Kitchen Inspiration: 3 Ways to Work with Stainless Steel

Stainless steel, such a familiar material yet, with the exception of sinks and appliances, remains underutilized in the kitchen. My guess is that most envision the industrial look of a chef’s kitchen, with its racks of pots, pans, and utensils all arranged to maximize efficiency rather than aesthetics. Yes, it can be a sterile material, but when used in the right way, it can be quite sexy too—chic even! Here are three ways to work with stainless steel so your kitchen feels like home and not your local diner.

1. Industrial Eclectic: Keep it casual with eclectic touches

Kitchen Inspiration- 3 Ways to Work with Stainless Steel on the Interior CollectiveImage: Architectural Digest

If you do prefer a slightly more industrial look, mix in eclectic accessories and unexpected materials to add warmth. The kitchen above incorporates contemporary artwork and zig-zag bar stools. The wood floor also adds to its homey feel.

Kitchen Inspiration- 3 Ways to Work with Stainless Steel on the Interior CollectiveImage: Beppe Brancato via Flodeau

While this kitchen includes industrial features like exposed ductwork and concrete floors, its eclectic grouping of cabinets and shelving add whimsy. It’s a great idea for DIYers!

2. Material Mix: Use steel accents with wood or vice versa

Kitchen Inspiration- 3 Ways to Work with Stainless Steel on the Interior CollectiveImage: Architectural Digest

For a space with sophisticated appeal, try mixing wood and stainless steel in unexpected ways. The above kitchen may be my favorite example of this pairing. A stainless steel breakfast bar provides a sleek focalpoint amidst richly-stained oak cabinetry.

Kitchen Inspiration- 3 Ways to Work with Stainless Steel on the Interior CollectiveImage: Architectural Digest

This kitchen balances stainless steel cabinetry with walnut shelving. Although these shelves are custom made, a similar look can be achieved with store-bought options.

3. White Balance: In small spaces, temper steel’s industrial edge with white

Kitchen Inspiration- 3 Ways to Work with Stainless Steel on the Interior CollectiveImage: Home & Delicious

To ensure stainless steel doesn’t overwhelm your space, counter it with white. You can see it used here for the cabinets, appliances, and backsplash of this small kitchen. However, the space still feels open and airy thanks to bare, white walls in lieu of upper cabinets.

Kitchen Inspiration- 3 Ways to Work with Stainless Steel on the Interior CollectiveImage: Elle Décor

Similarly, the designer of this kitchen opted for white walls over cabinetry. A custom-made island adds more lightness to the space.

These are just a few examples of stainless steel’s endless possibilities. Which use is your favorite?

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About The Author

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Desiré Greene
Desiré is a designer, blogger, and lover of all things glamorous. Though primarily a self-taught decorator, Desiré studied at The Art Institute, where she honed a distinct aesthetic largely influenced by the Modern Glamour movement, the theme of her popular design blog, Sukio. Not only is she considered a "closet fashionista," discreetly stashing handbags and shoes whenever possible, but, as an MIT graduate, she’s also an undercover nerd. Fashion, nerdom, and several years as a Washingtonian have combined to shape her unique perspective on interior design.