Wall-to-wall stainless is typically reserved for restaurants, and there's a good reason for that.
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You may have already outfitted your kitchen with stainless-steel appliances, but a few kitchen designers at Milan's EuroCucina have created entire kitchens covered in stainless.
From countertops to cabinets, the versatile material was almost everywhere at the show. For instance, Alpes Inox built a concept kitchen with stainless covering rolling cabinets, countertops, and appliances. The hard steel was softened with warm colors and natural materials elsewhere in the kitchen.
While the design itself might be attractive to some people, we think stainless is best used sparingly—on trim, countertops, appliances, or shelves. All-stainless kitchens are usually reserved for professional use, where they tend to take a serious beating.
Unless you have a chef on staff at your manse, you frequently hire caterers, or you really wish you worked in a restaurant, there's such a thing as too much stainless.
See, there's a reason those designs work best in a commercial restaurant kitchen, where countertops, cabinets, and appliances are renowned for their durability and ease of cleanliness.
Unlike granite and other surfaces, stainless is non-porous. That means you can lay out a raw chicken on a stainless counter and—as long as you clean it properly—not worry about contamination. That's also the reason it's used in medical facilities.
If you spill wine or food coloring, the surface will live up to its name, returning to a brilliant shine as soon as you wash it off.
Of course, stainless steel has some issues. While it's durable, that doesn't mean it will always look pretty. It'll get scratches and dents over time, and it attracts fingerprints and smudges.
Commercial kitchens get a nightly deep clean, and it doesn't matter if surfaces are scratched as long as they're spotless. You may feel differently about your own home, so keep that in mind if you're going for a stainless countertop. Other surfaces—especially ceramics—are far more resistant to aesthetic issues.
So if you're the type whose kitchen is designed more for how it looks than how it cooks, stick with stainless shelves and appliances.
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