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How to Pull Off Mixed Metals Like A Pro (Trust Us, It Can Work!)

Anna Andersson Fotografi/ Shutterstock

Anna Andersson Fotografi/ Shutterstock

In the design world, it’s long been said that mixing metals is like trying to get oil and water to come together — it just won’t work. For years, we’ve been told we need to pick one metal and stick to it. However, we’re here to shake things up. As far as we’re concerned mixing metals is not only acceptable, it’s a thing of beauty. That is if you do it the right way. There are a couple of rules you need to follow to make this look work but don’t worry, we’re here to show you how to pull it off like a pro. If you’re ready to push some boundaries with your interiors, read on. Before you know it, mixed metals will be a design staple.

bathroom sink


Choose a dominant metal

When planning your design, it can be helpful to think about metals in much the same way as you would the color scheme. While each metal you choose to incorporate will play an important role in the overall look, you should focus on one to take a dominant role over the others. As for which type of metal to choose, the style you’re aiming to achieve may help you narrow your options. Those who favor more contemporary designs should focus on using stainless steel. Those who want to create a truly modern space should opt for chrome fixtures or an on-trend polished copper. For Tuscan and farmhouse styles, brass is a classic choice. Once you have your dominant pick in mind, think about which metals will take an accent role. Again, you’ll treat these similarly to how you would an accent color. Focus on small ways to incorporate them throughout the space to add pops of visual interest.

chrome dinning chairs

ponsulak/ Twenty20

Match your finishes

Whenever you’re trying to incorporate two distinct looks in the same room, it’s critical to find some common threads to tie them together. Similarly to how you use the same print or shade in a few different applications throughout a design when you’re playing around with mixed metals, focus on a singular finish to help create a unified look. First, you’ll need to understand what we mean by the finish. You’ll likely have three distinct options to choose from:

  • Polished: Smooth, shiny finish
  • Brushed or satin: Darker, more subdued look than a polish. They will cause your fixtures to blend into the background rather than stand out.
  • Oiled: An even darker, more antique look

Ultimately, the finish you choose should fit in well with the style you’re trying to emulate. Modern looks usually opt for a polished look, contemporary looks lean on brushed finishes, and traditional rooms favor the oiled option.

open kitchen

courtney.yeh/ Twenty20

Include a coordinating element

Honestly, this piece of advice is so on-the-nose that it’s easy to overlook, but it’s truly effective, so we think it bears repeating. If you’re trying to bring together two opposing metals, consider taking that thought literally and finding a single, marrying piece that includes both of them. It’s unlikely you’ll find your coordinating piece in something like a fixture for your bathroom sink or drawer pulls for your kitchen cabinets, so if you want to go this route, look toward accessories that showcase both metals. For example, you could look for wall art or even a simple décor item. One thing to note is that you’ll want to make sure the marrying element you choose is similar in tone to the finish on your metals so that they don’t end up accidentally clashing.

black metal shelving


Highlight a statement piece

Depending on your vision for the design, sometimes the goal will be to have the metals tie together, and sometimes you’ll want them to stand out. In the second scenario, you can use an opposing metal as a way to highlight a statement piece and have it become the focal point of the room. In this case, rather than using the accent metal in a few places across the room, you only want to use it once. Make sure the statement piece is big and bold, much like the mirror in the picture above. It needs to be clear that the distinct metal was an intentional decision. Here, you may also want to experiment with different color temperatures. Metals like gold and copper have warm tones while silver and chrome come off as cool. Choosing one of each for your design will give you the strongest contrast and help draw attention to your statement element.

gold accent decor in bedroom Shutterstock

It has long been said that mixing metals doesn’t work, but we all know that some design rules are made to be broken. This is one of them. You just need to know how to do it the right way. If you’re interested in breaking out of the ordinary with your design, keep these tips in mind. Use them to learn how to mix metals like a pro and you’ll end up with a design that is beautifully unique. What do you think of mixed metals? Will you be incorporating them into your décor?