Expert Q & A: How to Accentuate New Color Finishes in the Kitchen

Color, finish and material expert shares her top tips for working with new appliance finishes.

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Jessica McConnell, Global Consumer Design Senior Manager at Whirlpool Corporation, Color, Finish & Material Studio, shares how builders can incorporate new colors, textures, and finishes into their kitchen designs.

What is the top trend you’re currently seeing?
In terms of color, finish, and material, the days of high gloss and super reflectivity are over. Satin and matte finishes blend seamlessly with other materials in the kitchen, creating continuity from surface to surface. Brass and copper is re-entering the home but in a more sophisticated way than we’ve seen in the past. Kitchen hardware has gone from strictly brushed stainless to rose gold, copper, champagne, or even matte black.

How can builders take advantage of the trends?
When designing appliances, we’re blurring the line between furniture and machine. It’s important for us to think about being part of a broader environment, not just the kitchen. I’d recommend that builders work to make the appliances as integrated as possible for the softest transition between appliances and cabinets. In practice, that could translate to a built-in look for appliances, or simply ensuring the colors are harmonious. For example, a light, cool gray cabinet looks amazing with stainless steel appliances while a warm appliance finish, such as Whirlpool® Fingerprint Resistant Sunset Bronze Kitchen Suite, pairs well with walnut, darker-tone wood, or even white oak. Black stainless options from the Whirlpool® Fingerprint Resistant Black Stainless Steel Kitchen Suite look awesome with matte black finishes. White painted cabinets highlight the color and metallic brilliance of both the black stainless and sunset bronze finishes. Now, the customization is part of the design and part of the plan from the very beginning.

Where do you get design inspiration?
For designers, inspiration is everywhere, often where you least expect it. We’re inspired by New York Fashion Week to trips to the grocery store, and everywhere in between. Jewelry design inspires things like metal accents or knobs. We’re looking at furniture trends because our colors have to fit within those trends. It’s important to us to find the right textures and materials that tell the story.

What’s next on the horizon?
Now more than ever, people want to love their home. Consumers are paying more attention to home design. Trends last anywhere from 10 to 15 years, so we need to ensure that appliances fit in with past, current and future trends by taking into account the surroundings of the kitchen. Appliances need to be flexible across design changes. Technology in the kitchen is commonplace now, so creating a meaningful connected experience is more important than showing off flashy technology. We know there’s multiple screens in the kitchen - there’s a relationship there that can be intuitive and meaningful. As more products become connected, it’s important for builders and designers to be aware of other smart home products and become part of that ecosystem.

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