Antique brass, polished nickel, chrome: the list goes on. What’s a person to do? It can be overwhelming. When it comes to luxury interior design, mixing metals is the it thing, but many of my clients have been asking me how to make it work. Combining metals is a great strategy for a stunning room, as long as you follow some basic guidelines.
Before we start mixing, we need to cover some basics on metal finishes. There are so many to choose from. Where to begin? Let’s start with the most popular silver toned metals: chrome, nickel, and stainless steel. While all are silver, chrome has a blue undertone and nickel a warmer brown one. Stainless steel goes well with both, but avoid mixing chrome and nickel, as it will appear a near miss. Nickel is more expensive, but chrome can give a great modern shine to contemporary interiors.
What’s with all the gold?! Many of us remember the 1980’s and all the brass that came with it. As a designer, I have spent many remodels pulling all of it out. But it's back, and in a new and sophisticated way. Don’t be afraid to embrace this trend. You don’t have to change out every door knob and hinge in your home. In fact, matching everything will make your home look dated. Cabinet hardware or light fixtures are great places to try adding gold tones. Most pulls are standard in size and can be changed out easily if you tire of it, and a light fixture is an easy update for a room.
If bright gold is too brash for you, consider antique brass or bronze. Their rich, subdued colors are stunning and easier to mix with other metals. Rose gold and copper are also hot, but I tend to save this one for the more daring among us, or use it in accent pieces in the room.
Darker options like iron, gun metal, flat black and the more traditional oil-rubbed bronze are great options as well, giving contrast on cabinetry and counter tops.
Now that you have your metal color, you have to pick the texture too! Polished and brushed are the most common. That decision can come down to maintenance as polished can show more water spots and fingerprints. However, the shine of polished is often just the sparkle a room needs. Old favorites like hammered can give a more rustic air, or consider new textures as well, like knurled brass for a luxurious industrial feel.
Now for those metal mixing guidelines!
Choose a Dominant Metal
One method is to choose a dominant metal that is the most prominent. Once you’ve done this, you can choose one or two accent metals to complete the rest of the look. For example, make a kitchen with stainless steel appliances sparkle by choosing a chandelier or vintage statement piece with wrought iron or brass accents. Your cabinet hardware can pick up the accent metal while your plumbing fixtures can stay a beautiful brushed nickel to keep in pace with your appliances. Your lights and hardware are the “jewelry” of the room. Let your appliances, faucet, and sink be the basics in stainless. My rule of thumb is two metals, with one taking a dominant role. A third can be used here and there, but as an accent in small amounts.
Panel Your Appliances
Integrating your appliances with cabinet panels takes away the large blocks of metal in your space, allowing you to be more intentional with your other metal finishes in the room. Many appliance brands, even more affordable ones, are now offering panel ready options. You may also consider new black appliance finishes that are more subdued and blend well.
Consider Your Color Scheme
At the end of the day, metal is just another color in your room, so think of it as such. In general, use warm metals (like copper, nickel, and brass) with warm hues (like ivory, griege, and taupe) and cool metals (such as chrome) with cool hues (such as blue, green, and cool grays). Neutral rooms benefit from metallic accents because they bring color, warmth, and texture. There is nothing like spicing up a gray room with a gorgeous golden mirror. Alternatively, gray and blue cabinets can blend well with stainless appliances, giving you room to use two other metals: for instance black and gold!
The texture of a metal impacts the way we view it, so keep that in mind when making selections. Sticking with one metal but varying the texture is another way to bring depth and visual interest to a space if mixing metals makes you nervous.
Use Natural Iron, Flat Black or Oil-rubbed Bronze As a Neutral
All are beautiful on their own, bringing a dark accent to your palette. They also allow you to add highlights (warmer metals like gold or brass) and they won’t clash with your other metal tones.
Mixed Material Items
Using cabinet pulls with metal and leather, crystal, or acrylic gives a very luxurious feel and allows you to bring in just a touch of gold or brass. These are a great option for some more glam. Use a black and gold light fixture and then pick one of those metals for your hardware and plumbing. A mixed metal item can help jumpstart your metal combinations.
Mixing metals is an opportunity to break the old rules and make a room textured, interesting, and warm. After all, your home is the representation of you. Make sure that it shines.
Live in Chicago or the North Shore?
Schedule a consultation with luxury interior designer, Amber Golob, by contacting her at Amber@AmberGolob.com or calling 773-960-0498.