If there’s one kitchen fixture finish that never goes out of style, it’s chrome. Want to add a clean, sleek look to your designs? Just add chrome. Need to go futuristic? Chrome is the answer.
One interesting thing about chrome is that despite the distinctive shine that is most often associated with it, it almost never occurs in nature that way. Instead, most of its compounds have very intense colors. In fact, the word “chrome” is derived from the Greek word “chroma”, which means “color”.
As such, chrome was initially used as a pigment shortly after chromium was discovered in the mid-1700s. The common chrome look we know and love today only became widespread when electroplating base metals with chrome became possible in the 1920s.
The process led to the first chrome-plated bathroom fixtures. Thanks to the chrome plating, these fixtures boasted high corrosion and scratch resistance which, along with chrome’s visual appeal, turned them into instant hits.
Today, almost a century later, you can find chrome-plated fixtures in countless kitchens and bathrooms around the world. Despite increasing competition from a host of other metal-based finishes and custom jobs, chrome continues to be the market leader in finishes in terms of sheer sales volume thanks to its enduring look and relative cheapness.
If you’re thinking of spicing up your kitchen with a touch of chrome, here are a few things to keep in mind.
Chrome adds an instant sense of clean modernity to a space. It’s no surprise, then, that chrome-plated hardware remain popular in stark and minimalist kitchen designs, particularly when paired with similarly sleek and shiny appliances. With the right lighting (warm and subtle, for example), chrome finishes don’t even have to exude a sense of coldness, either.
Even in more traditional spaces, chrome has its place. You can use reflective chrome flourishes in a kitchen heavy with dark wood, for example, to add a sense of softness to an otherwise hard-looking space.
Now, just because you go chrome in one area doesn’t necessarily mean that everything should be chrome-plated too. Feel free to throw in some nickel, galvanized iron, or stainless steel into the mix. Purposefully mismatched metallic finishes can add a sense of depth to any space and will look natural when viewed with your kitchen cabinets. Of course, if a totally chromed-out space is what you’re after, go right ahead!
For those on a tight budget, chrome fixtures are some of the cheapest options available. They’re also very easy to find. Even better, you usually get more than you pay for in terms of visual appeal – cheap as they may actually be, chrome fixtures seldom look cheap.
Finally, chrome fixtures are among the easiest to clean and maintain. You can make a chrome fixture or chrome-plated appliance regain its lost shine simply by wiping it with baby oil, soapy water, vinegar, or even rubbing alcohol. Don’t want to smell the fumes? Use baby wipes instead. If faced with a chrome fixture that has been corroded by rust, aluminum foil can do the trick. Just scrunch the foil up into a ball and scrub away.
Sturdy, visually appealing, widely available, and cheap – there are certainly a lot of good things about chrome that helped make it popular for the past century. It won’t be a surprise, then, if it remains just as popular another century from now.