quirks so it’s not too cold. The industrial kitchen look has had me hooked since the mid-80s when it was being pushed in the NYC area (where I lived at the time). Here in southern Virginia that might be a little too audacious to pull off. After living with a yucky 50s (and obviously done on the cheap at the time) kitchen for 22+ years, the overriding agenda is to remodel the kitchen so it is very functional for two people who like to cook. I don’t think the stainless look, and tiled backsplashes as well, will ever be “out of style” if cooking is the main function (as opposed to decorating).

    Of course, white and black appliances seem as timeless to me as stainless so I wouldn’t argue with anyone who prefers them. We all know that the bronze/brown, avocado, and gold appliances from the past do date kitchens. So if you go with SS, black, or white, you’re pretty safe on that score. But what about cabinets? Pickled cabinets from a decade ago are now dated. Elaborate Tuscan kitchens may have already exceeded their “sell by” date (I hope . . .). And mixed-mosaic tiles (glass or otherwise) are going to date today’s kitchens pretty soon. Granite or other stone countertops do offer a lot of color and pattern options so they could be around for a good while, due to the diverse choices. (I love some granites but not enough to make the kitchen a “showcase” at the expense of functionality and greater debt!)

    If you spend a lot of time in your kitchen, buy what you like and what looks good to and works for you. If you are outfitting your kitchen primarily with resale in mind, try to crystal ball what will be in and out.

  54. Nathan says

    I like a fridge and freezer to be the colour of the cabinetry, but I like the stove/oven to be stainless steel. I do like the bronze but think it would really depend on the room to whether or not it would work. Retro I’m not sure about. Some days I like it and other days I don’t. I like the idea of it. And the look. But I would never have a crazy coloured appliance in my kitchen.