By Marie Elizabeth Oliver, (c) 2017, Special to The Washington Post
When the Toronto Interior Design Group dreamed up a kitchen for one of its cooking-obsessed clients late last year, it opted to anchor the space with a suite of black-stainless-steel appliances from Samsung.
The finish, combined with custom cabinets painted Benjamin Moore's Florida Keys Blue and penny tile floors, not only thrilled the homeowners but also made a splash on the online community Houzz. Houzz editors even used an image of the art-deco-meets-modern kitchen to accompany a poll on black-stainless-steel appliances, in which users voted in favour of the new finish by more than two to one.
What major appliance manufacturers such as LG, KitchenAid and Kenmore are trumpeting as "black stainless" is essentially traditional stainless steel coated in a sleek, dark finish. The actual hue varies by brand. There's no denying that this new shade on the block is sexy - well, about as sexy as dishwashers, ovens and refrigerators can get - but does it have staying power?
According to home improvement expert Karl Champley, whose job includes travelling the world looking for the latest design trends, the move toward darker appliance finishes started in Europe and is slowly making its way westward.
Champley, winner of "Ellen's Design Challenge" and a spokesman for the National Kitchen and Bath Association, said that although black stainless won't dethrone classic stainless in the U.S. market any time soon, that doesn't mean homeowners shouldn't consider it now.
"It looks fantastic," Champley said. "It's going to be quite a few more years before it goes mainstream, and you're already ahead of the game."
Champley likens the glitzy marketing of black stainless across manufacturers to having a show car on a dealership lot:
"They want to show that they're on trend. If they get someone hooked on this finish, you'll have to complement it with other pieces from the line." He recommends black stainless for anyone looking to make a statement or update to a modern or transitional kitchen style. "What makes it powerful is the look and the ease of maintenance," said Champley, referring to its appealing, smudge-proof coating that is resistant to fingerprints.
As good as that sounds, there's one drawback that anyone with a high-traffic kitchen should consider: It can scratch.
"If you accidentally run your engagement ring up it, it's going to scratch," said Champley, who added that scratching is rare and fixable. For anyone worried about Lego-wielding toddlers, he said, "It's pretty unusual to hit an appliance hard enough to scratch it."
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Featured Image: Valerie Wilcox, The Washington Post