You are listening to episode 10 of the Decorate Like a Design Boss podcast. And today we are talking about mixing it up. Well, mixing up your metals, that is. We’ll be taking a deep dive into the world of metals that you need for your home. Things like poles, faucets, mirrors, light fixtures, and the like. Do they need to match or can they be different? And if so, how do I make them work together? Well, now is a great time to grab a glass of something and buckle up, this one is a palooza of great information.
Welcome to Decorate Like a Design Boss, a podcast for design lovers who want to create beautiful spaces in their very own homes. My name is Kimberly Grigg and I’m a professional interior designer who teaches design lovers like yourselves how to decorate. And when I say decorate I mean decorate like a design boss. If you’re ready to create a space that your family loves and your neighbors can’t stop raving about well, buckle up honey because it’s time to design.
Well, hello there interior design lovers. I just want to start by saying how much I appreciate your being here and how much I enjoy unpacking all of this information and sharing it with you. I am absolutely obsessed with helping you create beautiful homes for yourselves, homes that functions, settings that suit your style and environments that truly resonate with you. Today I am playing mixologist. And I’ll be mixing up some metals and telling you how you can expertly achieve success yourself by mixing your metals in your own spaces.
Now, this is a bit of a controversial subject in the design world. There are two camps out there, the match it up for me, please camp. And then there’s camp mix it up. There will be some of you out there who have design DNAs that won’t support mixing metals under any circumstances. And many of you who will embrace it and run with it. There are no right or wrong answers here. It’s just a part of the process. And if you’re wondering just what design DNA means, well this is your personality type, your design fingerprint, and your signature style.
If you’d like to know more about your design DNA and how to discover yours. Well, then you’ll want to go back to episodes one, two and three and learn all about this very important step in the design process. If you are, however, curious about mixing metals in your own home then this episode is going to demystify the process for you and provide you with a formula for success.
To begin with let’s define exactly what we’re even talking about. What do I mean when I say mixing metals? So, here’s the deal, often people select their doorknobs, their cabinetry pulls and hardware, their plumbing fixtures, mirrors, light fixtures and on, and on it goes by using one type of metal like oil rubbed bronze, or chrome, or polished nickel, or brushed nickel, etc. throughout their entire homes.
The trend in recent years was to pick one and then the decision is made and you never have to think about it again. Recently however, the marketplace totally expanded. And with that, the marketplace has been encouraging a mixing of all of these different metals. It’s not only acceptable these days, but also desirable. There are a plethora of new finishes within the marketplace and these finishes can be so exciting. I mean like really exciting.
We are seeing lux steel as one option, which is a dark gray, it’s almost pewter, and it has a modern edge to it. We’re even seeing some hardware and pieces that are already mixed for you, allowing your mind to soar and race when it comes to how to go about mixing up metals in your own way. There is about 50 shades of gold now, lots of unusual silvers and best matte black. Gone are the days when you selected from satin or brushed nickel, chrome, and bronze. Now we have high style and high drama in the finishes.
So how do you approach these metals and finishes without becoming overwhelmed? So, I like to start all of this by saying let’s go back to the idea that there are two camps here, the match it up camp is always going to be more comfortable with making sure all of the metals match within their spaces. And this is okay. Then there is the camp who can easily and assuredly mix their metals without thinking much about it and feeling totally comfortable living with a mix. Then there are the pro people like me who totally embrace the idea that it’s not the finish as much as the style of the pieces.
I say, if you get the shapes and styles right, the finish really isn’t that important, which will of course automatically place me into the mix it up camp. So, if you’re in the match it up camp, how do you determine which metal to choose? First, consider the style of your home. If it’s swervy and curvy, then you’re going to follow this feeling with the swervy and curvy fixtures and poles. Your finish on these fixtures will lean in one direction or another based on the warmness or the cool tones running throughout your home. If you are in this camp and love for all of your finishes to be married then okay, I say, why not embrace it?
But be sure you don’t vary not even on a mirror or a chandelier as if you do the variable will look like an unidentified flying object. If your home contains cool tones, consider satin or brushed nickel or the cooler tones in chrome. All of this will work beautifully. If you like a warmer feeling home that contains a warmer palette, consider your golds or bronzes as good finish choices.
