Living Room Our House

Let’s Talk About Mixing Metal Finishes (Plus, My New Living Room Light!)

I’m having a very hard time wrapping my head around how to mix metal finishes in my house, and have it done in a way that it looks intentional and “designer” and not hodge podge.

I LOVE mixed metal finishes in a room. In fact, my all-time go-to room for proving how great this can look is this kitchen makeover from Urban Grace Interiors.

Kitchen with mixed metal finishes from Urban Grace Interiors

That kitchen and dining room have just about every metal finish you can think of — brass, oil-rubbed bronze, copper, nickel, stainless steel. And I think it looks fabulous.

In our house, the living room light fixture (which I’m assuming is original) is a shiny chrome art deco chandelier…

Art deco chrome chandelier in the living room

And the original bathroom fixtures are also chrome…

Hallway bath 13 - resized

But the original door knobs are brass, which now have a very natural aged finish to them. (I love that finish!! Anyone know of any good tutorials on how to replicate that aged brass finish?)

Hallway bath 20 - resized

So clearly, the whole idea of mixing metals was perfectly acceptable when this house as built. And it’s perfectly acceptable to me also, if I can just figure out how to do it well.

Quite honestly, I’m not a huge fan of chrome, although I do love brushed nickel. So I decided to purchase a new light fixture for my living room. I really had my heart set on antiqued brass, but I just couldn’t find anything that I really loved that (1) fit into my price range, and (2) fit the look that I’m going for in my house (which is kind of a mix of aged, antique, cottage, farmhouse, vintage, traditional).

I really liked this lantern

Small lantern from Shades of Light

…but I wasn’t crazy about the finish.

I also really, really liked this drum shade chandelier

Drum shade chandelier from Shades of Light

At $315, the price was quite a bit more than what I wanted to pay for a living room light (since I’m used to paying thrift store prices), but I’ve promised myself that I won’t be super cheap with this house. I want to spend money wisely, and be frugal when possible, but if I come across something that I really want and that I think will really add to the decor of the house, I’ll allow myself to splurge.

But I wasn’t sure if I liked that light quite enough for it to be one of my splurges. So I kept looking.

Then I came across this chandelier at Home Depot, and as soon as I saw it, it sent my little heart a-fluttering.

Grace 3-light chandelier from Home Depot

And as an added bonus, it has high customer review ratings AND it was less than $100! It has just the right antique look to it that I wanted, and I love the seeded glass.

Now that I’ve made my first lighting decision, and my first metal finish decision, I kind of feel like I need to stay with that “color family” for the rest of the lighting. And that means that the original chrome living room chandelier, which I had planned on moving to the hallway, seems a little out of place to me now. I considered spray painting it, but chrome seems more appropriate for the art deco design of the light.

I guess my rule of thumb in mixing metals has always been to be consistent on similar items. For example, if you’re going to use oil-rubbed bronze on the hardware on one door, then use oil-rubbed bronze on all of the doors throughout the house. If you’re going to use nickel pulls on your cabinet doors, then use nickel handles on the drawers. If you’re going to use chrome in the shower, then use chrome on the sink faucet, bathroom light, and towel bars as well.

So what rules (if any) do you follow when using metal finishes in your house? Do you just mix and match randomly, simply selecting items that you like? Do you try to keep them all completely consistent? Do you try to keep all of the “permanent” finishes similar (door hardware, cabinet hardware, lighting), and bring in other finishes only with non-permanent decorative items?



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19 Comments

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Brent
    October 14, 2013 at 12:26 pm

    The new fixture is beautiful! I’m a fan of mixing metals too.

    As for the doorknobs, you can oxidize brass by putting them in a bag of scrambled eggs for a while. It’s the sulfur that does it- if you want faster results, you can order “Liver of Sulfur” online. It comes in a couple of different forms. You just leave it in until you reach the patina you like, rinse it off, and voila 🙂 Just make sure the metal doesn’t have a protective coating on it, although if the metal is original to the house you probably won’t have that problem. If the patina is too dark, you can lighten it up with some super fine steel wool (#0000 grade) from Home Depot.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Genelle McDaniel
    October 14, 2013 at 1:23 pm

    The light fixture from home depot is much more appropriate for the house. The drum fixture was too modern. See if home depot has a co-ordinating fixture for the entry hall, since there will be a wide opening between the entry hall and the living room. Very often they have co-ordinating fixtures.

    Are you trying to re-do the ceiling and painting the bedroom before you move in? You seem to be pretty scattered right now. I’m too much like your mother, a room at a time. LOL.

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      Genelle McDaniel
      October 14, 2013 at 1:27 pm

      However, you can not have a fixture hanging that low in the entry hall. It just isn’t enough clearance for tall people to walk under. But are there matching scones for the entry hall, or a matching lamp to put on a credenza or hall table?

      • Reply To This Comment ↓
        Genelle McDaniel
        October 14, 2013 at 1:32 pm

        By the way, my dad has those exact same doorknobs in his house and they are so covered with grime. I really want to clean them, but at the same time I don’t want to strip away 60 years of patina. Seeing how he is already 98 1/2, I guess I’ll just leave them and let whoever buys his little cottage make the decision. I’m so afraid the decision will be to replace them all with new cheap doorknobs.

