Kitchen appliance colors have changed even more than hemlines over the years. After the 1950s, stark-white appliances were replaced by colors from harvest gold to avocado and poppy red to bronze. Two colors and one material dominate choices today: white, black and stainless steel. In the world of fashion, they say that black goes with everything. However, some might argue that stainless steel is "the new black."
Black made its debut on the kitchen appliance scene during the 1980s. It didn't take long for black appliances to become the "It" color, especially among younger, trend-conscious consumers. Soon after, parents picked up on an additional benefit of black appliances: They camouflage fingerprints perfectly, giving moms and dads one less kitchen clean-up task to worry about. Black appliances are still popular today among those who want a low-maintenance appliance surface and a high-end look. Black appliances are particularly well suited for kitchens with black-laminate cabinetry and ceramic cooktops. If a kitchen is light on ornate fixtures and hardware, black will enhance a modern, minimalist design. Black appliances also work well in kitchens with dark-wood cabinets and flooring, such as walnut, and kitchens decorated in a Tuscan style.
During the 1990s, stainless steel became "the new black." The impact of technology and flood of high-tech gadgets provided the perfect backdrop for the introduction for stainless-steel appliances. The industrial look blended in well with the surge in popularity of loft-space living, with its open kitchens, exposed ductwork and brick. As with black, younger consumers were among the first to opt for stainless steel. Today, if a home is on the market and it has stainless-steel appliances, you can bet the real estate agent will be quick to point them out as a major selling point. The big "plus" with stainless steel is that it coordinates well with just about any type of cabinetry, flooring and countertop surface. A refrigerator standing next to granite countertops looks like it was born to be there. A stainless-steel stove makes even an amateur chef look like a pro. Stainless steel also makes a seamless connection with sinks and hardware. You can easily swap out knobs and fixtures for stainless-steel versions, so your kitchen looks well appointed.
No doubt about it, black and stainless-steel appliances are both versatile, contemporary and can transform an outdated kitchen as soon as you put them in their place. Neither seems to have much competition when it comes to color, other than perhaps white, which is, well, colorless. And you can find a wealth of kitchen countertop appliances to match either black or stainless steel, from coffeemakers to blenders and food processors to cooking utensils.
Cost and upkeep are the biggest lines in the sand when you compare the differences between black and stainless-steel appliances. Black appliances typically win out. Major appliances, such as refrigerators and ranges, will cost less than stainless steel. Black will also hide smudges and food spills better.