Black is a steady Eddy, and honestly it’s appropriate in almost every setting. As for style, always no matter which finish camp, marry the style of the hardware to the style of your home. For example, if you have a warm cottage vibe going on throughout your spaces, then perhaps a swirly or even a cottage oil rubbed bronze feels right for your home.
So now, what if you are in camp mix it up? Well first, let’s establish that if you change your hardware selections all over the place you’re going to end up with a hodgepodge and no place for the eye to rest. But if you like to treat each space as its own space, even though the spaces are visually connected, it’s A-okay. You just have to follow the metals mixing formula. Again, some of you will possess design DNA that suggests that mixing metals is a very okay thing to do. And some of you, well, you just won’t. Tigers, bulls and to some extent, lambs will be able to mix metals fluidly.
If you don’t know what I mean when I use sentences to describe tigers, bulls, and lambs, then refer back to episode one which is part one of discovering your very own design DNA. Once you fully understand whether you can easily live in a home with mixed metals then you can start unpacking the process. This isn’t especially easy for the owl personality type. I’d be willing to say that most owls are going to prefer the matching metals camp.
But if you are a mixer and you want to know more about how to get the mix right, well, then let’s break it down into manageable parts. Mixing metals advantages, more lived-in spaces. Number two, create a sense of whimsy and fun. Number three, mixing metals allows you to play in the most current of materials. The disadvantages of mixing metals, well first of all it take skill to be successful. And secondly, not everyone gets this right and a miss is often a bad miss.
So, before we discover the secret recipes, let’s first explore what exists in the marketplace. First of all, there’s silvers and cool tones, this includes brushed or satin nickels which are matted down silvers. You can also look for polished chrome, which is silver but it’s very shiny. There’s also oil rubbed bronze, you want to think about Tuscany and villages, these products work well in these environments unless their lines are very, very clean and sleek which can happen, and this case, the products appear to be much more modern and almost black.
Think about live copper, it’s live and will patina and change with time. There’s also un-lacquered brass. These are the matte golds. I love them but the only caution here is that some lean a little orange, some yellow, some are browner, and some are all out brassy gold. Just make sure if you’re using these in the same spaces that the gold finishes are relatable and work well together. They don’t have to 100% match unless your design DNA suggest that they must, but they do have to be very close so that they can relate. And again, this is if they are in the same space.
A finish I mentioned a moment ago is lux steel, this is a wonderful finish that has a taupe steel rich finish that reads, well, rich. I’m in love with this finish. It’s dressed down but if you use the correct shapes the finish is magical. I prefer to keep this finish special and use it on special occasions like powder rooms. While I would use it throughout a home, I am not sure that this finish would ever feel like it just grew there. And I think in some cases it would be limiting to certain types of rooms.
Another finish option is stainless. Mostly you see this finish in appliances. I like to use this finish now by actually mixing it in with some of the golds. I recently specified a stainless hood that has brushed gold accents. It is beautiful. Then I paired the cabinets below the stove with a stainless and brushed bold edge, gold plumbing fixtures just sealed the deal. And the whole thing is quite amazing.
And then there is matte black. Matte black is a great metal and it blends over to so many styles. I say matte black is a very impressive neutralizer. And while I’m not a fan of the traditional neutrals necessarily, matte black shows up, struts its stuff but somehow remains not showy offy. This is an excellent very safe finish.
So far I am not aware of a shiny black, but I am braced, eager and ready and I mean really ready. I did recently purchase some drapery hardware with square rings that are all shiny black. I know it’s coming and I’m very excited. This will be a game changer for sure.
Then there’s plexi and Lucite, and they have a luminous quality and will of course blend well with many of the metal finishes. The caution here is making sure that there’s a blend of the styles, plexi and Lucite read contemporary and glam. You wouldn’t want to use this if your style is say costal for example.
So now that you’re aware of the many products that are most used currently in the marketplace. Now is time to learn what to do if you want to shake it up and mix them up.
Number one, first know and understand if your spaces are predominantly warm or cool and respond accordingly with your metals. Now, I want you to consider the first recipe that I have for you. This recipe is called the slight mix. This means that you’re going to use one metal as your main accent and then add some punch with another metal. Think about it like this, let’s just say you’re in a bathroom, you have black pulls on the cabinetry and a black plumbing fixture. And now you want to add a little drama. Well, you can do this by adding a gold mirror. A better win is adding a mirror that is gold and black.
