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Appliances

How to choose the right appliance finish

From slate to black stainless, find the right appliance finish to order.

Choosing the right color and finish for your appliances is one of the most exciting -- and difficult -- parts of the buying process. The look of a refrigerator, range, dishwasher and even washer and dryer has a major impact on a room. The right finish can pull a room together while the wrong finish can make a room look incomplete.

Perusing finishes at the store isn't always the best way to decide, either. Shiny metal materials like steel and chrome may appear lovely in the showroom, but you'll feel differently after spills, grease splatters and smoky meals eat their way into the finish. (Dark colors such as gray, slate, even black are easier to keep clean -- more on that later.)

Buying a new appliance isn't an everyday activity, so this guide will help you choose a color and finish you'll be happy with.. Before you splurge on a large appliance give some thought to its exterior. You'll be glad you did.

How to choose the right appliance color

Match your decor

When choosing a finish, begin by considering the existing hardware in a room and its surroundings. If you already have drawer pulls, a microwave and a wine cooler in stainless steel finishes, for example, you might want to create a uniform look by having your kitchen appliances match.

GE's black slate appliance finish compliments modern, industrial decors.

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Your home's existing decor can also help you decide what not to choose. For instance, a farmhouse-inspired home would appear incomplete with a black slate or black stainless-steel fridge or dishwasher. A neutral appliance color -- like white or white with gold finishes -- would pull the aesthetic together.

If midcentury modern is your style, avoid contemporary stainless steel finishes. Instead, seek out primary colors that harken back to the era. Another option is to go for neutral hues such as white, matte black (not shiny!), or the seamless finish of a custom, built-in appliance that matches your cabinetry.

This Big Chill range will stand out in a good way if placed well. 

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It's OK to make a statement

Playing it safe with a traditional stainless-steel or black finish is easy, but making a statement is a lot more fun. Perhaps you're in love with a vintage appliance or one that just looks vintage. Boutique manufacturers Smeg and Big Chill sell complete lines of retro-inspired kitchen appliances in bright colors.

Rose-gold hues like this metallic "sunset bronze" fridge from Whirlpool are a trend.

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If you're into trendy rose gold and copper finishes, consider appliances in "sunset bronze" from Whirlpool. The company's new finish makes a statement without being an eyesore, as the warm colors blend in with nearly any kitchen style.

A colorful French range from Lacanache.

Lacanache

French-style ranges from La Cornue or Lacanche are an investment, but act as a centerpiece in the kitchen. In that case, you can get away with just matching your fridge and dishwasher, while the range acts as a focal point.

White appliances are back

Frugal shoppers will love this tip. One way to shave $100 or more off any appliance price is to opt for white. Often selecting the non-stainless-steel finish cuts down on the sticker price. And many times the internal components of the appliance are identical. It's just the exterior that's different.

White appliances can be beautiful too. In fact, white appliance finishes just might be poised for a big comeback. Whirlpool recently launched a stylish finish called "white ice." Luxury brand Viking Range has particularly attractive refrigerators with white exteriors and chrome accents.  

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Choosing the right finish based on appliance

Fridges

The finish you choose will largely depend on the type of appliance you're buying. This is especially true for refrigerators, which tend to get handled a lot. Greasy fingers, wet hands and curious small children will quickly make a beautiful surface look dingy.

If you cook a lot or have an active household, choose a fingerprint-resistant finish. GE, for example, offers "slate" and "black slate" surfaces that hide fingerprints and smudges.

An LG fridge with matte black finish.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Likewise, LG's matte black treatment is tough on smudges and prints. Samsung makes appliances in what it calls "black stainless steel" as well.

Dishwashers

The slate finish trend extends to dishwashers too. GE makes these kitchen appliances in both its "slate" and "black slate" exteriors. LG dishwashers come in the company's fingerprint- and scratch-resistant "black stainless steel" finish.   

Ovens and ranges

Ovens suffer the same fingerprints and smudges that refrigerators do -- and then some. Grease splatter, spills and smoke can all leave their mark as your oven gains mileage. And unless you're deep-cleaning regularly, high heat will sear in those marks.

So, if you cook often (and adventurously), go for a dark color scheme. Here are some examples from major appliance manufacturers:

  • GE black slate

Dark gray in color, it's smudge- and fingerprint-resistant. It also has a low-gloss matte surface that's magnetic.

  • LG matte black

This finish has a black hue and is smudge- and fingerprint-resistant. Its matte surface is low-gloss as well.

  • Samsung black stainless steel

Dark gray in color, this finish has a brushed metal look.

It's also fingerprint-resistant.

  • Whirlpool black stainless

A finish with a dark-gray color. Its surface is magnetic and hides smudges and fingerprints.

Some Samsung washers and dryers come in "azure blue."

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Washers and dryers

Laundry machines offer fewer color options than kitchen appliances, likely because they tend to be tucked away in basement rooms and closets.  That trend seems to be changing, however, as more of us build laundry rooms that are pretty to look at and enjoyable to be in (anything to make laundry more enjoyable!) Laundry pairs from LG, Samsung, GE and Electrolux sport "ruby red," "black stainless steel" and even "azure blue" finishes.