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Best Alternatives to Stainless Steel Appliances for Your Kitchen

April 4th, 2024 | 8 min. read

By Steve Sheinkopf

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Best Alternatives to Stainless Steel for Your Kitchen

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 would be enough.

In this article, you will learn the most popular finishes for appliances and techniques for making your kitchen unique.

We will also provide you with some tips on how to apply unique colors to your kitchen without falling into any traps.

But first, let's learn why stainless steel is so popular.


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The Stainless-Steel Phenomenon 1991-2024 (and Probably Beyond)

Cafe-Appliances-in-Stainless-Steel (1)

I remember the first time I saw a stainless steel appliance. It was at an appliance show in the early 1990s.

The Frigidaire Gallery range was the first on the market.

The problem was it was on a revolving, rotating display.

So, I climbed on the display and examined a finish that would dominate the next 35 years.

Trends come and go, but nothing is more consistent in kitchen design than stainless steel appliances. Stainless steel has remained a popular choice for multiple reasons:

  • In the 1980s, white, bisque, and black were awfully ugly. The refrigerators were textured and embarrassing to put in a nice home.
  • Stainless matches every finish. That's right, white cabinets, dark cabinets, green counters, textured counters, and everything else.
  • As stainless steel became more mainstream, its prices became more affordable as well.

In this article, you will learn how to NOT buy stainless appliances. But if you ever get stuck, stainless is still a good option.

Fun Fact: Did you know that 75% of BlueStar and La Cornue ranges purchased at Yale are in color? So, personalizing your kitchen with custom finishes is definitely within reach.

What Are the Trending Color Choices for Appliances Today?

We posed a question on our YouTube channel to discover people's preferred appliance color if stainless steel wasn't an option.

Based on 415 responses, here are the poll results:

  • First Place: Matte Black - 44%
  • Second Place: White - 38%
  • Gloss Black - 12%
  • Blue  - 5%
  • Red/Orange - 2%

That is interesting, but white outsells black around here. However, New England is a more traditional market.

Best Alternatives to Stainless Steel for Your Kitchen

1. Black - Not Black Stainless Steel

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 not covered under warranty.

As a result, many homeowners with black stainless steel appliances will look at their scratched appliances until they replace them.


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

Matte black (shown below) 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 and a range of additional color options.

The Café collection offers a high-quality matte black finish and different handle options, such as copper, brass, black, and stainless.


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


This finish not only looks great, but it's also resistant to scratches and damage.

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

Just make sure it is not Black Stainless Steel.

2. White


Back when I started my career, white was the premium color.

You would pay extra for white with white, not black, accents. We called it "White on White"—such a forward-thinking industry.

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 accessories.

The most popular is white with polished brass (with black, copper is a good finish).

Café 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, a few high-end brands, like Miele and Wolf, still use only stainless-steel finishes.

3. Custom Finishes

la-cornue-chateau-in-pink (1)

If you want to stand out from the crowd, a custom color could be the answer.

Custom colors are anything other than white, black, or stainless steel.

Without question, La Cornue executes color better than anyone.

la-conrue-chateau-custom-color (1)

Their ranges look like furniture and can be fully customized, with options ranging from the stovetop to the base colors and trim finishes.

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 three trim finishes.


But even that is very different from La Cornue Chateau's 56 colors and eight trim finishes.

If budget is a concern, BlueStar might be a better choice.


They offer over 1,000 colors and ten trim options. 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.


Several Italian brands, such as Bertazzoni, Ilve, Hallman, and Verona, 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.

Fisher & Paykel offers red, black, and white.

Café Appliances offers black, white, and somehow green. We have this in our showroom.


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4. Custom Cabinet Panels


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 in front of 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.

5. Glass


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

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.

You can also add them fairly inexpensively in a wine cooler or beverage center.

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How to Place Color in Your Kitchen


The best strategy is to use color as a focal point.

Most people are tempted to add color to their whole kitchen.

I remember my friend's dad having all custom colors, such as salmon in his bathrooms. After a few years, that trend faded and was replaced.

Also, 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.

Which Appliances to Select in Custom Finishes



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 (shown above) and LG MoodUP refrigerators will soon have multiple panels and digital color changes as well.

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 almost 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 and 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. I

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.

My grandfather sold it as coffee, Dad as toast, and I fell for it in oil-rubbed bronze and truffle.

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 manufacturer's name, such as Silver Mist, Silver Frost, Platinum, or Titanium.

Gray appliances are ugly, even when marketed as cheaper stainless alternatives. Many companies have fallen 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, and 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? 


Kitchen Design


Answers to the most commonly asked questions about choosing finishes for your kitchen appliances.

Why should I consider alternatives to stainless steel appliances?

Are there any downsides to choosing an alternative finish over stainless steel?

How do I choose the right finish for my kitchen appliances?

Additional Resources

Ready to find your perfect appliance? Discover the secrets of the top brands, backed by real-world data from 37,000 service calls. Our guide not only answers your top questions but also teaches you the art of choosing right. Download the Yale Appliance Buying Guide and join our 1 million+ satisfied readers.

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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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