6 Tips for Mixing and Matching Metals

There’s no rule that says every finish in your home must be identical. Actually, it’s frequently preferable that they’re not matching. 

Mixing metals has become a popular technique for giving rooms like kitchens, bathrooms, living rooms, and other spaces a collected-over-time appearance. 

A matching look can seem bland and without character. Varying metal finishes on hardware, furniture, lighting, and other fixtures is appealing and adds interest to a space.

However, for those of us without much design expertise, selecting the ideal metal combination and applying them to the space can be challenging. There isn’t a foolproof method for figuring out how to mix metals properly but following are a few strategies to help you get the mixed metal look you want.

1. Decide on a single metal for your main finish

The secret to success is a hierarchy of finishes. A space with metal finishes distributed evenly, or in perfect thirds, can appear disorganized and unfocused. 

You should be able to tell that there is only one primary color in the room as soon as you enter. Choose one finish to serve as the centerpiece, and add other finishes as accents to balance it out.

Start with a metal that complements the interior design of the space. For instance, matte black has a more modern feel than satin or polished nickel, which works well in traditional settings. Steer clear of high-shine materials like polished brass and chrome because they can be challenging to combine successfully with other metals.

An aged, brushed, or satin finish tends to look better because polished brass can easily veer into ’80s territory if you’re not careful. Because of its warm undertone, nickel complements brass finishes better than chrome does for silver-tone finishes.

2. Choose a dominant metal that is simple to match

When choosing multiple fixtures, as in the case of a bathroom, this is crucial. No matter the manufacturer, chrome generally has a consistent appearance, unlike oil-rubbed bronze, which can vary. 

Make sure that all of your oil-rubbed bronze pieces come from the same manufacturer, which will ensure that the finishes always match. For example, chrome could be your dominant metal and oil-rubbed bronze could be an accent.

3. For accents, pick complementary metals

Aim for 60 to 75 percent of the room’s finishes to be made of the dominant metal. Next, select one to two accent metals, paying attention to the undertones to determine which metals go well with each other. 

In general, stainless steel, chrome, and other silver metals have a cooler appearance than brass, copper, gold, and nickel. Black matte is largely neutral. 

Although warm and cool colors can be combined, you must exercise caution to prevent a clash. When combining two very dissimilar metals, such as polished stainless steel and antique copper, use a finish that falls in the middle, like brushed stainless steel, to fill the gap.

4. Change the metal type and the finish

Metals can be polished, matte, satin, antiqued, brushed, or any combination of these, and adding different sheens to the mix can add even more interest. 

Choose polished nickel and satin brass if you want to combine nickel and brass. More distinction and depth are added by contrasting soft with shiny. 

Keep in mind that combining two polished finishes can produce a very glam look, so err on the side of matte or satin metals if that’s not what you’re going for. 

It is simpler to mix softer, more muted finishes with less shine than polished ones. Additionally, combining metals could give a home—even a brand-new space—a more curated and collected appearance. 

Combine various metal sheens and finishes to create the appearance that a design has changed over time.

5. Distribute the metals around the space

Use your chosen metals in the room in accordance with the order of finishes that you have chosen. 

For example, in a kitchen, use the faucet to highlight your accent metal and cabinet hardware in your main finish. Consider introducing a mixed-metal light fixture or furniture with both of your chosen finishes to create a unified look.

Keep in mind that there can be too much metal mixing. For instance, mixing metals in a single room is fine, but mixing metals on a single piece inside the room should be avoided. Even though your sink faucet and pulls are brass, keep the robe hooks on the back of the door black if you have black door handles. 

6. Choose what you love

Finally, be confident in your personal taste and fashion. 

Don’t feel compelled to choose brass if you prefer the timeless style of nickel, for instance, just to follow fashion trends. Select metals that are a reflection of your personality and go well with the surfaces and paint colors you already have. 

Bottom line, if you are satisfied with the results, consider it a success.

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