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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.
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."
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!