This unexpected kitchen trend has had a makeover for 2024 – designers weigh in on the sleek approach to industrial style

Stainless steel kitchens don't only look sleek, they're also incredible durable

stainless steel kitchens
(Image credit: Future, James Merrell)

Trends in the kitchen tend to be more timeless than other rooms in the home; since designing a kitchen is costly you will want your chosen look to remain versatile for many years to come.

While you can certainly change the look of your kitchen by changing the color of the walls or smaller decor elements, the main kitchen units and kitchen countertops are more often than not a timeless style to ensure longevity.

But there's one kitchen trend we're seeing cropping up lots in recent weeks: stainless steel. Stainless steel kitchens create a modern look and it's a style homeowners are embracing this year, for good reason. Not only do stainless steel kitchens look sleek, but they're also an incredibly durable material choice. 

'We are used to seeing stainless steel kitchens in commercial spaces such as restaurants, but they are becoming more and more popular with residential projects because of the versatility that they provide,' says Luis Carmona, interior designer and founder of VERDE Interior Design

We spoke to interior designers to get their take on this seemingly popular kitchen trend, and to understand what the advantages are, both aesthetically and practically. 

What are the advantages to a stainless steel kitchen?

modern kitchen with stainless steel countertops

(Image credit: Future)

'In kitchen design, function is just as important as aesthetics and the use of stainless steel can provide a timeless option as it seamlessly marries visual allure with practicality,' explains Niko Rasides, Design Director of Nicholas Anthony. 'Contemporary design features such as a stainless steel backsplash have become a staple in modern kitchens, offering a host of benefits that render them a favored choice among homeowners.'

One of the main advantages of stainless steel kitchens from a practical perspective is their durability, as Luis Carmona explains: 'Stainless steel surfaces can withstand a good amount of natural wear and tear, hence their use in commercial spaces and restaurants. Stainless steel is corrosion-resistant which makes it quite durable against spills, stains, heat, foods that stain, and other kitchen mishaps that would usually wear a kitchen down. This extends the life of the kitchen while not affecting its functionality. That is important for individuals who are looking for an alternative to the standard kitchen finishes without wanting to lose any of the quality.'

kitchen with stainless steel units

(Image credit: Future, James Merrell)

As well as being a durable surface in the kitchen that can handle lots of daily use, stainless steel also boasts hygienic features, another reason to embrace it in the kitchen. 'Stainless steel surfaces are also hygienic which makes them perfect for use in the kitchen,' says Luis Carmona. 'Stainless steel can easily be wiped clean and sanitized allowing it to stay germ-free for a longer period.'

'One important characteristic of stainless steel is that it is non-porous. This helps food matter, liquid, bacteria, and other microscopic matter from staying on the surfaces and not seeping into the materials as it would normally do with wood or improperly sealed marble and other natural stones. This makes cleaning and sanitizing stainless steel surfaces easier and more effective,' says Luis.

There are also sustainability benefits to stainless steel kitchens, as Luis explains: 'Sustainability is also a huge pro when it comes to stainless steel kitchens. Stainless steel is not harmful to the environment and can be recycled which is a huge plus for many designers and consumers alike.'

Luis Carmona
Luis Carmona

Luis Carmona is the owner and lead designer at VERDE Interior Design. With almost two decades of experience in the creative space (interior design, advertising, and marketing), Carmona gets to blend his many passions into one design studio, offering services to commercial and residential clients in both Houston and Dallas.

On the other hand, it's also worth being aware of the potential downsides of a stainless steel kitchen. Niko Rasides explains: 'While stainless steel exhibits relative resistance to smudges and fingerprints, they may still be noticeable on its reflective surface, necessitating regular wiping for a pristine appearance. It is also susceptible to scratches, although minor ones tend to blend into the overall finish over time. It is advisable to consider where best to use this material in the kitchen to ensure that a pristine, modern kitchen aesthetic is always accomplished.'

modern kitchen with stainless steel oven and pink wall

(Image credit: Future)

While it's clear there are a wide range of advantages to opting for a stainless steel kitchen from a practicality perspective, designers add that stainless steel kitchens also look good visually, and can work well in a wide range of design styles. 

'Stainless steel introduces an air of sophistication and modern flair to any kitchen,' says Niko Rasides. 'The reflective nature of the material not only imparts a feeling of spaciousness to the room but also complements a spectrum of design styles, ranging from industrial and minimalist kitchens to traditional kitchens.'

'Stainless steel's neutral quality enables it to effortlessly harmonize with diverse color schemes and materials, establishing it as a versatile option for kitchens with varied aesthetics.'

How can you incorporate stainless steel into your kitchen?

traditional kitchen with purple walls and stainless steel oven

(Image credit: Future, James Merrell)

'If you are thinking of embarking on this stainless steel journey, balance is key,' says Luis Carmona. 'Use the existing elements in your home to balance out the clean, minimal aesthetic of stainless steel cabinets or countertops. Softer materials like a wooden floor, plastered walls or natural stone can help create a nice symmetry between the more sterile, cold surface of stainless steel and the warmer texture that wood or a clay tile may provide.'

'If the appliances are already stainless steel, opt for stainless steel countertops over cabinet doors to help even out the horizontal vs vertical surfaces of this material. If you need to ease into it, start with a stainless kitchen island countertop first to see how you like it. It is a nice way to dip your toe into the stainless steel pool to see if this is for you before diving in,' says Luis Carmona. 

Interior designer Bethany Adams adds that if it comes to budget constraints, you can still channel this look in smaller doses: 'If a whole kitchen re-do isn't in the budget, go for stainless countertops and backsplash, for an affordable update.'

Bethany Adams
Bethany Adams

Bethany Adams has over 15 years of experience designing and project-managing high-end residential projects all over the US. She started her design firm in Louisville in 2015 and before worked for several designers and architects over the course of a ten-year career in Chicago.

If you're looking for a highly durable and low-maintenance kitchen surface, then stainless steel can be a great option, especially if you favor modern kitchen ideas. If you do decide to embrace this popular look, make sure to add warmth to other elements of your kitchen decor to ensure a homely look. 

Paint & Color Editor

Emily is H&G's Paint & Color Editor, covering all things color across interior design and home decor. She joined the team in the summer of 2023, having studied Fashion Communication at university before working in various creative roles ahead of making the leap into interiors. She lives in Glasgow where she loves admiring the city's architecture, frequenting her favorite coffee spots, and sourcing vintage furniture for her tenement apartment. Emily's interior style is inspired by the simplicity of midcentury design, mixed with more playful modern pieces that inject small (but bold) doses of color.