One of my readers emailed me about mixing the metals in a house and asked me what I thought of mixing instead of all matching. She thought this would be a good blog post and I agree. What’s the proper way to mix metals? I think it’s probably all very subjective, but things are a-changing in the design world on mixing things up and frankly, I couldn’t be happier about that.
Remember the days when most everyone bought matching sets of furniture, especially in bedrooms and living rooms? How boring was that? In the last 20 years, the trend has totally changed and not too many folks I know buy that way anymore. It’s just too predictable and yes, a bit boring. I think the same could be said for matching hardware in a house. Back when I was growing up, it seemed that brass and chrome were about the only choices out there. We didn’t have the full spectrum of metal finishes that are available today, so mixing things up gets a bit more complicated.
Or does it?
I happen to think that nowadays, most anything goes in mixing those finishes. It especially shows up in bathrooms and kitchens and now that I’m doing my own kitchen from scratch and updating those 70’s bathrooms of mine, I’ve had mixing metals on my mind a lot lately.
I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s totally OK to mix those finishes.
Do what makes you happy in your own home and I do believe that it will all work out if you do that.
I happen to love dark bronze or black metal for my white kitchen cabinets and love the pop that they give. Someone else with white cabinets could just as easily choose nickel for their knobs and pulls. So, where does that leave the faucet and appliances? Mix it up, I say. In my own kitchen, I have stainless appliances, black hardware on the cabinets, an oil rubbed bronze track light and the pendant over my sink has chrome accents. And I think it will all work fine together.
My faucet could go either way, but I’ve decided on oil rubbed bronze for that.
In my bathrooms, I have chrome in the bathtubs and opted for Satin Nickel for my bath sinks and may go all silvery tones in the hall bath on cabinet knobs and lighting. But, I just might mix them both up, I think it all is fine together. The sink will flow with the chrome that I have at least replaced new on my old bathtubs. But, I do like darker tones on bath cabinets and even lighting. It’s going to be a mix, not matchy-matchy! Thanks to Moen, I got the faucets for my kitchen and bathroom, so grateful to them for that.
(Schlage from Home Depot)
All of my doorknobs are a mixed bag of shiny brass and antique brass and my hinges are antique brass since my house was built in 1979, so I’m leaning heavily towards changing out all my interior doorknobs to antique brass. They will totally pop off my dark brown painted doors. I haven’t gotten them yet, but they are certainly on my radar and I’m leaning heavily in that direction.
In the last 5 years, I had a mostly hate relationship with that shiny builder’s brass that so many of us have lived with for years. I still don’t love that, but antique brass is certainly growing on me and I really like the luster of it.
(via Horton Brass blog)
So, let’s take a look at some real life kitchens and see how the mix works in here. The kitchen above has brass hardware on the kitchen cabinets and what looks to be silver tones on the overhead pendant lights.
(via House Beautiful)
Ballard Designs master designer, Jill Sharp Brinson, has a mix of metals in her fabulous kitchen of satin nickel on the wall sconces and a dark finish on the drawer pulls. Jill knows how to mix with the best of them.
This is a wonderful old farmhouse kitchen renovation from Gardenweb (Brickmanhouse) that they did a fabulous job with this Ikea kitchen installation and there’s a nice mix of metals in this kitchen as well.
I see mostly silver tones, but the chandy in the background is a black finish and I think the dark island has dark hardware too. Mixing it up gives this new kitchen more of a period feel in keeping with this older farmhouse. It’s beautiful!
(via Southern Living)
Another great example of mixed metals in a kitchen, is this beautiful rustic kitchen that was featured in Southern Living. The dark pulls on the cabinets are a wonderful contrast to those weathered brass pendants over the island.
Have you changed your mind recently on this subject or are you sticking to your decorating guns. It’s amazing how these things change and evolve over time and I’m totally on board with mixing metals now, whereas 10 years ago, I wouldn’t have been leaning in that direction at all. Mixing metals does seem to create that collected over time and vintage appeal that we all seem to love these days.
I want my home to be warm and inviting, whether or not all the metals match or not. That casual and approachable style that I am so drawn to.
So, what do you think? Are you a metal mixer too or do you love all the same tones throughout your house? Let’s chat in the comments!
[email protected] Designs says
Rhoda…the examples of the mixed metals are fantastic!!!…You have shown to us that mixing metals is a good thing…I feel it makes things so much more interesting….and I see a real comeback now for brass…
Great post Rhoda!!
Barbara @ DIY Home Staging Tips says
Well, you’ve made a believer out of me. Almost. Your photos and descriptions made me realize just how beautiful and interesting this look can be.
But I’m not sure I’m on the bandwagon when it comes to a home on the market. I think if the rooms are small or the house itself isn’t large, mixing metals can look too piecemeal and haphazard, and dare-I-say-it, budget-conscious. If your house is for sale, too many layers, details, or distractions might not work for that flow a well-staged home needs.
