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Best Alternatives to Stainless Steel for Your Kitchen

March 24th, 2023 | 7 min. read

By Steve Sheinkopf

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Best Alternatives to Stainless Steel

Do you find yourself in a quandary?

How do you make your white cabinets, gray countertops, white subway tile, and stainless-steel appliances stand out from your neighbors?

Perhaps you're wondering if adding a pop of color to one or more of your appliances could do the trick?

While that certainly sounds tempting, it's worth noting that many appliance finishes have been discontinued over the years, leaving you with a potential headache down the road if you need to replace any appliances.

In this article, we'll explore the most popular finishes for appliances and provide you with some tips on how to apply unique colors to your kitchen without falling into any traps.

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As a bonus, we'll also share some alternative ways to spruce up your kitchen without relying on color or stainless steel.

Fun fact: did you know that 73% of BlueStar and La Cornue ranges purchased at Yale were in color? So, adding some flair to your kitchen with color is definitely possible.

With that in mind, let's take a look at your best options.

Best Alternatives to Stainless Steel for Your Kitchen

1. Black - Not Black Stainless Steel

Fisher-and-Paykel-pro-style-range-and-integrated-refrigerator-at-yale-appliance-in-hanoverFisher & Paykel Black Professional Range at Yale Appliance in Hanover

Black stainless steel was once a popular finish option for those looking for a sleek and modern look.

However, the oxide coating used to achieve the black color was easily scratched, and to make matters worse, it was often not covered under warranty.

As a result, many homeowners with black stainless steel appliances now have scratched and damaged surfaces.

Fortunately, there are alternatives to black stainless steel that are more durable and still offer a sophisticated look.

Matte black and glossy black finishes have returned as popular options for those looking for black appliances.

Several top brands, including Fisher & Paykel, Café Appliances, BlueStar, Viking, and La Cornue, now offer black finishes, as well as a range of additional color options.

The Café collection, in particular, offers a high-quality matte black finish that is both stylish and durable.

Another great option is Fisher & Paykel's black finish, which is available at a more affordable price point.

This finish not only looks great, but it's also resistant to scratches and damage, ensuring that your appliances will look great for years to come.

If you're looking for a timeless and sophisticated look in your kitchen, a black finish could be the perfect option for you.

Just be sure to choose a durable and reliable finish to avoid the frustration of scratches and damage down the line.

2. White

Cafe-Appliances-Yale-Appliance-in-HanoverCafé Appliances Kitchen in White and Brass at Yale Appliance in Hanover

Back when I started my career, white was the premium color that people would pay extra for. Back then, it was white on white with no accent colors.

Thankfully, times have changed, and many companies now offer white as a standard finish.

Among the brands that offer white finishes, Café Appliances offers the best because they also offer optional handle accents like brass or copper handles allowing you to add a touch of elegance and personality to your kitchen.

This attention to detail has made Café Appliances a popular, affordable luxury brand that doesn't break the bank like high-end brands such as BlueStar or La Cornue.

But while many companies now offer white as a standard finish, there are still a few high-end brands with only stainless-steel finishes.

Still, for those who are looking for a premium white finish with added personalization options, Café Appliances is an excellent choice.

3. Custom Finishes

la-cornue-chateau-in-pink (1)La Cornue Château Pro Range in Pink

If you're looking to stand out from the crowd, a custom color could be the way to go. Custom colors are anything other than white, black, or stainless steel.

Without question, La Cornue executes color better than anyone. Their ranges look like furniture and can be fully customized, with options ranging from the stovetop to the base colors and trim finishes.

In fact, La Cornue can customize anything, as evidenced by an F1 driver who had his range front made with the same material as his car. La Cornue’s Paris showroom even features a range with the front designed by a French graffiti artist.

However, customization comes at a high price - La Cornue's customization starts at $30,000.

For a less expensive option, there's La Cornue’s CornuFé series, which offers 12 colors and 3 trim finishes. But even that is very different from La Cornue Chateau’s 56 colors and 8 trim finishes.

