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Our Tips for Mixing Hardware Finishes

bathroom with tongue and groove paneling

Photo by Ryan McDonald

Mixing metal finishes is one way to give your home that layered, collected-over-time feeling, but doing it in a way that feels cohesive and intentional and not mis-matched can be tricky. Here are our tips for mixing metals like a pro.

Choose a Palette

Hardware is often called the jewelry of a home, and for good reason -- a room falls a little flat without a shiny surface, and of course, hardware is just inherently useful. But, if every metal finish is the same, the room can feel a little soul-less. If there are too many, the rooms won't relate to one another, making the home feel disjointed and unintentional. The remedy for this is to choose a palette of finishes and repeat them on hardware, plumbing fixtures, lighting, and other accents throughout the home. Over and over again, we find ourselves using matte black, polished brass, un-lacquered brass, and polished nickel, as they work well together, and work in a variety of styles from sleek and modern to traditional.

kitchen with open shelving and mixed metals

Photo by Ryan McDonald

Create Continuity

Repeating metal finishes has the same effect as repeating a color or texture throughout the home -- it brings a sense of continuity and cohesiveness. Typically, we choose the overall palette and then narrow it down to feature two finishes to use more prominently and use one other as the accent. In this kitchen renovation, we chose a brass to warm up the gray cabinetry and then repeated it on the lighting. The polished nickel faucet acts as the accent.

Photo by Ryan McDonald

Create Contrast

We want our homes to have a cohesive feeling, but contrast is a powerful decorative tool, as well. In our River Forest renovation, we used both the finish and the shape of the plumbing fixtures to contrast with the more traditional elements of the turn-of-the-century home. As a general rule of thumb, we like all plumbing fixtures to match, and then we mix in other finishes in lighting, hardware, or accent pieces. In this home, black and white were often used, and we incorporated brass elements to keep the palette warm.

Photo by Ryan McDonald

Consider Two-Toned Fixtures

If you are nervous about mixing finishes but want to try it, one simple way to begin is to choose fixtures that incorporate more than one metal, with one being a finish already found in your home. Black and brass are both featured consistently in our English Cottage renovation, so these sconces are a natural fit.

Have a Plan

If this all seems too complicated, well, it can be! To simplify the process, commit to one finish for lighting and hardware and one for plumbing, then save the third for accessories and accents, which are less expensive and can be swapped more easily.


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