There are a number of intriguing style and decorating trends sweeping the landscape of modern kitchen designs but, perhaps, none more transparent than that of the novel popularity of glass. Typically reserved for casual display or cosmetic enhancements, this material medium is finding its way into surfaces and applications in new Virginia kitchens in ways never conceived of prior. Decorators, designers, architects and Virginia homeowners alike are enamored with the appeal and diversity that glass has to offer a kitchen environment, bringing uncompromising style and diversity to transcend convention toward the creation of a space that is alive with color, texture and unmistakable prisms of natural lighting. The advent of design and technological advancements in glass products are enabling the creative thinkers to see through any adverse prejudices of glass and celebrate its new found application: the kitchen.
A Small Step Back in Time
Turning back the calendar a few decades, circa 1960’s, there was a minor trend that pertained to glass in its use in American kitchens. Architecturally speaking, there was a growing popularity of creating a flow or limited interruption between the kitchen area and the dining rooms, or other adjoining rooms, of the new home. While some architects and home designers embraced this open-flow concept, some did not; and for those who hesitated, preferring the traditional visual barricades which identified room spaces and proprietary function, the inclusion of either knee-high solid walls or walls constructed of glass block material designated to separate the kitchen seemed to present an arguable compromise.
This concept then evolved into the use of glass block knee-walls, narrow (2’-3’) floor-to-ceiling glass block walls, both intending to provide some manner of room distinction while ceding to the call for open floor plans. In some instances, with regional popularity, full walls were erected as partition walls with ‘access ‘windows framed in glass block which rendered a more functional role to the kitchen space as this feature emulated that of a commercial kitchen-waitress station visual. The use of the glass block was nearly apologetic in that the conservative design community was hesitant to fully embrace the truly open floor plan.
Stained Glass and Glass Tile Make Their Break!
Within the past two decades, inching along, the Virginia kitchen design community is presented with two different methods in which to introduce the stylistic enhancements associated with various colored glass concepts. Virginia homeowners had already shown a preference for including a representation of glass-front upper cabinet doors in order to display their better china or glassware. The inclusion of utilizing stained glass to these same doors offered an entirely different visual and attraction. The importance of displaying the treasured ware suddenly became secondary to adding a classy look to a rather mundane effect; and this added feature is quickly becoming the new standard in glass door finishing for many Virginia kitchens.
Also within this same time parameter, the tile industry began introducing ‘sea glass’ accent tiles into their design series portfolios. These tiles, again used as accents alone, offered a distinct and pleasing interruption in the tile backsplash visual. Given that the early offerings were limited in both color (pale green, typically) and dimension, the popularity really didn’t take a strong hold in Virginia kitchens right away. The attraction to the glass tiles was evident, but the applications were thwarted by the style, color and design limitations. However, within the past six years (often driven by Asian influence) many tile companies are now expanding their glass tile lines to include attractive glass mosaic tiles, varying in a broad spectrum of colorations and pre-mounted on modular sheet stock which enables them to be installed as a featured accent or in full field. These glass tiles are just breathtaking in full-field applications and can certainly stand the physical demands of an active Virginia household.
The ‘Island’ really looks like an island!
The growing standard of a new kitchen in Virginia is the island or central work station. Here, the abject hub of the kitchen space is where the majority of the activity is occurring. The work station may simply be an area of cutting and washing foods or it may also serve as an area where some foods are actually cooked. Either way, the prep-sink or cooktop, are trending to look like ‘dry land’ on an island surrounded by a cool, clear body of water: the glass or solid acrylic island top. That’s right, a highly serviceable and gorgeous countertop that is manufactured of solid (safety) glass or solid acrylic which gives the appearance of solid glass. These tops can range from being completely clear and translucent to finishes that are mildly opaque. The surface of the top may be slick and flawless or it may be ‘roughened’ to render a more subtle patina. Homeowners with children at home aren’t discouraged by the material at all as these forms of glass are not only safe, but easy to maintain and an absolute awe-inspiring addition to today’s kitchens.