top of page

Mixing Metals

Mixing Metals

Remember that old rule of not wearing white before Memorial Day? No? Neither do we. Rules, it turns out, are sometimes meant to be broken.

It used to be that all metals had to match in a room or else. But now? Mixing metals is all the rage. Having a few different finishes blended together in a room makes for a cohesive and curated collection that instantly adds warmth and texture. And while there’s absolutely nothing wrong with having everything match (in certain rooms it’s the perfect look), sometimes it’s nice to shake things up a bit and make a unique design statement.

When you’re mixing metals, though, there are a few tips and tricks to make sure the overall look works. If various finishes are haphazardly thrown together, you run the risk of having a room that feels too busy and unplanned. So here at Molly Howe Design, we’ve collected a list for you of our go-to metal mixing guidelines – if you follow these, you’ll be sure to have the most gorgeous space in town.

Choose your style & color tone

Different metal finishes tend to align with certain styles, which means you want to be intentional when mixing them together. Brushed nickels and antique bronzes give off a sense of timelessness and elegance, and they work best with traditional and classic styles. Chromes tend to feel fresh and clean, and are perfect for rooms that need a bit of shine and sparkle. And if your decorating style leans more into the modern and contemporary realm, a matte black or brass finish gives a bold and sleek look to your space. It’s important to be aware of the tones in each metal as well since certain metals will pair together better than others. As a general rule, chrome is cooler, nickels and golds are warmer, and black is your standard “neutral” that can pretty much pair with anything. If you need a hint of warmth, use nickel or gold as an accent, while if you need a pop of cool, opt for a chrome finish.

In one of our bathroom designs, we used warm brushed brass hardware and faucets with a pop of nickel as an accent around the mirror and on the overhead light fixtures. The nickel brings out the gray in the vanity counter while still keeping within the warm vibe of the brass. / Design by Molly Howe Designs

Balance your metals

Just as you want to be purposeful with the finishes you choose to mix, you want your mixed metals to work as pops of excitement in your space. If you keep things balanced with one metal as the base and the other metals as colorful accents, then your room will feel like it blends together seamlessly. Avoid the trap of splitting your metals 50/50 – if you don’t have an anchor to the room, then it will feel random versus curated.

One of our favorite pairs is matte black and gold – it’s absolutely stunning. This design pairs the two together in one light fixture, adding hints of each throughout the room in the faucet and the wire cabinet covers. The gold is clearly the “base” color, popping up in the light fixture, the faucet, and the cabinet hardware. / Design by Emily Henderson

Break it up visually

While mixing metals is exciting and totally recommended, you want to keep some consistency in place. Keep your metals together visually – that is, make sure they’re grouped together by visual plane and that they stick to the same metal family according to their location. The upper plane typically includes light fixtures or upper cabinet hardware, the middle plane includes faucets or counter-height metals, and the lower plane includes lower cabinet hardware or chair legs. This helps to break up the space intentionally, adding a sense of order to the overall scheme.

This gorgeous design does this perfectly, mixing three different metal finishes together for a unified, yet eclectic look. All of the light fixtures are the same gold finish (upper plane), the faucets are the same silver finish (middle plane), and the lower hardware (including the toilet paper holder peeking out from the next room!) are all matte black (lower plane). It’s total magic. / Design by Amber Interiors

Tie it all together

Finally, in order to make your room feel purposeful, you’ll want to add in a few well-placed décor pieces throughout the room to form a connection between your accent metals and the rest of the space.

In this design, the matte black shades in the light fixtures are replicated in the stool bases and the back countertop. This way the black pops feel less heavy and the room works as one cohesive design that is without a doubt intentional and well thought out. / Design by Studio McGee

So if you’re wanting to add a few different metals to your space, go ahead and mix it up. We definitely approve.

By Megan Johansson, Contributor for Molly Howe Design

bottom of page