08 May 2010

Jenn-Air's new finish, Oiled Bronze

OK, back to KBIS. The largest appliance manufacturer who showed at KBIS 2010 was Jenn-Air, and they meant business. Their exhibit was huge and featured a kitchen designed by Ellen Cheever and she used cabinetry by Scavolini. Other trade folks out there will agree that Jenn-Air isn't the appliance brand that comes to mind when I think of a Scavolini kitchen or Ellen Cheever.

But this is the new Jenn-Air. Jenn-Air's owned by Whirlpool and for a long time, all of Whirlpool's energy and money went into attempting to make KitchenAid competitive with some of the higher end appliances out there.

Well apparently, all of that's changed now with the rebirth of Jenn-Air.


That's not what I want to talk about though. Jenn-Air had several full kitchens in their KBIS booth and one of them featured their new-ish finish, Oiled Bronze. Here's a close-up.


It seems to be a surface patina applied to stainless steel. That Jenn-Air sells small containers of of Oiled Bronze touch up paint for it tells me it is. It tells me too that it doesn't handle scratches very well.

It's being touted as an "instant classic" and of course, everyone with a dog in the race is repeating that phrase. Well, I wonder. It's certainly different but it reminded me of something and I couldn't quite put my finger on it.

I was poking around on Pam Kueber's terrific website, Retro Renovation and I found what it is about Oiled Bronze that strikes me.


I think it's the old appliance color Coppertone, revisted.

I wish Jenn-Air well in this push toward the upper end of the market, but the folks already sitting in that spot aren't exactly worried. It's not enough to charge a premium price, you also need to build a premium appliance to justify that cost.

What do you guys think? Is Oiled Bronze an instant classic? Is there such a thing to begin with? Is this a finish you'd buy?

31 comments:

  1. I remember a show on HGTV that does kitchen makeovers used appliances that looked similar (probably sponsored by the maker) and it just reminded me of the 70s.

    I think the average consumer is stuck on stainless steel now and forever. The average consumer doesn't go for Jenn-Air appliances, though. Maybe they'll have some success.

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  2. The whole '70s aesthetic is getting popular with the set who are too young to remember the horror of it first hand. I'm with you though, I think stainless steel is with us for the long haul.

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  3. too trendy for me, I remember the old Coppertone color well. I think in a few years this would look very dated.

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  4. So back to my original question, is looking dated always a bad thing?

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  5. The finish looks dirty and that's the last word I want to associate with kitchens. Stainless = commercial kitchens = FANCY CHEF!

    There's a difference between being period appropriate for the age of your house and dated. And before you ask NO I probably can't tell you the difference! I just know it when I see it!

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  6. I can't describe it either, so you're not alone. That's also why I keep asking that question and why I think the quest for timelessness is a fool's errand.

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  7. I saw this finish from Jenn-Air introduced at KBIS, oh, about 5 years back, in the Kraftmaid booth. I was skeptical then and still am now. I am just not buying into this "instant classic".

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  8. "Instant classic" is an oxymoron.

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  9. Heh. You guys are funny.

    I have a hard time with Jenn-Air because of so many challenges with the old Jenn-Air drop-in cooktops. Jenn-Air basically ignored our input for years until we all stopped spec'ing it. I know they've changed, but I can't bring myself to even look at it, Coppertone color or no.

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  10. I'm with you Kelly, they have an uphill battle to fight so far as I'm concerned and gimmicky finishes don't help their case.

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  11. I really do like it, but the touch-up paint concerns me.

    My kitchen remodel is 2-3 years off. I'll be interested to see if Oiled Bronze is still around.

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  12. Based on their history, I predict that they will drop it like a bad habit in a year or two. Sub Zero makes a stainless finish they call carbon. It's a dark, charcoal grey. The will sell it forever out of principle alone. But if you're into appliance colors, check out Dacor's Preference line. They use back-painted glass inserts and are available in six colors: http://www.dacor.com/Our-Products/Preference-Style.aspx

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  13. Hi Paul, Oiled bronze is an interesting name for an old color which I believe was called coppertone. I can remember when the copper finish and the olive green finish were popular in the 70's. I even remember Frigidaire's turquoise fridge; guess it went with the Thunderbird classic car.

    I wonder in 30+ years if someone will say that Stainless was trendy and dated. Classics will always stand the test of time.

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  14. That's exactly what I said. It's a revisitation of Coppertone. But if I'm not mistaken, Coppertone was an enamel, this is a surface patina on stainless.

    Solid stainless will look great for years, gimmicky combinations of stainless and black on the other hand will not. Black, plastic accents are a way to save money and that's usually a strategy for the short term.

