Along those lines, a greater focus on health and well being is another lifestyle trend carrying over into appliance selection. “In recent years, both water filtration systems and air purifiers became a standard necessity in every household,” says Kwak. “As more people have become concerned about overall ‘well-being’ and more health conscious, it has driven the demand for water filtration and air purifier products.”
While top-quality performance is critical in this market, aesthetic appeal continues to play a key role in the design of specialty appliances, particularly those in living areas of the home other than the kitchen.
Within the kitchen, the integration of appliances into the cabinetry is increasingly in demand, because customers want to create a clean, streamlined appearance in the space. This involves kitchen and bath designers placing a wood panel on the refrigeration – whether it’s modular refrigeration units or a full-size refrigerator – so the appliance basically disappears, according to Wimberly. “It’s no longer a piece of furniture in the kitchen. It’s now an integrated part of the cabinetry,” he explains.
“One of the key things we’re doing at Perlick from a design standpoint is assisting in filling that need in the industry to make appliances fully integrated,” he offers.
Custom paneling also opens up options for using appliances in other areas. “While stainless steel is still a top appliance finish, custom paneling has shown to be another popular option because it allows for new applications of appliances throughout the home. For instance, homeowners can install a kitchen warming drawer into the bathroom to keep towels warm because custom paneling inconspicuously integrates the warming drawer into the bathroom’s design,” Hale reports.
Not all appliances are designed to be hidden, however – especially with so many available finish options. For air purifier products, the finishes are becoming much more diverse, ranging from white to silver, and even leather, Kwak says.
“Similar to a television set, consumers’ purchase selection criteria is no longer based on features and functions but rather on design and finishes,” explains Kwak. “Consumers are more concerned about how it will look or fit into the overall décor, since technology and performance are often hard to distinguish from [a] consumer’s eye.”
THE GREAT OUTDOORS
Appliances are moving out of the kitchen, and nowhere is this more evident than with specialty appliances. Consumers want these products where they are going to use them, and often this extends beyond the walls of the kitchen – or even beyond the walls of the home – into the great outdoors.
Indeed, outdoor sanctuaries are in greater demand. “We are seeing such a tremendous proliferation of outdoor refrigeration,” Wimberly states. The trend has been on the rise in the past few years, he says, and there’s an extension of the interior kitchen to the exterior, with consumers wanting all of the same functionality outside as they have inside.
When you bring out the cooking elements, you also need refrigeration. “Outdoor freezer, outdoor refrigerator, outdoor beer dispenser for entertaining – all of those sorts of things are going along for the ride, as well,” says Wimberly.
Byrne agrees the extension of appliances to the outdoors is on the rise. “What we found is people are looking to do a lot more than just grill. They want refrigerators, warming drawers, bar units, side drawers, beer taps, etc.”
“People want the same selection and variety outside as they get inside,” Wimberly concurs. He notes Perlick has worked to ensure that all of its 15" and 24" units are outdoor rated because, as many other manufacturers agree, flexibility and convenience are key in today’s market – and are expected to remain so well into the future.
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