Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Not your average kitchen appliance

Are you frustrated by the limited color options out there for kitchen appliances? Not into stainless steel, white or black? Join the club. Reader Denise wrote to me, asking for some advice:

I'm getting ready to buy all new kitchen appliances; hooray! The trouble is, my kitchen is very open into my family room, and my house is quite colorful, with lots of Mexican and abstract influences--and lots and lots of color. To me, stainless-steel (or, God forbid, black) appliances would look terrible in my house--too sterile in the case of the stainless steel, and too dark in the case of the black.

Although my preference for the appliance color is bisque (of the limited options), I'm trying to think ahead to the eventual resale of my home, too. Is there an up-and-coming appliance color that I should consider? Everything I see in model homes is stainless steel or black, both of which leave me (you guessed it) COLD!

Can you help me?
Rachel's humble kitchen
(We rent, so I didn't have anything to do with the design choices. I will say that white appliances are a pain to keep clean!)

To help tackle Denise's appliance quandary, I brought in the help of the very talented and knowledgeable kitchen designer, Susan Serra, author of the blog The Kitchen Designer.
Take it away Susan!

Colored Appliances, it's all the rage now. Color is in our lives as never before, and has entered our kitchens, often with gusto! And, why not? We are loving our strong, pro, appliances and often want to showcase them in an equally strong way, or, for that matter, in a whimsical way. The rules for blending and matching color have been continually redefined, and not by the "experts" but by you. Individual expression now trumps "safe!"
Jen-Air oil-rubbed bronze series
Appliance manufacturers have gone color-crazy! We have purples, we have bronzes, many colors of blue and on and on.
image source
I consider Viking to be a leader of color appliances, going back quite a few years now. Viking has only expanded their colors for their appliances year after year.

Aga, always into color, brought in a soft purple, called heather.
image source
note: AGA discontinued the yellow and royal blue and added pillar box red which does not appear on their site
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And one sees lots of color in retro appliances, such as the very cool Big Chill line of appliances. I'm not a retro fan, but this line is awesome.

And, talk about color? What about Blue Star? Sit down for this one...190 colors!
You can even play around with how one of their stoves would look in a variety of colors

It's all good. Or, is it?

Of course, the appliance manufacturers would just love for you to buy a whole suite of appliances in the color of your choice. And, so, one will see this concept in manufacturer's advertising. But, wait, what happens if, down the road, one appliance needs to be replaced and that color is no longer available? Something to think about, to plan for.

Color CAN be done in a temporary way for your appliances. Dishwasher and Refrigerators can have panels of bold color, changeable as one desires.
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Or, another elegant way to incorporate color, short of an entire suite of color, is to choose one appliance, perhaps the range, which may be situated as a focal point, and select a color that will be picked up elsewhere in the kitchen. Thus, the color is isolated, yet, significant. Yet, another idea is to have an appliance painted locally, via a special process just for appliances.
image source

As the color story for 2008 moves toward nature, such as greens and blues, even elegant shades such as our old friends, black and white, take care not to follow trends solely because the colors look fresh and new. Appliances are not pillows...they may last you decades!

Here's my advice...follow your heart, keeping one foot solidly on the ground.

Added thanks to Danielle from Canton Kitchens for additional picture links


Pigtown-Design said...

YOu should feature Julie's lovely yellow kitchen. Especially the fridge which was paneled in beadboard.

Rachel said...

good call! i should contact her and see if she has pictures i could post. her kitchen was beautiful...

Jennifer at Design Hole said...

I wish I had the $$$ for a La Cornue range. A friend of mine has a blue one and I drool over it (as well as the food).

Little Red said...

I don't know if my previous attempt at posting a comment worked so I'm trying again.

True, black and white seem boring in comparison to a snazzy red stove but they have the virtue of not looking dated ten years later. I'm reminded of a townhouse that I looked at when I was house-hunting back in 2001 and the "Harvest Gold" range and refrigerator in the kitchen. Needless to say, I didn't buy it because I knew I would be miserable living there until I saved enough money to renovate both the kitchen and all the bathrooms.

Rachel said...

Little Red- thanks for re-posting. for some reason, your earlier attempt didn't go through.

good point about being cautious about using a trendy color. they tend to date themselves much faster, as Susan mentioned in her post. I agree- it's easy to fall in love with a color that seems modern and cool now, but large appliances are a major investment, and should be looked at as a long-term commitment.

Washington Cube said...

I agree with all of you. The color thrills, but practicality rules in terms of long-term investment and marketability for the sale of the house. Best to stick with color accessories.

The first thing that came to mind with this piece (and I tried to find an online photo and failed) was Phyllis Diller's infamous "Scarlet Scullery." Her entire kitchen was Vreeland Dragon Empress Red, and I do mean red, and I do mean EVERYTHING. It was overkill, but fascinating to look at. To my knowledge, she has never upgraded it (keeping the color), but instead has kept it as a period piece, she was so enthralled with it. I did find mentions of it, when Googling around.

Marisa and Creative Thursday said...

OK, I'm LOVING these!!!!

Anonymous said...

Rachel- do you recommend any colored appliances that are not super high end? i love the aga but agghhhh!

Anonymous said...


margiegal said...

