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Heavy Metals

How to mix and match metal finishes in your home By Nikki Luttmann, Interior Designer

One of the more common questions I get asked as a designer is how to mix metal finishes. And though it seems like a fairly straightforward question, it doesn’t really have a straightforward answer. The rule is typically to mix no more than three metal finishes in any given room, and even go so far as to say in any given home. However, something I strongly believe is that rules are meant to be broken!

One of the coolest new trends in lighting and hardware is a matte black finish. And while this finish looks great all on its own, it also looks fantastic paired with a cool satin nickel or stainless steel finish, or even with a warmer brass finish. I’ve also paired black with weathered copper to fantastic effect, which looks great in more rustic or industrial interiors.

When choosing new hardware for your kitchen, however, it can be tricky to pair new finishes with existing light fixtures or other elements. For cabinetry, one thing to keep in mind are your hinges. You might switch out your old boring shiny brass drawer pulls for sleek new stainless steel models, but if your hinges are exposed and stay the same shiny brass, the effect is lost and all of a sudden it looks like a bit of a mess instead of the modern new look you wanted. In this case, what I might do is either switch out the hinges too, or, if that’s not an option, replace the old pulls with updated brass pieces for a more modern look that still works with the existing hinges.

When it comes to lighting, finish is very important. I don’t know if you’ve ever walked into a home and looked up at the ceiling to spy a gold and crystal chandelier proudly declaring that the house was built in 1987, but I sure have! Replacing light fixtures can have a huge impact on how your house looks. But choosing a finish can be tricky. One thing that might help you choose a finish is your door hardware. If you have satin nickel doorknobs, then you know a satin nickel fixture would look right at home in your house. Should you want to branch out and choose on oil-rubbed-bronze (ORB) fixture, go ahead! Just make sure that it’s not the only ORB element in the house, so it doesn’t look out of place.

One thing I try to stay away from is specialty finishes. For example, in the early ‘90s there was a textured granite finish that was very popular for light fixtures. This short-lived trend immediately dated any house that included this strange breed of light fixture, and the homeowners were then forced to replace it or simply ignore it once it went out of style. For that reason, I opt to go for classic metals and finishes. Oil-rubbed-bronze, patinaed brass and copper, satin nickel, stainless steel and simple black are fairly timeless and will stay up-to-date looking for far longer than their trendier counterparts. You can generally combine any two to three of these in any given room and still have them looking great now and for years to come!

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