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  15. I'm not crazy about the oiled bronze, esp. in appliances. But I was surprised in our remodel how popular oiled bronze was as a finish - for lighting, fixtures, hardware, etc. I was trying to do all chrome (am I outdated?) but ended up subbing in oiled bronze all the time because the nickel would look like I didn't know how to match, and at least oiled bronze was a contrast.

    ALSO, I picked Jenn Air for several of my appliances - fridge and oven. Both are fantastic. Regular stainless steel. I picked them for aesthetic mostly - they had handles that looked kind of industrial but without the high prices of Subzero/Wolfe/Dacor, etc. The functionality has been great so far.

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  16. Gimme chrome any day! It's been around forever, it never goes away and I suspect that oil rubbed bronze is headed to the same place antique brass is now.

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  17. I love chrome too! I can't tell you how in some items it was really hard to find, which is why we sometimes had to use oiled bronze. Do you remember on Cheers when coach was memorizing a song about Albania - he said "and their chief export is chrome." Is there a chrome deficit or something? Where is chrome from?

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  18. Here's what our friends at Wikipedia have to say about sources of Chrome: Approximately 4.4 million metric tons of marketable chromite ore were produced in 2000, and converted into ~3.3 million tons of ferro-chrome with an approximate market value of 2.5 billion United States dollars.[25] The largest producers of chromium ore have been South Africa (44%) India (18%), Kazakhstan (16%) Zimbabwe (5%), Finland (4%) Iran (4%) and Brazil (2%) with several other countries producing the rest of less than 10% of the world production.

    There is no chrome shortage I'm aware of, just the winds of change. It's making a big comeback though and I mean big.

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  19. Thank you for asking, but I think I'll pass. Makes you wonder where Jenn-Air does its market research, doesn't it? Our house has a Jenn-Air downdraft range. The oven bakes really well, but I despise the electric cooktop. An induction cooktop is in my future this summer. I see it clearly in my crystal ball.

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  20. Induction cook tops make me lose control!

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  21. The "Coppertone" moniker combined with your observation that "It seems to be a surface patina.." immediately calls (to my confused) mind the old display ads for the tanning product of the same name, with the mischievous puppy tugging the bathing suit of the young lass, to her dismay. The availability of a small can of oiled bronze touch-up paint might have been handy at that point. Or a can of pepper spray.

    Seriously, I still see this old appliance finish in some of the ski houses up here in the Green Mountains, in dire need of a little design attention. Some might be better off with a very large excavator and a dump truck. It's a tough call.

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  22. Paul, Actually Sub-Zero's Carbon is no longer available.

    And I have to say, the first time I saw JA's Oiled Bronze in person, I was far away in another local showroom and thought, "Did someone panel her oven?" It looked like plywood.

    But that was from far away. Close up I think it does look like Coppertone.

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  23. Carbon's gone? Well color me mistaken. Thanks for letting me know. I think I need some new spec book.

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  24. Paul I hate to disagree with you but I like it. I am so over "stainless appliances for everyone"... it's nice to see something different. Having Coppertone appliances growing up and seeing the Jenn-air booth I didn't really make the connection. What I do see is selling tons of Brizo's Brushed Bronze kitchen faucets to match! :-)

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  25. I've had stainless and tired of it. For what it is worth, I have the second-generation JA, oiled bronze suite (with bronze handles rather than stainless) and I absolutely adore it. It doesn't show finger prints and the finish is very resilient (not a single scratch with a really active, clumsy family). No doubt it is an acquired taste for many but I am in love with it. It may be the Harvest or Avocado or Coppertone of our time, but I guess it only matters if we like it. :)

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  26. I have never been a fan of stainless and have always prefered the browntones. Since our house was distroyed by fire Nov. 18,2010 we have been forced to rebuild. I was so excited to see the Jenn-Air line of oiled bronze appliances. I think it's just beautiful! And would love to have it in my new kitchen. I'm afraid I just can't afford it. But if Jenn-Air would be willing it install it for me I would be their ambassador for life! And my kitchen would always be on display for showing! I think the color is just beautiful!

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  27. this oiled bronze is exactly what I'm looking for. My accents are that and a farm house copper kitchen sink with cream hand painted cabinets and a quartz countertop with copper flecks. Where can I get this? I'm so over stainless steel...did it make it or did they disco?

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  28. I am curious, most of these are older posts, how has the Bronze Series done since 2010?

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  29. They're backing away from it and fast. It's only available on one out of their 30 models these days and will probably be discontinued all together when the next model year comes out in the spring.

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  30. I am ecstatic about the oil-ed bronze. Don't care for black,white or stainless steel ( worked in an OR for 15 years and it reminds me of sterile rooms and sterile instruments!

    I am planning my whole kitchen remodel around the appliances!

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