New appliance finishes replacing stainless steel (Slideshow)
GE's new slate finish

GE is debuting a new finish for appliances since research has shown that many homeowners are looking for something other than stainless steel.

The new finish, called slate, is a warm, metallic gray with a matte finish and it will be available throughout the GE appliance line. It was designed to blend in with other appliances in stainless steel, black or white.

"As people transition their kitchen appliances over time, it was important to us to find a finish from a palette that is timeless and harmonious, yet distinctive," said Lou Lenzi, director for GE Appliances' industrial design operation whose team of designers created the new finish. "Slate is a universal, neutral finish that will suit consumers who want a premium finish that can complement or even replace stainless steel."

Chris Bissig, manager of concept and brand development for GE Appliances, was part of the team that developed the new finish. He said, "Stainless steel is still very popular and we think it will continue to be popular but it is a 20-year-old finish. It's very reflective, and it looks very commercial. It does come across as somewhat harsh and it doesn't blend in with the kitchen and it shows fingerprints. That's the biggest complaint we get with stainless."

Other appliance manufacturers are jumping on the bandwagon to move away from stainless, with Whirlpool added a new finish to its appliance line last month, as previously reported on ProudGreenHome. The new Whirlpool color, white ice, was created as an alternative to stainless steel.

Viking Range Corp. has also created new finishes, launching 23 color alternatives to stainless steel this spring. Colors include cinnamon, wasabi, kettle black and dijon. Coincidentally, Viking was one of the first  to use stainless steel finishes on home appliances.

And Wolf, part of Sub-Zero Inc., opted for highly reflective black glass in its new E Series lines, some of the appliances of which debuted this spring at the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show in Chicago.

GE said the new slate finish was "inspired by the rich texture and appearance of stone." The slate appliances are finished with brushed metal touch points, such as handles and knobs, to offer a contrast to the gray."

"There was a lot of thought put into how slate would go with a lot of different cabinetry and a lot of finishes out there today," said Julie Woods, a spokesperson for GE Appliances. "That was a big area of focus, that it would work with a lot of existing shades."

Brian McWaters, brand general manager for GE Appliances, said, "During our conversations with designers and consumers, they expressed their strong desire for an alternative to stainless steel. With the launch of slate, we're offering a new finish that has a warm, rich look and feel that tested very well in our research."

In addition to their modern appearance, the matte finish on the exterior of the appliances is easy to clean and resists fingerprints. The new finish launches this month in a full suite of appliances comprised of two french door refrigerator models, two free-standing gas range models, two free-standing electric range models, two built-in dishwasher models and an over-the-range microwave.

Anjuli Calvert, industrial designer for GE appliances, said when she worked with the team developing the new finish, one of the big considerations was that consumers no longer want their appliances to be the main focus of their kitchen. Instead, they want the appliances to blend in with a range of materials and wood already installed in the room, since many people are adding a single appliance rather than completely remodeling their kitchen these days.

Check out the new colors from GE and Whirlpool in this slideshow.

Read more about energy-efficient appliances.

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