Design Notes: How to Mix Metals in Your Space by David Brian Sanders

Design | How to Mix Metals in Your Space

So we can all acknowledge that all professional fields have rules, whether you’re in the field of fashion, interior design, law, architecture, or engineering, etc.  Then there are those rules you hear about that we abide by them because we’ve just heard them one to many times and we’ve been brainwashed (so to speak).  For example, ever heard these: (1) navy and black shouldn’t be worn or combined together at all, (2) tights shouldn’t be worn with open toe shoes, or (3) gold and silver jewelry shouldn’t be worn together at the same time.  Don’t these rules seem very old-school and made up by some “judgy” type?  (Yeah, I know “judgy” isn’t a real word – it just sounds good).

Design Notes: How to Mix Metals in Your Space by David Brian Sanders

Well that last example about the silver and gold jewelry brings us to the interior design “rule” that it’s taboo to mix metals in interior design.  In the past, people focused on having all the same finishes in each of their bedrooms or matching the hardware on all the doors of their homes.  You know the old adage “rules are meant to be broken”?  This particular rule can be broken with spectacular results.

Design Notes: How to Mix Metals in Your Space by David Brian Sanders

Honestly, silver, gold, bronze, brass and copper can easily coexist in any room and throughout your entire home.  Let’s say you’ve decided to paint the walls in your space a cool grey and you have added silver accents, such as silver-plated sconces and silver drawer pulls for the dresser.  These choices seem to be the natural inclination when the basis of your room is grey.  However, you may quickly start to get the feeling that the room lacks warmth.  One way to achieve warmth is to inject the warmth of metals like gold or brass.

Design Notes: How to Mix Metals in Your Space by David Brian Sanders

There are a few guidelines to mixing metals.  However, you shouldn’t interpret them as rules – these are simply suggestions so that your mix of metal finishes is skillful and effortless.

– Use your base color scheme as a guide.  This simply means take your cue from your dominant paint color or furniture color and determine if you need the warmth of gold or brass or the coolness of hammered silver or black iron.

– If you choose a dominant metal tone, then use a contrasting metal as an accent tone.  This is just one way to mix metal tones.  It is very much like mixing coordinating colors in your wardrobe.

– If you stick with one metal tone, then focus texture and finishes.  Hey, mixing things up is not for everyone.  If you love a gold finish and you want everything in your home or bedroom to have that same gold tone – then to avoid the monotonous effect or being confused for King Midas – try mixing shiny or matte gold finishes or even mixing newer gold tone with vintage gold.

Design Notes: How to Mix Metals in Your Space by David Brian Sanders

Note: For those of you who consider yourself advanced DIY interior designers and you really want to test your skill — try mixing metals where you do not let one metal tone dominate. If you really want an effortlessly sophisticated, lived-in look, try experimenting with as many metal tones as you like, making sure not to let any one tone dominate.

Design Notes: How to Mix Metals in Your Space by David Brian Sanders

Also, remember there is no need to limit your metal mixology to just sliver, gold, brass and copper.  There are so many other metals that exist, oil-rubbed bronze, black iron, hammered silver, brushed steel, there are so many options to choose from.

At the end of the day, let’s take a cue from the prince of old-school design…

“The first rule of decoration is that you can break almost all the other rules.” —Billy Baldwin

(Go ahead, break the so-called “rule” we won’t judge, we promise.)

How do you mix different metals in your home design? Share your thoughts and photos below!

David Brian Sanders

For more info about David Brian Sanders visit

Find David on…

David Brian Sanders

One of the most sought after interior designers in Los Angeles and Nationwide, David Brian Sanders’ work has been published in RENOVATION STYLE, TRADITIONAL HOME and THE LOS ANGELES TIMES. Prior to founding David Brian Sanders Interiors in 1998, Sanders spent several years managing and re-branding the famed luxury linen purveyor Peacock Alley. Sanders holds a dual degree in sociology and psychology from The University of Miami and is also a trained chef. He has appeared on several national television shows including Bravo's Millionaire Matchmaker as the resident interior designer and a special home makeover edition of Fox's America's Most Wanted.

You may also like...