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Q & A–Is It Okay To Mix Hardware Colors In A Room?

Good morning, all!  I received a decorating question from a reader, Lindsay in Salt Lake City, regarding mixing the finishes of hardware in a room.  This has to be one of the most often asked questions that I get, so let’s talk about it!  Here’s what Lindsay had to say:

“I am currently building a home. Hardware needs to be chosen and I’m having a hard time deciding on what to choose. I have shaker style cabinets with a dark espresso finish and all the trim/finish work in the home is white, so the doors are white. I want to use flat black hardware on the doors because the amazing contrast just pops. With the espresso cabinets being so dark I would want to use a stainless pull. Then there are the faucets and all of the other fixtures to make a decision on. Should they match the cabinet hardware or the door hardware? I guess the ultimate question is can you mix the two hardware colors?”

I admit that over the last 18 months or so, I’d done a complete 180-degree turn on this topic.  I used to be such a stickler for everything matching.  Then I decided that everything doesn’t have to match, but it at least needs to all blend.  In other words, you can use antique golds with antique bronzes with oil-rubbed bronzes, but don’t ever mix antique golds with nickel!

Well, now I don’t even think that metals need to necessarily blend.  What changed my mind?  This kitchen, which was featured a couple of years ago in Cottage Living…

kitchen 3

This kitchen is one of my all-time favorites.  I love everything about it, from the cabinet colors (which were the inspiration for John & Alice’s kitchen), the subway tile, the open shelving, the warm wood floor, and that amazing ceiling.

But do you notice the unconventional mix of metal finishes?  Stainless steel appliances, oil-rubbed bronze light fixture, brass cabinet pulls, bronze mixer and accessories…

kitchen 2

Until seeing this kitchen, I never would have thought that this mix-and-match of metal finishes could be done tastefully, but this kitchen is beyond tasteful.  It’s amazing!

A view from the dining room shows even more mix-and-match metals, with a brass (or is that gold?) chandelier in the dining room with oil-rubbed bronze pendant lights in the kitchen.

kitchen 4

I used to be a very staunch “all light fixtures need to match in metal color” type of person.  Now, not so much.

kitchen 1

(If you want to see more of this kitchen, including the before picture and a list of resources, you can see that info here.)

So does that mean I think you can just add whatever wherever you want?  Well, not exactly.  I still think, just to keep things cohesive, that all of the cabinets hardware should match each other, and all of the appliances should match each other, and all of the door knobs and hinges should match each other.  But I DON’T think that the cabinet hardware, the door knobs and hinges, and the appliances all need to match each other.  In fact, it’s more interesting if they don’t, in my opinion!

So that’s where I stand on this topic.  What do you have to say about it?  Are you a stickler for metals matching in a room?  Or are you more carefree, enjoying more of a mix-and-match approach?



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  1. I love the mix and match approach in a Kitchen, but I'm still a stickler in the bath.  I really, really dislike when the light fixtures are shiny brass, the sink faucets are some kind of silver, the mirror has some other metal trim and the tub and shower fixtures are something else.  I think it has to do with the size of the room.  A kitchen is larger and more open so there is room for more options.  A bathroom, being so much smaller, your eye sees it all at once and it ends up being chaotic not cohesive.

  2. Hi Kristi!
    I too used to be a "rule stickler". But who makes these rules anyhow? I don't see the metallic finish police knocking on my door so I figure GO FOR IT! Mix it up! I mix up ORB and brushed nickel all the time. It especially works if you have accessories in the same tones around the room to complement the scheme. Great post! (By the way, you were recommended to me by my sister Beth -Home Stories A2z- she said you have some mad skills!!). Love your blog! 
    ~ Kim

  3. Kim, I often wonder who made these rules!  And "metallic finish police" made me giggle.  🙂

  4. That's interesting.  I can definitely see not being as carefree in designing a bathroom.  I think you're right…the size makes a difference.  I have mixed a dark oil-rubbed bronze and nickel in a bathroom before, though.  I think it looked great, but I think really dark brown and nickel complement each other pretty nicely.  If I had added yet a third metallic finish, it might have started looking busy.

