Martha Stewart’s stainless steel kitchen is striking – but is it a pain to maintain?

Martha Stewart’s stunning stainless steel kitchen has captivated home decorators and inspired many to opt for this sleek, modern look in their own homes. However, while stainless steel offers an undeniably striking aesthetic, it does require some special care and maintenance to keep it looking pristine. In this article, we’ll explore the pros and cons of a stainless steel kitchen, look at Martha Stewart’s own stainless kitchen design, and provide tips for keeping stainless surfaces sparkling.

The Pros of a Stainless Steel Kitchen

There are several reasons why stainless steel has become a popular choice for kitchens:

Aesthetically Pleasing and Modern

The polished, mirrored finish of stainless steel gives kitchens a very sleek, contemporary look. It has a clean, bright feel that creates the impression of an upscale, cutting-edge space. Stainless makes a kitchen appear more open and airy.

Easy to Clean and Sanitize

Stainless steel has a non-porous surface that resists water, oil, and grease. This makes it very easy to keep clean, sanitize, and prevent bacterial growth. You can easily wipe away messes with just soap and water.

Durable and Heat-Resistant

Stainless steel is highly durable and dent-resistant. It can withstand high temperatures, making it ideal for busy kitchen environments. Stainless steel can last for decades with proper care.

Adds Value to a Home

A stainless steel kitchen is considered a premium feature that adds resale value to a home. The sleek look and low-maintenance requirements make stainless steel a selling point.

The Cons of a Stainless Steel Kitchen

However, there are also some downsides to keep in mind with stainless steel:

Fingerprints and Smudges

The mirrored surface also means that fingerprints, water spots, and smudges show up easily. Oils from hands can leave behind fingerprints that obscure the clean look.

Noise and Echo

The hard, flat surface of stainless steel does not absorb sound well. Noisy appliances and kitchen tools can reverberate and create an echo effect in a stainless kitchen.

Can Scratch and Dent

While very durable, stainless steel can be susceptible to scratches, scuffs, and dents from utensils, pots/pans, and appliances. Accidentally gouging the surface is not uncommon.

Condensation and Water Marks

Temperature fluctuations and high humidity can cause condensation to form on the surface, leaving behind hard water deposits and mineral staining.

Costly Installation and Repairs

Installing high-quality stainless steel cabinets, appliances, sinks, and counters can be a significant upfront investment. Repairing any dents, scratches or damage can also be costly.

Martha Stewart’s Stainless Steel Kitchen Design

Martha Stewart’s own kitchen in her Bedford, New York farmhouse provides an excellent case study in stainless steel kitchen design:

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Image source: The Spruce

Her kitchen features glossy stainless steel cabinets, drawers, appliances, sink, and countertops. The look is seamless, sleek, and ultramodern. She utilizes the following stainless steel elements:

  • Cabinets and drawers: Floor-to-ceiling stainless cabinetry maximizes storage while contributing to the room’s modern aesthetic. The uninterrupted steel surface reflects light beautifully.
  • Professional grade appliances: Commercial-style stainless ovens, stovetops, range hoods, and refrigerators give the kitchen an upscale, restaurant-quality look.
  • Extra-large farmhouse sink: A deep, double-basin stainless sink provides functional workspace. The wide expanse of steel coordinates perfectly with the other surfaces.
  • Countertops: Stainless steel countertops complement the other components and are easy to disinfect after food prep. The modern look harmonizes beautifully in Martha’s kitchen.

While certainly striking in appearance, maintaining this vast expanse of stainless steel does require effort and care. Let’s look at some tips for keeping stainless surfaces looking their best:

Caring for Stainless Steel in the Kitchen

To help your stainless steel maintain its luster and prevent damage, consider these tips:

Clean Often with Mild Cleaners

  • Use a gentle cleaner like dish soap and water to wipe down stainless steel regularly. Avoid abrasive cleaners or scrubbing pads.
  • Rinse well and dry thoroughly with a soft cloth to prevent water spots.
  • Immediately wipe up food debris, grease splatters, etc to minimize staining.

Remove Hard Water Stains

  • Hard water can leave behind calcium or mineral deposits. Use white vinegar or lemon juice to dissolve these stains.
  • For stubborn stains, try a stainless steel polish paste. Always scrub gently in the direction of the grain.

