1. Know why you are mixing metals.
Mixing metals can be a great way to create texture, character, variety and visual hierarchy in a room. As a result, the skillful use of different metals can act like an antidote to bland, boring design. In the Roomations StyleBoard shown below, the use of different metals for the end table, trunk, lamp, globe and decorative balls were integral to the design concept, which aimed to create a unique cozy character with a variety of textures and finishes.
On the other hand, using just a single type of metal can create a clean, streamlined look often seen in modern interiors such as the one below. In this design, the yellow cabinet finish contrasted by stainless steel establishes the modern look and feel of the kitchen. In this example, the use of other metals would clash with the design style. What kind of look and feel are you trying to achieve in your room?
Also consider if metal will be a prominent material in the room. If most the room is wood, fabric, and other materials it may make sense to have the two pieces with metal match each other simply to create a well-coordinated appearance. But if you have metal cabinet knobs, appliances, light fixtures, drapery rods, chair legs, picture frames and more all in the same room, then using just a single type of metal may make the room look too monotonous. Using different types of metal will add variety and allow you to emphasize certain fixtures or accessories more than others.
Don’t mix metals just because you couldn’t find the product you like in a metal that matches what you already have metal. For example, consider whether the new product will draw attention to itself when you’d prefer that it blend in with the rest of the room. Be honest with yourself about any precedents you have set with your previous design decisions, perhaps unintentionally, for having all the metals match.
2. Create rules for where you will keep consistent metal types.
Just because you are mixing metals doesn’t mean you can throw all consistency out the window. Designate categories of fixtures that will match one another but differ from others. For example, all light fixtures might be one type of metal and all cabinet knobs might be another kind of metal. Establishing guidelines for when to use a particular type of metal versus another will help you achieve a cohesive and coordinated design even though you are using a variety metal types and finishes.
In the office shown above the use of many different materials creates a unique and eclectic feel, yet if you look closely each item has a pair. All of the lighting fixtures match. The desk and chair match. The two guest chairs match. The eight wall-mounted shelves match. Additionally, all of the unique elements are unified by the consistent use of wood throughout the space. This casual space in fact has a well-defined logic driving the design.
3. Use shiny metals to draw attention to pieces you want to serve as visual accents and matte metals for items you want to recede into the background.
Shiny metals as well as gold, brass and copper colors naturally attract more attention than brushed or pewter finishes and silver or dark colors.
Use these attention-grabbing metals as a centerpiece or accent to the rest of the room and discover the real design potential of mixing metals. For example, in the room pictured above, the copper light fixtures are a visual centerpiece that highlight the dining table. In contrast, the stove hood and kitchen appliances have a pewter finish that blends with the wall and counter top finishes to create an attractive yet humble background to the dining area. Now try to imagine if all the metals in this room were matching copper. It would look terrible! Using the copper as a visual centerpiece only is what makes the design so striking.
This post was written by Katie.