Stainless Steel Gains Kitchen Popularity
by Carol Ochs

Hot Kitchen Trends: Glass, Oak and Stainless Steel
by Jim Adair



Stainless Steel Gains Kitchen Popularity
by Carol Ochs

The cool, sleek look of stainless steel remains a hot item for today's kitchens.

You've probably eaten with stainless steel utensils, cooked in a stainless steel pot, or washed dishes in a stainless steel sink. Today, you can find stainless steel popping up throughout the kitchen from major appliances, counter tops and cabinet fronts to drawer pulls and wall tiles. calls stainless steel "the new neutral," and that's a pretty accurate description. Homebuyers striving for the popular "industrial" look can outfit their kitchen in stainless steel from top from bottom. Others find stainless steel appliances strike a nice contrast with warmer, more traditional finishes, such as maple or cherry cabinets. You can use a little or a lot, depending on your personal taste.

Appliance makers such as General Electric and Whirlpool offer a complete line of stainless steel appliances for the kitchen -- refrigerators, dishwashers, ranges, ovens, trash compactors, and microwaves. Specialty outlets, such as Stainless Steel Kitchens, offer a host of extras sinks, backsplashes, shelves, tables, carts, hardware, art door panels, tiles and even a stainless steel flag. Serious cooks might want to take a look at restaurant supply stores for heavy-duty stainless steel items.

From a safety perspective, stainless steel sinks get a boost from University of Georgia researcher Joe Frank. The microbiologist tested a variety of sink surface materials to "see how they stand up to food pathogens that can be found in your home kitchen."

Frank exposed both new and used sinks made of stainless steel, mineral resin and polycarbonate plastic to staphylococcus aureus -- a common household pathogen. The surfaces were then cleaned with chlorine, ammonia, bleach and liquid sanitizers. According to Frank, the new stainless steel sink was the easiest to clean. He says, "once a surface is abraded, it's just harder to clean. A new stainless steel surface is rougher initially, but it doesn't abrade easily, either."

For those with kids, you might want to consider how much time you want to spend cleaning that stainless steel before you buy something that little hands will be touching. A member of a recent online forum posted a question asking for input on whether she should jump on the stainless steel bandwagon. The overwhelming response from moms was that stainless shows a lot of fingerprints and streaks. One online participant suggested going appliance shopping late in the day after the floor models had been handled a bit -- to see what she meant.

If you still like the look but are worried about stainless steel becoming outdated, trend-watchers say metallic finishes should hold their popularity for a while. In fact, the folks at say "a quest for what comes after stainless steel led to more stainless steel, copper and aluminum on the horizon."

Carol Ochs is a Washington-based reporter who covers new home trends.

Hot Kitchen Trends: Glass, Oak and Stainless Steel

by Jim Adair

Kitchens are the most popular renovation project in Canada, and with good reason. Kitchens have become multi-use rooms, often connected to family rooms and eating areas, while traditional living and dining rooms are going the way of the smoking parlour. Kitchen renovations also provide the highest potential payback when the home is sold -- an average of 72 cents return for every dollar spent on the renovation, according to the Appraisal Institute of Canada.

A recent survey of Canadian Decorators Association (CDECA) members, commissioned by KitchenAid Canada, says that the average consumer who uses a CDECA member spends $30,000 to $50,000 on their kitchen renovation.

The survey says most people renovate their kitchens to improve the functional layouts, and that a major trend is "knocking out walls" to eliminate formal dining areas and incorporate them into kitchen space.

Pantry cupboards are the most popular kitchen addition, and "anything on wheels" -- including kitchen islands and prep workstations -- are also popular. The survey says Canadians are more than twice as likely as their American cousins to install stock kitchen cabinets, and light-coloured wood finishes are still preferred.

However, designer Jacqueline Glass, speaking on behalf of Delta Faucet Canada, says darker, traditionally-styled cabinets are making a resurgence in a variety of rich colours. She says oak cupboards, in particular, are coming back into style after the swing to lighter colours.

Glass says with the trend to darker colours, homeowners are using floors and counters to lighten up the room. One option is to mix materials, such as combining granite with wood and solid surfaces with laminate countertops, she says.

Incorporating glass cabinets and shelving into kitchen design is a key trend, Glass says. There's a desire to showcase day-to-day kitchen items such as dishes, bowls and platters in cabinets, and other items such as knives and colourful pasta jars are being displayed on countertops.

Everyone agrees that stainless steel is still a hot kitchen trend. Although some companies have introduced appliances in bright red, blue and green enamel, large appliances with metallic finishes now account for more than 15 per cent of sales in the North Amercian kitchen market, says KitchenAid, while the enamel units account for less than three per cent. However, a current trend to a "retro look", in which new energy-efficient appliances are being made to look like older units with rounded corners and bright colours, is just beginning to be felt in the market.

In response to the continuing popularity of stainless steel appliances, harmonized fixtures, drawer handles and faucets are also popular. Delta, for example, offers traditional stainless steel faucets, along with other textured metallic finishes such as brushed nickel and a new Venetian bronze finish.

To showcase the old and the new, Frigidaire recently ran a contest to find the oldest operating refrigerators in North America. The two Canadian winners came from Truro, Nova Scotia and Bala, Ontario. Both units were made in 1925. The Bala unit was made out of a wood frame and porcelain panels, and is still in use.

New refrigerators include a variety of features that were unheard-of in 1925, with space and energy efficiency toping the list. "Smart" refrigerators that can connect to home networks and the Internet, to order something when you're running low on that item, are now a reality.

Glass says some other future trends to watch in the kitchen include the use of video and voice-activated telephones; custom-designed, adjustable-height countertops and cabinets; and motion sensitive lighting. These components are already in place in high-end applications, but in future will become more affordable and commonplace.

The survey of CDECA members also says that range hoods are becoming more popular, and are being installed in 65 per cent of new kitchens. Cooking with gas is on the rise, with gas cooktops being installed in 43 per cent of contemporary kitchens. Finally, dishwashers are now an indispensable part of any kitchen. The survey says 86 per cent of kitchen renovations involve installing or replacing a dishwasher.

The National Kitchen and Bath Association says Canadians can expect to spend about 50 per cent of the total kitchen budget on new cabinets, 13 per cent on countertops, eight per cent on appliances, three per cent on fixtures and two per cent on flooring.