Rehash Tag: Repeating Materials

5 secrets of repeating materials in different ways to bring cohesion to a home
repeating materials reuse

Photo by Chipper Hatter.

Leigh Johnson fell in love with many of the materials (aluminum, steel, acrylic, stone and tile) she chose in her Del Mar remodel, one of our 2019 Homes of the Year, and found a variety of ways to repeat and reuse them to give her home a sense of unity. Her advice from what she learned might help you with ideas for how to play and replay the materials you’re nuts about. Here’s what Leigh has to say:

If you have a material you love, think about using it in multiple locations or for different functions

I fell in love with opaque acrylic, which is hard but looks soft, never feels cold to the touch, has a smoky aesthetic quality that lets light move through it, and wears beautifully. Initially we planned only to use it as the top of my 10-foot custom desk. I loved it so much, I decided to use it for my master closet island and then to apply it vertically, as a unique cabinet door option in my master closet.

If you have a “problem” to solve, make it an excuse to reuse one of your favorite materials

When we came up with the idea to turn a wide hallway into a laundry room with 15 feet of sliding glass doors, we wound up with too much natural light drawing attention to the area. Creating a “valance” of aluminum—the material on the sliding-door track system—blocked the light coming in from the top.

We knew we wanted sliding glass doors on the powder and laundry rooms, but didn’t want them speckled with fingerprints. We also needed a way to lock the powder bath without installing a lock onto the glass. So we turned to one of our favorite, most reliable materials—brushed aluminum—and made custom door pulls and a door jamb-based lock that required only a hole cut in the glass.

If you love it inside, try to use it outside

We designed and installed my custom desk early in the project—with a base of blackened steel and 10-foot desktop of opaque acrylic.  When we couldn’t find a large enough outdoor table that I truly loved, we decided to take the acrylic and metal outside and created a dining table that seats 12 featuring a base of marine grade stainless steel and a cantilevered tabletop of opaque acrylic.

Combine favorite materials in various ways to unite home spaces with different traits

Our stairs are blackened steel with rubber treads. The main staircase leads you up to the master suite; then we have steps down into the bedroom. I wanted a more-glamorous, less-industrial feel and a smooth transition into the new space. So we designed floating stairs that feature the same rubber treads, but with a stainless-steel frame (which also ties in with the aluminum “reverse molding” reveal at the wall bases).

floating staircase is blackened steel with rubber treads repeating materials reuse

Photo by Chipper Hatter.

If you love a certain feeling of a material, find other materials that look the same to meet requirements in other parts of your home.

I loved the tranquil, organic feel of my pressed cement kitchen countertops but they are thick and for indoor use only. So we searched and found a very similar manufactured stone that could top the barbecue island just outside the kitchen, and then a super thin stone composite that could be installed vertically as the living room’s fireplace façade.  We also chose outdoor light fixtures in a textured charcoal finish.

repeating materials reuse

Photo by Zack Benson.

Material Index

This list of what Leigh used in her own home—and where—might give you some ideas of where to repeat your favorite materials in your own home.

  • Aluminum: main living area’s cubbies, floor reveal detail (“reverse molding” at base of all interior walls), kitchen appliance garage, custom door handles and “push plates,” laundry alcove valance, master closet rods and shelves
  • Blackened steel: sculptural staircase, hand rail, desk base, floor “framing” detail, custom cabinets, master suite closet, structural and decorative support for cantilevered kitchen island countertop
  • Cor-Ten steel: outdoor planters, front staircase, address wall, mailbox, roof vertical facing, front deck facing (to tie the multiple layers of decks to each other)
  • Opaque acrylic: custom desktop, master closet, island top (horizontal), cabinet doors (vertical) custom cantilevered outdoor dining tabletop
  • Stainless steel: outdoor table base, floating stairs in master bedroom
  • Stone and tile: kitchen island and secondary bathroom countertop stone, master bathroom and small powder bath wall and floor tiles
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