If budget is a concern, BlueStar might be a better choice. They offer over 1000 colors and ten trims. Interestingly, over 75% of BlueStar and La Cornue ranges are ordered in a custom color.

For other options, Viking has 17 available colors that were recently updated through a partnership with Sherwin Williams.

There are also several Italian brands like Bertazzoni, Ilve, Hallman, and Verona that offer a range of color options at a decent price point. While I don't love their performance as much as some other brands, they still provide good color options for those who prioritize aesthetics in their kitchen.

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4. Custom Cabinet Panels

Sub-Zero-Kitchen-Featuring-Column-RefrigerationSub-Zero and Wolf Kitchen With Custom Panels at Yale Appliance in Hanover

Wary of color? Do you not like stainless steel? Then panel your appliances.

Why worry about any of it when you can place your cabinet front over your dishwasher, refrigerator, beverage, or wine cooler? Your appliances will blend in with the rest of your cabinetry for a seamless and cohesive look.

However, paneling is not an option for cooking appliances like ovens or stovetops. In these cases, you may have to opt for traditional colors such as black, white, or stainless steel.

Nonetheless, many brands, like the ones mentioned above, offer unique color options that can still add personality to your kitchen.

5. Glass

True-Refrigeration-at-Yale-Appliance-in-Hanover_1True Refrigeration With Glass Doors at Yale Appliance in Hanover

You may already know beverage and wine coolers have glass fronts, but Sub-Zero, LG, and True offer glass fronts on their refrigerators as well.

Bonus points for True for offering a glass front along with a custom finish and hinge accent.

However, glass-front refrigerators are expensive. Prices typically start at $15,000 for a high-end model like Sub-Zero or True. However, LG offers a glass front refrigerator option for significantly less, starting at around $2,000.

If you're considering a glass-front refrigerator for your kitchen, it's important to weigh the cost against the benefits.

While they may be more expensive, glass-front refrigerators can add value to your home and provide a unique and stylish feature that sets your kitchen apart.

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How to Place Color in Your Kitchen

How-to-correctly-add-color-in-your-kitchenHow to Correctly Use Color In Your Kitchen Appliances

The best strategy is to use color as a focal point. Most people are tempted to add color to their whole kitchen.

However, a kitchen with orange appliances will have problems if the manufacturer discontinues that color.

Moreover, a pop of color is interesting, and not overwhelming. Your kitchen will also be less trendy and will not go out of style.

Where to Place Color in Your Kitchen


The best place in a good kitchen design is centralized at the stove. You can also match the color of the hood as well.


However, a new strategy is on the refrigerator. True is so impressive that it is the focal point in your kitchen even at the end of your kitchen.

Samsung Bespoke and soon LG MoodUP will have multiple panels and digital color changes as well.

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Yale Showroom Color Portfolio and Options

Sub-Zero and Wolf Kitchen at Yale Appliance in Hanover
Sub-Zero and Wolf Kitchen with Blue Cabinetry
Fisher & Paykel Kitchen at Yale Appliance in Hanover Featuring a Black Range
Fisher & Paykel Kitchen at Yale Appliance in Hanover featuring Black Appliances
Fisher & Paykel Range in Red at Yale Appliance in Boston
True Residential Refrigeration with a Glass Panel, White Custom Finish, and Brass Hardware next to a La Cornue Range at Yale Appliance in Hanover
La Cornue Ranges in Black, White, and Blue at Yale Appliance in Framingham

Color is hard to buy without seeing what it looks like, especially with the different shades. We have tried to outfit our stores with plenty of color and panel options.

Where It All Goes Wrong: How to Not Add Color to Your Kitchen

Imagine five years ago, after swearing they would never buy another stainless-steel kitchen again; people still bought Black Stainless.

It looked good. Then it scratched, revealing the shiny stainless-steel underneath. You cannot fix it either.

Thankfully, Black Stainless is out as a finish. We never sold much.

Then again, we did some research and performed our own Black Stainless scratch tests.

Discontinued Finishes

Larger manufacturers do not manufacture appliances in small batches and discontinue a finish without decent sales.

