Innovative Use of Metal in Kitchen Design

Are metallics the new white? Here, we take a look at four kitchens that have taken metals to a new level, plus a carefully curated collection of surfaces for even more kitchen inspiration.

We see metals such as zinc, steel and tin popping up everywhere along with an increased use of textural elements in fresh elegant ways. In these shining examples, the heart of the home showcases beautiful materials, from metals and marble to concrete and rough-hewn wood.

Comfort meets style in a contemporary spin on Arts & Crafts

photographs by Chi Chi Ubiña

When a pair of empty nesters requested a modernist kitchen with clean lines in their new Riverside home, architect McKee Patterson, partner at Austin Patterson Disston, chose to use the careful crafting of materials, the hallmark of the Arts & Crafts style, in his design. Rounded edges, and a curved main island and drawer openings were used in contrast to the more typical severe edges of the modern style. “The intent was to create a kitchen with the clean exuberance of 21st-century modern, but to make it warm and welcoming,” explains Patterson.

In this open “L” space, having the cooktop in the center peninsula creates a strong core that’s capped off with a custom hood. “Then we started horsing around with three finishes: veneer anigre wood, metal and stone,” says Patterson.

“We used an unusual wood—anigre—which is light and has quite a bit of figuring, and a patina zinc on the wall of cabinetry,” says Patterson. The two materials stand in contrast, one light and airy, and the other dark and brooding. In addition, dark heat-treated oak flooring contrasts with the light cabinetry and gray speckled granite countertops.

The kitchen connects the breakfast room and family room, and the entire space takes advantage of fabulous water views. The counter overlooking the harbor is now one of the couple’s favorite spots in the house.


Concrete and steel pair with curves and textures to create a clean-lined yet welcoming space

photographs by Linda Kane

Space to cook and work together in a kitchen also suited for informal entertaining was priority number one for this young family of four. Klaff’s designer Annette DePaepe met the challenge by creating a clean-lined look that’s low maintenance and in keeping with the home’s transitional style.

Stone, copper and steel were used near the pizza oven. Metals were echoed in the range’s custom hood with copper strapping. The designer also incorporated steel in oven side panels and legs to help define the cooking area. Pulldown stainless screens hide counter appliances while not in use.

At the island with a concrete top—chosen for its durability and carefree maintenance—the kids mix cookies and work on school projects. The narrow sink fits with their love for entertaining: “They fill it with ice and drinks, as well as using it for prep and clean-up,” says DePaepe.

To balance the coolness of the metals, custom Neff wooden cabinets were stained a soothing gray. “English Sycamore brings warmth simply because of the quality of the finish and the grain of the wood,” says DePaepe. Spaces are subtly defined by using a satin finish in the larger kitchen areas, then a high gloss to create a more formal feeling in the breakfast bar, where cabinets shine with aluminum-framed glass. “I like how the clean straight lines are combined with the soft curves of the hood and lighting; the combination of matte and gloss, plus the metals and woods,” notes DePaepe. “It all flows smoothly together and you immediately feel at ease in the space.”




Mosaic and tin create a vision of elegant Old-World chram

photographs by robert Grant

The original kitchen in decorator Margaret Hornung’s Georgian Colonial was tiny and anything but elegant, with fire-engine red floors and red thunder bolts painted on the walls. It required a gut renovation, so Hornung started by bumping the ceiling up two stories and adding a spacious walk-through pantry. “I wanted the kitchen to be the heart of the home,” she says.

Inspired by French bistros, her kitchen plan included tin and mosaics. The pressed tin panels on the front of her cabinets were faux painted and sealed in order to survive the varying humidity of a kitchen. The ceiling was also painted and sealed, but with enough metal coming through to create a timeless brasserie feeling. “I always had a love for old tin ceilings used in loft spaces in New York and in Europe,” she says. “It’s more charming and interesting for things to have a patina.”

The kitchen table, mosaic floors and backsplashes are all imported marble custom designed by Hornung and tile specialist Jan Bullard. Throughout the space, her use of black and white is very graphic and fresh.

High-end appliances include two Miele dishwashers, steam oven, warming drawer and a microwave/convection oven, plus side-by-side Sub-Zero refrigerators. The La Cornue stove with Viking hood is any gourmet’s dream—and Hornung’s favorite part of the kitchen. “My husband has his midlife crisis car, and I have my midlife crisis stove,” she laughs.



Rustic materials and unexpected metals naturally blend with simplicity and ease of use

photographs by robert grant

A discussion with Liz Beinfield’s brother, architect Bruce Beinfield, turned a simple addition into a redesign of her entire Rowayton home. And this real estate agent doesn’t have a shred of regret. “Rebuilding the house was a great experience,” says Liz. “I loved every minute of it and I’d do it again. I felt like I was on a scavenger hunt, finding stone in Massachusetts and zinc in Atlanta.”

That zinc-topped center island is the focal point in this kitchen. Used in French garden rooms and bars for centuries, the material is gaining in popularity in American homes. Bruce’s use of curved plaster walls softens the industrial impact of the island and other metal accents, such as the Crouse-Hinds vintage lights and the zinc chair in Liz’s office. Adjacent to the kitchen, he used space-saving wooden doors on stainless-steel tracks to carve out a front-hall closet, powder room, pantry and office from a relatively small footprint.

Joe Najmy, owner of NuKitchens, acted as a sounding board for Liz throughout the project. Plain & Fancy cabinets and shelves in Stony Bridge complement the wood and the metals.“We worked closely with Bruce on making sure the island had perfect balance and symmetry.”

For Liz, the best thing about the kitchen is its simplicity and ease of use. “Open cabinetry is so easy,” she says. “I just empty the dishwasher right onto the shelves.” And its central location makes the space great for entertaining:  “I love that the kitchen is as much a part of the house as any other part.”