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Stainless steel: Coloring kitchens gray

Sheila Sybrant

Everything is not always black and white. Definitely not always white.

Sometimes — lately, usually — it is gray. As in stainless steel gray.

In particular, I’m talking about kitchen appliances.

I love white kitchen appliances.

The only nonwhite kitchen appliance that we ever owned was a refrigerator in harvest gold. Remember harvest gold? It was a close cousin to avocado. The two colors were popular in the 1970s and 1980s.

That harvest gold fridge was the first fridge we ever owned, and we only had the nonwhite appliance because it was a hand-me-down. I promptly painted it white.

Who wouldn’t want white in their kitchen? White is so clean, crisp, timeless. Well, clean and crisp. Timeless? Not so much.

Apparently, although white used to be the choice of cooks everywhere, white is now passé, antiquated, washed up, out of style. White has been whited out.

The reason that I know this for a fact is that our range recently became “possessed,” and it seemed more prudent to buy a new one than to exorcise the old one.

Here’s what happened: I had baked potatoes in the oven at 400 degrees instead of 350 degrees in order to speed up the process. When it was time to eat, they were definitely done, but the oven seemed abnormally hot.

We were just digging in to our food in the dining room when we heard a loud clang in the kitchen. Upon investigation, it turned out that the oven had, of its own accord, gone into the self-clean cycle. The clanging was the automatic locking of the oven door.

Despite our best efforts, we couldn’t turn it off. We had to flip the breaker.

My husband wondered whether our stove was named “Christine” — after the possessed car in the Stephen King novel of that name.

The range was too old to warrant repair. It was time to get a new one.

However, a trip to a number of appliance stores revealed that white is no longer as beloved by everyone else as it still is by me. Almost all of the appliances in the rows of appliances of every kind were stainless steel (and other dark neutrals like black stainless steel, black, and slate).

White was generally a special-order item.

We ended up ordering one.

Even online, white is tremendously outnumbered. On one site popular for appliances, there were 319 total French-door refrigerators.

Of those, 136 were stainless steel, 120 were black, and only 35 were white. Out of 74 featured gas ranges, 30 were stainless steel; 30, black; and 5, white.

The numbers were almost identical for electric ranges. Of the dishwashers on that site, stainless steel outnumbered white more than three to one. Other sites showed similar preferences for stainless steel and black.

This past weekend, I was having a lovely conversation with my young grade-school-age nieces. Explaining a recent trend among the preteen set, they informed me that “llamas are the new unicorns.”

Obviously, stainless steel is to white as llamas are to unicorns. In other words, stainless steel is the new white.

It is amazing to me how often color popularity changes in kitchen appliances. Perhaps this is attributable to good marketing on the part of appliance manufacturers, who would undoubtedly like to see customers buy new products before the old ones wear out.

I don’t really care what the current trend is — I intend to stick with white. I just hope that stainless steel is not the only choice when my next appliance reaches the end of its life. That is my great white hope.

Readers may contact Sheila at or 45092 859th Road, Bassett, NE 68714.

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