Over the years, I have held LOTS of client meetings to fine tune kitchen designs. In those meetings, I have been asked to include all sorts of details that clients have seen in photos and in other kitchens. The one detail, though, that most frequently leaves clients at a loss as to what it is called is the ‘corbel’. I have had to decipher requests for ‘those decorative thingees’, ‘the carved things they use on hoods’, ‘fancy supports’ and ‘something that adds some decoration’.
Literally, a corbel is a projected piece applied to a wall to provide structural support for something to rest upon it. To the purist, this piece is called a corbel only if it is made from stone masonry. Otherwise, it called a bracket. In the world of kitchen design, though, the term ‘corbel’ has come to be used inter-changably with the term ‘bracket’ even though these design elements are most frequently made from resin or wood.
Corbels are commonly used as decoration on mantle hoods or to support countertop overhangs for island seating. Depending on the style of the kitchen, they can have no embellishment, have a few traditional curves, be covered with acanthus leaves or even take on the shape of swan’s necks, angels, or lion’s heads.
If you live in a traditional home in the US, Europe or South America, I suspect there is at least one corbel in use in your own home whether it be in the kitchen, on a piece of furniture or as part of the building exterior. Take a look. Can you find one?