Mixing Metals

Mixing Metals

COMBINING FINISHES AND SHEENS LEADS TO AN INTERESTING LOOK FOR INTERIORS

Bronze, brass, nickel, chrome—metals make for some of the most luxe and layered finishes in the home. And the beauty is, you don’t have to choose and (and stick with) just one. “Combining different metal finishes and sheens gives the impression that a design evolved over time,” says Killy Scheer of Scheer & Co., an interior design firm in Austin, Texas. “It’s a great way to create depth and a look that feels collected.”

KEEP THINGS BALANCED

While incorporating several metals into one space sets an inspired tone, most designers suggest selecting a main material that’s repeated throughout. Scheer recommends using a dominant metal and then choosing a few supporting iterations to use as accents. “If you’re working with several different components, make the dominant metal an easy one to match across different brands,” she says. “Chrome looks basically the same no matter the manufacturer, whereas oil-rubbed bronze can vary. In that case, chrome would be your dominant metal and oil-rubbed bronze can be an accent; just be sure it all comes from the same manufacturer, so the finishes always match.”

Vancouver-based designer Stephanie Brown also prefers to identify one metal as the architectural finish. “It makes for a consistent appearance throughout the home,” she says. “We’d typically use it on door hardware, railings, plumbing fixtures, lighting, and cabinet hardware. We then bring in one or two other metal finishes throughout as special accents.”

The reason it’s often best to stick with one lead metal is the look can get jumbled when warm and cold tones are all vying for the spotlight, says New York-based designer Ghislaine Viñas. It’s important to establish a hierarchy. If you’re working with brass, for example, have the doorknobs, hardware, and architectural features like faucets rendered in brass, and accessorize with other warm metals like copper or gold leaf. “This helps create a cohesive, balanced space,” Viñas says.

Another way to create balance is by playing with the way different materials and surfaces reflect light, says Cara Fox, owner and lead designer of The Fox Group in Salt Lake City. She suggests mixing a finish such as unlacquered brass—a living metal that patinas over time—with a high-lacquer paint that’s really glossy. “Similarly, a matte black or satin nickel paired with velvet or another shimmery fabric creates a beautiful contrast of sheens. Linen paired with a shiny metal will create the same effect,” Fox says.

 

Kitchen | The Fox Group
A kitchen designed by The Fox Group, pulls off the look with pendant lighting and door and cabinet hardware. Playing with light is one way to mix materials, says Cara Fox, owner and lead designer of the firm. | Photo Credit: Scott Davis

 

CONSIDER THE COLOR PALETTE

Metals have either warm or cool tones, and whether you stick with all one temperature or mix things up is a matter of preference. For example, Mary Maydan, founder and principal of Maydan Architects in Palo Alto, Calif., prefers using one color family. When the color palette is white and gray, for instance, she often adds metals in cool tones such as chrome, stainless steel, or silver. “That said, it can be nice to add an accent metal, like copper, that is not in the same family to give warmth to the room. Often, we’ll do this with an accent piece, like a copper metal sculpture in a library,” she says.

The key to creating a curated look is repetition, says Nicole Michael of Nicole Michael Designs in Los Angeles. “For example, if a living room light fixture is aged brass, introduce it again through an accessory, a drinks table, a decorative mirror, or even picture frames,” she says. “When you repeat colors, it helps your eye travel through the space, creating balance in the room.”

CREATE CONTRAST

In an effort to avoid a too-industrial feel, temper the look with other textures. “Natural materials such as stone and wood always mix well with metals—but, really, the key to mixing anything successfully is creating the right contrasts,” Scheer says.

In a more eclectic or traditional interior, Brown might play off brass accents such as light fixtures with rich hues on furnishings, like jewel-toned velvets or cognac-colored leather. In a more minimal interior with black and rose gold metal, she keeps furniture and textiles soft and monochromatic in shades of gray and white with textural variation.

“One metal finish we consider a neutral is stainless steel,” Brown says. “To me, it’s the equivalent of blue jeans; it’s so common and understated that it usually doesn’t factor in as a metal and you can easily put other metals with it in the same space.” For instance, stainless kitchen appliances can be paired with one or two more metal finishes on the cabinet hardware, plumbing, and lights.

