Home appliances with Marc Hottenroth - Home Front

Marc Hottenroth
Mar 22, 2018

Marc Hottenroth is the executive director of industrial design at GE Appliances. He has been with GE Appliances for 25 years and is an expert on finishes, features and new designs. Ask him your questions about your current dishwashers, ranges, washing machines or fridges or what you are dreaming of for the future.

Every week, Jura Koncius helps you in your quest to achieve domestic bliss. She and weekly guests, whether Martha Stewart, the Property Brothers or Nate Berkus, answer your decorating and design questions. Jura is always happy to whip out her paint chips, track down a hard-to-find piece of furniture or offer her seasoned advice on practical living and decluttering. For more than 10 years, Home Front has been an online conversation about the best way to make your home comfortable, stylish and fun. We invite you to submit questions and share you own great tips, ideas and gripes. No problem is too big or too small, send them over.

Hi everyone, 

I'm excited to join today's chat and talk about the latest in appliances. Feel free to send questions relating to features, tech, design and trends. I'll try to get to as many as we can! 



Thrilled to have a chat about major appliances today with Marc Hottenroth, executive director of industrial design at GE Appliances. He leads teams of designers as they innovate and fine tune all those appliances that are crucial to all of us.  From setting the design vision to finalizing production details, Marc and his team are focused on creating distinctive products that connect with our lifestyles. So let's go.

Hi Marc. Can you briefly describe the pros and cons of counter-depth vs. "regular" refrigerators? I've only had the latter, but always hated the way they stick out in most kitchens. What, if anything, do you gain/give up in terms of functionality, if you go with counter depth?

Counter-depth really improves the look of the kitchen by making your kitchen look larger because it doesn't take up valuable space. It also looks more high-end. The cons are you give up a little of capacity within the refrigerator - the shelves are a little less deep, but most people find it is big enough. 

When do you recommend a darker finish, like Slate, in place of stainless steel appliances?

Slate in value doesn't really look any darker than Stainless Steel. Black Slate, a black matte finish, is much darker. Black Slate looks good blending in with darker cabinets or if you want to create high contrast - dark appliances and light cabinets. You'll see that contrast in other industries too like Range Rover with a white bottom and a dark top. Both Slate and Black Slate look more seamless within your home because they don't have the reflection that Stainless brings. 

What's the coolest new feature with Microwaves?

One of the cool new features that's coming is voice-controlled microwaves with Amazon Alexa. Imagine placing your popcorn in and saying"cook popcorn." We'll have a list of foods you'll be able to cook by name. From a design perspective we have some new sleek looks which put the controls toward the bottom of the over-the-range microwave door giving it a clean look. 

Do the front knobs on the GE oven melt if the oven door is left open too long?

No they won't melt because they are made of high temperature materials, and we have very thorough testing. 

We are remodeling our kitchen and wondering what is the most popular paint color used on kitchen cabinets. Also are people mixing Dove White on trim, baseboards etc with oyster white?

Light gray continues to be a very popular cabinet color. Also mixing lighter upper cabinets and darker lower cabinets is very on trend. White continues to be popular and I also see white cabinetry and a dark color island cabinet. You see a lot of mixing and matching. You can mix textures like eggshell and gloss as well so yes, go ahead and mix Dove White and Oyster White. 

How are people using Amazon Alexa or Google Home to control their appliances?

One of our most popular use cases is the wall oven preheat feature. People can preheat their oven on the way home for the store. We're also seeing voice controlled laundry growing in popularity. People are checking the status of their laundry by voice so they don't have to walk up and down the stairs. 

Is Stainless Steel still popular for appliances? What's the next hot finish that you see sticking around for awhile.

Stainless Steel continues to be popular. Although we do find that some people feel that Stainless Steel doesn't fit with their kitchen decor as well as some of our other finishes we introduced like Slate (a gray matte finish), Black Slate or Black Stainless. 

Many people have homes with open floor plans so it is important that our appliances blend with the overall look of the space.  

