4 Creative Ways To Bring Copper Into Your Kitchen Design

There's something about the cheery butterscotch color of copper in a kitchen. Certainly there's a historic element to that attraction, since copper has been a mainstay of cookware in Britain's Windsor Castle for centuries. Additionally, its glinting bronze beauty was a common sight throughout the Colonial Americas, where folks would prepare meals over the great family hearth in large copper cauldrons (via Heroes, Heroines, & History).

We like to incorporate copper into kitchen design for a number of reasons. First, it's a near-perfect pairing of form and function. Additionally, because people have been using it for ages, copper not only imparts an aura of tradition, but also transmits a warmth that many other metals and materials can't match. Furthermore, on the color spectrum, copper is in pleasant proximity to the hues of wicker and freshly baked bread. But because it changes patina with exposure to the environment (via Science Direct), there are dozens of colors available in everything from switch plates to mirror edges.

As such, copper is compatible with nearly any accent you can imagine in the kitchen. Some people save or buy cake tins and coffee cans to fill out exposed corners; others will frame an entire room by installing copper windowsills. Carry that theme to its logical conclusion, and you can picture how homey and welcoming it would be to have copper moulding, trim, baseboards, and more.

Put your copper cookware on display

Cooking with copper is the most common way you'll see it used in any kitchen. As a material, it has a thermal conductivity that makes it a great container for the task, as noted by Garrett Wade. But it also has that burnished caramel beauty that you only get from copper.

Easy to work with and gorgeous to behold, copper cookware can be finicky to clean and maintain, requiring extra care in washing and frequent polishing (via Williams Sonoma). But the aesthetic it can bring into your space is pleasing enough that many homeowners wouldn't dream of hiding such things in a cupboard. Instead, kitchens are festooned with them on hooks as points of pride as well as objects of beauty to admire. 

Although much of what's considered the best copper cookware is made (sometimes by hand) in France, The Metal Peddler will sell you a real — not plated — copper overhead hanging pot rack to put your treasures on display — and those are made right here in the USA. (Full disclosure: Copper can be toxic, so every piece of cookware has to be coated, typically with tin or stainless steel. Each has plusses and minuses.)

Put in copper countertops

Copper countertops are a bit on the pricey side, since the metal hovers between $100 and $200 a square foot. But if you're can't get that the old world look and hue of dripping honey out of your head, a counter like the one above can transform your kitchen into a chef's Shangri-La.

Germs also hate this metal as an environment, so for the health-conscious, that may already be convincing enough to take the plunge. The professionals at Brooks Custom point out that you can also have the luster of your copper tailored to your preferences. And you can choose among different finishes; there are mirror, matte, and patina options. There is even a compound you can apply that will approximate the way your countertop will age over the years. Even if you take that option, copper's look will continue to deepen and darken — so what starts out as caramel may end up more closely resembling chocolate caramel down the road.

Other customization options include brushed and hammered copper; each brings a different look and vibe to a room. No matter what process you select, though, keep in mind that copper is regarded by professionals as a "living surface," which refers to its interaction with acid. You can keep the patina you like with butcher's or bees wax if you buy your countertop sealed, though many homeowners would rather let nature take its course.

Install a copper sink

When is a look rustic and elegant at the same time? Well, a copper sink in your kitchen fits that description nicely. These sinks are also known as farmhouse sinks, according to the folks at Copper Smith. A farmhouse sink brings the look of bucolic country life anywhere you install one — and as recently as 2019, they were a hot trend in kitchen design. And when you compare and contrast these fixtures against steel or porcelain options, copper always stands out because it remains so much more eye-catching because of its deep luster.

From a practical point of view, they too will set you back a few bucks, depending on the choices you select. Retailers like to remind you that you'll likely make your money back when you sell your house and include a copper sink upgrade on your list of amenities. Also, do recall that this metal is going to keep your space and your dishes more germ free — although anything acidic should not be left inside unattended. 

Many of the models available are also known as apron front sinks, which are traditionally larger and originally intended to meet the needs of a large farmhouse family. Not only that, many of these sinks are still made by skilled artisans, which makes them customizable. But because these options are so unusual, they will generally cost a bit more to install as well.

Consider modern design and copper fixtures

As a design material, copper may have a long and colorful history (per Earthwise Architectural Salvage), but that shouldn't stop you from bringing it into your 21st-century kitchen in surprising ways no one's seen before. An ultra-modern design would make good on that challenge, as it could highlight rich and luxe tones while the patina can remain a uniformly consistent bronze free of any such effect, for example.

You'll also find copper being used in timely and timeless kitchens everywhere you turn — from simple overhead lamps to lanterns that recreate foggy antebellum evenings in the South (via New Orleans Gas & Electric Lights) to pasts that only exist in the imagination in the form of copper steampunk faucets. Copper handles and pulls make great accents, and can be put to good and beautiful use around your stove, too. As a backsplash, the patina will very quickly generate a visual complement to what and how you cook, and it will appear that you've been making meals with it in place for generations. As an oven range hood material, copper is certainly functional, but it also takes on the stately appearance of a hood ornament for your stove.

What happens when you use copper in your kitchen is simple: you make a bold creative statement, you beautify your space, and increase its value — all at the same time.