In my last blog I presented design solutions for appliance placement from my Kitchen designs, circa 1999 to 2009.

Today I continue that theme looking at how I have incorporated metal accents into my designs over the years.

Exploring what other materials could be incorporated into traditional wood cabinetry is what got me started.

The following post shows my journey with metal accents.

Again, my criteria for the posts in this series are:

  1. The solutions I present have to be from Kitchens I designed at least 10 to 20 years ago
  2. I will be OK with so-so images since all I have from then are my digital camera pics
  3. I will let my readers know if I would implement these design solutions in my designs today

Metal Accents

I have always been drawn to metal finishes and feel that they are a good fit in Kitchen design.

Metal accents added a luxe feel to a design back then the same way a set of stainless steel appliances elevated the Kitchen. (20 years ago, stainless steel appliances were only available at the high end of the market)

Leaded Glass Doors

My love of metal started with leaded glass doors.

I worked on a project where the client had a set of antique leaded glass panels and she asked me to incorporate them into her Kitchen design.

The solution was to install them into a double door wall cabinet at the end of a run.

I felt they would be a bit “lonely” in the Kitchen so I had additional glass panels fabricated to match the originals, and placed them across the room to add the design principle of rhythm to the space.

This project led (no pun intended!) to experimenting with leaded glass doors in more of my projects.

I found that leaded glass doors could achieve different looks in my Kitchen designs.

For a simple country Kitchen I included lead mullions to produce a furniture feel for a set of cabinet doors.

Traditional wood mullions would have been too heavy in these narrow doors.

Adding coordinating gun metal knobs and handles produced a very budget friendly design solution.

Custom leaded glass doors were the perfect addition to a craftsman inspired Kitchen I designed for a heritage home.

The overall design of this Kitchen would have been very flat without the period appropriate leaded glass doors.

Looking back at my portfolio of images I did come across a series of leaded glass door designs I used a lot.

An X shape with a circle in the middle was a favorite showing up in many of my classic styled spaces.

It added just the right amount of detail that a plain glass door would not have achieved.

A simple design like this is also an element that adds a finishing touch to a design.

So, yes, incorporating leaded glass doors would be something I would do in a contemporary Kitchen design.

Mesh Inserts

Inserting metal mesh into cabinet doors began with trying to find a way to allow stereo components to “breath” when placed inside a cabinet.

Many of my clients had stereo systems, consisting of several components, that would over heat if air was not allowed to circulate around them.

Using metal mesh became my go to solution for these types of cabinets.

It allowed air to circulate and for components that used a remote you could position things so the beam would make it from the remote to the component.

I liked the look of the metal mesh and began to include this type of insert in Kitchen cabinet doors.

Distributors began offering materials like this in different metal finishes, providing options for different looks.

Many of my installations included a black toned iron mesh but once chrome and stainless looks were available I would chose a finish to best compliment the overall design aesthetic for the space.

Metal Dining Shelf Brackets

A chance meeting with a gal at a trade show that sold metal stair components, took me in a new direction with metal accents.

After a visit to her showroom I saw that the company also supplied all the components to assemble decorative exterior elements such as metal gates.

Something that caught my eye was the corner pieces used for decorative gates and privacy panels.

I felt they would be perfect as dining shelf brackets and I was right!

To convert these corner pieces to support brackets, the L-bracket was drilled in a couple of places and the metal piece was attached to the bar backing and into the countertop substrate.

There were a lot of different designs to choose from and I would have them powder coated to work with other metal elements in the room.

Metal dining shelf brackets became a go-to solution in my design practice.

Wrought Iron Accents

As I mentioned, the metal component supplier also carried a variety of wrought iron pieces.

After pouring over the catalogue, I began to see other ways to use their products in my designs.

For a traditional bar design I incorporated iron pieces as accents at the corner of the open shelf units and even as a set of posts supporting an arch.

These details produced the show stopping design the client was looking for in his home’s entertainment zone.

In a simpler kitchen in a summer cabin, I used an iron accent as an alternative to a crown moulding over one cabinet and as an accent inside an open shelf unit.

In both these cases I matched the cabinet hardware to the finish of the iron accents.

Iron Door Inserts

In the early 2000’s I founded a custom cabinet and millwork shop which allowed me to experiment even more with incorporating metal accents into my designs.

This led to working with my cabinet door fabricator to insert metal panels into the door frames before assembling the doors, for an alternative to a glass door cabinet.

For a “Street of Dreams” home, I designed a custom hearth accented with wrought iron pieces.

The apron area above, and the cabinets either side had a series of panels inserted with some open behind and some backed with wood veneer.

Highlighting a few doors in a design with iron inserts became a popular upgrade for many of my Kitchen designs when I owned the cabinet shop.

The ability to work with cabinetry being built from scratched allowed me to do this and it produced some great projects!

Custom Metal Bases

Over my career, I also worked with some great metal fabricators to produce custom wrought iron pieces.

Table bases were one of my favorite items to custom design.

They are great for free standing tables and supports for island dining bars.

Overall, I feel wrought iron is a great material to incorporate into Kitchen design.

It provides an accent that produces unique, one-of-a-kind Kitchen designs, and is a material I still specify in my designs today.

This trip down memory lane actually is inspiring me to specify it more!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on incorporating wrought iron in Kitchen design. Please leave me a comment below.

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Jan Rutgers B.Sc H.Ec.

Jan Rutgers has been designing kitchens and products for over 25 years and is a recipient of Kitchen & Bath Design News’ Top Innovators in 2020 for the Kitchen & Bath Industry. She has designed more than 1000 kitchens learning valuable skills with each one! Her experience in Kitchen Design, Millwork Manufacturing and Product Development has led her to create VESTABUL SCHOOL OF DESIGN where she educates and mentors people passionate about the Kitchen Design Industry.

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