If you love classic style interiors, you may have noticed that metal finishes play a role in their elegant, sophisticated interiors. You can find metal in items like a stunning silver-coloured chandelier in a living room, golden tapware in a bathroom, or antique bronze hardware in a kitchen.
If you love the elegant shine these metal finishes add to a room, you may be wondering which to put in your home. Can you mix them together? Which ones? And what about words like “polished”, “brushed” and “matte”?
These are questions we hear often during our Ask an Expert design consultations, so I thought I’d share some answers with you here. Although these tips won’t be as specific to your space as they would be during our 1:1 consultations, they will give you some general guidelines to follow when choosing materials for your build or decor for your home decorating project.
Where to add metal finishes in your home
Before I share some do’s and don’ts of mixing metal finishes, here are some ideas for metal elements in a home
- Wall lights
- Furniture arms, frames, or legs
- Metal decor (lamps, candle holders, accessories, etc.)
- Frames for mirrors, photos or art
- Towel rings and hooks
- Fireplace surrounds
Now… let’s see what we can do with them.
Do: Pair metal finishes with warm and cool tones
Design and decorating is all about balance, no matter what type of space you are creating. This means that all of the elements in a room should work well with one another, not compete for your attention. This is why visually ”warm” and” cool” metals make a great pair.
Warm metals include those with gold tones, like brass, most antique finishes, and bronze. Cool metals are those with silver tones, like nickel, pewter, and chrome.
In the Kingston Bachelor Pad, we paired gold and silver throughout various spaces in our client’s home to create a sense of warm, masculine elegance.
Do: Mix metals with high-shine and low-shine finishes
High-shine finishes (“polished” or “brushed”) naturally compete with other high-shine finishes, even if you have complementary warm and cool tones. This is because shiny metals naturally grab our attention, and if you have two different metals waving their arms at you, your eyes won’t know where to look.
Like warm and cool finishes, balance is key. Pair a polished or brushed metal with another that is matte or antiqued, and they will work together swimmingly.
In our award-winning Deakin Revival Rumpus Room, we paired low-shine antique finishes with a high-shine polished chrome faucet.
Do: Mix metals with matte finishes
Unlike shiny metals, those with matte finishes (no shine) blend into a design instead of standing out. This means that two matte finishes, even in two cool or two warm colours, can happily coexist in the same space. Matte black will also play nicely with pretty much any other metal.
Do: Mix antique metal finishes in any colour
Antique finishes, even in two warm or two cool tones, can always be mixed. This is because the overall style and feel isn’t overly demanding of attention, and because they are unified by their “antique” look, making them feel like they belong together.
In our Old Canberra project, there are a few variations of antiqued metal in the chest, mirror frame, and wall light. They aren’t identical in shade, but they work together beautifully.
Do: Follow this rule for kitchens…
There are a lot of opportunities for mixing metals in the kitchen, simply because there are so many areas of the kitchen that can be metal, like lighting, tapware, hardware, and appliances. When mixing metals in the kitchen, follow the rules above and use the SAME metal for these elements…
Match: Hardware and lighting
Match: Tapware and appliances
In the Deakin Classic Kitchen, we used polished nickel for the faucet and appliances and dark antiqued brass for the hardware.
Don’t: Mix metals in bathrooms
Since bathrooms are usually smaller spaces than kitchens, bedrooms, and living rooms, I don’t suggest mixing metals in this space. It can be done, but it’s very tricky to get right, so I wouldn’t attempt it unless you’re working with a professional. Play it safe and choose one, or work with us to select the right pairings.
I used mostly gold-coloured metal finishes in my 1930s bathroom renovation, with the exception of the antique brass light fixture. It is a warm colour and low-shine, so it works well with the brass.
Still not sure which materials or home furnishings are right for your space? Grab one of my complimentary resources here or book a chat with us to see which of our services might be right for you.