Add new life to your kitchen with striking appliances with these pointers from designers
Much like the current trend toward standout accessories in the world of fashion (for those who have Grandma’s original “IT” bag, hooray, it’s all the rage again!) so too have statement appliances—your kitchen’s version of oversize frames and earrings—been embraced as a design focal point in the heart of the home.
Instead of appliances with common-place stainless steel or resurgent cabinetry facing—which both leave intricate backsplashes, glittering hardware and swirling stone countertops to take center stage—now, appliances from refrigerators to toasters have become the kitchen’s style elements with unexpected colors, nods to past eras and industrial detailing.
The main draw of statement appliances: their wow factor. These fresh and exciting designs, which feel more like a piece of art, liven up the space that is really more about function. And since so many of today’s kitchens are part of open floor plans, the unexpected design moments these appliances lend in the kitchen can extend to other rooms. Even entire homes can be designed around a statement appliance, as was the case in a home design by Tracy Lynn of Tracy Lynn Studio.
“In a recent project, our inspiration for all of the blue accents we used throughout the home came from the kitchen’s stunning La Cornue range in a custom blue-gray that’s bright and energetic, yet sophisticated,” she says. “We used that color as inspiration throughout the home’s artwork and fabric choices.”
Statement appliances allow people to continue their creative expressions, according to Orion Creamer, founder of Big Chill, maker of bold kitchen appliances. “The reactions that you get when guests enter a kitchen and see a blue refrigerator or an orange stove are priceless,” Orion says. “People really want to be able to customize their surroundings, and they want to be unique.”
Designer Susan Wintersteen of Savvy Interiors appreciates any movement away from the default all-white kitchen with stainless-steel appliances. “We need to bring warmth back to our kitchens and make them charming, homey and inviting again, leaving behind the era of industrial kitchens inspired by restaurants. Your appliances can be restaurant-grade and your space worthy of a serious chef without sacrificing style and warmth.”
Power of the Past
Bold colors meet a bit of retro flair or vintage charm with many of today’s hottest standout fridges, ovens and stoves.
In fact, nostalgia served as the inspiration behind Big Chill’s best-selling Original Retro Fridge—which began as a personal project for Orion, who wanted to create a refrigerator for his aunt and uncle’s old-school beach house that would go with its vintage vibe but be high-tech to fit in with today’s kitchens. People want modern amenities but don’t want kitchens that feel space-aged and cold.
“[Big Chill’s] designs mean different things to different people,” Orion explains. Pictured below is a bright orange dishwasher, part of Big Chill’s Retro Collection. “It’s definitely nostalgia for Baby Boomers, and for Millennials it’s all about the design aesthetic and getting something you can’t get elsewhere.”
When it comes to large appliances, unique vent hoods and ranges tend to be most popular, though refrigerators are also having an impressive run.
“Appliance companies over the last decade have gotten so creative in styles and finishes, it has given many of us designers the autonomy to get creative and really push boundaries,” Tracy says. “Why not make the range and hood in one of the homeowner’s favorite timeless colors?”
Although the addition of a bright orange range might be intimidating, it would add sizzle to that otherwise neutral white or gray cooking space. Too bold for you? Choose a safer finish that matches the cabinetry but opt for unexpected hardware that pops.
“I love how more and more appliance brands are offering a variety of colors and handle finishes so you can mix and match to create the perfect design,” Tracy says. “The appliance can be a statement piece while certain elements—like the color or texture—can create ties into other elements in the kitchen, allowing your eye to move through the space with ease.”
It’s All in the Dressing
Rather than vivid color, Susan covers hoods in wood to make them a kitchen highlight.
“I’ve been creating planked hoods using black-and-white European oak woods that have a more modern look but also add texture and warmth and tie into the cabinetry and flooring to create one cohesive—but at the same time eye-catching—design,” she says. “We’ve been transitioning a lot of kitchens from traditional Tuscan and Spanish styles to more modern looks and this often means mixing in natural woods so you don’t lose the bones of the style and maintain a sense of consistency with the rest of the home.”
Small But Mighty
Though larger appliances pack an impressive design punch, don’t discount the impact that a stylish microwave, blender or stand mixer can have. Used in conjunction with a statement splurge (like a refrigerator), the small appliance reinforces the design, while also providing a chance to test your comfort level with colors and styles before making a major investment.
“Anchor a single large statement piece with non-permanent appliances,” Susan says. “Doing this helps cement an overall theme in the space while keeping your bases neutral—permanent backsplashes can be an expensive regret. This gives you more options to accessorize and change things out as they become outdated.”
Read our retro rundown from one of San Diego’s vintage stove experts to learn what’s so great about vintage (hint: it’s more than just their striking good looks!).