5 Infallible Ways to Mix Metals in Your Home Decor
Often more impactful than matching metal finishes, mixing finishes is a way to give your space a collected-over-time look — in addition to adding character and depth. Here’s how to hit on the right combination:
1. Choose one metal as your dominant finish.
The key to successfully mixing metals is implementing a hierarchy of finishes — not equal parts, which can give an unfocused or chaotic feel to a room. You should be able to discern one dominant color when you enter the room. Simply choose one finish as the centerpiece and then complement it with one or two other accent finishes. Make your main metal one that fully speaks to the overall aesthetic of the space. For example, polished or satin nickel is a great fit for more traditional spaces, while matte black provides a more contemporary vibe.
• High-shine finishes like polished brass and chrome can be tricky to integrate with other metals, so consider staying away from them.
• Polished brass can easily dip into a tacky ’80s aesthetic if not managed well. Consider a brushed, satin or aged finish instead.
• When it comes to silver-tone metals, the warm undertones of nickel tends to mesh better with brass finishes than chrome.
2. Pick one or two accent metals.
Your main metal should make up about 60- to 75-percent of the room’s metal finishes. The remainder will be one to two accent metals. Choose your accent metals carefully, keeping the undertones in mind so that the metals go together. Generally, nickel, gold, copper and brass all feature warm undertones. Chrome, stainless steel, and other silver metals provide a cooler appearance. Treat matte black as a neutral. While it’s true that you can mix warm and cool tones, you’ll have to be careful so that the metals don’t clash. If you decide to mix two very different metals — think aged copper and polished stainless steel — consider incorporating a third finish that’s somewhere in the middle to connect the two, like brushed stainless steel.
3. Incorporate a variety of sheens in addition to metal types.
Metals come in a variety of sheens, such as matte, satin, polished, brushed, and antiqued. Incorporating a mix of sheens in addition to metal types makes your room even more interesting. Contrasting shiny with soft — like pairing polished nickel and satin brass — brings depth and distinction. Beware when bringing two polished finishes together, however. The result will be a very shiny, glamorous look, so if that’s not what you’re looking for, lean more towards satin or matte metals.
Helpful Tip: Softer finishes that are more muted (not a lot of shine) are easier to integrate with other metals than polished ones.
4. Spread metals throughout the room.
In keeping with your established hierarchy of metal finishes, distribute your chosen metals throughout the entire room. For example, in the kitchen, consider picking cabinet hardware in your main finish and showcasing your accent metal in the faucet. Secure a cohesive look by installing a mixed-metal piece of furniture or light fixture that is a combination of both your chosen finishes.
5. Trust your own style and taste.
Don’t be afraid to go with what you love. If a classic nickel look speaks to you, don’t pick brass just because it’s the latest trend. Select metals that best represent your personality and are best suited for your existing decor. If the end result makes you happy, you’ve been successful.