Home Decor

The Classic French Decorating Tip We're Adding to Our Kitchen

We're channeling our inner Julia Child.

March  6, 2020
Photo by Julia Gartland

Home is the place we feel the most like ourselves—where we kick off our shoes, share our meals, and make memories. We’re taking our love for all things home and bringing it to Instagram. Follow along at Home52 and make yourselves—well, you know.


I have vivid memories of playing in my great-grandmother’s kitchen as a kid. It was a cavernous farmhouse kitchen (Indian, not French) that was always equipped to feed an army. Everything in it was oversized: the wood-fire cooking stove, the rough-hewn kitchen tables, and an abundance of beautiful metal—copper and brass hand-forged into giant spatulas, pots, and saucepans. As a little girl, all that gleaming and glimmering grabbed a firm hold of my attention.

I think about that kitchen more and more these days. Not just for the amazing food it churned out, but also for those gleaming copper pots. Because everywhere I look now, copper is kitchen décor, and copper is cool.

Or maybe it never went out of style, never mind that every few years someone calls out its peak and decline. I mean why would it? It’s a great way to add warmth to a room, and dress it up—and I especially love how its pinkish hue plays so nicely with neutrals, not to mention every other metal. A real team player.

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Top Comment:
“Copper is gorgeous, and a complete pain to keep beautiful because it needs cleaning AND polishing. Grime discolours the surface, and can easily make copper look awful. Then again, if you have the money to cover your walls with that shiny gleam, you have the money for a cleaning lady to come and polish them for you.”
— M
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Aja Aktay, Home Buyer at Food52, is a big fan of using copper to make her tiny studio kitchen sing. "Layering my copper pots and pans above my stove is not only convenient, it also saves so much space! Plus, the glowing accent of the copper elevates an otherwise bleak New York apartment kitchen."

A touch of copper here and there will dress things up—sometimes, all it takes is a kettle on your stove. Photo by Julia Gartland

Copper, like brass, is an extremely adaptable material. It comes in several forms and finishes—from hammered and vintage, to new and shiny-smooth. From drawer pulls to florist buckets, candle holders, and cutlery, it can be used as accents to accessorize your home.

Being corrosion-resistant and antimicrobial, it's also a metal that's often used in bathroom and kitchen sinks and faucets. I also recently saw copper appear on a backsplash in a kitchen, and now I won't rest till I have one in mine (no time soon!).

Truthfully, copper fits into any room in the house, but it looks especially great in the kitchen. Kristina Wasserman, director, Five Two, is adamant that "copper also changes the way you cook." She dreams of owning a whole kitchen's worth of copper cookware: "Beyond being incredibly sturdy (it really will last a lifetime), it conducts heat like nothing else can."

"Copper heats, and cools down, quicker than stainless steel or enamel," says Beth Sweeney of Coppermill Kitchen. Sweeney sources and sells antique copper cookware that she finds in small markets and antique shops all over Europe, restoring each piece by hand, re-lining the interior with tin, and buffing and burnishing the exteriors to make them look brand new.

A whole kitchen worth of copper cookware, a la Julia Child, might be an unrealistic dream, but a few pieces here and there? Why not. "I love the look of a few hanging copper pots, especially with a little patina," says copper fan and decor blogger, Deb Foglia. "I have a French set that I bought online that hangs on my kitchen wall, and more recently, I came upon an amazing set for $5 at a flea market last fall. That now belongs in my pantry."

Whether your copper-decorating style is more-is-more or you prefer to work in just a little at a time, you can be sure it will outlive seasonal trends. After all, copper isn't just beautiful, it endures as a benchmark of quality in the kitchen.

What's your favorite way to style with copper? Tell us in the comments below!

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Arati Menon

Written by: Arati Menon

Arati grew up hanging off the petticoat-tails of three generations of Indian matriarchs who used food to speak their language of love—and she finds herself instinctually following suit. Life has taken her all across the world, but she carries with her a menagerie of inherited home and kitchen objects that serve as her anchor. Formerly at GQ and Architectural Digest, she's now based in Brooklyn.

3 Comments

Eddhee March 9, 2020
Copper kitchenware always adds sparkle and class to the kitchen and home generally. But I don't like them because they require high maintenance. They easily lose their shine. If there is something that can be done to retain their shine that is not tasking, then I will buy a set for my kitchen.
 
M March 6, 2020
Copper is gorgeous, and a complete pain to keep beautiful because it needs cleaning AND polishing. Grime discolours the surface, and can easily make copper look awful.

Then again, if you have the money to cover your walls with that shiny gleam, you have the money for a cleaning lady to come and polish them for you.
 
along March 6, 2020
I spent my childhood having to polish my mother's copper cookware. Beautiful but I do not have the time to spend on such chores - would rather spend my time cooking!