Hilary Farr Explains How To Make Exposed Pipes Look Chic

Old barn houses are loved for their rustic charm and the cultural history they represent. When tasked with renovating one, HGTV's Hilary Farr needed to figure out how to update the kitchen while maintaining its essence. Old barn homes feel open and warm due to their unique architectural elements like exposed beams and vaulted ceilings, which is why she shines up the exposed copper pipes in the ceiling and on the walls, then adds a brass kitchen sink faucet to match.

"Making these copper pipes look as decorative as possible is going to be a lot more work for the contractor and a bit more money, too, but it's going to be so worth it," she says (via Realtor). Luckily, shining copper pipes is something that can easily be done with some simple materials. Start by wiping away any dirt with warm water and a sponge and then dry the pipes with a cloth. Next, take a copper polish or a homemade solution of one tablespoon of salt and a cup of white vinegar and rub it on the pipes. Rinse them well with a sponge and wipe them dry with another clean cloth.

Embrace the exposed pipes

By pairing the brass and copper with all-white countertops and cabinets, Hilary Farr was able to preserve the kitchen's barn character and make it feel modern at the same time. If you want to make the exposed pipes in your living space look chic, follow her technique by simply shining them to their original color and incorporating them into your overall design concept. Embrace the industrial aesthetic by adding sleek and modern light fixtures like pendant lamps or Edison style bulbs, which will complement the exposed pipes and make the design feel cohesive. 

If you don't want to leave the pipes as they are, some things to try are painting, wrapping, or using pipe covers. You can use a matching paint color to make them blend into the wall or ceiling , or use a bold color to make them pop. Decorative pipe covers are another option for exposed pipes and you can easily find plastic or wooden pipe covers .

Other ways to design around exposed pipes

You can also wrap the exposed pipes with materials that add visual interest and texture like fabric, rope, or design tape. Try using potted plants or hanging planters near the exposed pipes to add more greenery to the space and soften the appearance of the pipes. Opting for a natural look can help tone down the industrial aesthetic and make your space feel lively instead.

Some other elements of an industrial style that you can add to the space are vintage furniture pieces, leather, concrete, and exposed brick. You can also have something interesting on the ceiling like a bright-colored fan to complement the industrial feel of the exposed pipes. One really innovative method to consider is getting a plumber to rearrange or reroute them so they look more attractive, for example, if they bother you in the ceiling or aren't organized well, it could be a better look to have them go down the wall instead.