A few of our finishes: http://www.geappliances.com/ge/appliance-finish-trends.htm


Hi Jura, I’m hoping you or some other chatters may be able to offer some suggestions....I am installing ceiling fans in two dark rooms, and I’d like to purchse fans which provide exceptional light. Could you recommend and particular brands or models that are great lighting sources? This has been somewhat difficult to find online. Thank you!

Hi everyone: Do you have ideas for this reader?

Hi Mr. Hottenroth, I am a big fan of GE Appliances, especially after attending Monogram Immersion Training in Louisville last year. I was wondering what you and your development team think of designing a Monogram branded Induction Pro Range? Other brands have similar products, but Monogram certainly outperforms other brands in quality, price, and design. Is this product feasible? Or is it too expensive to produce? Thank you!

We've considered it. What do you think about the whole cooktop being induction or mixing induction with gas burners or a griddle? Kind of like a modular approach to the cooktop. 

This question is for Marc Hottenroth, I was wondering when he believes the induction cooking market will take a bigger hold in the US? Also when / if this happens will it bring more color to the range top with led's or a color other than black? Thank you

We've seen the popularity of induction growing in the past few years. A lot of times these trends start in professional kitchens and then move to consumers' homes. Some other reasons people like induction is that it is very precise, energy efficient and has a much broader opportunity for color and finish selection. I also think that the use of LEDs is a smart way to give visual feedback to the user. 

I want to do something to update my kitchen; I have recently painted it (nice). What can I do with old formica countertops and old oak veneer cabinets to at least improve them, for $1k or so?

For under $1,000 you can resurface your countertops (right on top of the old one). You can also paint your oak cabinets in a hip color. Check out Pinterest and Houzz for color inspiration.

I love my old GE side by side refrigerator but am not sure whether to replace it with another side by side or try another style. If I sell my house in a few years what type of refrigerator do buyers want and in what finish?

French door bottom freezers are growing in popularity. I would explore stainless alternatives like Slate, Black Slate or Black Stainless. Also with our Monogram column refrigerators you can install a custom cabinet front to blend seamlessly with your kitchen decor. 

More info on the column refrigerator: http://appliances.monogram.com/us/kitchen/full-size-refrigerators?Product+Category=Integrated+Refrigerators&Overall+Height=83.375

For Marc: I’ve just finished a kitchen makeover and I cannot begin to tell you how great it was that GE introduced a counter-depth refrigerator that was not only French door with ice and water through but that was narrow enough to fit my space and even more important get through my kitchen doorway without needing to have it enlarged (GYE18JSLAFSS). Saved me a bundle. Please pass my thanks along to everyone who gets the credit. Not everyone has huge fridge space options and it’s great that someone realized that we also want bells and whistles.

So glad we could help you out! 

I love the look of the big, restaurant style appliances but I think they would overwhelm my kitchen. Do you have any recommendations for getting the professional look while maintaining a balanced scale?

Look for front control ranges as well as appliances with stainless steel to get a professional look. Our Cafe line is restaurant-inspired but sized for your kitchen.



Most kitchen appliances seem to be designed for cooks, yet a large number of us are, at best, food assemblers. Refrigerators and freezers pose challenges for us. We need more vertical than horizontal (deep) space, otherwise items stuck in the back of the 'fridge or freezer are lost forever or become science experiments. Are we ever in your design requirements ?

We're constantly looking for ways to help cook better. We just released an oven that has assisted cooking - where you can pick a food type and the oven helps guide through the steps to cook it with the best results. We've also partnered with Drop and Innit which also help guide you through the cooking process like preheating your oven at the right time in the recipe or meal orchestration. In terms of needed more space, our Monogram Columns are designed to have more vertical space and offer flexibility for different widths. You can have more freezer or refrigeration space if you need.  Our undercounter refrigeration drawers are another great way to get more refrigeration space in a specific area of your kitchen. 

Hi Jura: I’ve been struggling with selecting lighting for our long and narrow dining room. We have a cherry wood parsons-style table with cream Eames molded plastic chairs. We should we do here for lighting? Chandelier? Pendants? Thanks.

Pendants sound like a good choice - Something not too heavy with your long wood table. Have you checked out Rejuvenation?

