Mixed Metals Mojo

Oh yes you can.  Yes, ma’am. Throw on that dangly, clangy silver coin charm bracelet with a stack of gold or brass skinny cuffs. Rock those gunmetal earrings with your aged brass chain and bead necklaces.  Go ahead and add those warm brass or copper sconces in your powder room along with your polished nickel lavatory faucet. The question isn’t “can I do this?” but rather “how do I do this right?”  And if you mix metals the right way when you open your jewelry box, put together your date night outfit, or ponder the design scheme for your new room, you will have expanded your creative range beyond the usual predictable pairings. 

Let me share with you a few of my favorite mixing tips.
In home design…

Polished nickel has a very warm undertone as opposed to chrome or even satin nickel.  Those warm undertones allow you to mix in the golds and brasses. Your kitchen and bath fixtures and your cabinet hardware and lighting do not have to share the same metallic finish.  The trick is to have one dominant finish for most of your metal selections and then pop in the second finish as a singular element.  I often refer to this as “throwing it off”. Throwing it off is a good thing. It adds one outlier element, different but still compatible to the main aesthetic in the space, so that everything doesn’t look too samey or matchy. For example, if you are working on a new room, use all burnished brass curtain hardware, cabinet pulls and door hardware.  Then add in a warm gold coffee table and mix in a few touches of brass and gold in your accessories.  Make the room really pop by layering in a knock out chandelier in aged or black iron, polished nickel or pewter.  It will be a lone ranger in the space, but in a good way.

Below are several shots of my home and a client’s kitchen where there is a whole lot of metal mixing going on!  In the living room photo, the mix reads very subtle because you are looking at predominantly warm gold and brass tones…the antiqued gold coffee table, the brass chair base, aged gold tall candlesticks mixed with a dark iron mirror and a chandelier with a mix of copper and silver metallic mesh.  In the kitchen shot, the cabinets are done in a subtle gold finish, the chandelier is brass, the metal bowl gold, but these warm metallics mix seamlessly with a polished nickel bar faucet and stainless steel appliances.  You get the idea.

In fashion….

Unless you are wearing runway everyday and can get away with things like sporting a gold squirrel on your head, use the metallics as pops and punches.  We aren’t channeling Cher in Bob Mackie here, let’s keep it special with small hints of metallic mayhem. The silver clutch, the gold strappy sandal, the sequined top are all you need and YES, YES, YES …mix away!  The metallic master knows it is okay to carry the silver clutch with her mostly gold jewelry and the pewter stiletto with those awesome chunky brass bangles.  She is sneaky smart, and she is you.

Finally, in both home design and fashion,  remember it is the tone of the metal more than the metal finish itself. 

  • Aged or burnished brass (my fave) looks better with matte silver and pewter than shiny silver
  • Satin brass is more forgiving than shiny brass when mixing your metals
  • The warmth of polished nickel is your go to tone when mixing silver with gold or brass
  • Gunmetal or dark iron is your more earthy and neutral metal which will calm things down if things are getting too shiny
  • When it is an option, choose a champagne metal finish because it is already mixed up for you…love a champagne finish

So have fun and enjoy mixing it up. It’s way more fun than those tired old rules. Trust me, those blurred lines of what you think you can and can’t do is where you want you want to be!

Images courtesy of Mack HomeStudio McGee —   1chicfashiondesign — —

Photos of Anna’s home by Brennan Brooker.

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