No white pants after Labor Day. No plaids and stripes at the same time. Life is full of these sorts of rules, isn’t it? Passed on but with no authority, seldom an intrinsic logic discernible.
Added to this bevy of no-nos, you may have heard “Don’t mix metals.” As in, don’t have different metals or metals with different finishes in the same room. No gold and silver. No brass and nickel. No bronze and chrome.
Well, the time has come to say no to all this no-no.
Design bloggers and interior designers are everywhere pointing out that this is an outdated concept and proving with jawdropping photos how easy it is to combine metals in a given space. They've been at it for a couple of years now, so it's no passing trend. Taste is evolving.
This beautiful bathroom by Sophie Burke Design demonstrates how well it works. The subdued palette of creamy whites and greys allows the silvery finishes to blend and the brassy ones to pop. Drawer pulls, mirror frames, and Heirloom sconces all match brass and gold tones. Meanwhile, the plumbing fixtures on the sink and bath match each other. Taken together, the overall effect is soothing and welcoming. It's minimal, which allows the quality of each piece to quietly assert itself.
You can bring in other metallics via textiles, artwork, picture frames, and wall coverings. In this unique kitchen by Lischkoff Design, wood and a green tile backsplash ground the space with refined earthy tones. Our Haverhill, in the foreground, fits right in with an Old Bronze finish. This bronze finish, paired with that of the sconces flanking the stove, works together with the mirror-like intensity of the drawers, cabinets, and stove all in stainless steel.
Photograph by Michelle Peek Photography | Design by Lischkoff Design Planning
This bathroom, also by Lischkoff Design and photographed by Ted Yarwood, doesn’t spring to attention as a mixed metal room—after all, the shower’s and sink’s faucets and handles are both on the silvery side, with drawer pulls, towel rack, and mirror frame matching as well. But the brilliant choice of the painting in a a thick gold frame above the toilet is the hallmark of true sophistication. It seems to delicately complement some of the colors in the anatomical painting, on the reverse wall. It would permit a light fixture in a brassy tone to match.
Some people just can't get down with brass and nickel in the same room, and we can understand that. In the gorgeous bathroom below, by the ever inventive and colorful Lindsey Coral Harper, brass and bronze work together beautifully, contrasting and complementing that unbelievable blue wall and its texture. Often the key to a successful mixing of metals is the color of a wall (or island, in a kitchen), which complements both finishes and brings them together.
Speaking about this room in the November/December 2105 National edition of luxe., Lindsey Coral Harper said, "The brass mirror works great with the oil-rubbed bronze here. I prefer to mix and match. It makes things look so much more authentic."
Coral Harper's use of the word "authentic" reminds us, "Why do this in the first place?" Marianne Brown's excellent blog post on this subject begins with that question. Here's her answer: "1. To give the room balance 2. To create a more 'collected' look 3. For a unique and personalized feel (so your bathroom doesn't look like you chose everything from one collection in a hardware store)."
Brown also offers this handy suggested combos list in her post at White + Gold Design:
Ready to test your mettle? Here's a few quick tips:
- Choose a dominant metal, one that leads the tone.
- Consider spacing out the metal items across a large room.
- Organize finish choice by level or height of area used. See Dina Holland's thoughtful post at Honey & Fitz here for more information.
- Add interest by adding exotic pieces in a similar luster. Even metallic accents, such as a tray or objet d'art, can do the trick.
- Match shapes. Echo the form of a light fixture in a side-table or a mirror's frame.
- Layer a few different textures to enhance the sense of a controlled eclecticism. Add soft textures to contrast the hardness of metals.
- Avoid overdoing it. 2-3 different finishes works best, though some put the cap at 4. As this Elle Decor article points, out "Too many metallics...and your home could end up feeling a like a hall of mirrors."
The main thing you’ll want to consider is the quality of luster and age appearance. Shiny works with shiny, rubbed with rubbed, old with old. For example, polished nickel and polished brass fixtures will pair perfectly because they both gleam, shiny and reflective. Old Bronze, Aged Brass, and Historic Nickel can all complement each other nicely in the same space because they all have a dulled and darkened sheen; their illusion of historicity makes them viable.
Just as the Olympics going on right now show how amiably gold, silver, and bronze get along, so too does the well-designed contemporary space.
Explore our finishes here.
Heirloom for the win again
Featured Image: The Auryn necklace from beloved eighties film, The Neverending Story