How to Mix Metals in Your Home
Whenever I talk about designing a kitchen or bathroom, I usually get a few questions about mixing metals, or “finishes”, which is a term used within the home space. How many do you combine? Which ones work best together? How do you know what finishes to choose for your space? I’m surprised it took me this long to devote an entire blog post to this topic. So today, I’m breaking down how to mix metals in your home.
What’s Considered a Metal/Finish?
When you think of metal in a room, most people typically think of light fixtures or faucets. But there are actually lots of items that fall into this category. Hardware, door knobs, decor, curtain rods, furniture, lighting, and plumbing fixtures all come in different metals and it’s important to be intentional when bringing these into your home.
Most Common Finishes
Here’s a list of the most common finishes you’ll find when choosing various metals for your home. Many of these are similar…brass, gold, and champagne can all look similar, depending on the retailer.
- Stainless Steel
- Oil Rubbed Bronze
Various Sheens Options
While there are lots of metals to choose from, there are also various sheens to consider. These will completely change the look of a product, so it’s important to know the difference. From most shiny to least shiny, you’ll find polished, satin, brushed, and antique/aged.
Know the Color Undertones
The above metals each have a different color undertone, with either warm or cool tones. In general, brass, copper, gold, oil-rubbed bronze, champagne, and nickel give off a warm look. Whereas chrome, stainless steel, and silver are cooler. As for black, I think of it more as a neutral, that’s why I like using a lot of black finishes throughout my own home.
The Dos When Mixing Metals
Now that we understand the various options, let’s discuss how to mix metals properly. Here are some of my best tips.
- Keep it to 2-3 finishes in a space.
- Choose a dominant metal and make sure it’s spread around the room evenly. Then, choose your accent metal.
- Be careful about mixing various manufacturers in a small space. For example, the aged brass from one retailer may look very different from the aged brass of another.
- When in doubt, choose black as your accent metal, since it works well with most every finish.
The Don’ts When Mixing Metals
And here are some things to avoid when it comes to choosing the right metals and sheens for your home.
- Don’t choose only one metal. I would urge you to have at least two finishes throughout your home for an interesting and layered look.
- Don’t go with all of the same sheen. It’s more interesting to layer in two kinds.
- Don’t have too many finishes. If you incorporate more than three, your room will feel disjointed.
So that was a lot of information, let’s take a look at how this looks in real life with real rooms.
Our First-Floor Bathroom (Brass, Black, & Champagne Bronze)
In our first-floor bathroom, you’ll find black and brass accents throughout the room. I went with this black faucet, this black shower hardware, this brass vanity light, and this flushmount fixture that has both black and brass. Oh, and don’t forget even the small things like the hardware. I went with “champagne bronze” for both the towel hooks and the toilet paper holder.
Our Kitchen (Aged Brass, Brushed Nickel, & Golden Champagne)
In the kitchen, I have a few different finishes throughout. For all of the hardware, I went with these knobs and these pulls in “golden champagne”. The pendants and dining room chandelier (no longer available) are in an aged brass finish. Finally, the faucet and pot filler are both “lustrous steel” which is very similar to polished nickel.
My Mom’s Guest Bathroom (Brushed Nickel & Brass)
In my mom’s guest bathroom, we went with brushed nickel and a gold/brass/champagne look. Her faucet is brushed nickel, along with her toilet lever. The shower hardware is called “champagne bronze”, the towel hooks and the knobs are “aged brass”, and the vanity light is called “heritage brass.” It’s wild the number of names for these different metals (heritage, champagne, etc.) and sometimes you have to look past the name and really focus on the sheen and color of the actual metal to make sure it works in your space.
Create a Home Metal Palette
Just as your home has a paint color palette, you should try to make the finishes throughout your home cohesive too. For example, we have black door knobs and hinges all throughout our home. I love the way the black pops off of our white doors. Then, I’d say that brass is the typical accent that you’ll find in every single room in our house. I also have a bit of brushed nickel here and there to layer in another metal. I try to stick with those three metals (black, brass, and brushed nickel) whenever I am designing a new space.
Mixing Metals…You Can Do It!
I hope this sheds some light on how to mix metals throughout your home. Honestly, don’t overthink it. At the end of the day, it’s your home and it’s okay to break the “rules” every now and then. But hopefully, this will be a good resource the next time you have to choose a metal for your space.
I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m married to Finn & mom to Rory and Ellis. Together we’re creating our dream home in Chicago, one DIY project at a time.