One of the most important considerations when choosing a kitchen appliances is how the unit will ease the work in the kitchen. “The pandemic made many aware that appliances must be more than just kitchen jewelry,” says Skyler Stevenson, senior marketing manager at Gaggenau, based in Irvine, CA. “Customers want cooktops that are easy to clean, dishwashers that really wash and dry dishes, and ovens that don’t require a user manual to use properly,” he remarks.
“Convenience plays a big factor in a family home or the sanctuary of working individuals,” offers Jennifer Ramirez, media marketing assistant for EMPAVA, in City of Industry, CA. “Easy-to-clean surfaces, multiple cooking functions, and the integration of smart technology in kitchen appliances – such as WiFi and remote controls – are elevating kitchens nationwide.”
“Advances in tech affect appliance design, functionality and user experience, leading to trends that prioritize convenience, efficiency and overall improved quality of life,” stresses Timothy Lee, senior marketing manager for THOR Kitchen in Ontario, CA.
Manufacturers recently surveyed by Kitchen & Bath Design News say other top trends are the inclusion of multiple functions with the ability to customize for optimal entertaining, classic looks with pops of color, efficiency in operation and energy use, and appliances sized right for the space and intended use.
The kitchen is the nucleus of home entertaining. Appliances that ease food preparation and clean up allow more time for what hosts want most – spending time with their guests.
Aileen Bilyeu, senior v.p. marketing at Vinotemp/The Legacy Companies based in Irvine, CA offers, “During these tough economic times, we’re seeing consumers entertain more at home with family and friends. Products that can play a role in casual movie and game nights, or having friends over for a fun evening, are seeing a rise in popularity.”
“From summer parties to the upcoming holidays, most consumers are in search of kitchen appliances that can elevate their overall hosting and living experience,” adds Ramirez. “This is evident in top-selling kitchen appliances such as induction cooktops, outdoor pizza ovens and built-in beverage refrigerators. They add entertainment value to guests and versatility in the preparation, presentation and clean-up of meals – thus making gatherings more enjoyable and memorable for both hosts and guests.”
Spaces designed for a specific purpose can elevate the entertaining experience. “One trend we love is the curation of specialized spaces within the kitchen that fit the lifestyle of the homeowner, such as a wine bar or a built-in coffee machine for a coffee bar,” notes Puri Romeo, brand director for Bosch, in Irvine, CA.
With varied preferences among multiple users in a household, appliances must offer flexibility. Whether the interest is in healthy cooking and eating, preservation of fresh food or wine, or clearing the air after cooking, appliances that can perform multiple tasks are quite popular, manufacturers report.
“Multi-functional appliances, such as steam and speed ovens, are becoming increasingly popular due to their ability to save space and time,” says Stephen Polloni, president, The Vetta Group/North American representative for Fulgor Milano.
“Advanced cooking technologies such as induction cooktops and convection ovens are highly desirable for their precision and speed,” he continues. “Additionally, adjustable and customizable storage solutions in refrigeration are gaining popularity for personalized convenience and organization.”
“Multi-functional appliances continue to garner the most interest and excitement from homeowners, as well as our design and dealer partners, given their enhanced functionality,” reports Mike O’Keefe, director of sales at Signature Kitchen Suite, in Englewood Cliffs, NJ. “Today’s forward-thinking home chefs know that having the right cooking tools is just as important as the ingredients. With advanced culinary features like dual-fuel ranges with sous vide built directly into the cooking surface along with steam, induction and other modalities, plus spacious refrigerators with convertible drawer technology and specialty ice options, these new appliances allow these individuals to expand their repertoire in the kitchen.”
Brandt Varner, v.p. of product management, home appliances at LG Electronics in Englewood Cliffs, NJ observes, “Modern cooking products such as ranges and wall ovens provide enhanced flexibility and simplify meal preparation. While Air Fry has become a standard feature, new products expand possibilities with premium convection (Probake) and air or steam sous-vide. These advancements allow customers to create high-quality meals with precision.”
