Slate-colored appliances and designs specifically for each homeowner are the trends in kitchen fashion, according to designers at Ralph's Joy of Living.
"Slate is going to be the next almond," said Ralph Smothers Jr. of Ralph's, 33 N. Washington St.
"That's the most exciting thing that's hit the appliance industry in years.
PHOTO BY VICKI JOHNSON
Ralph Smothers Jr. of Ralph’s Joy of Living points out the features on a new slate-colored GE refrigerator.
"This is such a great alternative to stainless," he said. "It goes with everything, both contemporary and traditional."
In addition, he said, slate appliances are made in General Electric's Louisville, Ky., plant, which makes them popular with people who like to buy items made in America.
"Last year, GE spent a million dollars on its appliance industry," Smothers said. "They hired 1,300 people."
In the next few years, he said, GE is planning to build 16 appliance factories.
"We're so lucky to be a GE dealer," he said. "Now more than ever."
Also on the appliance line, Smothers said induction cooking appliances such as the GE Advantium are becoming popular. He described it as a cross between a microwave and an oven.
"It uses a magnetic field," he said. "It's the most efficient way of cooking. It's great for the consumer who wants gas convenience and electric cleanup."
Another brand new to the store is KraftMaid cabinets.
"It's one of the largest makers of cabinets in the world, and it's in Ohio," he said. "It's been a wonderful addition to Tiffin to have that here."
Cabinets - whether custom, semi-custom or stock - have a range of options.
Instead of stacking cabinets uniformly along walls, designer Danielle Armstrong said she likes to suggest some cabinets be shorter and some taller.
"So it's not just straight across," she said. "There's room to make the kitchen your own by adding your personal touches."
Instead of following the latest fashion, Armstrong said people today tend to choose the styles and colors they like.
"Everybody's different," she said. "It's what you like."
Some people choose a simple cabinet design and decorate around it, she said.
"Something else that's kind of new is they're putting color on walls, as opposed to the off-white," she said. "They're not afraid of it."
In other rooms, she said, people are choosing to use color in area rugs, while carpets are neutral colors of beiges and browns.
"Whatever is permanent is pretty basic," she said. "And then they go wild with everything else."
Armstrong said many consumers like cabinets with a vintage look.
"I do a lot of stone countertops. The cabinets are more in maples," she said. "And wood floors - either real wood or laminate."
She said real wood verses laminate is a matter of preference and cost.
"Wood can be sanded and restained for a new look," she said.
Those are all options when she sits down with a homeowner to help them decide what a new kitchen will look like.
"They get a little confused, so I ask them questions to narrow it down for them," she said. "There are so many choices.
"I like to see their house," she said. "It's not just their kitchen, it's everything around."
After the questions and the home visit, Armstrong said, she sits down at her computer and creates her suggestions in picture form that can be viewed from different elevations and perspectives.
"So they can see from different places in the house - the next room or from the outside coming in," she said. "I like to leave some open space here and there so they can put their personality into it," she said.
Armstrong recommended working with a professional because he or she will have experience with products and contractors that the average person might not know.
She said it's best to have a general idea about price range and options before meeting with a kitchen designer.
"It's good that consumers know what they're doing," she said. "So it's nice if they've done some research ahead of time."
Advance research also gives consumers a good idea about whether the designer is making a good recommendation.
Cost of a kitchen can vary widely.
"Anywhere from $3,000 to $30,000," Armstrong said. "It just depends on what you put into it."
Smothers said Ralph's can work with any budget and make recommendations that fit the available money.
"We want to make it a good experience," he said. "We want everybody to love their kitchen."