Stainless Steel - This cool, industrial material has been favored for appliances for years now. While putting it on your cabinetry is a different process, when properly done can achieve beautiful results. This kitchen island, designed by Kelly Wearstler, sits within a more traditional setting, and the mix of elements works perfectly. The two images following show the more industrial side of stainless steel, but with added wood tones and a splash of other interesting textures, the space still looks warm and inviting. Watch out for little hands with tiny fingerprints.....this material demands extra maintenance--especially when used on vertical surfaces.
Corian - This one is a little trickier for me because I have no experience with how its done or what the exact process is. Regardless, I've been fascinated with this kitchen by designer Elaine Cecconi for years now. I watched an interview with her where she reviewed her design process, materials, unconventional applications, etc., and continue to be awed by how clean and simple, yet detailed and ingenious this kitchen is. The doors, drawer fronts, appliance panels, countertop, and slat wall system are all manufactured from Corian, which is a solid surface resin material most commonly used for countertops. The kitchen beautifully re-imagines this material, which has become quite "tired" due to overuse as countertop surfacing in the 90's/early 2000's.
Parapan - Another innovative solid surface product used to manufacture cabinetry. Unlike Corian which has a silky, matte finish, this acrylic-based material has a luscious high-gloss shine. It also comes in an arresting array of rich colors, as seen in the photos below.
Glass - Glass inserts come in a variety of textures and finishes. Obviously, glass front cabinet doors are not uncommon, but when I talk about "alternate" glass options, I'm referring to the sleeker, aluminum framed glass doors. Typically this application offers a more modern look, but when mixed with woods and other warm finishes, can have a really nice transitional feel.
In this kitchen, they've taken it a step further and added back lighting to all of the glass panels. I'll bet this looks stunning at night!
This kitchen has an eclecticism that shows off the "warmer" side of glass. My favorite part is probably those cute little Kartell chairs as island seating.
Blackened Steel - This kitchen is a feast for the eyes. Everything about it is innovative, from the floor plan, to the mix of materials, to the integration of complicated elements. Despite all of this, the space is so nature-inspired and serene. Its obvious that every detail was meticulously thought through, and impeccably finished. See more images by talented designer Gioi Tran here.
The fridge panels and oven cabinet surround show this blackened steel finish. It almost reads as a dark wood tone, but gives great textural effect.
So there you have it--an array of interesting options for cabinetry. Even if an entire kitchen done in one of these single finishes might be overkill, integrating an interesting material alongside our traditional woods could not only add that 'wow' factor, but also fall within a reasonable budget range. Maybe :)