Appliances that use available space efficiently and effectively are in high demand, manufacturers say. Often, this means smaller appliances that allow for flexibility in design.
“Sizing trends can reflect the diversity and lifestyle in the needs of consumers with a focus on innovation,” states Ramirez. “In large family homes, we are seeing a trend of ‘stackable’ appliances, such as double wall ovens or dual-zone coolers, as an optimization of vertical space without having to compromise in the design of their kitchen. In urban living, we are seeing a trend in smaller kitchens with compact, space-saving appliances, such as induction cooktops and compact refrigeration.”
Romeo remarks, “Sizes vary depending on customers’ space and appliance needs, and Bosch appliances offer a variety of size options. While larger families may look for appliances with more space, the rise in smaller or more compact living spaces has revealed a need for suitably sized appliances.”
Lee adds that size preference varies by region, with 36″ ranges remaining most popular. Medium-sized kitchens are trending, he adds, as is inclusion of 24″ to 30″ built-in secondary ovens.
“Bigger is not always better,” Stevenson stresses. “Function is king, and that means understanding how the space is utilized more than filling it with appliances.”
“Small appliances that optimize counter space, add functionality and seamlessly blend into a kitchen’s aesthetic continue to be popular,” says Marc Hottenroth, executive director of Industrial Design at GE Appliances, based in Louisville, KY.
“To make the installation process in the kitchen as effortless as possible for consumers, range hoods stick to the traditional 30″ to 36″ size for most models, although some segments have begun to skew toward larger dimensions when the kitchen space allows for a broader cooking area,” comments Calvin Ruan, co-founder and CEO of Hauslane in San Francisco, CA.
The increase in home entertaining, combined with the fast pace of life many consumers lead, creates demand for appliances that simplify the work in the kitchen.
“Homeowners with busy schedules tend to look for efficiency and ease in their appliances,” states Ruan. “From a ventilation perspective, this makes range hoods with a self-cleaning feature particularly attractive. Once cooking concludes, the home chef’s work is essentially done. The range hood will automatically flush all grease and residue from the motor, ensuring the highest level of performance with each use and a longer lifespan of the product.”
Many of today’s range hoods also have sensor systems built into the design, which means they turn on and off automatically based on the temperature of the cooktop and the amount of smoke and other elements in the air. When the air is clear, those same units will turn off automatically, leaving all of the guess work and manual operation out of the equation.
Advances in technology are important, leading to the increased performance, flexibility and convenience in appliances that consumers desire.
“Customers look for continued improvement in experience with their appliances, particularly in flexibility and optimization, which is best accomplished through technological innovation,” reports Romeo.
Appliances need to be easy to clean and easy to use, manufacturers stress. “Appliances must be able to look new again even after extensive use,” offers Stevenson. “Customers also need user interfaces that are intuitive and easy to use for the entire family. If only one person in the household knows how to use an appliance, what good is it?”
“Technology has enabled appliances to operate efficiently in both functionality and sustainability,” Ramirez adds. “Delicious, evenly cooked meals can now be served in minutes and select appliances are even able to clean themselves afterwards, all with the touch of a button.”
“Advances in technology have allowed us to create the most effortless cooking experience for consumers, from start to finish,” reports Ruan. “This is evident in our range hood’s automatic delayed shut-off feature, which empowers the home chef to turn on the unit and then forget about it. Once cooking concludes, the motor briefly continues to extract all excess fumes and toxins, then shuts off automatically.”
WiFi connectivity and integrated apps that offer meaningful solutions are a fast growing trend in appliances, allowing for the desired flexibility and personalization homeowners want.
“By being connected, the product can adjust to different user profiles, anticipate user needs and receive new features through over-the-air software updates so the appliance continues to get better with time,” explains Hottenroth.
“This connectivity also encourages customization,” he adds. “Connected appliances allow us to be more personalized beyond aesthetics – owners can adjust specific settings, control their appliances remotely, and more – allowing these appliances to work for you.”
