It's no secret at homify that your kitchen is crucial to the overall architectural and design success of your home. It's where the essentials of domestic life begin and end – cooking, conversing, and cleaning up afterwards – and so it's a joy to be able to consider your kitchen in the same way as you'd consider more showpiece rooms like your living room or dining space.
This article focuses on the ways you can add a modern finish to your kitchen through the use of glass, chiefly as a material for practical, durable countertops and bench tops, but also as decorative detail and mirror for your other design ideas.
More: need to go small with your kitchen?
The simplest of kitchen designs can be quickly given an ethereal makeover by using glass paneling for the walls, seen here breaking up the space between cooktop, sink, preparation surfaces and overhead kitchen storage. Not only does glass walling placed over a striking background color look good, creating interesting effects in combination with carefully installed lighting, but the surface is practical and easy to clean.
As with the glass walls above, using glass as a surface is a great idea to impart a sense of style and cool, clean good looks to your kitchen. Vary the type of glass used – colored, frosted or clear – to create a dynamic look and feel.
Here we have an open kitchen and dining room that uses a pane of clear, durable tempered glass on the dining table, and a long section of slightly blue-tinted glass on the breakfast bar, frosted on one side to create a cool visual gradient. In both instances, glass is ideal for surfaces that are going to come into contact with food and grime – glass is easily cleaned and scratch-resistant.
There are four or five design elements in this picture making use of glass. The floating island table is topped with a thick sheet of clear glass, riveted in place with four chunky, flat stainless steel bolts, flush with the countertop. A group of simple and elegant stemmed glasses are set on the table, ready for a family meal. More playfully colored glasses are laid out in the cleverly installed shelving built into the table's sides. A frosted glass door leads from the kitchen into another room, diffusing the light into an underwater tone. Less obvious is the black glass siding glimpsed to the right of the picture, providing a protective skirting around the cooking surfaces. In this eclectic kitchen design, glass rings a harmonious note.
This small dining table set in the kitchen uses a piece of clear glass to protect the dark wood of the tabletop, make cleaning up easy, and reflect the light in the room. The dark palette is carried through to the kitchen fittings, contrasted with a polished red granite bench top and white tiles on the walls. The sheen of these natural stone and ceramic elements pick up, in turn, the polish of the glass, creating a visually resonant space.
This kitchen once again harnesses the reflective qualities of glass to mirror and reproduce the striking patterned mosaic that frames a large, bright window. The edge of the thick glass strip is flush with edge of the kitchen counter top, maximizing the visual effect of the glass' refractive properties. Interestingly, it only extends half the depth of the counter, mixing up the rhythm formed by the mirroring surface. Note that the pattern of the mosaic is achieved with only three types of colored tiles – white, gray, and black – their simplicity is elevated thanks to the dynamism of glass.
It's important to understand that glass is a mutable material – it takes up and reflects, mimics or transforms many of the elements placed around it, underneath it or on top of it.
As with the photo above, this kitchen uses glass set on top of fine-grained black granite for a durable kitchen bench-top surface that reflects the brightly colored, variously patterned rustic tiles above. This injects a playful sense of tradition into what is otherwise a relatively austere, practical kitchen space.
As should already be clear, a major advantage of glass is the material's versatility. We normally associate transparency or translucency with glass or, if a color is present we most often think of blues, greens, aquatic or sky-colored tones. However, one of the oldest naturally occurring glasses to be used in design and manufacture is volcanic glass or obsidian. Natural obsidian doesn't have the durability or uniformity imparted by modern glass making techniques, but the jet-black color is still an attractive proposition.
This kitchen uses a panel of obsidian-colored glass for this island bench, matched by a pair of sleek, modern chairs. Behind, the bulk of the kitchen is rendered in a complementary palette of charcoal and black, and together a great contrast with the broadly hewn timber of the bench is achieved.
Glass and concrete are both synthetic materials, both ubiquitous in contemporary home design, and both possessed with incredible strength and versatility. Glass is naturally shiny and reflective, but polished concrete can also hold a matte sheen, making it the perfect counterpart to glass features.
Here, the most obvious use of glass is commonplace – a large, room-length and floor-to-(unusual)-ceiling sliding glass doors, letting in masses of natural light. This light plays off both the thick glass top of the burnished gray kitchen bench, which itself floats above a handsome polished concrete floor.
It's good to remember that glass and stone are both crystalline materials. Without getting too cosmic about this detail of physical chemistry, there is salient sense at work when you pair glass with stone in your interior design. We've seen a few examples of this complementary tactic above, but this sleek kitchen perfectly embodies the principle.
The fine-grained crystalline structure of a gray granite is studded with mica intrusions and minute marbling effects that bounce flashes of light from the surface. The darker speckling of the granite is taken up in the use of black-tinted glass countertops, mirrored in the matte black cupboards slung beneath the bench. Brushed steel fixtures speak to the steely properties of glass, and more the dominant color in the stone. Less easily perceived is the curved glass cap atop the ventilation hood – again, this glass surface is easy to clean and, when viewed from the side, introduces a sharp line of aquamarine blue to the minimalist character of the space.
Although glass is vaunted for its crystalline qualities, its purity and durability, it's also expensive and not god-like in its attributes. This kitchen's rear wall and the cooktop surround appear to be rendered in glass, but are in fact made from acrylic materials that themselves possess a number of practical advantages over glass, not least of which is cost-effectiveness and, in worst-case scenarios, not likely to crack if you drop a heavy pot on them from a height!
What we're trying to say is go glass by all means, but remember that glass isn't the be-all and end-all of a truly polished kitchen design! Consult with a dedicated kitchen planner about how best to get gorgeously glazed when it comes to the design of your home's kitchen – it's a crucial space that deserves the utmost attention.