How to Mix Metal Finishes
06/15 Design Tips

How to Mix Metal Finishes

Our guide to mixing metals throughout the home

One of the questions we get most often is "Do you mix metals?" and "How do you mix metals?"

Over the years, we've shifted our preferences on the topic, and although we've been more drawn to matching metals in our more recent projects, mixing metals is about much more than just choosing finishes for one room.

Today, we want to talk about mixing metals throughout the entire home and share a few tips we have for choosing cohesive finishes.

Tip 1: Select Your Metals

It can be hard to know where to start when selecting metals for your home, and if you're starting a new project or remodel, you might be wondering how many metals you should mix. We suggest curating 2-3 metals that work well together by identifying their undertones. For example, Nickel has a warm undertone and generally works better than chrome when paired with brass and gold. When it comes to black metals, we call it a neutral, it goes with everything, and so we don't count it as a metal finish when pairing.

How to Mix Metal Finishes

In The McGee Home, we chose a few different finishes throughout with warm undertones: Nickel, Unlaquered Brass, and Copper. These metals all work together through our hardware, lighting, and even on our exterior gutters!

Tip 2: Pick a Dominant and an Accent

You may think that you need to distribute each metal you choose equally, but typically, we prefer to choose one dominant metal and use the others as an accent. When you're mixing metals throughout the home, you will likely have one dominant metal for all of your major finishes. From room to room, you want to have one metal flow consistently through the house and change up the accents. We like to use the same metal on all of our door handles, but play with the hardware.

For example, in The McGee Home, we chose more unlacquered brass than any other metal, but we used Nickel and copper in a few areas for some extra dimension and interest.

When it comes to mixing metals in individual rooms, we also play by this rule. In the master bathroom of our recent Pine Brook Home project, we used Nickel on most of the finishes, the cabinet hardware, the sink, the mirror, and even the towel holder. Then, we accented it with two brushed-gold scones to balance out the look.

From our Pine Brook Home .

From our Pine Brook Home.

From our Cove Remodel.

From our Cove Remodel.

Tip 3: Placement

When mixing metals in one space, we like to separate our metals by height so that the similar items are on the same plane. We often use one metal for a lighting fixture and another for cabinet hardware and faucets to create a cohesive blend.

From our Pine Brook Home .

From our Pine Brook Home.

From our Cove Remodel.

From our Cove Remodel.

Tip 4: Create balance

Spreading the dominant finish throughout the home gives mixing metals context, balancing all of the finishes and allowing them to work together.

Another way to create this balance is by using decor accents to create synergy. On the exterior of the McGee Home, we chose copper gutters that will patina over time and age with the home. Although we didn't use copper in any other of the major finishes throughout the home, we infused it into the kettle in our kitchen, the vintage pans in our pantry, and a few other decor objects in built-ins.

* this post has been updated from its original version

 
How to Mix Metal Finishes
 
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25 Comments
Studio McGee
  1. Thank you that was a wonderful article. You are so generous with your design information. Your content is always awesome.

  2. This was my very dilemma this week. Now I have ammunition to convince my husband I can mix them 😉 Thank you!

  3. would you say chrome and brass is a definite no-no? I was planning to use both, but am now reconsidering.

  4. Hi,
    Thank you so much for sharing these tips, we are building a home and I was so stuck on this.
    Questions:
    Is SM offering edesign again?
    In the #SMmodernmountain home kitchen what is the finish of the sink faucet and hood?
    Thank you ?

  5. Love this post!! I couldn’t agree more. I always tell clients that it’s easier to mix bronze/steel with silver and brass since mixing brass and silver can clash easily. It just needs to be done the right way. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  6. My question is door knobs! If black dominate the ceiling fixtures, should the doorknobs be black too? Or is it a good opportunity to add a new metal on a different plane?

  7. Thank you!! I am currently doing my boys bath with navy cabinets. Their faucet is chrome. I like the idea of adding some natural brass in there, but it sounds like I might be better to just stick with all chrome? It’s too late for me to switch the chrome to polished nickel. Love your work!!!!!!!

  8. I’m eager to mix brass and black in my new kuchen but am so torn about the different brass finishes. There’s antique brass, raw brass, aged brass, etc. It’s so confusing! Would these multiple brass finishes blend well or clash?

  9. Always love reading your blog, and appreciate your design generosity! Is it ok to mix metals for different rooms? EX: Kitchen is all chrome, but Half bath is brass? Remodeling our 1960s home finally, and keep telling my husband the whole house does not have to have the same finishes everywhere. Thanks again!

  10. Hi! Brilliant post. Would you recommend keeping all interior door knobs the same or ok to mix? We are in a split level house and are mixing Satin Brass and Satin Nickel around the house. Thank you for your feedback! says:

    Hi, this is a brilliant post. Would you recommend keeping the same metal on all interior doors throughout a house? We have a split level home and are mixing satin Brass and satin nickel. thank you! Laura

  11. Hi! Brilliant post. Would you recommend keeping all interior door knobs the same or ok to mix? We are in a split level house and are mixing Satin Brass and Satin Nickel around the house. Thank you for your feedback! says:

    Hi, this is a brilliant post. Would you recommend keeping the same metal on all interior doors throughout a house? We have a split level home and are mixing satin Brass and satin nickel. thank you! Laura

  12. Hi! Brilliant post. Would you recommend keeping all interior door knobs the same or ok to mix? We are in a split level house and are mixing Satin Brass and Satin Nickel around the house. Thank you for your feedback! says:

    Hi, this is a brilliant post. Would you recommend keeping the same metal on all interior doors throughout a house? We have a split level home and are mixing satin Brass and satin nickel. thank you! Laura

  13. Hi! Brilliant post. Would you recommend keeping all interior door knobs the same or ok to mix? We are in a split level house and are mixing Satin Brass and Satin Nickel around the house. Thank you for your feedback! says:

    Hi, this is a brilliant post. Would you recommend keeping the same metal on all interior doors throughout a house? We have a split level home and are mixing satin Brass and satin nickel. thank you! Laura

  14. What about shower hardware? I am using champagne bronze for shower head and it’s components but my drain match is brushed nickel. Can I do the shower hinges/handle/header in brushed nickel? I was going to use champagne bronze for faucet, towel bars , toliet paper holder , drawer pulls. Door knobs and window latch brushed nickel. Undecided on finish for vanity lights. Using a warm wood vanity. Appreciate your comments.

  15. We are updating our kitchen. We have polished brass hardware on our cupboards. Will a polished nickel faucet work with a copper sink?

  16. Just here to say THANK YOU for all your tips. Seriously every design dilemna or question I have, I come straight to the blog! Really appreciate all the time and effort you put into sharing with us.

  17. These are great tips … we are working on house plans and would like to iceoporate black and nickel in the house. You have any thoughts on nickel and galvanized nickel?

  18. These blogs are so helpful! What are your thoughts on mixing metals throughout the house? For example, we have a black front door. I’d love to have a beautiful gold light fixture in the entry, but I’m nervous that it will clash with the black dining room and study light fixtures we planned to use. Should we stick to the same metal statement light fixtures in corresponding areas throughout the house?

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