Ever wonder why there are so many stainless steel appliances in modern kitchens?

There’s a reason the stainless steel fridge and other appliances became so popular. The era of stainless steel is far from over: they’re still being put into homes today.

As with many aesthetic choices in the home, stainless steel appliances have been chosen for kitchens because of the modern social and cultural climate. Once considered strictly utilitarian, stainless steel has become a way for homeowners to make a statement about their lifestyle.

Let’s take a look at what created the era of stainless steel appliances. Read on to learn more about the history of these kitchen staples!

When Did the Era of Stainless Steel Appliances Begin?

Stainless steel is often associated with commercial kitchens. It’s easy to clean and can take a beating, making it the perfect material for restaurants and other commercial applications.

In the modern home, there are plenty of different appliance materials to choose from. Most of them are about the same in terms of how easy they are to use. However, stainless steel has become all the rage in trendy, modern kitchens.

The era of stainless steel appliances started in the early 2000s. When the new millennium hit, with all its concerns about Y2K, popular trends reflected the sense that we had stepped into the future.

At the time, the internet was still fairly young, but the rapid advancements in technology that it provided showed promise for the future. In fashion, a techno-utopian look with metallics and geometric shapes dominated trends. Sleek metallic stainless steel appliances extended that trend into kitchen decor.

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Changing Gender Roles

Another reason stainless steel suddenly became so popular may be because of changing gender roles in the home.

For decades, society had slowly been shifting away from the idea of the working man and the stay-at-home wife. Kitchen decor was no longer attached to femininity. Stainless steel appliances were perfectly gender-neutral, reflecting a new attitude toward who was responsible for cooking and cleaning.

Many modern couples agree that both men and women should take care of kitchen tasks. Stainless steel represents this shift in culture: we no longer want to see gender where it’s not needed.

Stainless Steel and Status

These stainless steel appliances don’t just show progressive cultural trends, though. They also have become a status symbol in an upscale kitchen.

A stainless steel appliance shows that you’re serious about cooking: after all, you’re investing in the kind of equipment that professional chefs use. This makes stainless steel a popular choice for cooking aficionados who want to show off their passion.

Stainless steel also shows that you don’t just buy your appliances from anywhere. You probably aren’t going to walk into Wal-Mart for a stainless steel appliance. This statement of status appeals to people who like a sleek look and the idea of an appliance made out of a more advanced material.

As people became more interested in stainless appliances, companies started to make more attractive appliances than the ones for commercial kitchens, making the look even more appealing.

Kitchen Colors Throughout History

The era of stainless steel appliances is just one event in a long list of kitchen color trends.

Historically, the kitchen was a simple place with a stove, a table, and some seating. But as modern appliances were developed, the purpose of the kitchen became more elaborate – and so did the decor.

1920s-40s: White Appliances

Although the decade of the ‘20s is known for its lavish excess, the kitchen appliances of the time were actually quite simple.

Just as the era of stainless steel appliances is a reaction to modern culture, so were the white appliances of the ‘20s. The culture was exciting and decadent, but fashion – both in clothes and in homes – was actually more streamlined.

Of course, kitchen appliances were also a new concept at the time. People were excited about appliances in any form, so companies didn’t necessarily think about making a variety of colors yet. Just as the first cars were only available in black, the first kitchen appliances were white.

By the ‘30s, kitchen decor was using color to brighten up the dreary, difficult days of the Depression. Not everyone could afford appliances, but those who could were still buying white ones, because that was pretty much the only option at the time. However, these were set against a much brighter backdrop of kitchen decor.

In the 1940s, kitchen color trends shifted toward the patriotic. Red, white, and blue were all popular kitchen colors of the time.

However, colorful appliances still hadn’t been introduced to a wide audience. Because of wartime rationing, most people weren’t thinking about luxuries like new appliances.

1950s: Bright Appliances

In the ‘50s, colored appliances were introduced for the first time in a range of bright, cheerful shades.

The war was over, the suburbs were booming, and many Americans were enjoying more economic freedom than ever before. Shopping for appliances became not just a luxury, but a fun activity – and there was a range of exciting colors to choose from.

Shades like canary yellow, cadet blue, and turquoise green were suddenly available to brighten up kitchens. Appliances were no longer luxuries for the wealthy: they were easily accessible to the expanding American middle class, and companies capitalized on that by offering these color choices.

1960s: Experimental Colors in Appliances

In the ‘60s, brands worked to expand the color choices that were available. However, not all of them were successful.

Charcoal gray appliances didn’t last long. Although charcoal gray is a more popular kitchen color today, at the time, brights and pastels persisted. Colors like pink, yellow, and turquoise remained popular for appliances. Even brighter neon colors also became popular in kitchen decor.

Also unveiled in the ‘60s, a new shade called “Coppertone.” This neutral hue foreshadowed the trends of the next decade.

1970s: Natural Appliances

Although some bright colors were still used in ‘70s appliances (like turquoise and even red), earthy naturals dominated the appliances of this decade.

In addition to Coppertone, colors like harvest gold and avocado green reflected the earthy colors that were popular in fashions of the time.

1980s-90s: White Appliances

The creative (some would say ugly) color choices of previous decades mostly died out during the ‘80s and ‘90s. Home decor became more sleek and streamlined, and white appliances once more became dominant.

2000s: Stainless Steel Appliances

By the turn of the millennium, the era of stainless steel appliances was upon us. The stainless finish provided the perfect update to the sleek minimalism that was already popular.

2010s: Black Stainless Steel Appliances

What’s next after the era of stainless steel appliances?

Stainless steel is still one of the most popular finishes in modern kitchens. However, the latest trend is actually black stainless steel appliances.

Charcoal gray and black color schemes add edginess to a kitchen, and a black stainless finish is a perfect accent to this look. Why are these dark colors so hot right now? Even though they mark a break from the traditional, they’re still neutral enough to go with virtually any decorating scheme.

Stainless Steel Appliances in Modern Kitchens

The era of stainless steel appliances is far from over. Although new colors like black are growing in popularity, the stainless finish is here to stay.

From a stainless steel fridge to a sleek stainless stove, many people are still opting for this look in their homes. One of the best things about stainless is that it’s practical as well as attractive: it’s easy to clean and hard to damage.

What will be the next big kitchen trend after black stainless steel appliances? Leave a comment and let us know what you think!


Image CC by 0, by JamesDeMers via Pixabay

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