Copper lighting is the current metallic accent ‘de jour’ in many a stylish interior and in this post, I’m visualising ways to update my own home to include some oh-so-stylish copper lighting.
I’m a huge fan of monochrome interiors, clean, sleek and minimalist. Lovely… but they can sometimes look a little on the ‘flat’ side. I’m a person of contrasts, not colours but textures so what better to give my, predominantly grey, interiors a lovely lift than copper.
There’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that adding copper accessories or copper lighting to your home will bring in bang up to date in the style stakes. It’s a quick and easy way to get yourself up there with the design trendsetters. Wherever I go, or whatever interiors magazine or blog I read – copper, copper and more copper. Lights, cushions, vases, saucepans and even kettles, you name it, there’s a copper version to be had. It’s definitely taken over from where stainless steel left off a few years ago.
The beauty of copper is that’s a little softer and warmer than chrome and it will slot right into virtually any style of décor
..so you don’t need to start from scratch to get a piece of the copper action!
Copper in our homes
Copper already has many practical applications within our homes ranging from electrical and communications wiring to plumbing and heating. And whilst these are purely practical uses, copper lighting and accessories make beautiful additions to any home and let’s face it that’s what we’re interested in here!
Copper lighting and accessories
Copper is important to us because of its practical applications but it’s also aesthetically beautiful. It certainly makes a statement when used as a design accent in a monochromatic interior.
The walls in my house range from fresh light steel grey in the kitchen through to a sultry dark and stormy grey in the bedroom. All are matt emulsion contrasted with white woodwork and dark wood furniture so a highlight of soft warm and shiny metal is just what they need to really bring them alive.
In the kitchen I think copper saucepans are the answer – not only would they look amazing stacked up on my reflective black glass hob, but they’re fantastic quality and great value for money. They’ll probably last as long as I do. Winner.
Copper soft furnishings
Whilst that title does sound a little odd – what I mean is copper-coloured soft furnishings. So for my bedroom, I think I’d go for a choice cushion or two that have metallic copper detailing. Sadly, despite lengthy research, I can’t actually find any that I like enough to buy. Which is a bit rubbish as I have lovely crisp white cotton bed linen and I think a copper accent would be absolutely perfect. Especially stylish in combination with some of the more graphic black and white chevron prints I’ve seen a lot of lately.
The next room warranting my attention is my home-office. It’s a small room that’s painted a chic mid-grey so I’m thinking that industrial-style copper lighting would be perfect in there. I need plenty of light so not a light shade but perhaps I’ll create my own light from some glamour steel grey fabric cable and a polished copper bulb holder finished off with a gorgeous vintage light bulb. Beautifully simple, very effective. Job done.
Copper light shades
So to the lounge – which is a work in progress. It’s one of those rooms that always needs something doing before you can decorate! It’s going to be the same colour as my kitchen I think so a pale grey-toned with darker grey furnishings. I’m thinking feature copper lighting in here, something with a real impact so a full-on ceiling pendant light shade. To this end, I’d choose a Vita Silvia copper pendant light. Stunning.
Well, that’s all my rooms ‘done’ apart from the bathroom, yes my house is that small, but you can see that with not much effort I could quickly update all my rooms to be right on the money as far as the current copper trend for interiors goes.
Now I’m curious though – what is copper, where does it come from and what else is it used for?
What is copper?
I wanted to find out a bit about this ‘en vogue‘ metal, what is it, where does it come from and how does it end up as our copper lighting fixtures and fittings? Stick with me – I’ll get back to how I’m going to introduce copper accents to my rooms in a sec…
Copper is a chemical element with the symbol Cu and atomic number 29 (the number of protons in the nucleus apparently) (2) – that’s the science bit done with. We know it better as a metal that’s very good at conducting heat and electricity and is really malleable. It’s these traits along with resistance to corrosion that make it such an important metal to us, and its use can be traced back over 10,000 years. In fact, the world as we know it wouldn’t function without it and demand for it is growing by the decade – and consequently so too is its price.
