How to Mix Metals in Your Home Design


You’re ready to renovate or style your home, but the hundreds of options for plumbing, appliance, lighting and hardware finishes are making you second-guess your decisions. 

I get it. 

Perfecting the mixing of metals for your home design can feel overwhelming. You have seen it turn out stunning in so many of your inspirational photos, but you just can’t figure out what will look great together for your space. Here’s my guide to mixing metals in your home for a refined and tailored look. 

J. Reiko Blog How to mix metals in your home design

Source: Scout Modern

How much is too much? 

My first rule of thumb .. limit yourself to two metal finishes per room (and ideally throughout the house). You want to have the design flow and carry a cohesive visual throughout your home, even if there are different finishes going on. I would recommend keeping it to two different metal finishes and having that be consistent throughout the home to emphasize harmony and make the mixing of finishes look truly intentional. 


To find the kind of style you are going for – pick one dominant metal finish to be incorporated throughout the design. Then, I’d suggest picking one metal finish that’s a different metal (preferably high-contrast to your first selection) to act as an accent to your main design. You want the two finishes to look intentionally different and bring different color tones to your space. For example, mixing brass finishes with black will look great, but mixing polished nickel and brushed nickel will look like you were trying to match but missed the mark.

Source: Palecek

How do you Know What Metals to Pick + Mix? 

Yes, it’s true, picking one main metal finish feels like a lot of commitment and may seem daunting at first, so you might be fully overwhelmed by the thought of the mixing of metals! There are so many options to choose from when sifting through thousands of inspiration photos on Instagram and Pinterest. How do you know which ones to go with? 


Let’s discuss what metals are best for each use according to color tones: 

Silver Tones

  • This includes nickel (polished or brushed), stainless steel, and chrome. While the finish of each of these may vary slightly the overall color you are introducing to your space is a silver tone.

  • Polished nickel is slightly warmer while chrome has more blue-tones and will feel cooler. Typically more traditional designs use polished nickel finishes and more contemporary/modern designs use chrome.

  • Stainless steel is the most common finish for appliances, so it is something to take into account if you are not choosing to add cabinet panels to conceal your appliances.

Warm Tones

  • This includes brass, copper and gold. All of these finishes work well when paired with silver or dark-toned finishes. These are the finishes that have the power to add warmth to any space. In places like bathrooms, where wood and warmer tones can be hard to include, adding a warm-toned metal can make the space feel much more welcoming.

  • Brass and gold can have lots of variation in color tone, but typically carry more yellow undertones while copper offers more orange/red undertones. 

  • A small note on brass – it is very hard to find consistency amongst many brands and manufacturers. Some brass has yellow undertones, others look more bronze and can come with a matte finish, while others do not. If you want to add brass into your design, I recommend doing all your plumbing brass since you can source all components from one manufacturer and one collection. Then, have the rest of your metal fixtures be your accent finish.

Dark Tones

  • This includes black and oil-rubbed bronze finishes.

  • Black finishes can coordinate with nearly any other finish, and you can do so without worrying that the finish will look different in each application.

  • Black finishes are typically very consistent and offer a tailored modern look without the starkness of silver or cool toned finishes. 

  • Oil-rubbed bronze is a more traditional finish that has a matte dark brown overall but has a rub-through finish that exposes some bronze or copper tones below. This finish (color tones and amount of rub-through) can vary slightly between manufacturers, so ensuring your fixtures all coordinate can be a bit more tricky with this finish, but that dimension adds character and comfort to your space. 


As far as applied finishes go, there are several options to choose from. Here are your options:
  • Antiqued finish – compliments rich and dark styles 
  • Brushed/Satin finish – eclectic and polished style
  • Hammered finish – rustic and vintage style 
  • Polished finish – modern and minimalist style

You will want to make sure the the metal color tones and the finish of the metal match the style you are trying to achieve.

mixing of metals in your eclectic home design

Tips on how to mix your metals

Keep all like-metals the same finish. A common way of alternating finishes in the bathroom is to do the plumbing fixtures and lighting one finish, and to do the cabinet hardware and mirror in another finish. 

It’s also good to mix warm-hued metals with cool-hued metal if you decide to incorporate two metals. Pick one as your dominant metal and use the other one as an accent. Consider the overall style you are going for to pick your dominant metal. A more traditional or classic style should have metals with a satin finish and a darker hue. Light fixtures are an easy way to add in the accent finish.  It’s great to mix and match, while keeping the overall style of the design consistent. 


If you aren’t sure your mixing of metals will look cohesive, add a mirror to the room. This will reflect your decor and make the room feel more open. Mirrors can complement the depth of metallics to any room, and you can apply a coordinating metal finish as a frame for your mirror! 


Small accessories and accent pieces can be your go-to if you’re worried about the commitment of certain metal finishes on fixed pieces. Little pieces like copper mugs on display, or a brass serving tray can add in those subtle touches without being too overwhelming for the eye. 


Mixing metals in your home design might feel overwhelming at first, but the dimension it can add to a design is worth the risk. Follow these simple guidelines, and know it will all be beautiful in the end.  


If you have any questions, or would like help with your project, reach out here. 


Scandinavian inspired kitchen that invokes a timeless design esthetic by J.Reiko Design + Co

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