Tips for mixing metals

Mixed metals on tabletop - a chrome lamp, hammered silver dish and golden framed glasses
To match or not to match?

I often find clients tying themselves in knots trying to match metals and finishes on kitchen handles to taps, window furniture, lights and table legs…. however I have learned that mixing metals is not only acceptable, it is preferable. Having a gentle mix of metals gives instant personality and layering to a space, and suggests it is not newly finished, but has been added to over time.

Warm and cool metals

As with colour choices in a space, one metal should be dominant with a maximum of two more as accents. If your main colour hue in your room is cool (blues, greens), choose a rich, warm metal such as brass, copper, gold or bronze to add warmth. Adding cooler accent metals to the mix such as chrome, nickel and steel will resonate with the existing cool tones, and create a metallic balance. If your space reads warm (reds, browns, yellows), swap the above and head for a main metal which is cool, then link back in with warmer accents.

A cool room with warm dominant metals:

A cool marble and painted wood bathroom with warm metal accents

Design by Mindy Gayer Design Co

A warm room with cool dominant metals:


'Warm' wooden kitchen cabinetry with 'cool' stainless steel accents

Source unknown

Spread the dominant metal through the room, and vary the heights of the accent metals. This provides context for each. Don’t forget that metals add texture!

Once again, feel comfortable to mix, but stick with three finishes (the golden three!) as more than this will feel clumsy and overly busy too. Your metals may already come with a patina, or this may be something which will develop over time but think about metal finishes as helpers on your way to a layered, textural room.

Have a think about your personal style preference, as metals can be categorised within this – for example if you enjoy an industrial look, metals which speak to this style are iron and blackened steel. Or a vintage look will be well supported by aged gold or antique brass, often found in mirror or picture frames which suit this style – or you could be even MORE bold…

So, what if you put it all together then realise you have gone a bit OTT with your metal purchases?

You may find your room begins to read “hard” (visually and acoustically) and appear less layered than you had hoped.

Try assessing the balance of your room, perhaps moving some pieces or relocating them to another room. Adding wood into the equation will help to neutralise and balance the strength of the metals, and natural products such as sisal rugs or wool throws will aid the acoustics.

So: yes to mixing, keep to the rule of threes, and vary height.

Stick with these rules of thumb, and go have fun with your own personal favourites!

Materials on your mind?

Read my article on material considerations for your space here.

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