By far the buzziest news in the kitchen design world centers around major appliances, according to the 2019 Kitchen Design Trends Study, an annual survey that polls kitchen designers, remodelers, and product specifiers about what’s likely to be trending in the next three years. It’s easy to see why this category gets all the glory. Large appliances — particularly gas ranges and cooktops — have long been the focal point in the kitchen, for both their performance and aesthetic heft.
As kitchens grow more commodious and capable (another survey finding), professional-style ranges remain popular, and clients want dual fuel — perhaps a gas top with an electric oven or a mix of gas and electric cooking surfaces, says kitchen designer Elizabeth Rishel, owner of Orion Design in Overland Park, Kansas. And with the versatility to fuel gas cooking amenities no matter where a home is located, propane is helping customers achieve those dual-fuel dreams in areas out of the reach of natural gas.
Hybdri gas-electric cooking offers a personal touch
Personalization is in, and manufacturers are going modular to give consumers what they want. “Some clients lean toward induction, and with the combination sets or individual modules, you can make your cooktop as long as you want it,” Rishel says. For example, one of her current projects will feature a 60-inch cook surface consisting of four modules that incorporate induction, a gas grill, and gas burners.
Kristen Elder, senior director of business development in appliances at Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery, notes that more and more manufacturers, especially luxury ones such as Jenn-Air, Wolf, and Thermador, are taking this have-it-all approach. “Tons of manufacturers are offering hybrid cooking surfaces, with one or two gas burners, and next to it a 15-inch induction top, so you could put two or three together to get a standard size,” she says. “We also see this in the pro range, moving from all gas to including an induction griddle.”
Propane also helps meet this demand for the tailor-made, allowing designers, builders, and their clients to size their propane supply for any number of cooking applications, not to mention amenities such as water heating or fireplaces. Elder says that converting an appliance from natural gas to propane can be seamless, whether it’s done in the factory or by an experienced installer. In markets like Florida, where propane is commonly used, field techs are very familiar with how to do it, she says, but in nontraditional markets, they may need training on converting appliances to propane. (PERC offers a course to help plumbers and HVAC techs learn the basics of working with propane.)
Choosing a range color
Color is the other customization story in major kitchen appliances, designers say. Rishel is working with a client who requested a brightly colored gas range and is deciding what hue to use and how to play off that as a focal point. “The industry is showing a lot of color, and we’re anticipating some boldness,” she says. “For the longest time, it’s been very neutral.”
This alt–stainless steel trend, which began with high-end manufacturers such as Wolf and BlueStar, is arriving in mainstream markets too. For example, the more affordable Café line from GE offers appliances in a pop of matte white or matte black. “Don’t underestimate white as a color,” Rishel says. There is also an appetite for mixed metals. The Café line comes in four color options for handles and knobs — copper, brushed bronze, brushed stainless, or brushed black. “Instead of everything being stainless, you could have a matte black appliance with a bronze handle,” Elder says, “or a matte black faucet with a bronze pendant over the island.” Last month, GE also introduced glass-front panels over platinum. The company says this look “breaks the traditional mold by disrupting the sea of stainless appliance offerings and embracing a shift toward urban design.”
These culinary directions take kitchen customization up a notch. And when it comes to mix-and-match fuels for appliances, propane can help your customers convert this trend into the configuration that meets their needs and budget.
Top photo: Coral appliances by BlueStar illustrate the growing appetite for bold color in the kitchen. Photo courtesy of BlueStar at Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery.