You need a new refrigerator and the days when the showroom was filled with models that were the same size and only came in white are gone. Today, options
Whirlpool’s Duet Washer and Dryer uses a metallic green colored called Aspen as a detour from standard white appliances.
abound. Do you want the freezer on the top, the bottom or do you prefer a side-by-side? What about color? Do you prefer stainless, black or something that matches your cabinetry?
All these options are available because today’s appliances aren’t only designed to work well but to look great, too. And because tastes vary, so do colors, materials and configurations.
“There are consumers that want the appliances to blend in with the architecture,” says Charles Jones, vice president of global consumer design for Whirlpool Corp. in Benton Harbor, Mich. Refrigerators with doors that match the cabinetry are one example. “Then there are other consumers that frankly want their appliances to stand out, and they have a different set of expectations,” Jones adds. This is why, in the appliance department, you’ll see everything from a stainless-steel microwave to a cherry-red range.
These differences in color, materials and aesthetics are based on consumer desires as well as current home design trends. Open floor plans—where the kitchen, living and dining spaces are essentially one room—have turned appliances from low-key workhorses to wonders of design-led innovation. Color is playing a larger role than ever in appliances. People don’t want “refrigerator white” clashing with their mahogany floors. “You are seeing a lot of full simple colors and elegant wood finishes that you would also find on furniture on appliances,” says Philip Guarino, owner of kitchen design firm Arclinea Boston in Boston, Mass.
Conversely, consumers are also being drawn to appliances that pop. Washing machines, once relegated to the back corner of the basement, are now admired as much for their capacity as their digital controls. “With the Duet series, we gave consumers a reason to put laundry rooms right into the main living space and literally, put them on the tour route,” says Jones of this colorful line from Whirlpool. “Consumers rave about how—just like they would show off a new kitchen—they were doing the same things with the laundry room.”
Universal design is also playing a huge role. As the population ages, making appliances easier to use is a design mandate, Jones says. “Designing for arthritic users [for example] has given us design solutions not only for people who have arthritis but solutions that are going to benefit everybody,” he says. For this reason, overhead appliances are being moved below the counter, and easy-to-access drawers are all the rage.
When shopping for an appliance, be prepared to fall in love with a look as much as you lust after the technology. Here are some design-forward products that are likely to become part of your home tour, as well.
Bold Colors and Finishes The days of white, almond or stainless as your only color choices are over. No
Viking Corp. offers 24 different finishes allowing homeowners to personalize their appliances just as they would their furnishings.
place does is this vibrant makeover more noticeable than at Viking Range Corp., where you can select from up to 24 colors on their selection of kitchen appliances. Metallic silver is joined by hues such as lemonade, sage, iridescent blue, pumpkin and plum.
Color isn’t only becoming bolder, it’s being used more liberally. Whirlpool’s Duet line of washers and dryers changed the industry by introducing colors such as Aspen—a metallic, earthy green—and Diamond Dust, a light metallic silver. “I think back five years ago, and if someone had told me that high-saturation metallic finishes would be the big thing in fabric care, I would have told them they were crazy because at the time, it was pretty much an English white,” says Jones.