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Tips for designing with copper

Have you been wanting to reface that hearth, replace ho-hum gutters, or add some metallic dazzle to your home? Consider copper. A hot commodity, copper’s price has been on the rise for the past few years. But just as nothing works as well as copper in plumbing or electric work, few things rival its design punch for interiors and exteriors.

On a big outdoor feature. the products of copper will acquire a greenish patina over time.

Pacific Heights contemporary patio design by Randy Thueme Design Inc. - Landscape Architecture

This woven copper wall is a show-stopper. The lighting design changes its look from day to night.

Around the fireplace. The copper cladding around this large chimney stands up to the scale of the open room and creates a focal point.

STonehedge Exteriors contemporary living room design by Four Corners Construction, L.P.

Copper enhances the glow of flames in this asymmetrical fireplace.

A unique copper texture above the mantle reflects the light and adds depth to the room.

Modern elegance contemporary living room design by Cynthia Prizant - Prizant Design, LLC

On a vent hood. A copper hood is a great way to introduce this metal into the kitchen. This one gives the kitchen a European feel. If you look closely, you’ll see that the inside of the pendant light is copper as well — a clever detail that connects it to the vent hood.

kitchen traditional kitchen design by Erdreich Architecture, P.C.

Through your cookware. Hanging copper cookware is a less permanent way to add copper to the kitchen. Called these pots and pans “a good reason to have a big wedding and a registry.”

Alki Cottage eclectic kitchen design by Ventana Construction LLC

The kitchen sink. This beautiful farmhouse sink stands out against the black cabinet surround and plays off the hues of the wood around it.

Older Charming Home kitchen design by philadelphia kitchen and bath

The bathroom sink. A small vessel sink on a large counter like this could get a bit lost, but this one doesn’t because of its attention-grabbing copper.

Port Credit Townhome modern bathroom design by Avalon Interiors

Speaking of sinks and plumbing, when I asked my plumber why it was so important to have copper pipes, he said, “Copper is proper!” Over the years almost every material that people have used in place of it in plumbing and electric work has had to be replaced, he said. Only the soldered joints of copper have proved able to stand the test of time.


The bathtub. This deep free-standing tub sets the tone for the bathroom. I’ve seen this tub used in rustic-chic cabins and the most elegant and glamorous bathrooms. Its versatility is surprising.

Loehr Residence traditional bathroom design by Kerrie L. Kelly

Light fixtures. This oversized copper pendant adds to this room’s modern-rustic vibe.

The Hillside House modern patio design by SB Architects

As a backsplash. This hammered wall reflects the light in a dark bar. It’s as if it is calling out “Special wines are here! Come and enjoy.”

Mark Dutka modern dining room design by Mark Dutka

On the roof. A copper roof can cost three times that of a shingled roof, but if maintained properly, it won’t need to be replaced for a century or more (most roofs other than slate need to be replaced every 15-20 years). A reflective metal roof is more energy efficient than an asphalt roof and can save on the cost of air conditioning. There’s also a huge aesthetic bonus: This roof will develop a beautiful patina that will continue to deepen over time.

Timber Tea House eclectic exterior design by Birdseye Design

As an accent wall. If you’re infatuated with copper, you may be ready to design a room’s palette around an entire wall of textured copper. Check out the way those vases and curly sticks play off the accent wall across the room.

Modern elegance contemporary living room design by Cynthia Prizant - Prizant Design, LLC

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