Thursday, April 07, 2005

Steel Away

A column in the New York Times has finally taken a bold step away from stainless steel. The ne plus ultra of appliance finishes may finally be waning, but I'm not holding my breath.

Stainless has irked me for years now. The ubiquity, the inevitable call-outs in real estate listings (always paired with granite slab counters), the perceived value of something that's actually harder to care for and keep clean as manifested in three-figure premiums on appliances. Being unable to affix stupid bumper stickers to a stainless steel refrigerator with magnets. Irky McAnnoyingpants.

It's not that I have a grudge against industrial-looking home décor. I look at some of the houses in Dwell and imagine how cool it would be to knock out the back wall of my 1912 bungalow and install commercial garage doors:

What I hate about stainless steel appliances is the lockstep herd mentality of YOU MUST FOLLOW THIS TREND OR ELSE. I hate that they'll look as dated as an avocado green range in ten years. I hate that they are a part of the industrialization of kitchens most prominent among people who rarely, if ever cook. I hate that it's the default choice, and that a stainless dishwasher costs several hundred dollars more than the same thing in white.

At the heart of it, though, I'm a craven alternawhore. Something as universally popular, as strivingly affluent as stainless steel must suck. It just must. It sucks because the suburban soccer moms who order pizza three nights a week flock to stainless steel commercial gas ranges that require a team of coal-shoveling midgets to keep stoked. It sucks because every self-entitled mindless spendthrift who gets the 25% APR Home Depot credit card uses it to buy a new kitchen full of stainless steel appliances. It sucks because it's a hollow class marker that never signified anything besides navel-gazing Bobo loft living to begin with.

Needless to say, when it comes time to list my house, I'll be replacing all the appliances with stainless steel. Until then, though, I reserve the right to mock it mercilessly and look down on those who follow the herd.


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