Protect from Scratches

  • Use non-abrasive pads and soft cloths when cleaning.
  • Install scratch-resistant films on stainless surfaces that will see a lot of use.
  • Take care not to drag pots, pans or utensils across the steel.

Oil Frequently

-Using a food-grade oil like olive or coconut oil helps prevent fingerprints and smudges.

  • Rub a small amount of oil on the surface using a soft cloth. Only a thin layer is needed.
  • Do not use cooking spray, as sticky residue can build up.

Handle Spills Promptly

  • Quickly wipe up any oil/grease spills before they have a chance to seep in or cause stains.
  • Use baking soda or diluted vinegar to remove discoloration from spills.

Avoid Chlorine and Salt

  • Rinse stainless surfaces that come in contact with chlorinated water or salt solutions. This prevents corrosion.
  • Do not allow stainless steel to be exposed to bleach solutions.

By caring for your stainless surfaces diligently, you can enjoy gleaming stainless for years before major restoration is needed. Preventative maintenance is key.

Martha Stewart’s Stainless Steel Kitchen: Striking but Demanding

Martha Stewart’s flawless stainless steel kitchen is certainly breathtaking in its beauty. However, keeping stainless steel looking so perfect requires rigorous and frequent cleaning. Water spots, fingerprints, grease stains, hard water deposits, and scratches can accumulate quickly without proper care.

The effort needed to maintain a stainless kitchen should not be underestimated. However, many find that routine cleaning and polishing provides satisfying rewards when they can enjoy the striking, mirror-like sheen. With its alluring industrial aesthetic, stainless steel creates a focal point kitchen that makes all the elbow grease worthwhile for devoted homeowners.

Frequently Asked Questions About Stainless Steel Kitchens

Here are some common questions about stainless steel kitchens:

Is a stainless steel kitchen high maintenance?

Yes, stainless steel kitchen components generally require frequent cleaning and care to maintain the flawless look. Oil, water spots, fingerprints, and food debris will show readily on stainless surfaces, necessitating nearly daily cleaning. Stainless also requires polishing and sealing to prevent scratches. The regular care needed is higher than for other surface materials like laminate or wood.

What cleaners can I use on stainless steel?

The best cleaners for routine stainless cleaning are mild dish soap, white vinegar, or rubbing alcohol. Avoid abrasive cleaners or scrubbing pads. For polishing, use a stainless steel polish paste. Do not use bleach solutions, as these can corrode and damage stainless steel.

How do I make stainless steel shine?

To make stainless steel shine, clean thoroughly with a stainless steel cleaner or mild soap and water. Rinse and dry completely. Next, apply a thin coating of food-grade oil like olive or coconut oil using a soft cloth. Rub the oil over the entire surface. Finally, buff the steel with a microfiber cloth to reveal the shine.

Can stainless steel rust?

Yes, stainless steel contains iron which means it can corrode and rust without proper care. Regular cleaning and oiling help prevent rust. Avoid exposing stainless steel to salt solutions, bleach, or chlorinated water which can allow rust to develop.

How do I get scratches out of stainless steel?

Very light scratches can be buffed out using a stainless steel polish paste and a soft cloth. Rub the paste in the direction of the grain. For deeper scratches, you may need to use a more abrasive product made for removing scratches. Always start gently, testing a small area first before applying more pressure.

Is stainless steel expensive to install?

Stainless steel kitchen components like cabinets, counters, and appliances tend to be significantly more expensive than alternative materials like laminate, tile, or enamel finishes. The installation also takes specialized skills, so labor costs may be higher as well. Overall costs can be several thousand dollars more for a complete stainless kitchen.


While alluring, a full stainless steel kitchen requires dedication to regular cleaning and care. Martha Stewart’s flawless stainless design sets a high bar for maintenance. Preventing water spots, fingerprints, grease stains, and scratches demands attentive upkeep. Yet many find the striking contemporary look well worth the effort needed to maintain the lustrous shine and delicate surface. With its sleek industrial feel, a stainless steel kitchen makes a bold statement balanced by the satisfaction of keeping it looking its best.

What are your thoughts on the pros and cons of a stainless steel kitchen? Do you find the look appealing and worth the maintenance required? Let us know if you have any other tips for keeping stainless steel pristine!