Where does copper come from?
Apparently, the world’s copper supply comes from two primary sources: mining/refining and recycling. Chile is by far the world’s top producer of copper from mines, accounting for over one-third of all copper mined. (3)
You’ll know the lovely shiny, warm reddish-orange colour of a newly exposed copper surface – it’s the colour we typically associate with copper but, left untreated it first oxidises (reacting with atmospheric oxygen) to go a deeper, duller red-brown colour and then over time to green Verdigris. Verdigris is an effect often used for decorative purposes but is also visible on buildings where copper has been used in the structure – on a roof or guttering for example. Think the Statue of Liberty. When copper tarnishes the outer layer forms a barrier that then protects the inner copper from further corrosion, this is unlike the corrosive rusting process of the iron component of steel.
What is copper used for?
Copper as a material for art and design
According to the National Design Academy: copper was initially used to produce tools and weapons long before it became a commercially used material in the design world. It became a staple of the art world during the 15th century where it was used to create sculptures and other decorative items… This typically took the form of bronze casting [bronze being an alloy of copper and tin], and enabled artists to work with a material that was strong, yet showed intricate details. (4)
Things have moved on in the design world and more recently world-renowned British designer Tom Dixon, OBE (born May 21st, 1959) made a debut at Milano Design Week 2014 with a collection of stunning copper lighting, furniture and accessories. (5)
As an aside and a bit off-topic granted, but a subject close to my heart… did you know that copper is a trace dietary mineral vital to all living things? We can’t live without it (6). In our bodies, it’s used as a catalyst for the production of certain enzymes involved in a number of different processes and it can even slow down the degeneration of body tissues, ergo anti-ageing. Copper-rich foods include nuts, lentils, whole grains and oysters (7) – just in case you’re interested!
Copper and a Moscow Mule
And another aside, but perhaps slightly more interesting… is that copper has been used for thousands of years as a drinking vessel. You know how lots of cocktails have a specific glass that they’re typically served in? Well for the classic Moscow Mule it’s apparently got to be a copper mug (8). Who knew? There was even a Smirnoff ad campaign in 1966 featuring Woody Allen (born December 1st, 1935) and the Moscow Mule cocktail served in said mugs. You can actually still buy them but if you want to be authentic then according to copper.org: The original copper mugs weighed eight ounces and measured three and a quarter inches tall with a three-inch diameter base. The underside was imprinted with the words, “A Cock ‘n Bull product.” Personally I’m not at all sure about any metal coming into contact with my teeth.
Who knew? 10 ‘interesting’ facts about copper
So with my virtual styling done, here are some real-world facts about this lovely metal to finish off with:
- Copper is more recyclable than aluminium, plastic and glass.
- It was the first metal ever manipulated by humans.
- Copper ranks as the third-most-consumed industrial metal in the world, after iron and aluminium, according to the S. Geological Survey.
- Aside from gold, copper is the only metal on the periodic table whose colouring isn’t naturally silver or grey.
- The word copper and its symbol Cu come from the Latin word for Cyprus “Cuprum”, where the Ancient Romans mined much of their copper.
- Over 81,000 kgs (179,000 lbs) of copper was used to build The Statue of Liberty.
- Numerous important copper alloys have been produced over human history; brass is a mixture of copper and zinc whilst bronze is an alloy of copper and tin.
- It is a natural antibacterial. To prevent the spread of bacteria, brass doorknobs and handrails are often used in public buildings.
- Because bacteria will not grow on it, copper has been used for centuries to line parts of ships so that barnacles and mussels do not stick to the boats.
- The Copper Age sits between the Neolithic (Stone) and Bronze Ages.
(7) 10 Years Younger Nutrition Bible. Nicky Hambleton-Jones page 20 & 122
Sources for ‘interesting’ facts:
Facts 2-4: http://www.livescience.com/29377-copper.html