Have you checked out my story this week on how to store pills? Here it is. Do you have any thoughts on where is the best place to store supplements and meds so you'll remember to take them and they will be safe and away from kids and dogs?

Why can't appliance makers agree on the dimensions of appliances? We lived in the EU and they have regulations about everything. It meant we could choose a new glass top drop in oven from several makers. We tried to renovate my parents' 1964 GE drop ins, and nothing fit. We needed a new range in our current home and nothing fit. This is frustrating.

You are right there is no industry standard in the U.S. but we do try to have a guaranteed fit with our oven sizes. 


Hi Marc, Can you give us the latest in appliance trends and specifically what's new with some of GE's appliances? New colors, features, etc.? Are 'Smart Kitchens' and smart appliances really taking hold with consumers? Finally, while I love my stainless steel appliances, the constant finger prints and smudges drive me crazy ;-) Any advice?

One of the biggest changes in appliances is in the user interface. Many people expect products to have a similar experience that they have on their smartphones or tablets. This is true across many industries like consumer electronics and automotive. It's becoming increasingly expected in the appliance industry. We have designed many easy to use, intuitive and delightful interfaces for our appliances that meet the expectation of today's consumers like our glide control on our induction cooktops and our new LCD Wall Oven.  In terms of fingerprints, matte finishes like our Slate are great at keeping your fridge fingerprint free.  

I'm buying a house in April, and will have a real live dishwasher for the first time in my adult life. I also have vintage--yet durable-- dishware from the 50s, and I'm wondering the best settings to use to keep the dishes safe in the dishwasher.

Some things to consider for dishwashers, look for one with a third rack where you can put your utensils. We hear consistently that the third rack is really useful because it frees up space on the other two racks. 

Also look at dry performance, some dishwashers come with a dry boost feature. 

Also consider what size is good for your home and lifestyle. If you are moving into a small kitchen the Haier brand offers an 18" dishwasher. 


We just installed GE Slate range, microwave, dishwasher & fridge. All work well and it is a great color! The only thing better would be if you offered a drop-in range and if the range showed which burner was Hot, rather than one light indicating that any of the 5 burners could be hot

Glad to hear you are a Slate fan! We do have a few Slate slide-in options in electric. Do you remember what model number you have for your range? Many of them do have light indicators for the specific burners. 

Pros/cons to a "drawer" microwave v the usual mounted?

A drawer microwave can be installed underneath a cabinet so they may look better based on the format of your kitchen because they can be more hidden or blend better. If they are mounted lower they are also more accessible. 

The con is they are typically shorter in height.

My GE 2200 Dishwasher isn't getting dishes as clean as it used to. I'm planning on a full kitchen remodel, but not until next year. What can I do between now and then to improve the performance of the dishwasher?

Be sure to check all the troubleshooting tips like cleaning the filter and using a rinse agent as well as a high quality detergent. Also you may need to check to see if your water temperature is high enough. 

- What are the coolest new features on GE Appliances? - What's the best finish for someone who wants to avoid smudges and fingerprints?

Some of my favorite new features include our door-in-door refrigerator with a pivoting door bin. It's cool because you can grab items quickly without having to open the entire refrigerator door. 

The pivoting door bin allows you to access items at the back of the bin as well. 

Great chat! Those appliances in our homes are something we rely on and it's good to know more about them and the best way to choose and use them. Thanks Marc. Meanwhile, next week we'll be talking everything IKEA with Janice Simonsen, the IKEA design spokesperson in America. See you then.

Thanks everyone! Really enjoyed chatting. As you can tell I'm really passionate about appliances and design. I could chat all day about it but we're wrapping up. We're constantly designing and launching new appliances to make people's lives easier, happier and healthier! So stay tuned!

In This Chat
Jura Koncius
Jura Koncius is a Washington Post staff writer who specializes in home and design. Read her daily twitter feed @jurakoncius for the latest in decorating trends, shopping, decluttering, organizing and DC retail.

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Marc Hottenroth
Janice Simonsen
Janice Simonsen, IKEA spokesperson
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