Finishes on kitchen and bath fixtures have gone the way of matchy-matchy bedroom suites and living room furniture. Nowadays, designers and DIYers alike are incorporating multiple finishes into a single space—bringing a new level of depth to any style, while elevating the room's personality.
But what's the trick for creating a mixed, not mismatched, look? Even if your design experience is limited to picking paint colors, these tips will help you choose the right finishes to achieve an intentionally eclectic yet effortless effect.
1. Look to other rooms.
Finishes on faucets, showerheads, light fixtures, cabinet hardware and even bathroom accessories should help connect a room to other spaces. To maintain a sense of cohesion, use two or, at the most, three finishes throughout your home.
2. Coordinate with non-metal finishes.
Every element in your kitchen or master bath should combine to communicate your unique vision. And metal fixtures are just one part of that puzzle. Consider how their tone, texture and style will interact with cabinetry, countertop, wall and floor finishes. A brilliant gold faucet could present a glamorous contrast to reclaimed wood, while sleek chrome could enhance the modern appeal of glossy white subway tiles. And any metal finish can bring out desirable, and undesirable, veining and hues in natural surfaces like marble and granite. When it comes to the room's color palette, go neutral or monotone to avoid visual overload.
3. Don't juggle too many metals.
Mixing metals in the kitchen or bath isn't so different from selecting a color scheme for your bedroom: You want the tones to complement, not compete. Because it takes some finesse to successfully balance more than two metals, beginners should stick to just two. Choose one primary finish for about two-thirds of the fixtures, then introduce a second finish for the remaining third.
4. Choose a cool primary base.
Metals have "cool" or "warm" hues based on their undertones. Cool metals like chrome, stainless steel, nickel and pewter complement most any style or color and function as classic, neutral elements. (So don't let a kitchen full of stainless-steel appliances stop you from buying that trendy brass faucet you've been eyeing!) Given their timeless appeal, cool metals are the perfect primary finish, especially for fixtures you expect to keep for a while.
5. Accent with warm metals.
Though it may seem like a supporting role, the finish used on just one-third of a room's metal fixtures is what brings the dimension and drama. Warm metals like copper, brass, bronze and varying shades of gold play the part perfectly. Because they catch the eye more than their cooler counterparts, a little goes a long way.
6. Explore texture and sheen.
Your options today for a metal's surface finish go far beyond matte and polished. Brushed, burnished, antiqued, hand-rubbed, oiled and hammered treatments all exude a slightly different feel that can enhance the style of your kitchen or bath. Your choice of surface finish also can amplify or subdue the contrast between mixed metals. Use dark oil-rubbed bronze to tone down the shine of polished chrome, for example, or opt for the same satin finish to help connect warm and cool metals. Beyond these design considerations, matte and brushed finishes can be a wise choice for shower fixtures that are prone to fingerprints and water spots.
7. Keep sets consistent.
It may go without saying, but when you have sets of fixtures—two vanity faucets, double towel bars, identical light fixtures—maintain the same finish. Through careful selections like this, your metal medley will feel like a cohesive vision, not a collection of closeout finds.