I bought biscuit colored appliances 8 years ago for my new house with oak gunstock stained hardwood floors and muslin (cream) stained maple cabinets. At the time the only other choice was white which clashed up against the cabinets or stainless which was too sterile and cold looking. My dishwasher gave out 3 months ago and was told that my choices are now limited due to the biscuit color being phased out by the major manufacturers. Recently I saw a show on TV highlighting the new oil rubbed bronze colored appliances by Jenn-aire and was so thrilled I jumped up to the computer to check it out. Evidently, they came out in 2008 and have not caught on very well, because they are not in very many showrooms and have to be special ordered. I am not about to order major appliances without seeing them first. This color would seem to be a no brainer fantastic choice for many people. Something different yet coordinates with all the plumbing and light fixtures out there- Tuscany and latin american styles of decorating, rustic but elegant. What is holding this up? Stainless is ugly, hard to clean and everybody and their grandmother is stuck buying it because there are no other choices. The manufacturers must be scared because of the recession and too gutless to make a new color line. Anyway, I am holding on to my old appliances until I can see oil rubbed bronze- can anybody out there give a review on this Jenn-aire line?- this color only offers one model choice in each appliance. Thanks for your help!

Rachel said...

anon-i don't know if bisque in on it's way out, but here's what i suggest. Kitchens last much longer than any fading fad, so go with what works for your space and doesn't clash, and update other flexible items like cabinet faces.

margiegal- this is a pretty old post, so i don't know if you'll get much advice on the oil-rubbed bronze appliance. i just love that look!
try asking at or
two expert kitchen designers who will definitely have an answer for you.

AppleEater said...

Margiegal is the only one plus one other, that of all the forums-chatrooms I've perused for 6 months about kit. appliances, interested in bisque colors. I rec'd confirmation from several dealers that bisque is being discontinued and main color choices immediately available will be limited to black, white, and stainless. W/ cream floors and cabs, I initially figured on getting bisque appliances before they are all gone. However I realized after indepth research for quality appliances that if there are any replacements to be had, especially w/ so many problems that continue to be inherent w/ electronic technology, that I would have to switch to stainless if I couldn't find my bisque color. Also not all bisque look the same. Or either be subjected to paying more $ for the special order bisque which I'm told some mfg'rs will continue to offer as "special order". How in the world did bisque-a neutral color, become a special order "color"?!! I'm leaning now toward the "cold sterile" stainless because blk or white won't work, and can't afford the cabinetry look either. My current problem is trying to find stainless without all the complimentary black accents that they try to save money on instead of using all stainless, in which case I feel blk accents will look uglier than just all stainless in my cream kitchen. I'm thinking about going with a darker counter top w/ black accents which would flow better with the black smooth top range. To answer Margiegal's query, I have seen the oil bronze color choice, and it is absolutely on target with today's kitchens and color schemes, typically integrated with cathedral like dining-great room areas and just beautiful. This would be the answer to my color dilemna. But, alas, they do not make this color for the stand alone or slide-in ranges. Only for wall ovens and stove tops which will not work for me. What I wanted to alert you to, in case you didn't know, is there are two colors in this field, one which is a copperish color.. the first that came out, and the second recent addition.. an oil bronze color. Since they didn't sell many of the copperish color.. be sure which one you're looking at when you find it. I do not personally have any experience with Jenn-Aire, but I do know that Whirlpool bought them out and it is owned by Whirlpool. Jenn-Aire per some chat rooms have had some problems with their refrigerators.. dispenser and icemakers. But they are not alone. The dispensers on refrig doors are still the #1 repair prone problem. Good luck with your finds! I think we all need it.

Home Appliances said...

The color thrills, but practicality rules in terms of long-term investment and marketability for the sale of the house. Best to stick with color accessories.

Anonymous said...

I just redid the kitchen of a home built in 1928. I too was tired of looking at stainless and white; with no way black. So I starting searching for the bisque colored after I seen a sink I picked out. The we bought a refrigerator, dish washer and gas stove and working on a over the counter microwave. They are all different manufacturers and no problem with the color conflicting. I like them so much. Painted the walls a terra cotta with swiss coffee trim and going to put in vinyl borders (from Discount Decorating)for a back splash and possible border on the ceiling/wall. Thinking about a aged pottery scene which has matching colors for my cognac maple cabinets. the bisque appliances, and the laminate (wanna-be stone desert look) of the floor tile. The kitchen has a bit of the old Italian Tuscany look.

dave said...
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burnabyappliancerepair said...
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So Shabby Pink said...

Pleeeeease tell me what color your kitchen walls are painted. I am struggling with oodles of samples trying to find something that looks good with the biscuit applicances. We are not in the market right now to buy new ones, so I am stuck!
Thanks so much,

So Shabby Pink said...

Oops. I see. It is Denise's kitchen! I am trying out Swiss Coffe by Benjamin Moore next. We'll see!

Anonymous said...

Some nice looking colors on all different types of appliances there. I guess the major hang up on purchasing colored appliances like that is what happens if one breaks, and you can't get Appliance Repair on it and it's no longer available? Manufacturer support for parts is any ones guess. I suppose you would just have to cross your fingers and see. Of course this is a worst case scenario but it is still something to consider before making a move.

That would be a hard decision for me to make...

Good Luck!

Star said...

The concept of colourful kitchen appliances is innovative, very useful to buy kitchen appliances which matches kitchen walls. Frankely, I think it looks good for short time, not for long time!

Kitchens Brisbane said...

Small changes can have a big effect on how your kitchen looks. A few strategically places accessories can change your kitchen from dull to dramatic! Maybe you want to go with a certain theme and you might be able to give your kitchen a whole new look just by replacing some key accessories

AGA Cookers said...

Hi Rachel, the kitchen design is just so gorgeous! I drool over that range! :D

Pandoras OEM said...

WOW!! awesome...I love colorful kitchen. I really don't have the idea that appliances can be available in so many colors. Interesting sharing ...Thanks.