If you grew up any time before the '00's the idea of matching is one you're probably used to and have a hard time fighting against. But I assure you, learning how to mix colors, styles, and finishes in your home decor (including mixed metals) is the only way to get the look and feel you're after and achieve a home that's uniquely you.
So I guess the big question is...
Can you mix metals in home decor?
Yes you can. And you should.
Mixing metals in decor is a great opportunity to layer in different colors and textures and is always a good idea.
Think of your metal finishes as the opportunity to add color just like you would think of with any other item in your home. This could be the hardware finishes or fixtures you select for your kitchen or bathroom cabinets, the metal finish on a floor lamp or table legs, or anything else in your decor that's made of metal.
Of course there are some things you'll want to keep in mind as you play with this new skill so today I'll walk you through some tips for mixing metal finishes in home decorating, give you suggestions of what to avoid, and of course show you lots of examples.
Easy Tips For Decorating With Mixed Metals
When mixing metals in a room, start with these steps.
1 | Choose a dominant metal finish.
Decor is all about striking the right ratio so your eye knows where to go first. Start with a metal finish that will show up the most in your space, then complement it by mixing in one or two other metal finishes.
Avoid using more than 3 different metals in a room. Too many different finishes makes a space feel accidental rather than intentional and well designed.
RATIO RULE: Keep the rule of 60-30-10 in mind when mixing metal finishes. 60% being your dominant finish, 30% being your second metal finish, and sprinkling in 10% of a third finish if you wish.
2 | Keep your color palette in mind.
You'll want to select metal finishes that go with your home color palette. Like I said earlier, think of the metals you choose as a color. This will make it easy to know what will go nicely and what won't.
But don't be afraid to mix warm toned metal finishes like brass, gold, or copper with cool metal finishes like, chrome, brushed nickel, and stainless steel.
In fact it's better to select metals that are very different from each other rather than similar ones because contrast is the key to making it look intentional and not like a decorating mistake.
For example, it's better to mix brass and nickel finishes rather than to mix brushed nickel and chrome in a space because nickel and chrome are similar in color and it ends up looking more haphazard or like you couldn't quite find items that matched.
CONTRAST IS KEY: It's better to mix a cool metal color with a warm metal color than it is to use similar finishes.
3 | Consider texture and reflectance.
How shiny or dull a metal looks (its reflectance) is going to play a major role in how much it stands out. Most often the more reflectance a metal has the more it grabs your attention. For example a chrome chandelier, because it has much more sparkle, will stand out more than a brushed chrome chandelier.
The texture of the metal finishes in your home decor can add to your decor style. A dull black metal finish could be considered modern or even rustic while a brushed gold could be considered traditional. Of course the style of the item will play a major role in this as well.
REFLECTANCE: Changing up how shiny, dull, or textured the metal finishes are is a good idea. In the same way that color contrast is important, variations of reflectance also add contrast to a space.
Mixing Metals In A Kitchen
Mixing metal finishes in a kitchen is an easy place to start. Since there are naturally a lot of metal items, there are a lot of opportunities to change up the metal finishes you use.
Mixing stainless steel, brass, and oil rubbed bronze finishes in a kitchen.
In the stunning kitchen below by Darci Heather, you can see the 3 rules for mixing metals in decor at play.
RATIO: The main metal finish is stainless steel and is naturally dominant simply because it's used on the appliances which take up a lot of visual space, but she ties it into the rest of the design by using it on the island faucet, the clock on the back wall, and even on some countertop accessories and small appliances.
The secondary metal finish is a shiny bronze on the cabinet hardware and the open shelving brackets and finally there's a touch of oil rubbed bronze on the faucet and the pendant light that ties in with the brass, but because it's a duller finish it gives another layer. (REFLECTANCE)
CONTRAST: The overall color palette of this kitchen is cool with lots of blues, greys, and black, but bringing in the brass and some oil rubbed bronze adds warmth. This mixing of both cool and warm colors makes for a really inviting space.
Mixing stainless steel, black, and gold finishes in a kitchen.
