Here’s how you can start mixing metal décor in your home
Brushed black and antique bronze can work together
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Metal décor has been taking a more focused spotlight in home design, and with it, the trend of mixing metals. While this may sound like blasphemy to those who need to match faucet to drawer pull to pendant light, others welcome the freedom.
According to the experts, mixing metals is easy to incorporate throughout the home, whether you just want a sparkly accent or a full-bore industrial look.
Lucky for us, Good Life New England founder Glenn Meader has a front-row seat on the ebb and flow of home interior trends.
“While in the past, we designers may have struggled to meet a client’s hopes for a true match between metal finishes within a room, we now celebrate the individual uniqueness of different design elements by featuring metal accents specific to them,” says the residential design specialist, who is based in Norwell, Massachusetts.
Kathy Kuo, CEO of her eponymous interior design company, agrees with Meader.
“Sometimes all it takes is a little bit of metal to make a room feel complete!” she writes in her comprehensive blog “The Kuotes,” which boasts 170,000 followers. She highly encourages mixing metals in the home to bring something dynamic to the space and to avoid an overly matched look.
What exactly do designers mean when they talk metal?
There’s the obvious answer: faucets, stove hoods, cabinet pulls, and more that you’d typically find in the kitchen and bathroom. Granted, these all offer ways to have fun with metal, but you don’t have to stop there. And, they’re not the only rooms where metal décor is appropriate.
A good first step in understanding the versatility of mixing metals is to banish the notion of “metal equals shiny.”
Metals you’d see in home accents include chrome, brass, steel, copper, gold, and iron, and the number of finish options, like brushed, burnished, polished and matte, are equally diverse. Add in variations of patina and texture, and the whole concept of incorporating metals into your home décor becomes a smorgasbord of possibilities.
Meader explains, “In a custom furniture-style vanity, we may feature hardware in a metal finish that best complements the cabinet finish and style rather than blindly matching to the finish of the faucets.”
Break the mold in the kitchen, first
The kitchen arguably offers the most opportunities for mixing metals and finishes.
For example, pendant lighting over a kitchen island may be made of oil-rubbed bronze, but to use the same metal for cabinet knobs and drawer pulls may not work, especially considering the current popularity of dark gray or navy cabinets. For the cabinets, a better choice is brushed brass-finished hardware that pops against a deep-toned background.
Metal décor in the kitchen—and elsewhere—is not confined to accent areas.
Meader says, “We also see mixed metals interplayed within individual pieces themselves, from furniture and light fixtures to plumbing products and appliances.”
In 2019, GE Appliances’ Café brand expanded its customizable repertoire of appliances. GE's Café brand has always offered customizable options for their matte white and matte black appliances. It now offers those same options for appliances in stainless steel. Hardware is available in brushed bronze (as on the GE CWE19SP2NS1 bottom freezer fridge), brushed stainless, brushed copper (as on the GE CGS700P2MS1 range), and brushed black, with more rolling out in the near future.
Whitney Welch, a senior communications specialist with GE Appliances says, “It’s the first mass premium brand that offers this level of personalization and luxury. Buyers can change their handles and knobs to different metal finishes that reflect their personal design aesthetics.”
Mixing metals beyond the kitchen
According to Mark Haddad, founder of Interiology Design Co. in Watertown, Massachusetts, the prevalence of the open-concept living space contributes to the metal décor and accent trend, as well.
Since the heart of the home is no longer closed off from the rest of the house, the kitchen’s design choices flow into adjacent spaces and vice versa. A mix of metal finishes on light fixtures, hardware, and even furniture, achieves a collected-over-time look that is having a heyday.
Meader elaborates on the many ways to maximize metal. “Metal accents have become popular in tile backsplashes,” he says. “Rooms can be seen with narrow metal borders in their floor treatments, wallpapers boast reflective metallic patterns, and those of us in the custom cabinetry world are integrating metal frame shelves and adorning cabinet faces with accent metal trims.”
Vibing with custom creations
Recognizing a demand for detailed custom metal throughout the home, Ross Levtow launched RBL Metals in Glendale, New York, which crafts custom furniture in a range of finishes—think antique bronze, blackened steel, and polished plated nickel.
Levtow’s recent projects include brass coffee table bases, a brushed lacquered brass TV cabinet, copper kitchen hoods, and polished nickel inlays in blue lacquered dining room cabinetry.
Finding approachable, affordable ways to embrace mixed metals
If custom creations are out of your price range, the good news is that there is an abundance of sources for more affordable mixed metal items.
Some retailers even offer up inspiration on how to combine them. For fans of mid-century modern design, West Elm offers brass-legged Slope Leather dining chairs that pair well with the dark metal of the marble and antique bronze Frame dining table and the sculptural 4-light ribbed pendant light in either brass or antique bronze.
The furniture collection at Crate & Barrel includes a host of fun pieces that can add a complementary touch of metal to any room. Try the Elke round black marble end table with brass base in your living room, or hang a sand-cast aluminum Element silver full-length mirror in your bedroom.
Here’s the bottom line: Dare to be different.
Kuo emphasizes, “Metals are meant to be mixed, so don’t worry too much about whether they’ll ‘go together.’ Instead make sure each finish is a thoughtful addition to your space.”