I’m going to say that after emails about paint colors, the next email I get the most is from people asking if it’s ok to mix metal finishes when choose fixtures for a kitchen and/or bath. I have answered this question so many time at this point and collected so many “example” images to illustrate my point, I felt like it was time to do a post on the topic. So here is my once and for all answer – yes, you can mix metal finishes!!! It can be intimidating to make these selections though so I thought I’d show you a simpler way to think about it. But first, let’s address why you should consider mixing metals at all.
It’s the difference between this…
Now maybe you look at those last two images and think they are perfect – you love the glam look of all that brass or the super clean look of all that polished nickel. If you do, then you definitely don’t need this post. But if you find yourself drawn to a more collected, personalized look to your room, mixing metals is a great way to get that.
There IS a bit of a formula I like to follow and while it’s not a hard and fast rule, I think it helps people feel a little more confident when they are making mixed metal selections for their homes. Here it is:
Keep metals on the same visual plane the same metal but feel free to mix on vertical planes. Huh? I know…that sounds confusing but let’s look at an example.
This kitchen is one of my favorites. I love the sconces flanking the hood and that island is just killer. Brass pendants and sconces, stainless appliances, polished nickel faucets and hardware. Seems like a lot right?
But look at it this way. If you consider how the selections where made across horizontal visual planes, it’s a little easier to understand. When looking at your room, imagine it with some horizontal lines separating the space.
Typically the separations are lighting, faucets and cabinet hardware. Again this is not a hard and fast rule because clearly the range hood is in the same visual plane as the lighting and it’s stainless while the ceiling lights are brass. I think this looks great and totally fine and not too many contrasting finishes but if it’s too much for you, consider a white cabinet wrapped range hood option. As you can see, the finishes vary in the room vertically (the brass island pendant is OVER a polished nickel prep sink faucet which is OVER a polished nickel drawer pull) but horizontally, the fixtures pretty much stay consistent by finish.
Here’s another really great example – brass on the top plane, polished nickel on the middle plane and some kind of black or oil rubbed finish on the hardware and lower plane which tie in beautifully (and were no doubt selected to go with) the stools).
I wish I could see what the lighting situation in this kitchen is but regardless you can see a satin nickel faucet living very nicely alongside brass cabinet hardware. Though I would like to take this opportunity to profess my hatred of satin hardware. Totally personal opinion – I just like hardware to be the jewelry of the room and I like my jewelry shiny. #endrant
A few other things to consider when mixing metals:
Follow the 2/1 rule – One finish is repeated more than once and the other finish is used as just an accent. Here you see polished nickel repeated in the cabinet hardware and faucets but then brass thrown in with just 1 element (the island lighting).
No more than 3 finishes but no less than 2. This example shows you 3 finishes – brass pendants, black hardware, polished nickel faucets. If there were one more added – say a crystal or beaded glass fixture over an adjoining breakfast nook table – I’m calling that too many. It’s a very eclectic look and can work in some interiors but it’s hard to pull off without looking like too much.
As I said, this “same finish by visual plane” idea is not a hard and fast rule but merely a suggestion if you’re new to mixing metals. As you can see, the rule is broken here (brass pendants and nickel sconces in the same visual plane) and I still think it’s lovely. Others might disagree and feel it’s too much mixing.
What do you think about mixing metal finishes in kitchens and bathrooms? Is it too eclectic for you? Or do you think it makes for a more interesting space? Like most things with interior design, rules are broken often and the result can be pretty spectacular. While I can certainly appreciate the clean, crisp look of an all polished nickel or chrome kitchen…
I like this more.