Great Spaces • Color my world… smartly

Posted on 14 Apr 2009 at 11:24am
By Howard Lewis Russell

Forget avocado and beige. From fiery primary colors to classic stainless, striking appliances can make a style statement and add value


Stainless steel appliances, like those in the background, are timeless, but bold primary colors like a fire-engine-red dryer, are all the rage right now, says Suzie Williford. Photo by ARNOLD WAYNE JONES

"A kitchen is the greatest investment you can make in your hom," Suzie Williford says.

She should know. As the current president of the National Kitchen and Bath Association, Williford spends her career following the trends in the home décor and renovation industries.

"You make 102 percent back on any investment made in your kitchen," says Williford, who also serves as vice president of sales at Dallas’ gleaming KIVA Kitchen & Bath/Jarrell Appliance Gallery showroom just north of Mockingbird at Central. "Hypothetically speaking, in a neighborhood with 15 houses up for sale, you’ve automatically put yourself at the very top of the heap with a great kitchen. You elevate your home in a crowded housing market. A new stainless steel glistening kitchen makes the selling of your old home a stainless steal."

Around 2000 — just at the start of the shiny new millennium — stainless appliances really took hold of the real estate psyche and have never let go.

"Far and away, steel is now the biggest seller in kitchen appliance remodels. Following a close second comes matching panels — the trend to camouflage built-in appliances and make them disappear behind wooden panels matching your cabinetry," Williford says.

A little further down the current evolutionary appliance trend ladder, come bright new colors: fire engine red, cobalt blue, empire green — "really strong, almost primary colors —Viking colors," Williford calls them. "And for those who want something less monochromatic than stainless, but not so bold as fire engine, there’s graphite and biscuit; cream is still popular, too, but not as much as in the ’90s, and not as much as steel today."

When asked if there are any colors to avoid in new kitchens, Williford doesn’t skip a beat: "Avocado green," she winces laughingly. "Anything retro, or evocative of the ’70s especially, is not going to be a market asset when it comes to reselling your home: harvest gold, chocolate brown, turquoise, almond, white & black, even, from the ’80s — they all had their glory days, and the glory is over."

Doubtlessly, Williford seldom gets any argument that the 21st century has, permanently and forever, ushered in futuristic blends of bold color and metallic shades reaching far beyond previous decades’ short-lived, fickle trends for fleeting fashions and their almost built-in obsolescence guarantee.

As the majority of big-ticket-item consumers age (i.e., Baby Boomers), preferences and tastes in housewares’ colors tend to become, ironically, less conservative, not more — particularly so for appliances small enough to carry home in a box. Kitchen mixers alone now come in a phantasmagoric rainbow of such in-your-face shades as majestic yellow, satin copper, tangerine, pistachio, lavender and periwinkle, platinum pink and even baby blue. . . of all appliance color trends, blue (in any hue) is the one reliable that never goes completely out style. It is a marketplace perennial in a market changing annually.

After all, to say we’re currently in a "sluggish" housing crisis would only be selling spin on the speechless —"Aside from that, how was the play Mrs. Lincoln?" It is not remotely business as usual in the built-in appliance industry. Any home seller’s leg up is one that can’t be afforded to let slip down. In an economy hobbled, if not outright mortally maimed, it is one of the paradoxes of consumer physics that demand for top-end appliances (skyrocketing steel prices be damned) becomes ever higher a priority.

Stainless steel, premium and more expensive as it is, grows only more astonishingly popular by the day; not less.

KIVA Kitchen & Bath, 2651 Fondren Drive. 214-363-7211.

This article appeared in Dallas Voice’s print edition of Great Spaces magazine April 17, 2009.

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