Q & A–Oil-Rubbed Bronze and Brushed Nickel In The Same Room?

The question about mixing metal finishes is probably one of the questions I’m asked the most. I’ve addressed it at least two other times here on A2D, but since I continue to get the question, let’s talk about it again! Interestingly, my own opinion on the topic changed drastically between the first time I wrote about it, and the last time I wrote about it, so I’ll share my current opinion, and then you can chime in and give yours also.

First, the question. Robin writes,

I’m confused and need some direction as local stores are giving conflicting info.  I’m replacing all bright brass door hardware, lighting etc in my home. We have installed oil-rubbed bronze ceiling lights, but I’m in a quandary about door hardware.  One side says keep color the same in same areas, the other says it’s okay to mix and match.  Should I go ORB for door handles, hinges, stops, or can I go with my wife’s preference of brushed nickel. It might work but I’m one for conformity.  To me it would look odd and stick-out if ceiling light in bedroom is oil-rubbed bronze but the door hardware is brushed nickel!

Kristi’s Two Cents:

The first time I was asked about mixing metals by a reader, I was squarely in the “do not mix” camp.  I just couldn’t imagine why someone would want to do that in a room!  I rambled on about cohesion and flow and blah, blah, blah.  But over the years, my “rule” about mixing metal finishes has definitely relaxed.  You can read more about that here, and you can click here to see what I had to say to another reader with a similar question, and see photos of a kitchen where the metals are mixed to perfection!

Now that doesn’t mean I’ve completely thrown the rule book out the door.  I do still think there are areas where consistency needs to be maintained.  For example, if you’re going to use brushed nickel door knobs, then be sure your hinges are also brushed nickel.  And if you’re using brushed nickel hardware on one door, then use brushed nickel on all of your doors.  If you start mixing and matching hardware on your doors, it’ll end up looking like you purchased whatever hardware you could find in the clearance bins.

But I do think it’s absolutely, perfectly fine to use brushed nickel door hardware and oil-rubbed bronze lights.  In fact, I think the two metals compliment each other quite nicely.

So what advice to you have for Robin?  Do you think door hardware and light fixtures need to match?  Or do you think it’s okay to mix metal finishes in a room?  Give her your two cents!!

Do you have your own decorating dilemma?
Click here to submit your question and photos!



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  1. Thanks Kristi for helping me “cope” with my hardware issues. Our kitchen has stainless steel appliances and it opens up into our living area that has rubbed oil bronze ceiling fans and door hardware and I was worried about putting rubbed oil bronze pendant lights in the kitchen. I love your blog! It’s so helpful.

  2. I feel quite strongly that you do NOT have to worry about mixing metals in a room. Too many homes have the open-based floor plan, so it’s ridiculous to think that every metal surface should have to match. It’s also a silly thing to worry about. I guess the idea of having several different metal finishes in a small powder room would be a bit obnoxious, but I can’t say it enough–don’t worry about mixing them. Too much pressure on such a minute issue. Great post, Kristi.

  3. I’m a mixer. Partially because we just moved into this house. All the door fixtures are still brass/gold – blech! But I can’t afford to replace them all immediately. We are doing it slowly and in the meantime, we’ve got mixed metals!

    Also – I love that light fixture in your post, any idea where that is from?

    1. I have mixed those two in my bathrooms and bedrooms. My question is I put pewter handles on bathroom cabinets and now changing out faucet. I have a large whirlpool tub that has stainless steel and want to put pewter faucet in. It would be a lot of work to replace the faucet and all the Jets on whirlpool tub. Can I leave it.

  4. Mixing makes it modern! Mix away – but I agree, keep consistency on each door and all doors in the same space. Why are folks so afraid to mix? Think of it as brown & silver which you would mix as colors. That might help.

  5. Let common sense reign! And all these comments seem like common sense. Who makes decorating “rules” anyway? Principles are helpful – rules not so much.

  6. I agree with your point of view, except I do have one door with an ORB handle and nickel hinges. I know, you’re cringing. Our half bath was the only room updated really when we moved in and it has an ORB light, faucet, towel bar and handle. I didn’t have the enery or want to spend the money changing it all out. One day, I may, down the road, but for now, it’s my one mismatch.

  7. Getting ready to purchase double front doors by Pella…..bronze door handles and everything needed to hang the doors will be included….however, once inside my home, my fixtures are the color of stainless steel…….Is this ok? It just does not seem right to have bronze on front doors but the stainless steel (or brushed nickel does not look good)…..it is a Craftsman style door with side lights and beautiful glass. Please advise. thanks Elaine

  8. I just installed brushed nickel faucets and vanity knobs with ORB light and door handle. What finish would be best for towel racks and toilet paper holder?

  9. I am currently building a house and we are putting in medium gray cabinets with white sparkle quartz countertops and white subway tile with gray grout and dark wood floors. What metals would you use for a faucet and cabinet handles? We have a stainless steel fridge and stove. We have ORB on our door handles in all rooms. I thought ORB on handles would look bad against gray cabinets. I think ORB faucet would look great against white quartz countertops. I am SOOO confused on what to do! Can I do chrome or nickel cabinet knobs with a ORB faucet? I need help lol

  10. We are redecorating a house after it has been completely redone due to a fire. We are going with light beige tiles with some variations, small earth colored stone around the fireplace. The front door will have brushed nickle locks, and the house is a block from the beach. Our quandry is how to do the lighting. My brother wants brushed nickle in the kitchen, it will have white csbinets. The floorplan then goes into the living room and we are wondering how it would look to put oil rubbed bronze lighting so close to the brushed nickle. The bathroom fixtures will also be brushed nickle along with the vanity lighting. We wanted a warmer look for the dining room and living room but just aren’t sure how it would look. The floorplan is pretty open and the chanelier for the living room would only be about 10-15 feet from the kitchen. Any suggestions would surely be appreciated