How to Mix Metals in Your Home Decor

Audrey Bruno
Written by Audrey Bruno
Updated January 24, 2022
bathroom mirror and sink
Photo: New Africa / Adobe Stock

Whether you want to add an industrial flair or an antique finish to your home, there's usually a way to do it with metal

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To achieve a certain theme, a bit of brushed copper or polished nickel might be exactly what you need. Though there’s no denying that there’s a fine line between ultra-chic style and flea-market fail, a few smart tips will help make mixing metals seamless. 

Before diving in, it’s important to start by evaluating the needs of your domain. A burnished iron coffee table will add some much needed contrast to a light, airy room. But a glossy, polished chrome can be perfect for lightening up a dark-toned room. It's easy to combine different colors and textures with a few common sense rules. Keep these tricks and more in mind as you start bringing the metallic trend into your home

Choose a Base Metal and Pair It With Smaller Accents

Less is more when decorating with metals, according to interior designer Kiyonda Powell. She recommends choosing one base metal to be the dominant style in your home and build up with smaller accent pieces from there. “Have your foundation be [what] you love the most since it’s what you see most often,” she recommends. Accentuate bright, shiny metals with a neutral metal (like natural iron or black metal).

Use a Max of 2 to 3 Metals at a Time

Many different types of metal can make a space feel chaotic and disorganized, says Powell. “Most people will only feel comfortable with two metals at a time, like a nickel and a matte black, or a brass or bronze with an iron finish,” she says. Start small and see what your space is still missing. If you already have many iron and bronze elements, but you still want a hammered, copper lamp, then go for it. In these cases, you know your home and what it needs better than anyone else, so trust your gut and take the leap.

bathroom with shower, sink, and mirror
Photo: Selina / Adobe Stock

Play With the Metals That Are Already in Your Space

Most homes are already fitted with metal features like doorknobs, faucets, and light fixtures when you first move in. These objects might not have been part of your plan, but they can fit your style with the right complementary metals, says Powell. 

For example, you don't have to rule out gold accents because of pre-existing nickel or stainless steel faucets. The two can blend seamlessly depending on how they’re arranged, Powell explains. Use a kitchen table with a lacquered brass base to balance the cool tones of the silver faucet in your kitchen. Or hang matte black metal picture frames to highlight the shine on polished nickel door knobs. There’s almost always a way to include the metal you want without having to make big changes.

Or Start by Changing the Pre-Existing Metal Elements

Changing the pre-existing metal elements can do your home a lot of good if you don't mind a bit of extra effort. “If you have the opportunity to upgrade or change your door hardware, for me that is what really leads the way throughout the home,” she says. These small objects can mean the difference between a cohesive and chaotic space. Having an object that reoccurs creates a smooth transition from one room to the next. Plus: Many of these items are made of metal in the first place, so they're a great starting point.

Twin sinks and mirrors in bathroom with white bathtub
Photo: Patrick / Adobe Stock

Mixing Textures and Tones Is the Name of the Game

Using a mix of different styles of metals is what will really add depth to your space, says Powell. If your room feels flat, it might be because you're only using one texture or color. A combination of textures and dark- and cool-toned colors will add much needed contrast. Light colors will feel lighter alongside dark colors. And shiny objects will feel shinier next to matte accessories. When in doubt, mix it up.

Use Non-Metal Accessories to Maintain Balance

The way metal objects are paired with non-metal objects will determine the overall style of your home, says Powell. For example, “If you want a rustic feel, pair a mid- or lighter-toned wood with a deep iron or forged metal,” she explains. Playing up textures is especially important if you're working with simple colors. Create contrast in a quiet space by pairing cream colors with brushed brass and dark wood.  

At the end of the day, you have to determine the kind of ambiance you want for your home before you can find the metals that are right for you. Before getting started, create a vision board to find the mix of paint colors, wood styles, textiles, and metals that will make your dream home a reality.

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