Full Metal Palette

Should you choose chrome, nickel, pewter, copper, bronze or gold fixtures? You can’t go wrong, since metallics of every description are “in!”

By Tammy Adamson-McMullen


Choosing faucets, cabinet pulls, lighting fixtures and other hardware can be one of the most stressful tasks in a home remodel. Should you choose chrome, nickel, pewter, copper, bronze or gold fixtures? Should they be polished, satin, brushed, matte, rubbed, antiqued or distressed? Should the same metal be repeated throughout the home? And should you also match door hinges, door knobs and other extraneous hardware pieces?

Stress no more! Metallics of every kind are in, fulfilling the predictions colourists and designers have been making for years about mix-and-match metallic finishes in the home. If you want to mix metals, you really can’t go wrong—well, unless you mix too many together. As in all aspects of decorating, balance and flow are key components of good design. While metal combinations add visual interest, you don’t want the look to be mishy-mashy.

Balance and Flow

To achieve balance, first pick a metal that you want to dominate and then add one or two as accents. Examples?

  1. Master bathroomMain Metal: Antique brass for the sink faucets, shower hardware, mirrors, vanity trays and towel bars. Accent #1: Bright copper for cabinet pulls, sconces and the paint colour for the wall behind the mirrors. Accent #2: Dark pewter (instead of copper) for the wall colour.

  2. KitchenMain Metal: Satin nickel for faucet and cabinetry hardware. Accent #1: Brushed gold for pendant lights and cannisters. Accent #2: Polished chrome—maybe in a set of shiny bowls or a pitcher on the countertop.

To create flow from room to room, stay consistent with regularly repeating metals, such as switch plates, door hinges, door knobs and similar items. Also, make sure you choose the same metal for all of the cabinetry hardware within the same room. If you do mix cabinetry metals, it’s better to make them highly contrasting—silver with matte black, for example—than close in tone, like gold and brass.

Silver and Gold

Chrome and nickel (especially in satin and brushed finishes) edged out polished brass a decade ago for the No. 1 spot in residential hardware. That popularity continues today. Silver metallics have staying power because they coordinate so well with stainless steel appliances—which continue to have mass appeal—and blend handsomely with the cool grays, blues, blue-greens and purples that have moved into the home decorating palette

That being said, gold is the new rage in 2019! Gold hardware, lighting fixtures, decorative accessories and furnishings can be found in every style of home. It’s especially popular as cabinetry hardware for kitchens and baths. Gold looks extremely high-end and is especially lovely with warm colours like creamy white, orangey reds, fern greens, charcoal and black.

While gold can stand regally on its own, silver is a natural complement. Nickel, in fact, has many of the same warm undertones. Gold-and-silver combinations are making many appearances together kitchens and baths, where they pair nicely in plumbing fixtures and cabinetry hardware. But you can mix gold and silver in every room of the house and in any finish, from satin to antiqued to polished, since all are trending. 

Matte Black Finishes

Matte black finishes are one of the hottest trends in metallics. The finish first emerged in commercial settings—with matte-black fixtures, Edison lighting, exposed plumbing and pipes—but has become just as prevalent in residential settings. Matte black is perfect for contemporary, modern and industrial decors. But you can find it in more traditional homes, too, often used in lieu of wrought iron.

One reason for matte black’s popularity is that it works so well with other metals. Silver, gold, copper and brass are stunning with matte black, especially in polished finishes, and create a high-contrast look of sophistication. Subdued metals are good partners, too, but imbue a different vibe. Matte black and pewter, for example, look almost somber together—perfect for home offices.

Brass and Copper 

Brass, meanwhile, is coming back! Brass is a time-honored metal that can be added nearly anywhere as an accent. The colour infusion of this metal pairs beautifully with all sorts of metals.

The same is true of copper, which has emerged in all sorts of finishes, from polished to distressed. Hammered copper, in particular, is extremely popular this spring. Tip: Be somewhat careful mixing large quantities of colour-infused metals together, such as copper and gold, as the look can be overwhelming. Again, balance and flow are the keys.

Happy mixing!