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A Guide to Mixing Metals in Your Home Decor

Have your cake and eat it, too: Heather Smith of Decorating Den Interiors explains mixing metals tastefully.

By Lillian Stone

Jun 2019

mixed metals in home decor

Mixing metals can be done tastefully when well balanced.

This beautiful living room in Springfield MO incorporates a mixture of metals.

This beautiful living room incorporates a mixture of metals.

Photos courtesy Decorating Den Interiors

If there’s anything we’ve learned in 2019, it’s that rules are made to be broken. These days, designers scrap symmetry, embrace bold statement pieces and coat small rooms in rich, dark paint layers for a jewel-box effect. The pros are breaking the interior design rules of yore, which brings us to the next frontier of design rebellion: mixing metals. During the era of millennial pink, for example, we saw copper emerge as a flashy mainstay. At the same time, brass, formerly relegated to the 70s, began popping up on bathroom mirrors, pendant lights and table legs. Mixing metals is officially en vogue, with designers accenting kitchens and bathrooms with warm metals like brass and copper. For advice on mixing metals without approaching Tin Man territory, we checked in with Heather Smith of Decorating Den Interiors

Keep balance in mind

“The thing to keep in mind is the balance of the room,” Smith says. “Let’s say you have light fixtures that are oil-rubbed bronze, and you have door hardware that is shiny brass. How do we make that oil-rubbed bronze and brass come together?” In this scenario, Smith recommends adding oil-rubbed cabinet hardware to tie in the light fixtures while adding a shinier gold accent to balance the doors—like a decorative mirror. “You don’t want one end of the room to be dominated by one metal,” Smith says.

Start with accessories

“Cabinet hardware is an easy, relatively inexpensive thing to do to update a kitchen, a bathroom or an older piece of furniture,” Smith says. “You can just change the pulls and the knobs.” Smith also points out that the shape of furniture accent can make a big difference in a space—for example, replacing antique brass cabinet hardware. “You can stick to brass hardware,” Smith says. “Just used a more streamlined, simpler drawer with clean lines—like a squared-off bar style.

Use shiny metals as accents, not features

“In my own home, I have oil-rubbed bronze light fixtures in the same room as a gold mirror and a cabinet with silver hardware,” Smith says. “You can mix even more than two metals; however, with the shinier metals, I would recommend using them in smaller doses.”

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