These Stunning Kitchen Cabinets Are Made from the Most Surprising “Old World” Material
Metal finishes tend to cycle in and out of popularity in home design, and right now, unlacquered brass is having yet another moment in kitchens and bathrooms. Unlike lacquered brass, which maintains the same color and sheen throughout its lifetime, unlacquered brass is a “living finish” that develops a patina over time, which can add a bit of warmth and character to a space. The good news, too, is most interior designers are in agreement that this finish will never go out of style. “It’s classic but always feels fresh,” says designer Liz Caan. “It’s near impossible for natural brass to look anything but elevated. It will always have a place in our design language.”
Whether you’re a recent or longtime fan of unlacquered brass, you might be wondering what other metals can achieve this same lived-in look. Both stainless steel (at least in terms of pans and bakeware) and copper can acquire a patina through everyday use, much like brass. Plus, plenty of products and home remedies exist to return all of these metals to their original shine should you want to give them a new lease on life. This makes them exceedingly long-lasting, literally and in terms of the trend cycle.
Ranging from super-bright orange to dark brown hues (think pots and pans in the kitchens of Julia Child and “Downton Abbey”) to the turquoise patina you know and love on the Statue of Liberty, copper, in particular, is a show-stopping classic. That’s why I’m happy to report that if you thought copper was limited to cookware, hardware, or just sinks, then think again. The kitchen in this modern, minimalist Kyiv studio apartment is proof copper, like brass, can be applied to something as seemingly unconventional as kitchen cabinets, and it can look fantastic. More importantly, it can be a perfect material to bridge the gap between old and new in a home that has some history to it.
Specifically, these kitchen cabinets’ fronts are made of unlacquered copper, which will age naturally to add even more texture to the space over time. When the couple who own the apartment began the demo process, they found lovely original features, like brick walls and stucco decoration, above the ceiling. This discovery precipitated a pivot in the look and feel of the renovation, and copper came to the fore in the kitchen for its modern meets timeless, rough-hewn look. “We decided to change the whole project towards a more natural and raw-looking space,” says designer Natalie Dubrovsk, owner of Dubrovska Studio, who led the design plan.
Make no mistake about it: This kitchen’s look is on the high-end side for sure, but the copper really does balances the more modern elements of this space — from the matte black hardware and walnut wood tones — with the older features that run through the rest of the apartment as mentioned above. Part of what really makes the copper work here is that even though the material has historic connotations and will patina, it has also been applied in a more modern, plain slab front style of cabinet. Plus, copper is only on the base cabinetry, which can help keep costs down a little bit versus an all-over cabinetry application. All this is to say: If you’re considering an old meets new kitchen and love the look on unlacquered brass, unlacquered copper might be worth considering for an unexpected twist on materials.