Heart of Steel: Decorating with Stainless Appliances

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Stainless Steel FridgeI remember the day my mother decided to change our kitchen appliances to stainless steel.

Before, we had the typical white fridge and stove. They weren’t so white anymore, but they looked nice in the kitchen with white cupboards and a neutral paint. The new, darker appliances made a stark change to the kitchen I first cooked in: it was more somber, more clinical somehow. And the still-white cupboards made a strange visual contradiction with the rest.

Why stainless steel?

If you’re thinking about getting new appliances, you might be attracted to the polished, shiny and modern stainless steel appliances. After all, steel recalls the work of industry and modern skyscrapers. Stainless steel has a clinical, professional look that will make your kitchen stand out from the rest.

Other than appearance, stainless steel has many advantages: it’s easy to clean, it doesn’t stain, it’s germ-resistant and it’s durable (even though you might spend a lot of time cleaning off fingerprint smudges off shiny handles and doors). It’s what the cooking shows have in their kitchens, and that makes stainless steel very popular and desirable, to the level of status symbol.

But stainless steel, as in my mother’s kitchen, doesn’t fit neutrally with any kind of décor. If planning to acquire stainless steel appliances, you’ll need to revisit your kitchen colors to ensure a harmonious environment that screams “I make awesome food right here.”

Best colors with stainless steel

Of course, metal greys, blacks and whites are an obvious choice. But aren’t they a tad boring, especially in a room as busy and important as the kitchen? In my mind, kitchens need color and vibrancy to really work as a room where I want to spend a lot of time (I cook most, if not all, the food in my household).

Cool blues tend to work well with stainless steel-based décors. Dark blues bring out the shine in steel grey and provide a pop of color that’s badly needed. Lighter blues can be applied to cupboards and other vertical surfaces along with dark wood handles and trimmings–it’s a surprisingly effective combination.

However, you can also experiment with bold color statements. I’m not much of a blue fan; I prefer warmer colors. How about red or orange? Because grey is neutral, any single color will work well with it. However, be careful not to use too many of them. One shade of a bright color in your backsplash tile or painted on visible walls will have the desired effect.

Accessories to complement stainless steel

Unless you are doing a kitchen remodel and changing your countertops and cupboards as well, you’ll want to get a few accessories to complement your new stainless steel appliances.

One nice way to add some steely décor in your kitchen is to change your pots with lids, utensil holders and other kitchen knick-knacks to stainless steel. Try putting a line of glass jars with stainless steel lids along the counter for a striking effect, or simply changing the cupboard handles to a nice brushed steel (avoid too much shiny, since your appliances already provide much of it).

Getting new chairs can be an inexpensive way to harmonize your kitchen décor. Dark wood or metal seating are ideal, with a colored cushion that suits your chosen accent shade.

One of the latest trends in decoration is lettering. Display an inspirational message on your kitchen walls with dark grey lettering. Zinc is a great material to work with, but you can also simply paint your own in a dark grey color that matches your appliances.

Basic stainless rules

As you plan your change to stainless steel appliances, keep these rules in mind:

  • Use one color per space. Grey, black and white don’t count as colors. Unless you want your kitchen to look like a medical examiner’s office, color is always a good thing. Any one color will do, but bright, saturated hues will work better than darker ones.
  • Use something organic. Stainless stell can be a bit stark and clinical, so make sure you have at least a bit of something more organic, like wood, somewhere in your kitchen. It’ll make your kitchen more welcoming.
  • Adapt your lighting. Stainless steel reacts differently to light, so make sure to change your lighting to avoid the dreaded clinical, “surgery room” effect. Reduce the amount of white and use softer lighting.

Do you have stainless steel appliances in your kitchen? How did you adapt or change your decoration to make the best of it? Share your ideas and tips in the comments!

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Anabelle Bernard Fournier

Anabelle is a freelance writer, writing teacher and blogger. She spends a lot of time at home, so she likes to make sure that it's cozy and nice, especially in her reading nook. In her free time, Anabelle knits, walks and learns how to write stories.