Sparks | Mixing Metals
One of the classic rules of fashion and design is to NOT mix your metals… well, I’m going to help you break that rule.
So, why did designers say for so long to stay away from mixing metals (like gold and silver)?
It’s actually quite difficult to mix metals properly in order to have an attractive finished product. There are some key guidelines that you should follow to achieve a cohesive and classy look. Let me break them down for you:
1. know the difference between metal families
It is vital to the success of mixing metals that you understand the difference between warm, cool and neutral metals.
Warm metals – these are your coppers, golds, and brass. Typically, these metals pair well with the warm tone color palettes of reds, oranges, yellows, and browns.
Cool metals – these are aluminum, stainless steel, and other silver metals. These pair well with the cool color palettes of blues, purples, greens, and greyscale.
Neutral metals – these metals are considered to be the no-fail metals to mix with. Neutral metals are cast iron and other black metals. As with clothing and fashion, black goes with just about everything. And that rule also applies here.
2. know your finishes
Mixing metals is so much more than just mixing the actual metal type. There are lots of different finishes that each metal can have as well. Knowing the difference between these and how each can impact the look of a space differently is equally as important as knowing the basic metal type.
Antiqued – this look appears more weathered or worn. This style is classic and traditional. Antiqued finishes compliment rich and dark styles
Brushed – this finish is just like it sounds. It appears as though this metal has visible brush strokes. This can have a very polished look.
Hammered – again, this is pretty self-explanatory. This finish appears as though it has been hammered. Typically, this can give a rustic or vintage look. However, this can also be made to look quite modern (as shown below)
Polished – this means the metal has been finished to reflect like a mirror. This finish can appear modern and simple.
Satin– satin finish is between a matte and polished finish. This type of finish goes well with a timeless, traditional style.
3. Tips on how to mix
So, obviously with this many metal types and finishes, there are a ton of different combinations you can create. However, we’re about to let you in on a few secrets when it comes to mixing metals and making the finished product still look remarkable.
The first key element in properly mixing metals is to identify your space’s color family. For example, if you choose the cool color palette of maybe navy blue & white, allow a metal from the same metal tone family to be the main metal; let’s say stainless. Then, you can use a metal from the opposing color family to work as the accent metal, let’s say brass. This combination is beautifully depicted below with this lovely image from schoolhouse.com (where you can also find these brass hardware pieces to purchase!)
The second way that we recommend achieving the mixed metal look is by using different finishes of the same metal tone family. This can be done by mixing antiqued & brushed, satin & antiqued, or even hammered & polished as seen below. This stunning end table from overstock.com and the accent vase that is of the same metal but has a hammered gives a unified final product.
Lastly, we’d like to remind you that the mixed metals look doesn’t just have to come from furniture, fixtures, or equipment. You can certainly use trinkets and artwork to accent your color palette with use of a second metal. As shown in this chic bar cart below, mixing the silvers seen in the ice bucket, drink mixer, and pastry stand with the frame of the cart itself is a unique and classy variation to mixing metals. This can also be done with wonderful metal artwork, statues, vases, or even mixing metals in the mirrors as seen below, too.
Our most recent mixed metal project:
If you’d like to see how we took on the mixed metals look in a hospitality setting, check out our blog series on Hotel Blake. We used all of these tips and tricks to create a beautiful, modern experience in a historic setting. You can check it out here.