Monday, August 4, 2014

15 Ways to Enhance Your Cabinets With Grilles

by Becky Harris

It looks decorative, but metal mesh on cabinet doors has a practical side too

For those who love the idea of clear glass cabinet doors but don’t think their china, books and objects are ready for their close-ups, a grille can be the answer. The metal mesh material allows for peeks through cabinet doors, which adds depth and interest. At the same time, the metal unites the objects behind it, providing a cohesive look for disparate or not-so-sexy objects, such as herbs in plastic bottles. This easy-to-install element is also an architectural detail that picks up on other finishes in the room and can add a pattern, from a simple grid to elaborate Moroccan geometries. Here are 15 ways to use interesting grilles all over the house.

1. Display your favorite things without creating clutter. An open shelf, cabinet doors, drawers and glass doors compose the facade, but the wire mesh doors are the largest fronts. They tie the books and objects together in an uncluttered way — the mesh tones down the color but still gives us a peek inside. The feeling is open without complete transparency.

2. Add an architectural feature. Grilles are composed either of a woven wire mesh or perforated metal sheets. A large-scale pattern adds architectural interest. In a bathroom it can conceal a jumble of toiletries while making the space feel more open. 

Mesh: large-scale perforated Windsor pattern

3. Nod to history. In the kitchen the look can be tracked back to pie safes. These cupboards had punched-tin panels in the doors that allowed for ventilation but kept pests out. These panels are a modern-day take on the antique storage units for baked goods, meat and other perishables. Architect Anni Tilt designed the pattern on 1/16th-inch-thick steel, while partner David Arkin drilled all of the holes by hand. By the time they were done, he had drilled more than 1,500 of them.

Perforated metal cabinet doors lend a vintage look to this kitchen. While some people opt for the metal to provide a shiny contrast, others prefer to paint it to match the cabinet wood, as these designers did. 

4. Add glam. Interior designer Rebekah Zaveloff has been using grilles for quite some time. “This is still one of my favorite projects — the client and her friends often refer to it as sexy,” she says of this glamorous kitchen. “The grille adds a diamond pattern and glint.”
Diamond-patterned grille

5. Go country. Wire isn’t restricted to glamorous kitchens; the look also lends itself well to more rustic country looks. A chicken-wire-like product gives these potato and onion cabinets a farmhouse kitchen look.
Similar chicken-wire grille

These cabinetmakers scooped up chicken wire at a local hardware store, left it outside to get it a little rusty and crusty, then gave it a clear coat to make sure the crusty part was just part of the look.

6. Lend a modern industrial look. In this stone and log luxury ski chalet in Montana, rustic timbers and more modern industrial touches balance each other throughout the home. Together with the pendant lights, hardware and other metal fixtures, the grilles add glint and keep the kitchen from being overwhelmed by clunky wood.

7. Make everything look pretty. “Since these cabinets were by themselves on this side of this kitchen, they needed some texture and interest or they would have felt heavy and not balanced with the other side,” Zaveloff says. “I love when a client is gutsy enough to do something like this diamond-mesh grille in a pantry cabinet.”

While she admits that some boxes and other food may be glimpsed, she says that “the mesh makes everything look pretty — these things are obscured without being completely solid.”

8. Hide the food. Here is the same cabinet with the doors open, and it’s simply too much openness. Without the grilles, the colored herb containers and other food containers look kind of junky.

Closed, it’s more about silhouettes, and everything looks orderly. Behind the larger-scale diamond pattern there is a small wire mesh, not backed by anything else. You can back mesh with glass if you are concerned about dust, but Zaveloff says she rarely does.

Here is a close-up of a similar-style grille. Note the fine detailing between the diamonds — this kind of design is at the higher end of the price range.
Grille: Small Diamond with Plain Rosette

9. Make a wet bar stand out. Storing glassware behind a wider-gauge wire is a great idea — it looks pretty and can reflect the light. In these cabinets, glass shelves continue the transparency.

The wire can be powder coated in a variety of finishes to match elements like cabinet hardware, faucets and appliances. These include stainless, nickel, galvanized and plain steel, brass, bronze and copper.

Similarly, you can use grilles to give a butler’s pantry its own distinct style. Once purely utilitarian, these spaces are becoming spots for gathering, mixing up martinis and tasting wine.

Note the way interior cabinet lighting enhances the look of the grille here. Use this move when you have the cabinets set up in an organized way with objects that go together, like crystal and other glassware or a collection of white china.

10. Provide contrast to a fabric lining. A fabric lining gives a grille a softer look. For projects like bedrooms, bathrooms, linen cabinets, dressing rooms and hallways, softening a grille with fabric is a sophisticated choice. These bronze grilles are backed by a thin fabric inside the doors. 

11. Add depth. Files, boxes and objects are all easy to spot behind these metal mesh cabinet doors. The open look gives the small room some added depth that solid cabinet doors wouldn’t have provided.

12. Give a tight office space a more open feeling. These custom nickel fixtures add depth and keep this office from feeling like a claustrophobia-inducing closet full of cabinetry

13. Make a strong first impression, even on your guests who use the back door. Often mudroom and back entries are very utilitarian and a design afterthought. Here the view through the cabinet doors invites visitors to leaf through a book or magazine. It also prevents the tight space from feeling closed in from too many cabinets. The glamorous diamond pattern lets them know they have entered a special house.

14. Let your media equipment breathe. Grilles can allow for proper ventilation and cooling where media components are concerned. Of course, whenever serious media equipment is involved, you’ll want to work with an audiovisual professional to make sure your setup is safe.

15. Add Moroccan flair. Inspired by iconic places like Majorelle Garden, interior designer Laura Umansky used shapes and repeating geometric patterns to bring an exotic bohemian Moroccan look to this Texas townhouse. 

While she went light in the office, Umanski chose a dark wood for the cabinetry and grilles in the family room, which also emphasize the Moroccan look. 

Cabinet-S-Top ~ 1977 Medina Road ~ Medina, OH 44256 
330.239.3630 ~

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