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Walls of exposed brick, painted cabinets, pristine marble countertops, and wide-plank white oak floors: Sounds like a dream kitchen, doesn't it? But just because material like these are popular (and in some cases, traditional) doesn't mean they're the only options out there that fits your budget and desired look.
Here are eight materials we've loved seeing architects and designers using more of, and how to incorporate them in your kitchen.
Instead of smooth cedar slabs or white oak planks on the floor, try something a little rougher around the edges—and let the pattern stand out on its own.
- Plywood—which is quite strong due to its glue-and-wood mosaic makeup and relatively cheap, too—can be fashioned into walls, flooring, or even custom furniture and surfaces that look far more sophisticated than you'd ever expect.
- The process behind cerused (or lime-washed) wood works best on oak because it highlights its natural grain in stark white. Either keep the wood a natural color (great if you're using lots of it, as for cabinets) or paint it a bold color to make the grain really pop (best for accent pieces).
Fear not the frosted finish! It's come a long way since 1990.
- Glassos, which is a durable crystal-glass hybrid, will lend glossy translucence if you use it for a countertop.
- For partitions between rooms (think kitchen to living), or windows where the objective is light rather than transparency (think bathrooms), sandblasted glass has a hazy, glowy look and offers plenty of privacy.
To get the creamy stony look of concrete at home, you don't have to call in a truck-sized mixing truck and a professional to pour a custom countertop.
- A kind of malleable concrete that you can work with like clay, ShapeCrete is making it easier for homeowners to craft custom concrete accents (we love countertops!) on their own.
- It sounds like it would look unfinished, but with the right decorations, exposed cinder blocks—part structural and part rustic, and naturally neutral grey—make gorgeous walls.
Rather than depending on stainless steel to lend any sort of ambiance to a space, turn, instead, to metals that have patina on purpose.
- For fronting a fridge, as the material for a hood, or for topping a table, blue-grey zinc has a naturally antiqued look—and it's durable, naturally anti-microbial, and non-porous.
- Rather than being polished, browned brass is aged on purpose, and it lends a much more subtle glint than full-shine glass. How great is it on René Redzepi's sink, below?
What inventive materials have you loved seeing in kitchen design as of late? Dream big in the comments.