A New English Kitchen Makes Brass the Star
Antiqued brass complements the Shaker-style cabinets and colors in this updated kitchen
The new kitchen in this 19th-century home in Bristol, England, combines a handful of key elements. Granite and white oak countertops, Shaker cabinets and fresh colors blend beautifully here, but it was antiqued brass that inspired the design. Having fallen in love with the material, the owners urged designer Sam Shaw of Sustainable Kitchens to make it the star of their room. With antiqued brass on the backsplash, island countertop and cabinet hardware, Shaw created a kitchen that’s a bright, contemporary take on classic Shaker style.
Although the kitchen was almost completely gutted in the renovation, an original fireplace remained where the Aga stove is now, and the window was in the same place too. “The room was a nice simple square shape,” Shaw says. “The sink naturally went in front of the window, everyone likes that, and the Aga had its given position. I designed from there.”
The owners had visited Shaw’s showroom and were inspired by an oak and brass table there. “They loved that,” he says. “Antiqued brass became the starting point.” Shaw used it on the island countertop and backsplash and continued the design around that.
Shaw and his team treat the brass to give it the antiqued finish. “We use a chemical treatment, which just speeds up the aging process,” he says. “We buy big sheets of new polished brass and treat it with a product called Black for Brass Patina from Kansa Craft, which turns it black, then we rub it back.” The brass on the island is framed in white oak, while the backsplash behind the stove is mounted on a plywood board. “The brass is fairly resistant and doesn’t need treating further,” Shaw says. “It can take spills and damage. It all adds to its patina.”
The owners knew they wanted Shaker-style cabinetry, but they didn’t want anything too heavy. “The cabinets had to sit lightly and they didn’t want wall cupboards, only a few floating shelves,” Shaw says. To boost storage, he designed two tall cabinets. “The owners liked the idea of having a grand dresser in here but wanted something light and not too imposing,” he says. “The ceilings are pretty high, [about 13 feet], so we wanted cabinets to stretch up quite far, but we made them very shallow,” about 10 inches deep. They’re the perfect size for storing glassware and mugs.
The kitchen flows into a dining space, but the owners still wanted an island they could sit around for casual meals. “It was quite a squeeze to fit it in,” Shaw says. “It’s much narrower than a standard island.” It measures 85 inches long by 33 inches wide.
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