Will my white-and-gray kitchen look okay if we go with black, Energy Star–rated appliances?
There's no question about it, black will stand out dramatically against an all-white palette. If you're cool with the contrast, go for it. If not, stick to stainless. There are some affordable options. Check out the “scratch and dent” section of an appliance store and you'll find huge discounts. Don't worry, it sounds worse than it is—usually appliances have just small imperfections, and depending on your set–up, they may not be visible. Restaurant supply stores also carry stainless options that aren't too pricey.