MIXING METALS - A HOW TO GUIDE WHEN YOU JUST CAN’T DECIDE
Updated: Dec 21, 2020
If you’ve ever wondered if you can mix metal finishes in a room, the answer is a resounding yes! In fact, it seems almost unfathomable that fashion rules used to dictate that you shouldn’t mix gold and silver and that mixing metallic finishes was considered to be a fashion faux pas! This is definitely not the case anymore in fashion or interior design! For years now, we’ve seen a move in favour of mixing metallic finishes in everything from our jewelry to our wardrobe to our household fixtures.
Just as mixing metals adds a unique and eclectic element to an outfit, it does just this to a decorated space. It prevents a room from looking too predictable or ‘matchy matchy’. Also, let’s face it, sometimes it’s hard to choose just one finish! So many of my clients tell me they can’t decide between brass and chrome...and I always tell them, well the good thing is, you don’t have to! I frequently mix metals in the spaces I design because it creates a more layered, interesting look. It takes a little more planning but combining different metallic finishes adds an element that’s unique, unexpected and a little bit adventurous. Although there are no hard and fast ‘rules’ there are some tips to ensure a balanced and visually pleasing metallic mix.
HERE ARE SOME GUIDELINES FOR MIXING METALS:
🔲 Try choosing one metal to dominate your color palette and one or two others that complement it. Choosing a dominant metal for your design will help draw attention to your statement element. This can be accomplished by featuring the dominant metal in bold statement pieces like mirrors, pendant lights or larger scale furnishings. Unlike complimentary elements, a dominant element does not have to be repeated In other areas throughout the room.
Use of matte black or is an effective way to balance other metallics like gold and silver. Black grounds the scheme and adds contrast which helps to enhance other metal tones in your design.
🔲 Combine metals with different color temperatures. Metals like brass and copper are warm finishes while silver and chrome are cool. Combining warm and cool finishes will give you the strongest contrast and prevent a room from looking to warm or too cool. When using cool and warm toned metals in a single space, remember to make sure to distribute them evenly throughout different parts of the room.
My personal favourite finish though, is polished nickel. Polished nickel is a bit of a hybrid; warmer than chrome and cooler than brass. Polished nickel is a complimentary pairing that works beautifully with both warmer and cooler toned metallics. Polished nickel also provides a more subtle contrast when paired with brass than chrome. Many people opt to use chrome for kitchen and bath plumbing fixtures because of its neutral tone and ease of cleaning. My personal preference is to use polished nickel, in place of chrome for its warm undertones and timeless elegance.
🔲 If you like the look of mixed metallic finishes but are reluctant to begin this venture by boldly mixing metal varieties, here’s a compromise I can propose. Rather than combining bright, shiny golden metallic finishes with chrome, look for a more subtle, subdued shade of brushed bronze and combine with black or cooler metallic finishes.
🔲 A dominant statement piece in a bolder metallic hue combines effortlessly with more subtle accent pieces in contrasting finishes. Here, a high gloss brass coffee table pairs seamlessly with a chrome and lucite side table. The blended lucite/chrome combination doesn’t compete for attention but is a subtle, elegant compliment.
🔲 A seamless way to tie together the metals in your room is to choose a lighting fixture that incorporates the different finishes used throughout the room. More and more manufacturers have heeded our call and are making it easier to find fixtures that combine multiple metallic finishes...and the movement is gaining momentum!
🔲 One strategy for a clean, balanced space is to consider keeping metal varieties consistent on horizontal and vertical planes. Including the same finishes at the same heights will helps to create a clean and visually pleasing space.
In a kitchen, a good rule of thumb is to use the same finish on the cabinet hardware and plumbing fixtures and a contrasting finish on lighting and door hardware. Using polished nickel or bronze cabinet hardware and plumbing fixtures looks super chic when combined with brass lighting - or you can also do the reverse. I love aged brass but suggest using it sparingly when it comes to plumbing fixtures and instead, opt to use it in places where it can shine and make a statement such as in mirrors or lighting. Layering together different metallic finishes adds interest and personality to a space.
🔲 Anything with reflective quality can add glamour to a space. Using mirrored or mercury glass finishes can replicate the cool reflectiveness of chrome. Experiment by using mercury glass or mirrors along with cool toned metallics to add balance to the warm metallic accents in a space. Another finish that adds glamour to a space is lucite. Lucite is a neutral finish that and pairs well with both warm and cool metallics. This serene finish adds a whimsical sparkle to any space.
As much as I love aged brass, this finish is been on trend for many years. My advice is to beware of going too far in following design trends. Mixing metals, rather than going full throttle on one single on-trend metallic finish will safeguard your space from looking dated as trends shift in years to come.
Remember that it’s important to tie together the rooms in your house. There has to be a common thread that ties everything together, creating a sense of harmony. Metallic finishes must be considered as a part of the bigger picture in order to create a cohesive and unified home.
So if you love different metallic finishes, be bold and don’t settle for just one layering metallic finishes in your home will result in a uniquely styled space that is eye catching, unpredictable and extraordinary!