Sleek, shiny, sophisticated—stainless steel is a must for any high-end apartment or condo kitchen. And now developers can bring this modern appeal to mid-priced multifamily homes.

A growing number of manufacturers are introducing stainless steel look-a-like products. Take General Electric's new Hotpoint suite of kitchen appliances with a silver metallic paint finish. The suite includes a microwave, refrigerator, dishwasher, and gas or electric range.

“These are great products for multifamily developers because you get the look of stainless steel at a lower cost,” says Bob Baird, global product merchant for appliances for The Home Depot, the product's distributor. “This is truly ‘affordable luxury.'” Plus, unlike stainless steel, the Hotpoint appliance line is magnetic and fingerprint-resistant.

HEAVY METAL: For the look of stainless steel for less, try the Hotpoint side-by-side refrigerator. The silver metallic finish resists fingerprints and is easy to clean, the company says. The refrigerator features a 25-cubic-foot capacity, up-front electronic temperature controls, adjustable glass shelves, water filtration system, and a sealed vegetable/fruit crisper.
HEAVY METAL: For the look of stainless steel for less, try the Hotpoint side-by-side refrigerator. The silver metallic finish resists fingerprints and is easy to clean, the company says. The refrigerator features a 25-cubic-foot capacity, up-front electronic temperature controls, adjustable glass shelves, water filtration system, and a sealed vegetable/fruit crisper.

This offering couldn't come at a better time: Prices for raw stainless steel materials increased by as much as 60 percent last year. Sundance Development Group turned to Hotpoint for a more cost-effective way to outfit condominiums in California.

“We've put them [the suites of appliances] in two different condo conversions, and people absolutely love them,” says Steve Johnson, owner of the San Diego-based condo development company. “People go on and on about them.”

Even better, these products help keep prices down. The company saves about $500 to $600 per unit by using Hotpoint instead of stainless steel. “I would predict all the affordable home builders are going to be going this direction,” Johnson adds.

Other manufacturers are targeting high-end renters and buyers who want the look of stainless but without the upkeep. Whirlpool's Satina refrigerator costs about the same as stainless but is easier to keep looking its best. Made of a metallic finish over carbon steel, the Satina resists fingerprints and smudges and is magnetic.

Expect the craze for stainless steel—and its look-alikes—to continue in 2005 and beyond.

For more information, call GE Co. at 800-626-2000 or visit www.hotpoint.com.