  5. Totally agree…and I used to think otherwise a few years ago. Mixing them sometimes looks gorgeous, but you're right, it has to follow a cohesive theme! 

  6. I absolutely LOVE that you are answering design questions for your followers. I always love to hear your take on different design dilema's…..

  7. I mix metals through out my house even in the bathrooms and to an untrained eye it might seem like I do it freely but a lot of thought goes into my choices and I think that the result is beautiful.  I agree that there are families of metals like (brass and gold) or (nickel and silver) and those color count as one choice and work together well UNLESS one violates the theme or style of the room.  Like sterling and chrome are the same family and in an eclectic room could count work together but one might violate the theme of the room and be disqualified for the space.  So they could work together as the same metal but often won't.  The chrome might be too modern looking for a particular space or the sterling might be too formal for another.   Once you know the families and the theme/style it is okay to introduce a new metal family as long as you repeat the choice in the space (or within eyeshot) at least once and of course they need visually compliment each other.  If it looks pretty or not has to do with the overall color scheme and is something that to be eyeballed.  If the pinkish tones in the copper pendant lights clash with the gold tones in the granite then you will know.  To further complicate the issue naturally tarnished and naturally aged metal hardware (versus faux aged) on the original piece of furniture is the neutral of hardwares and does not have to be repeated as long as the overall piece is true to the decorating theme of the room.  Since I mix metals I pay very strict attention to professionally decorated rooms that mix metals successfully.   It isn't that hard to pull off and I think it makes a room sparkle.   I don't dislike rooms that are strictly matched but it isn't me at all.  

  8. I mix metals in my bathrooms too.  I think size does make it more challenging but it would be wrong for my house not to mix the metals.  In a bathroom mixing metals gives the room a more mellow look.  

  9. OK, but can I have a black wrought iron chandelier and dark brown/antique gold metal wall hangings in the dining room?  Or should I have the chandelier match the metal wall hangings?  They are pretty big, 2 1/2 feet by 2 1/2 feet square, and I have two of them.  The walls are dark red…

  10. I love your approach to this sticky question. You’ve moved me off my dead-center opinion of everything having to be perfect matches. But when you think about it, and how fashion in dressing has changed to make mixed metals not just acceptable, but more interesting…why not home decor as well?

    I found your site through Centsational Girl’s post today. I’m your newest follower. Thank you.

  11. I have a bronze faucet and getting stainless steel appliances what color of cabinet pulls should I get , oak color cabinets?

  12. Hi, I’m building a new house and was wondering if it’s okay to change up the style of cabinet hardware from room to room? Thanks

      1. Yeah, that’s what I’m talking about….My house, my rules!! If people don’t like it then they can take a hike!! LOL!!! Thanks!

  13. Hello I’d like some advice. My current floor lamp in my living room is brushed nickel, but the legs on my couch are brushed stainless steel. Since they’re side by side you can tell the difference in metal. Is this ok? Or bad designer etiquette? Please help! Thanks.

  14. I am redoing hardware. The majority of the house will have nickel. The master bath already has some rubbed bronze bath fixtures. What about the double doors between the bath and the bedroom- should I put a nickel door knob on one side of the door facing the bedroom and bronze on the other facing the bath?

  15. We recently purchased out first home and everything needs love, lol. I purchased ORB door knobs for the entire house but now I’m wondering if all other fixtures need to be the same (curtain rods, towel holders, cabinet knobs exc..) I am really torn about this, I can’t afford to just wing it and hope it all works. I have been looking but only see comments about light fixtures. Help me please!

      1. Thanks Kristi, so you don’t think the house will look weird with different finishes throughout? I was thinking of trying both ORB and silver in each room to bring it all together so it doesn’t look like I just bought whatever I could find.

        Thanks again for your help!