4 Rules for Mixing Metals in Any Space

Mixing metals used to be a no-no. But with these pro-tips, that's no longer the case.

Mix Metals in the Kitchen
Photo: Photo: Laurey W. Glenn

Just as interior design styles have changed through the years, so have interior design rules. One rule today's designers are bending? Mixing metals and finishes. "I love mixing metals, as I feel it adds visual interest and makes the space unique," shares Jenn Cameron of Jenn Cameron Interiors in Baltimore, Maryland. "There are so many great finishes available today that the space might be boring if you just choose one." Lauren Wodicka of LBW Studio in Leesburg, Virginia agrees, adding, "This look feels collected, well-planned, and much more stylish than just keeping the metals monochromatic." We know figuring out how to mix metals and finishes may sound intimidating, which is why we gathered easy, actionable tips for you from the pros who already have it mastered.

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Make it a Surprise Element

There's nothing more fun in a space than creating an experience and surprise for the eye, claims Wodicka. Bringing in large aged brass pendants to a kitchen of stainless steel and polished nickel, for example, "makes the lighting the star and adds a very stylish punch of personality," she says.

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Don't Pick Too Many

Sarah Bartholomew of Sarah Bartholomew Interior Design and her eponymous hardware line in Nashville, Tennessee likes to use two finishes max in spaces. "Usually one finish plays center stage while the other plays a supporting role," Bartholomew explains. "The mirror and cabinet hardware may be one finish—center stage—while the lighting and plumbing may be another—supporting role." Other designers are willing to play with up to three though, so the rule is just to be cognizant of how many finishes you're using.

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Mix Warm and Cool

When it comes to marrying metals, it's not just about selecting different finishes but also different tones. "When mixing in kitchens and bathrooms, I try to juxtapose a warm finish with a cool one," shares Bartholomew. "The mix makes a room feel more layered and evolved."

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Take Baby Steps with Unlacquered Brass

If you're hesitant or nervous to mix finishes, start with unlacquered brass, which has been steadily growing in popularity over the years. "I find that since these finishes will age differently, you can select the same metal and all the hardware will look unique," says Suzanne Duin of Maison Maison Design in Houston, Texas.

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