A Magnet Damaged My $2,000 Fridge

updated Sep 8, 2022
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(Image credit: Emma Fiala)

Stainless steel appliances sometimes look like big tin cans in your kitchen. Black stainless steel, on the other hand, is an understated alternative to the traditional glaring silver metal and is a big trend in kitchens these days. It also doesn’t show smudges and fingerprints as readily. I loved everything about black stainless steel appliances until I owned one myself and learned the hard way that they have one huge drawback.

I first saw black stainless steel in House Beautiful‘s 2015 kitchen of the year, but it didn’t fully hit my radar until my husband and I were shopping for our own kitchen renovation. We looked at a lot of boring appliances until we saw The One.

The sexy, gorgeous, black stainless steel KitchenAid with a slide-away shelf, a self-close custom temperature-controlled pantry drawer, faux wood(!) trim, and a platinum interior. I may have swooned. All the other plain old, all-the-same fridges were now offensive in comparison. We were both smitten.

(Image credit: KitchenAid)

The bad news: It was over four thousand dollars. Yeah, no. Although we want to love and adore everything in our old Victorian, the math just wasn’t there. So I scoured the internet, and finally found one at a Sears Outlet for a little over $2,000.

That was still a lot of cash but a bargain compared to the regular price. And it was new in the box, despite the scratch and dent discount. We discussed it some more, shaved some expenses elsewhere in the reno budget, and ordered it. I was absolutely giddy at the thought of having such a beautiful appliance.

We christened the new fridge with a bottle of bubbly. (Image credit: Dana McMahan)

While it’s mildly embarrassing to admit how much I loved this fridge, I also don’t mind. Appliances have to be functional, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be beautiful. I (carefully) cleaned it regularly and kept the surface free of anything that would mar its luster.

Then we went on vacation and left a house sitter to care for our two dogs in our home. Arriving back late at night after a long travel day, the first thing I noticed was a note on the kitchen counter. “I’m so sorry about your fridge,” it read. WHAT!?

The new scratch. (Image credit: Dana McMahan)

Yep. On the lefthand door, above the water dispenser, was a big glaring scratch, surrounded by a bunch of smaller scratches. How on earth could this have happened, I wondered, envisioning a knife somehow whirling around and hitting the door. It turns out the house sitter placed a magnet on the fridge to hold a recipe. When they took it off, it gouged the black finish. In an attempt to buff out the original scratch, they created more.

I contacted KitchenAid to see if this could (please, please) be repaired. Here was their one-line response:

We are very sorry; we do not have any recommendations for taking scratches out of black stainless steel.

That was it.

Maybe this is a lesson against inordinate fondness for any one object, let alone a kitchen appliance. But, in the throes of my infatuation, I didn’t research carefully enough, or I’d have found this thread on Reddit, which just might have steered me to a different choice. Here’s a selection of comments:

  • Black “stainless”… is simply a treatment on top of regular stainless. It is very easily scratched, and sticks out like a sore thumb…
  • Go check out some store models.
  • Wouldn’t recommend.
  • Exactly this, check out store display models that have been scratched. They look terrible.

Argh! Take it from me. If you’re considering black stainless steel, either keep all sharp objects away from the appliance forever or maybe go with a different finish… like regular stainless steel.