This light and airy kitchen follows the same ratio with the dominant metal being reflective stainless steel appliances, but is paired with matte black hardware on the white kitchen cabinets and faucet.
Then just a touch of mid reflectance gold is added as a focal point over the kitchen island on the pendant lights.
Tip: Your metal finishes will add to your existing color palette. In this case, the warm tone on the pendant lights plays nicely with the warm tones on the flooring and helps draw your eye up.
Mixed Metals In A Bathroom
Mixing metals in a bathroom is another easy place to start because just like a kitchen, there are lots of opportunities to play with different metal finishes. Let’s take a look at some pictures of bathrooms with mixed metals.
Brass and chrome bathroom.
Both images below showcase mixing metal finishes in a bathroom really well.
RATIO: The dominant metal finish in these bathrooms is brass with a really warm undertone that ties in nicely with the subtle warm color palette of greige and off whites happening in both spaces.
Then chrome is added ever so slightly on the sink fixtures. (CONTRAST)
REFELCTANCE: In the bathroom with the green cabinets the brass is slightly dull while the chrome is left shiny which adds to the contrast here.
In the bathroom with the white cabinets everything has a sort of creamy texture so using metals with a brushed finish is a good idea to maintain the overall feel of the space.
Mixing black and gold hardware
Black and gold mixed metal finishes in these bathrooms is on point!
RATIO: This bathroom has a more traditional style with the warm wood cabinetry and it's highlighted nicely by keeping the dominant metal finish in the same warm color palette by using gold light fixtures and a gold vanity mirror. Then matte black cabinet hardware is added as a secondary metal finish.
CONTRAST AND REFLECTANCE: The warm gold finishes paired with the matte black create contrast because one is warm and the other is cool in color, but also even though the gold isn't super shiny, the matte black is a definite contrast with no shine at all.
Tip: When using two contrasting metal finishes look for an opportunity to add one item that uses both finishes like you see here on the black and gold sconce.
RATIO: This bathroom has a more contemporary style and also has black and gold mixed metal finishes but this time the dominant metal is a brushed gold, the faucets are chrome, and the metal framed mirrors are black.
CONTRAST AND REFLECTANCE: The color palette in this space definitely has a ton of bright white on the walls and cabinetry so the gold hardware and fixtures stand out the most because they create a lot of contrast.
Then having dull gold and black finishes with shiny chrome faucets layers in the contrast. This is a great example of mixing brass and chrome in a bathroom.
Want to learn how to create a color palette you love, even if there are colors in your home you can’t change? Click here to learn about my course, Color Made Clear
Mixing Metals In A Living Room
Looking for opportunities to used mixed metal finishes in the main living areas of your home might not be as obvious, but I promise there are lots of them.
You'll want to look at the metal finishes on things like your curtain rods, fireplace surround, and on items like lamps, tables, and accessories.
RATIO: The dominant metal in this living room may appear to be bronze, but that is just because bronze ties in with the room's warm color palette. If you look closely you'll see that most metal finishes in the space are chrome and they even painted the wood stump side table to appear chrome as well.
CONTRAST AND REFLECTANCE: Bronze is definitely showing up in this space but because it is kept dull it blends in nicely with the other elements in the room that aren't shiny while the chrome stands out not only because of its cool color tone but because of its reflectance as well.
As you can see it is okay to mix metals in home decor and with these easy steps you can be sure that you do it in an intentional way that adds to the feel you're going for in your home.
When in doubt just refer back to the three steps you saw here in action today: Ratio, Contrast, and Reflectance of your metal finishes.
Other Things to Consider When Choosing Colors For Your Home
A lot of factors go into selecting colors for your home, and it goes way beyond paint color.
Things like your home color palette, existing colors in your home (that you may not be able to change), and the color of the natural light, or lack of natural light can change the way a color shows up in your home.
In my self-paced online color course, Color Made Clear, I walk you through all the steps to choosing and using color in your home to create a pulled together and cohesive look, even if you have things like cabinet color or floors you can't change.