Bashara agrees. “Even though people comment on ‘stainless steel fatigue,’ you will find that over 80% of premium appliance purchases are in stainless steel,” he says. However, choice is still important, he adds, and as a result, the company’s products are offered in six colors in addition to stainless. “We have seen consumers matching our oven door to their marble or granite countertops, tile or backsplash. The fresh colors enable designers and homeowners to customize kitchens, so the rooms don’t look like generic, high-end designs,” he says.
Leuthe agrees that people are looking for options in finishes for appliances. “They don’t want to be like everybody else,” he says. “They want their designers and their equipment to be different.”
In response, Wolf developed two unique applications of stainless steel that are also available in Sub-Zero products: a “Platinum” finish that is a softer, muted version of stainless, and the “Carbon” finish, which is acid etched to give stainless steel a muted black tone.
Jeff Wimberly, director of sales and marketing, Perlick Residential Products, in Milwaukee, WI, says that fully integrated panels are also on the rise. “They [designers and consumers] want to make the refrigerator vanish.”
Beatriz Sandoval, brand manager, Thermador, BSH Home Appliances Corp. says, “The great thing about paneled appliances is that they blend beautifully into the space, creating a seamless look that allows the consumer to truly enjoy the cabinetry. It makes for a great game of let’s play ‘Where’s the refrigerator?’ or ‘Where’s the dishwasher?’”
Tony Dowling, business development manager for Elmira Stove Works, in Elmira, Ontario, Canada, notes the company has a strong focus on color. In fact, “our retro Northstar line is all about color,” he says. Candy Red is the leader, but there are nine other standard colors to choose from, as well as the option of custom-coloring appliances.
“We are increasingly hearing from dealers, and from consumers as well, that they want something different from the stainless-stainless-stainless they see everywhere else. This is especially true if they are buying appliances for a second home or cottage. When people physically leave the city, they also want to break emotionally; the décor in their getaway home helps to create that psychological escape,” says Dowling.
If one of something is good, two is even better goes a theory. And, according to manufacturers, a growing trend is the desire for duplicate appliances.
“Consumers are still considering multiples of the same appliances,” offers Swenson. “Dishwashers, warming drawers and even all-refrigerator all-freezer separate units are gaining momentum.”
Tiefenbacher agrees. “Homeowners double the dishwasher capacity by installing two units in their kitchen. This is ideal for entertaining, especially when you have a large party and need more than one dishwasher to handle all of the dishes and glasses.”
He has also seen some innovative uses for the duplicates. “Some customers are using a two-dishwasher set-up for storage: they load their used dishes into one dishwasher, while they take the clean dishes from the other dishwasher. Once the dishwasher with the used dishes is filled, they start running it,” he says.
“The premium consumer is becoming increasingly interested in multiple ovens for their home,” adds Bashara. “We are finding that many homes will have two kitchens – a gorgeous show kitchen for entertaining, and a ‘dirty’ kitchen in an alternate space where most of the real cooking takes place. Similar to a front foyer and a mudroom or potting room, there is a showplace and a workplace.”
Rowland also sees a demand for a second oven, and cites the Frigidaire freestanding range with double oven, one of which is a smaller drawer oven, as a new alternative to the double wall oven, if there isn’t space for that traditional application.
Designers are incorporating smaller versions of appliances – drawers and undercounter appliances – in many places throughout the home, tucking them inconspicuously into other living areas such as master suites and family rooms.
According to Leuthe, when Sub-Zero initially introduced its 700 Series drawer units in the mid 1990s, they weren’t very successful. “People didn’t buy into the concept of decentralized refrigeration,” he says. Now, all of that has changed, and he sees refrigerator drawers being used in many areas outside the kitchen. One common use is to put a unit by the back door for children, who can “come in, grab their treats and go outside again,” says Leuthe. In a more unique application, he saw a 700 Series unit placed under a very large fish tank to store the fish food.