Then you will have a problem in 6-10 years when you do need to replace an appliance or two.

Here is a partial list of once highly touted now recently discontinued finishes.

Whirlpool Sunrise Bronze


It is a different hue of stainless steel, more of yellowish steel. But Sunrise looked too stainless. You will not notice much of a difference. If you do not see a stark difference, then why bother?

Samsung Tuscan Bronze and Matte Black Finishes


You should be wary of bronze. Most of the "hot" bronze finishes of yesteryear are discontinued. Update Bronze is back as part of the Bespoke series.

Brown does not match cabinet brown and does not work well in white kitchens.

JennAir Oil-Rubbed Bronze Finish


I liked this finish. It was a rich brown and looked good with traditional cabinets. It lasted for about five years.

Miele Truffle Brown Finish


Brown is a curse as a finish. Many cabinets are brown or brownish. Yet it does not work for appliances. We made the unfortunate decision to put this on display and sold one unit - the display.

GE Artistry Series

GE's Artistry series was a retro-looking white and steel line. I like retro, also known as mid-century deco, but in a bar or restaurant, not in your home.

Frigidaire Silver Mist Finish

This was a bad idea under any name from any manufacturer like Silver Mist, Silver Frost, Platinum, and Titanium.

Gray appliances are just ugly even when marketed as cheaper stainless alternatives. Many companies fell into this trap.

Whirlpool Black and White Ice Finishes


High-tech smooth white and black finishes are not popular with chrome handles. Whirlpool had Black and White Ice. Eventually, the "ice" was chrome.

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Key Takeaways

You do have options. Black and white are back as finishes. Glass has its place with undercounter beverages, refrigerators, and wine coolers.

You should also think about custom cabinet panels, especially with nicer cabinets.

Colors are unique and should be considered. If you want a unique kitchen, consider a pop of color and panel on the rest of your appliances.

Epilogue: Inspiring Kitchen Design Ideas Using All-White Cabinets

I do not sell cabinets but have an appreciation for anything unique.

Here are a few ideas if you are just starting or want some inspiration. You can place color in your kitchen in many ways:

If you just want to add an element of color:


Transitional Kitchen by Delphinium Design

For appliances, centralize it on the stove, because the stove is central. For cabinets, add a pop on the island.


Beach Style Kitchen by Coastal Custom Builders of NWFL

This kitchen is a better illustration of a color on the island. However, no downdrafts, please (they do not work well).

Bolder: Add another element of color


Forest Farmhouse Kitchen by Sienna & Sage Interior Design

Green island with the wood accent. That sink is farm style. You see it in many high-end kitchens.

Kitchens With Appliance Colors:

Blue CornuFé with multiple elements. The refrigerator is behind a panel. 
Centralizing color with the stove and hood is a good place to start. Then panel your other appliances. 
They added different elements with the area rug, the sofa, and stove in the back. 
If you a radical departure, how about mint green, copper, and orange? 

Additional Resources

Get the free Yale Appliance Buying Guide. It has features, specs, and inside tips for all the brands like Sub-Zero, Thermador, Bosch, and Miele. It covers built-ins, counter depth, freestanding vs. slide-in, and much more (plus a ton of good product shots as well). Well over 1 million people have read a Yale Guide.

Related Articles:

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Steve Sheinkopf

Steve Sheinkopf is the third-generation CEO of Yale Appliance and a lifelong Bostonian. He has over 38 years of experience in the appliance industry, and he is a trusted source of information for consumers on how to buy and repair appliances.

Steve has also been featured in numerous publications, including the New York Times, Consumer Reports, The Boston Globe, Bloomberg Radio, the New York Post, The Wall Street Journal, and Entrepreneur, for his knowledge of how to buy appliances and appliance repair.

Steve is passionate about helping consumers find the best appliances for their needs, and he is always happy to answer questions and provide advice. He is a valuable resource for consumers who are looking for information on appliance buying, repair, and maintenance.

Despite being the worst goalie in history, Steve is a fan of the Bruins and college hockey, loves to read, and is a Peloton biker. The love of his life is his daughter, Sophie.

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