        • Reply To This Comment ↓
          julie
          October 14, 2013 at 2:54 pm

          Why don’t you replace them all with cheap door knobs now…and save the cool old ones for projects! My old house had the same brass knobs, on some of the doors anyway. It was a big hodge podge before I replaced them all with crystal/ORB just a few months ago. But I kept all the solid brass knobs (like in Kristi’s pic) and I have plans to use them to make some sort of a coat rack, attaching them to a salvaged piece of wood, or maybe a painted and distressed board. Then hang it by my front door for coats, purses, etc. Want to keep a little of the “old house” while I am at the same time updating it. 🙂

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Lucy
    October 14, 2013 at 2:59 pm

    I just eye ball everything til it looks right to me for the most part. I completely agree about chrome. I think I like just about every metal finish there is except for chrome.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Dee
    October 14, 2013 at 3:27 pm

    I’m actually a fan of deco. Not so much chrome tho. We have lovely hanging lights in our living room, original to the house, circa 1925, that are brass with clear, sort of hobnail shades on them. I won’t replace them as they add such character to the room. There are two other light fixtures original to the home. Is there a way you could use that fixture from the living room in another room? Put shades on the bulbs? Drop it a little from the ceiling. Looks like it has the original glass too. Perhaps age the chrome or paint it an umber? It is a matter of taste tho so you have to do what you love!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Bonnie
    October 14, 2013 at 3:34 pm

    I’m in love with the home depot fixture…BTW…your site is my favorite of all blogs because your style seems to be a mixture of classiness combined with of an artistic use of color (for example: the condo kitchenette wall sconces and banquette)

    In my own home, I’ve mixed my metals. My Dear Mother disagrees with using mixed metals, but it’s working for me. I’m always attracted to the red/browns/golds so I call my style Tuscany with an updated twist of modern thrown in. For example, my kitchen cabinets are golden oak (handmade by my father-in-law), my cabinet door hardware is aged bronze, two of my light fixtures are nickel while the one over the sink is aged bronze. The backsplash has a gold fleur de lis specialty tile (not aged bronze) with tumbled travertine in a diamond pattern.

    I think mixing metals makes it less magazine “covery” and more comfortable.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Olivia Gabel
    October 14, 2013 at 10:26 pm

    Oh my gosh! I am searching for a vintage deco chandelier! If you decide to sell that one please let me know!

    Mixing metals is a must! I don’t have an exact rule of thumb, but to me overall style is more important than having the same metal tone. Have fun light shopping!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Nancy
    October 14, 2013 at 10:30 pm

    Love the new light! I haven’t thought about the finishes before. Now darn it something else to add to my list, lol.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Mary
    October 15, 2013 at 2:07 am

    Great choice !

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    BobsGal
    October 15, 2013 at 5:51 am

    Hi Kristi….! This is my first time sending a comment. First let me say congratulations…as it has been written..”There’s no place like (your own) Home”. Hoping it will always be healthy and happy.

    I have been following another blogger “CraftyNest.com” that she too is beautifully “crafty” like you and has just bought her own home and the similarities are striking. Just thought you might like to check in on her (Monica). I am sure there are tons of bloggers out there in the same circumstances….. But the two of you seem to be considering the same choices.

    No matter what I hope you find many, many wonderful and memory filled years in your new home. Pat

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Charlotte
    October 15, 2013 at 6:38 am

    I luv the light fixture you chose! Last summer we replaced all the 70’s door knobs & hinges on the interior doors (and gave every square inch of molding & 8 interior doors a coat of primer & three coats of white paint) with brushed nickle. My exterior door knobs are antique bronze.
    When we refresh our main bath…the first thing to go will be the chrome taps!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Sue
    October 15, 2013 at 7:49 am

    I really like the fixture you chose for your living room. It’s definately retro to your home and will look great! As far as mixing metal finishes, we have done that in our home and I think it looks good. I do agree that bathroom and kitchen finishes need to be the same metal. Those old doorknobs are worth a fortune and I think its good that you’re keeping them.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Dee
    October 15, 2013 at 1:54 pm

    I like to keep the light fixtures, cabinet hardware, faucets and door knobs the same metal finish but mix other finishes with accessories and furniture hardware. I love the light fixture you selected for your living room and can’t wait to see where you go from here! Whatever you choose to do will be lovely!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Janette @ The 2 Seasons
    October 15, 2013 at 9:16 pm

    I like the consistency of matching like items throughout the house. For instance, all of the bathrooms have the same fixtures, and the kitchen, pantry, and bar fixtures match the baths. The lights’ finishes are the same throughout. The bathroom black slate countertops and marble floors are the same with color and accessories giving each room its own personality. All door hardware is the same throughout, and all of the cabinets in the kitchen, bathrooms, and bar are the same as are their hardware. It all flows nicely and is not one bit boring because of the accessories/art/paint/furniture.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Abby @ Just a Girl and Her Blog
    October 18, 2013 at 12:11 pm

    Until I started reading a lot of blogs, I always thought all metals had to match in a room or even in a house, but I love seeing rooms where metals are mixed so well! (Like your example kitchen.) I like your rule about keeping similar items in the same finish– that’s really helpful when thinking about mixing metals. Great pick on the chandelier, too! I know it will look gorgeous! I am loving following your progress, Kristi! Keep up the great work!

    ~Abby =)

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Kim
    October 21, 2013 at 7:32 pm

    Diane at the blog, In My Own Style, has lots of painting suggestions which include painting brass to brushed chrome look and sanding shiny brass to look more like antique brass. It might help answer your question about how to change existing finishes.

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