I remember when mixing metal finishes was a “no-no” - an undervalued practice that was completely frowned upon in the world of designing. It’s easy to purchase metal fixtures, fittings, and hardware in sets, and while we’re stuck in thinking all metals are supposed to match from lighting, to appliances, to door pulls, we are missing out on the best aspects of any room design.
Here are a few tips that will help you feel good about the practice of mixing metals:
Coordinate your finishes
If your finishes are not matching, make sure they are coordinating. The three elements to keep in mind when you are mixing metals are finish, tone, and color:
- Finish: Finish has to do with how the color itself is applied or treated. The most common are polished, brushed, satin, matte and patina. Polished finishes give you a high shine, whereas a brushed finish will be more matte.
- Tone: Tone is how bright or dark a color is.
- Color: Color is the base tone of the finish. Whether it is gold, brass, bronze or silver, the core color is usually the most important characteristic of a finish.
When mixing metal finishes, it is important to keep consistency among color, tone, or finish. Make sure the color choice you make looks deliberate. If you choose a fixture in one finish and different finishes in the rest of the room it may look more like more of a mistake. Make sure the finishes you choose speak to an item(s) in the room and doesn’t stand alone.
Complement your color palette
If your color palette is a warm hue, like beiges, taupes, and browns, use warm metals such as brass, gold and nickel. If your color palette is a cool hue, like greens, grays, and blues, use cool metals such as silver and chrome.
Consider the space
The size and function of your space may likely affect your matching of metals as well. There are a few things to consider when using metals in different rooms.
KITCHEN: We all know that planning a kitchen design can be challenging, especially when you have to get an exact match for finishes such as plumbing fixtures, appliances, hardware and lighting fixtures. Try combining different finishes, fixtures and hardware. Brass fixtures can be an awesome offset to oiled bronze handles, or a soft gold can be a nice offset to chrome. Brass pendants and stainless steel appliances can work in perfect harmony.
Kitchens are larger than bathrooms, so you have more room to get creative. Clean lines with unexpected finishes tend to add a lot of interest to simple spaces.
BATHROOMS: Bathrooms are a good place to think about mixing metal finishes with quite a bit of plumbing fittings, fixtures, and hardware. Keep in mind that bathrooms tend to be smaller spaces, so several different metals or super bold pieces can make your space look smaller.
Bathrooms are a perfect place to play with various finishes while staying in a similar tone and color. For example, mixing brushed brass lighting fixtures with polished brass or brushed vanity accessories creates visual diversity through the finishes but keeps the effect feeling purposeful and clean. Keep an eye on tone here, as this is a common way that fixtures can clash.
LIVING SPACES: In a living room we love a polished finish to add shine and pop, and using gold, silver and bronze in the same finish can create a visual treat. If you’re mixing more than two colors, try to keep an eye on consistencies between tone and finish—matching these two when mixing up colors is important in keeping your look clean and not cluttered.
BEDROOM: You know what they say about bedrooms, they should be a place of refuge so mixing finishes here can add a cozy ambience to your refuge. Try creating color schemes of warm colors like hammered brass, brushed copper, soft gold and a rubbed bronze. Matte or brushed finishes are nice for creating a softer feel and reducing any potential glare.
As with any design practice, there are a few key tricks to make this a success:
- Don’t mix more than 2-3 different metals.
- Don’t be afraid to experiment. I love experimenting with all metals, but I find myself leaning more toward the brushed gold, silver, and bronze combination.
- Don’t disregard texture.Having the wrong mix of textures when using and mixing metals could make or break your design. Incorporating finishes that have interesting textures like polished, matte and hammered etc creates a visually appealing space. It is even more important to focus on textures and finishes if you decide to use only one metal tone. Let’s say you decide to use only gold in your design, try to vary the look by mixing shiny or matte gold finishes.
- Don’t be afraid to mix warm and cool tones.
- Don’t the same metal tones. I have seen where two metals that almost match used in the same space. It gave off the appearance that the client wasn’t able to find the same finish or they just didn’t notice it was different. It didn’t look intentional.
Follow these few simple guidelines and you will have every room looking as good as gold or silver or bronze. Please don’t be afraid to start mixing things up!