For years, there’s been a common decorating myth that you should never mix metals. Thankfully, those days are gone. Mixing metals is now a popular trend and for a very good reason. Metals add another interesting layer to a room and give it extra dimension. And mixing them is a wonderful way to create a visually more exciting space.
If you’re used to having everything match, you might be wondering how it’s possible to mix different metals and make it work. It’s actually very easy, if you follow a few simple guidelines. Last week I shared tips on how to successfully mix patterns. Today, I’m sharing some design tips that will have you mixing metals like a pro in no time.
TIPS FOR MIXING METALS
CHOOSE A DOMINANT METAL
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Just as you would when mixing colors in a room, choose one metal to be your dominant metal and select one metal to be your accent. Mixing two metals is the easiest way to start, especially if you are new to this concept. But, if you want to take it a step further, bring in a third metal to add another interesting layer to the room. To keep the design from looking too chaotic, I’d recommend not using more than 4 different metals in a room.
Think of mixing metals the same way you mix colors in a color palette. Though there is no one universal formula on how much of each metal to use, as a starting point you could try one of these breakdowns:
Mixing 2 Metals
- 70% of a dominant metal
- 30% of a secondary metal
Mixing 3 Metals
- 60% of a dominant metal
- 30% of a secondary metal
- 10% of an accent or neutral metal
BLEND WARM AND COOL TONES
The easiest way to mix metals is to stay with the same tone – either all warm or all cool. But it’s okay to do just the opposite! Blending warm and cool tone metals can have the most impact. The contrast between the tones play off each other. For example, a warm gold or brass chandelier will pop if placed in a room with lots of cool chrome and silver.
Warm Metals: Brass, bronze, copper, and gold
Cool Metals: Chrome, nickel, pewter, and silver
USE THE ROOM’S COLOR SCHEME AS YOUR GUIDE
When choosing metals for your space, consider the color palette of the room. You can safely use warm metals with warm colors such as red, orange, and yellow, and cool metals with cool tones like blue, green, and purple. If your palette is neutral colors like black and white, you can pretty much go either way.
You can also use metals to adjust the visual temperature in a room. Warm metals will bring warmth to a room with cool hues. Similarly, cool metals would cool down a room with warm hues.
USE DIFFERENT TEXTURES
Texture adds dimension to a room and keeps it from falling flat. It’s important to defining a space and creating a mood. Metals come in a variety of finishes, like hammered, polished, and matte, to name a few. Combine different finishes to create a wonderfully eclectic and visually compelling space.
SPACE OUT YOUR METALS
Balance is the key to mixing metallic finishes. To create visual balance, don’t clump your metal elements in one area in a room. Spread them throughout the space and use them at various heights. For example, in a dining room you might have polished chrome sconces over the buffet, antique brass candlesticks on the table, and matte gold legs on the chairs.
ADD A NEUTRAL METAL
Flat, dark metals such as black iron and oil-rubbed bronze are considered neutral metals. They don’t clash with other metals and act as an anchor to pull everything together.
BRING IN A TRANSITIONAL PIECE
One way to unify two different metals is to bring in a piece that includes both of them. This could be in the form of wall art, fabric, or a decorative accessory. Just make sure both the metals in this item have the same tone as your other metals.
SHOP THE LOOK
It’s time to toss aside the long-held belief that you don’t mix different metallic finishes. Used in the right way, mixing metals brings style to a space and makes it more intriguing.
What are your favorite metal finishes to mix in your home?
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