Story by Ann Butenas
If you want to know what’s on the menu for appliance trends in 2017, it boils down to just a few simple ingredients: color, cost, and convenience. Surprisingly, you don’t have to spend a small fortune to invite stunning new appliances into your home, and with some models you can actually save money in the long run. Steve Johnson, Sales Manager at Factory Direct Appliance in Lenexa, shares the recipe with what to expect in the coming year.
KCH&S: What is the new color trend going into 2017?
JOHNSON: People love the look of stainless steel but they don’t necessarily like the maintenance of it. The alternative to this is black stainless steel, which is impervious to fingerprints and easier to clean. From a price standpoint, it is about the same price as regular stainless steel. While it is currently available only in select products, it is making its way into most brands.
KCH&S: What role does technology play in appliances today?
JOHNSON: The biggest element in terms of technology and appliances today is Wi-Fi connectivity. For example, the ability to turn on the oven from work with your phone. This is only available in select models currently but more and more manufacturers are doing this. Convenience is important to consumers.
KCH&S: You’ve been in the industry for many years. What changes have you seen during that time and what has remained rather consistent?
JOHNSON: Starting price points have remained basically the same. Twenty years ago we sold a basic washing machine for $300 and today you can purchase a basic machine for the same price. However, some of the features have changed to make the products more adaptable to their environments. For example, there are vent-less dryers that use a heat pump, making it a better option for installation in a loft or a residence with brick walls where installing a vent is challenging or where perhaps a landlord does not allow punching a hole in the wall.
KCH&S: Does upgrading the kitchen with new appliances add a significant amount to the potential resale value of the home, and is it more important to focus on that aspect as opposed to installing exactly what you want without worrying about its resale value?
JOHNSON: The kitchen is the #1 room in the home that does add value when remodeled. I believe you can approach a kitchen remodel for both its resale value and for what you want in the new design.
KCH&S: Purchasing new appliances can seem a bit expensive. On average, what can one expect to spend when replacing older appliances with new ones?
JOHNSON: You can actually get a lot more for your money now than ever before. Stainless steel packages which include the microwave, range and dishwasher can be found for as low as $1200 – $1500.
KCH&S: Are appliances today more energy efficient than those in the past?
JOHNSON: Today you can buy a new refrigerator that will pay for itself in terms of energy efficiency in the long run. Many new freezers use a third of the energy as older models, and even the newer washing machines use significantly less water. Several years ago, it was not uncommon for a washing machine to use 55 gallons of water in a single wash. Today, most models use only 18-20 gallons per cycle.
KCH&S: Is it best to approach the installation of new appliances from a functionality standpoint or an aesthetic one first?
JOHNSON: The number one reason a brand sells is mostly due to its aesthetics over the features, and those features can change year to year depending on the manufacturer. Sometimes, it may be something as subtle as a handle change on a wall oven. More often than not, for many customers, it is all about the aesthetics first. It’s totally about the design and the look first.
KCH&S: When a homeowner is ready to purchase new appliances, what is the best approach to doing so?
JOHNSON: Unlike many other products, only about eight to nine percent of appliances are purchased online, but over 80% of consumers research those products online. A tremendous number of people come in to our showroom to look at displays we have to offer. The HBA Parade of Homes and the NARI remodeled homes tour are both great places to obtain ideas.