Other manufacturers see technology advancing the ability of the user. Elkin says, “The appliance technologies we’re seeing now have elevated home cooks to become more creative in the kitchen. As home cooks become accustomed to these features and technology, they start expecting more, which furthers the advancement of technology in the category.”
Johnson cautions that technology innovations can be a double-edged sword, however. “On the one hand, innovation allows consumers to get more from their appliances. On the other hand, it means consumers need to educate themselves on which innovations will make a difference in their own kitchens,” she says. “At Jenn-Air, we’re very conscious of giving consumers choices that fit various needs and lifestyles. Some consumers want every bell and whistle available; others want to pay only for those bells and whistles they’ll use.”
Appliance drawers have grown in popularity over the past several years, and most manufacturers don’t see that trend waning. “Drawer appliances offer added convenience and accessibility while also providing new design opportunities,” says Snyder.
Johnson agrees. “They’ve gotten better with each new model introduction,” she states. “Being able to place a refrigerator, freezer, warming or microwave drawer anywhere in the kitchen opens up so many possibilities in terms of both design and practicality.”
Elkin sees a rise in warming drawers as people continue to cook at home more often. “Whether it’s used to warm dinner rolls, heat plates or other foods, the warming drawer has allowed for more convenience in the kitchen. It’s one of those features that you would never know you were missing until you had one, and then you couldn’t cook without it,” he says.
Perlick has also seen continued demand for refrigerator drawers due to the convenience factor, says Wimberley.
While Wellnitz agrees that the drawer trend continues, he says, “I have heard of some consumer dissatisfaction that may start to blunt this.”
Manufacturers agree that stainless steel still reigns supreme for kitchen appliance finishes. “Stainless steel has always been the top choice among our customers. Its timeless nature and neutral color allow it to mesh perfectly with any kitchen design,” says Elkin.
But even as stainless steel continues to resonate with consumers and design professionals, there are other options on the rise, such as appliances that are integrated into the cabinetry.
As Snyder points out, stainless steel is still popular, as it fits easily with almost any style of kitchen, however, “The trend seems to be heading toward a more minimalist look, with appliances being integrated into the cabinets with matching wood panels.”
Shaw declares, “While stainless steel continues to be popular, consumers are looking for less ‘bling’ in the kitchen, and more function that is beautiful yet understated. For this reason, we’re seeing a larger interest in custom paneling that makes their appliances look fully flush.”
Woodall says that, for range hoods, they’ve seen an increase in the requests for custom finishes. “Our hammered copper has become a wonderful attraction for those high-end kitchens looking to make an impact in design,” he notes.
Elkin says appliance size has remained constant, and been dependent on the size of the kitchen and the needs of the user. However, he adds, as kitchens become larger and serve as the entertainment center of the home, he anticipates a growing demand for larger appliances, such as the 48" range.
Some manufacturers have seen an opposite trend, however. Johnson says, “The ‘bigger is better’ mentality has shifted quite a bit in recent years. There’s more of an emphasis on scale appropriate to lifestyle.”
Wellnitz concurs, stating, “There was a little bit of a shift towards smaller sizes, which is related to the economy and new home trends toward more efficient spaces.”