 


Living Room | Ghislaine Viñas
A living room in Los Feliz, Calif., designed by Ghislaine Viñas, mixes metals in a chic, slightly subtle way, by creating a hierarchy of materials. | Photo Credit: Garrett Rowland

 

CONSIDER THE SPACE ITSELF

Just how and where you mix your metals matters. “A bathroom is a great place to mix metals,” Michael says. For example, the cabinet and door hardware can be one finish, the light fixtures a second finish, and the mirror and plumbing fixtures could be the third finish (consider looking for a two-tone piece to help tie everything together), she says. “Never mix finishes between plumbing fixtures: If the faucet is one finish and the shower head and trim are a different finish, it will read as a mistake.”

Lighting fixtures and furniture—a vintage gold lamp and a matte black metal coffee table—can provide a great opportunity for mixing metal finishes, Brown says. But this effect can also be achieved through the use of accessories—matte gold sculptural objects and picture frames on your shelves are an easy starting point, she says.

Originally posted by Sotheby's International Realty.


What’s New In Art, Architecture, And Design

THE BLENDING OF ART AND SCIENCE, MULTIPLYING PRIMARY BEDROOM SUITES, AND THE RETURN OF LAID-BACK COTTAGE-STYLE INTERIORS

Art is building on its scientific cred, residences are getting multiple primary suites, and the down-to-earth cottage look is back. Here are the latest trends in art, architecture, and design.

Art

High-tech science has become a creative force in the art world.

London-based artist Susan Aldworth explores the human identity, or as she puts it, “what makes us who we are,” in works that are in the collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum, the British Museum, and Guy’s Hospital. Her interest in the “human mind, especially consciousness and our sense of self,” has led to collaborations with scientists.

For her suite of prints Transience, she helped develop a technique to capture the authentic marks of the brain on an etching plate. And her large-scale installation Out of the Blue, comprising 106 antique garments embroidered with words spoken by epileptics and suspended from the ceiling, is moved by computer-programmed pulleys to correspond to the algorithms of electrical activity in an epileptic brain. “Science,” she says, “offers fascinating explanations and methodologies to explore the world with.”

Klari Reis, a painter based in San Francisco, experiments with new materials and methods for her scientifically themed works. Using epoxy polymer, she explores its interaction with a variety of dyes and pigments, creating compositions on aluminum and wood panels that are characterized by colorful under-the-microscope smears, bumps, and stains. Her installation Hypochondria consists of hand-painted petri dishes mounted on walls in groupings of 30, 60, or 150 pieces. Reis, whose work is on display in the Peninsula Shanghai hotel, Morgan Stanley in New York City, and the Stanford University Medical Center, collaborates with biomedical companies. She says she is “driven by curiosity and my desire to explore and document the natural and unnatural with a sense of wonder and joy.”

Klari Reis’ work includes hand-painted petri dishes.
Klari Reis’ work includes hand-painted petri dishes.

ARCHITECTURE

In grand estates, one of the latest luxuries gaining popularity is a series of primary bedroom suites akin to a five-star hotel. Sometimes they are two separate suites; in other instances, a pair of bedrooms shares a central bathroom.

Bobby McAlpine, the founder of the interior design and architecture firm that bears his name, says he’s designed several over the years. “When a pair of homeowners such as two couples or siblings share a vacation property, double master suites are the order of the day,” he says. “Other requests are for an upstairs master for use now and a ground-floor master for the homeowner to ‘age’ into in the future.”

The look of two primary bedrooms can create a symmetry, he says. He created mirrored primary suites in his first house, a move he described as “smart and downright pretty.”

For a client with a summer home in St. John, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Elissa Morgante, a co-principal of Morgante Wilson Architects in Evanston, Ill., designed a pair of main bedroom suites—one on the first floor and one on the second, creating chic symmetry.

A primary suite—one of a pair— in a St. John home designed by Morgante Wilson Architects.
A primary suite—one of a pair— in a St. John home designed by Morgante Wilson Architects.

DESIGN

Cottage style—that humble-chic aesthetic—is making a comeback, particularly in accessory buildings such as carriage houses and pool houses.

“The human scale of the cottage is a perfect mix of softened roof lines and quaint, well-scaled facades,” says architect Kevin ten Brinke, a principal of KT2 Design Group in Sudbury, Mass. With interiors characterized by painted or decorated furniture, weathered finishes, floral fabrics, a garden-in-bloom color palette, vintage features, and natural textural accents like baskets, cottage style is “a great way of exploring more fun expressive details that would otherwise be too informal for the main residence,” he notes.

A kitchen by KT2 Design.
A kitchen by KT2 Design.
Cottage chic kitchen
Feels cottage chic.

Originally posted by Sotheby's International Realty.