“Appliances have evolved from being merely smart to genuinely intelligent,” continues Varner. “They learn from user patterns, predict performance and update to provide the latest features.”
Connection technology can also augment the service aspect of the appliance industry, says O’Keefe. “Service is a very important but oftentimes overlooked element of the luxury homeowner experience. To help address that, Signature Kitchen Suite is expanding the capabilities of the ThinQ technology platform and mobile app,” he remarks.
Connection alone isn’t enough, manufacturers say; the apps used must offer tangible value to the homeowner. “WiFi-enabled products with their own apps will continue to enter the market,” Bilyeu remarks. “The products that offer a true benefit to the consumer – time saving, convenience, etc. – will win over products that offer no real value.”
Though custom designs are important, some looks stand the test of time, and will always be in fashion, manufacturers report. “Stainless steel is still the little black dress,” says Stevenson. “[It’s] timeless in all styles of cabinetry and design.”
Ruan agrees. “While stainless steel has been around for some time, we don’t see it going out of style any time soon,” he remarks. “It offers a clean, sleek aesthetic that blends seamlessly with most kitchen designs and color schemes.” Black stainless finishes, he adds, are also quite popular, and matte black or matte white have also grown in popularity in recent years.
Polloni says that stainless steel is a mainstay that won’t go away, but new use of different textures and finishes is on the rise as well. “Matte Black remains a popular choice, and many are looking at ways to mix metals in the space. A small touch, like the brass burners we feature on our ranges, can make a big impact,” he says.
“Matte finishes are a prominent trend in kitchen appliances, encompassing both the overall appliance color and touchpoints like handles and knobs,” emphasizes Varner. “Nevertheless, stainless steel remains a dominant choice in the market.”
Consumers want their kitchen to reflect their personality, manufacturers report, and are often using color to do so.
“Consumers are seeking customizable design in their kitchen appliances that can exude modernity and elegance. We are seeing a trend of incorporating pops of color, such as a vibrant red,” says Ramirez.
Bilyeu agrees. “We’re seeing consumers bring in pops of color that tie into colored cabinet trends along with subtle gold and brass accent details,” she states.
“We’re continuing to see a demand for a highly personalized kitchen experience, with customized colors and finishes available from the countertops down to the small details of the hardware,” adds Hottenroth. “According to the latest trend report from the National Kitchen & Bath Association, designers anticipate using more colorful large appliances in the near future, increasing from 10% in 2022 to 20% in 2023. CAFÉ plans to address this demand by introducing an Emerald Green 36″ Commercial Range with brushed brass hardware, available later this year as part of a limited-edition capsule collection.”
In addition to the bolder choices, softer grays, blues and greens are also trending, manufacturers state. Muted and natural earthy tones, such as green, blue, white/off white, and wood tones are trending, as are eclectic accents, says Lee.
“Dark greens, slate blue and grays mirror the latest kitchen cabinet trends and we are seeing them across large and small appliances,” offers Bilyeu.
“Range hoods make for great design statements as well, helping to draw the eye to the cooking area,” remarks Ruan. “Furthermore, replacing the existing ventilation with a new range hood can serve as a quick project for those who aren’t yet ready to invest in a full kitchen renovation. In light of many consumers’ inflation concerns, a range hood update can be an invaluable investment, even for those with limited budgets.”
Lee agrees that specially built-in vent hoods are becoming more of a focal point in the kitchen, with recessed LED lights and easy access or hidden control buttons.
As environmental concerns grow, energy efficiency and sustainability are important, manufacturers say.
“Consumers looking for energy efficiency and sustainable options remain at the forefront, reflecting the growing importance of eco-friendly solutions in today’s kitchens,” says Pollino. “As the debate on natural gas for heating and cooking in new construction continues, to help reduce carbon emissions, consumers and designers are looking at alternative options such as induction cooking.”
Romeo concurs. “Sustainable appliances with eco-friendliness and efficiency are also top of mind for today’s customers, and many are embracing induction cooking which can deliver speed and energy efficiency with an easier to clean surface,” she says. ▪