Colored appliances have moved from the mixer to the fridge and beyond – and the color you choose can do a lot to your psyche.
But when brands like KitchenAid introduced colorful appliances to their standard line of black, white or stainless steel mixers and blenders, this branding started as a form of artwork rather than psychology.
“They’ve been increasingly designed to stay on the counter as art,” said Wes Hutchinson, professor of marketing and faculty director with The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. “Therefore, in addition to functionality, it becomes a design element when people are redesigning their kitchen, and it’s also a branding tool of sorts.”
Consumer demand has been growing for well-designed kitchens, and the underlying trend is that kitchens have been a bigger design investment than they have been historically, Hutchinson said.
That’s where color comes into play.
“There is consumer demand for well-designed, good-looking kitchen appliances, and it helps manufacturers brand their whole appliance family,” Hutchinson said. “Once you have one colorful appliance, the likelihood that you'll have another will go up.”
The trio of stove, microwave and dishwashers is the strongest – and most people want those to go together when they design a new kitchen.
“They become bundled purchases, and sometimes these bundles stretch over to the fridge as well,” he said.
Colored appliances are being introduced as part of marketing campaigns rather than as tools to help your psyche, explained Sally Augustin, principal with Design with Science and fellow with the American Psychological Association. But that doesn’t mean the colors won’t influence your mood, she said.
“When they are very saturated, such as fire engine red, those colors increase energy levels, and when they are less saturated but very bright, such as sage green, they’re calming,” Augustin said. “People with more extroverted personalities prefer to be in more energizing environments, and that would motivate them to choose the highly saturated – for example, candy apple or fire engine red – mixers. Some people will choose them just because they like to change up the looks of spaces in their homes, or simply to be different from others.”
Rocio Mora, a line cook in Vermont, has a deep red coffee maker that stands out in her home of floor-to-ceiling pine.
“The red makes me feel like I still have a sense of humor in my world,” Mora said. “When I’m half-asleep, hating the world and heading to my kitchen to make a cup of coffee, just the sight of my little red machine makes me giggle even just a little bit. That alone is worth it.”
And after Susan Wholley, a community outreach liaison in Connecticut, went through a bad divorce and decided to “reclaim my home,” she set about making little changes – and spray-painted her rusty white refrigerator blue.
“It is a calming blue, and just goes beautifully with my kitchen,” Wholley said. “It shows my unique sense of style and a touch of whimsy. Most importantly, it defines my independence.”
When choosing an appliance color, Augustin said that first and foremost, customers need to decide how that color will make them feel.
“I think that people should design kitchens for themselves that make them feel comfortable and that support them in their desired activities there,” she said.
For example, Augustin said, an all-white kitchen is generally stark and uninviting, while light colors on the walls will make the space seem larger – as opposed to darker colors, which will make the space cozier.
Originally, it was believed that blue caused you to eat less, but this was later proved not to be so true across the board.
“Warmer colors enhance appetite, but it’s an evolving field, and in the end, it will matter what you’re eating,” Augustin said. “You don’t change the colors of your kitchen depending on whether you’re having ice cream or salmon – and instead you can put it on a different-colored plate.”
So choose your colored appliance based on the color you love, and have fun with it.