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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Moran

Mixing Metal Finishes

As we guide our clients through the interior design process of their custom home, they frequently ask, “Are you sure we can mix metal finishes?” And, consistently, designers respond with a resounding “Yes!”

Whether it’s cabinet hardware, lighting fixtures, interior door hardware, or even the tea kettle, mixing metal fixtures and accessories has become an on-trend design technique for both modern and classic home styles, creating visual appeal and spatial depth throughout the house.

Though mixing metal finishes might feel as uncomfortable as pairing navy and black, the concept has the ability to complete a room’s style better than over-matched metal. With careful planning and intentional selections, the mixed metal design concept can elevate the level of luxury while making a house feel like home.

Choose a Base Metal

The first step to mixing metals revolves around selecting the base metal. Choose one dominant metal, and then use 1-2 additional metals as contrasting accents throughout the space. You’ll likely want that base metal to flow throughout your home, tying everything together.

Use base metals on major fixtures (like door hardware and cabinets) to tie rooms together; that gives your design a purpose while allowing you to play with accent metals for room-specific fixtures and accessories. Since kitchens and bathrooms tend to have the most fixtures, these rooms provide the most potential for metal accents.

Distribute Your Metals

A key to mixed metal success lies in distribution with purpose. Throwing one accent metal into a sea of base metal will make the accented metal’s placement look accidental. Piling accented gold metals into one corner of the room doesn’t produce the desired aesthetic either.

Disperse the accented metal throughout the room to highlight the accents and provide your room with visual depth. Consider distributing your accented metals by height. If your base metals remain below eye level (drawers and sinks), incorporate an accented metal above eye level (light fixtures).

Use Contrasting Tones

When it comes to mixing metals, contrast is crucial. If your base metal is bright, use darker metals as accents. Or, if you choose a darker base metal, layer on metals with lighter finishes. Either way, that contrast provides cohesion and allows each metal to pop in its own way.

Use caution when mixing similar metallic tones; it can look like an accident instead of a classy design trend. Plan your metal tones to turn potential chaos into aesthetic order.

Accent with Accessories

Committing to mixed metal fixtures and finishes can be a major decision. Luckily, you can wade into the world of mixed metal by using accented decor and accessories to provide metallic contrast.

If you have dark metal kitchen fixtures, place a copper tea kettle on your stove to experiment with the contrasting mixed metals. With lighter metal fixtures as a base, incorporate darker metal centerpieces in your dining room. After a while, you’ll be changing out your light fixtures with alternate metal finishes.

Keep it Simple

With so many types of metal finishes, it can be tempting to go overboard; however, simplicity goes a long way. Limit yourself to two or three metals that contrast well throughout the house. You don’t want each room to look like an overloaded metallic junkyard.

With careful planning and deliberate metal selections, you can create dynamic spaces and cohesion throughout your home, allowing you to relax in style with luxury design.

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