Another way to better understand this recipe is to imagine a kitchen with all brushed nickel knobs, pulls and faucets all brushed nickel. The appliances are let’s just say stainless. Now the appliances get punched up with gold knobs and then gold pendant lights are added. This pulls it all together but your drama is in the punch. So, in other words, the slight mix is true to its name. It is predominantly one metal and then a second metal is added for what I like to call punch power.
Alright, now we’re moving on to recipe number two. This is the equal balance recipe. And in this formula you choose two metals that you like together. Good combos include black with gold, black with silver, or gold with silver. Now you’re going to balance the metals by using equal parts of each of the metals. As a general rule I like to use the same metal on the same plane. Meaning that if I am using gold on the upper part of the plane.
Let’s take a kitchen for example that has a chandelier and pendants. Let’s just say I’m using gold for the chandelier and the pendants, that would be the upper plane. In the balance recipe then I might use black knobs for all of the bottom or lower cabinets. What I wouldn’t do is use a combination in my light fixtures and then a combination in my lower plane. This would actually just become confusing. To win with this, just remember to divide the planes and use one metal on each plane.
Alright, now with recipe number three and this one is called the modern mix. This recipe is definitely more challenging and yet is very beautiful and interesting. This is when you mix three metals. Remember, mixing three metals is most likely a good rule to follow making three the max number to mix. This recipe is recommended for the chef who has a wee bit more experience and who feels very comfortable mixing it up.
Begin this formula by selecting a main metal. Let’s just say your main metal is going to be black. Use it predominantly and then add in a neutral like a brushed nickel and then jazz it up with a pop of something unexpected like gold. And you will truly have made some magic.
Alright, so what can we learn from today’s lesson? First, don’t just follow the trends because they are trends. If your design DNA suggests that you need all of your metals to match, well then match away. If, however, you truly love a mix for the interest and glory of a mix then by all means mix. Don’t get too caught up in the metals that are trending, but instead select metals that you absolutely love. This will create success. If you’re mixing metals, then use one of the three recipes that I just shared. These formulas are tried and true and work even if you are slightly afraid of the mixing idea.
I say in this case start small, if things get out of control and you lose your way, know that black is the eternal balancer and can fix you right up should you need it. The question is often asked that if you use one metal in one room, can I continue to mix within each space? In other words, can I go to other rooms and do something entirely different? And the answer is just like many design answers, and it is, well, it all depends. If your home is large and expansive and is not much of an open concept plan, then absolutely, mix away.
A good rule of thumb however, just for cohesiveness is to use the same general finish for things like door hardware. Unless you have very interesting and unique accent doors in your home then you would want to use accent hardware to accentuate those doors.
What I mean by this is I’m actually working on a home right now that has about six featured doors throughout its space. The home is rather large and we’re selecting individual hardware to fit the door style for each of the featured doors. Then we are using one finish, actually it’s black, on all of the more standard doors. If your home is small, or if you have more of an open concept plan, then I think it’s best to use one metal.
I really am loving black lately as it is so forgiving and so balancing. I’m also really having fun with the new golds, but they are trending and I do have to tell you if you don’t like to change this thing very often, it might not be the best for you. Then if you are using black then you can use black knobs and plumbing fixtures or you can choose to mix it up and there will still be a thread of consistency throughout. So, what I mean by that is let’s just say you run all black handles for all of your doors, well that will give you the consistency so that you can mix it up on some of the other pieces.
And finally, arm yourself with knowledge. I always say knowledge is power, and mixing metals is not for sissies. But if you arm yourself with knowledge then you can score a win each and every time. One way to do this is by listening to podcasts such as this. But I also teach a full and robust course on being your own best interior designer. You can access this course and our membership by going to kimberlygriggdesigns.com and click on courses.
So that’s it for episode 10 my friends. We are really racking up the episodes and I so appreciate you joining me. Please take a second to subscribe, rate and review this podcast. It really helps us get our message out to the design community. And if you’re feeling extra frisky, well share this podcast with a friend who might enjoy it.
And don’t forget, I am still giving away my infamous money bowl to three lucky listeners who subscribe, rate and review. Check out kimberlygriggdesigns.com/podcastlaunch for podcast details.
I can’t wait to be back next time but until then, I like to say, don’t wait, today is a great day to decorate. Bye for now.
Thanks for listening to Decorate Like a Design Boss, if you want more info on how to decorate your space like a pro visit kimberlygriggdesigns.com. See you next week.