So mixing metals in every home? I’m still thinking maybe, maybe not. Depends on the home and the market.
Mixing is fiiiiiine! But like a few other people said, I do like all the door hinges and knobs in the house to match. In fact, after living in my old house for 20 years I am FINALLY switching out all my shiny brass hinges and mismatched knobs to ORB. It’s quite $$$, but I’ve waited a long time to do this. (I’m also about to do an IKEA kitchen remodel, so I’ll have all those metal decisions to make in there!)
Thanks for the post, Rhoda!
Funny that I should see this just now, I was looking at a ORB light fixture on Amazon that I want to put above my bathroom sink. The fixture on the sink is brushed nickel and the bathtub is stainless steel, I am wondering if that is too much in a tiny space. My bathroom is very tiny.
I am also looking to put new towel racks in, maybe they could match the ORB finish. Does this sound like too much in a small space?
I love mixing metals but I think that the best way to mix them is to match the age of the finish. For instance aged or antiqued brass with oil rubbed bronze I think that ties them together nicely.
I so agree with your statement of do what you love and it will work. In our new kitchen remodel I wanted to keep our existing refrigerator that had a white finish but was only a couple of years old and I happen to love it. But I wanted stainless range and dishwasher, but felt that a stainless sink was too much for my taste so I chose a white sink. Regarding hardware, I chose nickel for my cabinetry but fell in love with Pottery Barn pendants that only came in bronze but love the warmth they add. In my opinion it all works beautifully and no one will even notice. And if I broke some sort of decorating rule…oh well.
Good advice, Rhoda
[email protected] says
Missed this when it posted, but glad to find it now. Just yesterday we were talking about this subject (standing it the aisle at Home Depot, of course). Like you, we’ve got a late 70s split, but it was updated in the 90s and we have brass knobs on all our doors that feel too ornate and shiny for our humble house. And we’ve also been feeling drawn to antique brass–because that’s what’s in the period light fixtures we’ve been finding.
We decided yesterday that we’d swap out door hardware on rooms as we finish them. We’re just about done with a bathroom reno, so we’ll do the doorknobs on that room to start (antique brass). It means that we’ll have mixed door knobs, probably for quite some time. But we can’t afford to do it all at once.
I’m with you: Mixed is good. For lots of reasons.
Nice website. And just in time, I was also thinking of mixing metals in our house. I was bored of single color thoroughout our house. I like ORB Faucets very much as i missed them in our previous house and has classy look so going for it all over the house and having Brushed nickle cabinet hardware with dark Maple java glazed wood cabinets in the kitchen. And i like the contemporary look for lighting and to give contemporary look i am planning to go with Brushed nickle lighting.
And all restrooms as i said ORB faucets and bathroom accesories with Brushed nickle Cabinets knobs and pulls and Brushed nickle lighting.
please advice on what all i picked. I have lot of questions on how it looks.
Rhoda, my email was wrong. now i corrected to [email protected].
Hi, I do think you can mix metals in a bathroom, so go with what you love. I have oil rubbed bronze lights in one bath with chrome in the tub area and the other one is all chrome and brushed nickel, so there is no right or wrong way to do it.
Betty Sue says
I love oil rubbed bronze, but when it’s on the shower surround, the faucets, the light fixtures, the cabinet pulls, the doorknobs, and hinges, it’s overkill. The only “designer” who would say all hardware and fixtures should match is the sales rep in a new home builder’s design showroom, where homeowners make choices from an assortment of builder grade lighting and hardware packages.
Personally, I love chrome on bath and kitchen faucets, stainless steel kitchen sink and oven hood, ORB doorknobs and hinges, ORB or antique brass knobs on bath and kitchen cabinets, and a mix of nickel, iron, and ORB light fixtures. I love natural brass, but I’m weary of the shiny fake look of lacquered brass.
Now what about the burning issue of doorknobs: round, sphere, lever, or egg?
I have been agonizing over living room furniture. I have a leather chair 1/2 and matching ottoman with bronze nail heads that I recently purchased. The sofa and love seat combo I am interested in is gray with silver nail heads. Will this work or am I making an expensive mistake?
Rachel, I think it would be fine to mix those. The bronze of the leather probably blends with the brown leather, I’m guessing. I don’t see a problem mixing those metals at all either. Many mix things up in the living room and all over the house.
Thank you so much for your response!! This has been driving me crazy.
Mary Ann Weber says
I have oak cabinets in my kitchen with all stainless appliances. Would it look ok to go with stainless faucet, old bronze light pendents and an old bronze chandelier, with bronze cabinet knobs and handles.
HI, Mary Ann, I think that would all be perfectly fine to mix. We have a mix in our current home of stainless and antique brass and bronze, so to me it makes a home interesting to mix the metals. We are going with all oil rubbed bronze door knobs and hinges when we change those out, but definitely mixing in some other finishes as well.