Stainless Steel Gains Kitchen Popularity
by Carol Ochs
The cool, sleek look of stainless steel remains a hot item for
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. Kitchens.com 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
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 Kitchens.com
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
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
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
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
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.