If you’re looking to give your kitchen an instant style upgrade, one of the easiest yet most impactful changes you can make is swapping out your cabinet hardware for mixed metal finishes. The eclectic, collected look of combining two or more metal tones and textures on your knobs, pulls, handles, and more can add plenty of visual interest to your kitchen while still looking curated and purposeful.
From choosing complementary metals to establishing dominance for balance, you’ll learn insider tips to take your kitchen from bland to bold by playing with mixed metals.
Choosing Your Metals
The first step to mixing metals in your kitchen successfully is selecting two or more complementary metal finishes that work well together. You’ll want to choose a dominant metal that will be used in larger quantities, and a secondary metal used more sparingly as an accent. Here are some of the most popular options:
Warm Metal Tones
Metals like brass, bronze, copper, and gold have warm undertones and work well as a dominant choice. The golden, brownish hues of these metals make them versatile and easy to combine with a variety of cooler metal accents.
- Brass: Available in polished, brushed, and antique finishes. Has a classic, timeless look.
- Bronze: Earthy and natural-looking. Available in dark oil-rubbed and lighter champagne finishes.
- Copper: Adds a bold, dramatic pop of color with its vibrant reddish-orange tone.
- Gold: A luxurious metallic with a richness that pairs well with many other metals.
Cool Metal Tones
Metals like nickel, stainless steel, pewter and silver have cooler, grayer undertones and work best used sparingly as an accent metal. Their sleekness plays nicely against the warmth of metals like brass and bronze.
- Nickel: Has a silvery metallic sheen but is warmer than stainless steel. Available brushed or polished.
- Stainless Steel: Very modern and industrial. Often seen in appliances and fixtures rather than hardware.
- Pewter: Resembles nickel but has more gray/blue undertones. Gives a sophisticated, elegant look.
- Silver: Crisp and cool-toned. A bold contrast against warmer metals.
Some metal pairings that look especially great together include:
- Brass and Nickel: The perfect balance of warm and cool.
- Bronze and Stainless Steel: Industrial yet natural.
- Copper and Pewter: Vintage flair.
You really can’t go wrong mixing and matching metals with similar undertones. The most important thing is to stick to one dominant metal and use the secondary one sparingly.
Establishing Dominance for Cohesion
Speaking of dominance and accents, the key to ensuring your mixed metals look purposeful is to establish visual hierarchy. Choose one metal to serve as the dominant accent in larger quantities, and use a secondary metal strategically as accents.
Use Warm Metals as Dominant Accent
Since warm metal tones are generally easier to match and coordinate, it’s best to choose a warm finish like brass or bronze as your dominant metal. Use it on surfaces that draw the eye like:
- Cabinet knobs and pulls
- handles and door hinges
- Shelf brackets
- Cup pulls and wire pulls
This creates harmony and keeps the space feeling grounded and welcoming.
Use Cool Metals as Secondary Accent
Then, use your cool toned metal strategically as an accent on smaller hardware pieces like:
- Finger pulls
- Drop pulls
- Hook latches
- Lighting fixtures
The pops of cooler metal textures catch the eye without overwhelming the warm metal dominance. This creates the perfect collected look.
Mixing Metals in Small Kitchens
The principles for mixing metals work the same whether your kitchen is large or small, but executing it in a smaller space comes with some additional considerations.
Limit Number of Finishes
In a compact kitchen, limiting your metal mixes to just two complementary finishes prevents the space from feeling chaotic or cluttered. Too many clashes of metal finishes in a confined area can look haphazard rather than curated.
Strategic Use of Metals
Carefully choose where to place each metal in a small kitchen. Use your dominant metal on cabinet doors and drawers to create a unified foundation. Then use your secondary metal strategically on cabinet hardware and fixtures. The pops of accent metal go a long way in small doses.
Matching Cabinet Hardware to Appliances
An important note when mixing metals in the kitchen – don’t feel like your cabinet hardware has to perfectly match the finish of your major appliances. Especially with stainless steel being so popular for fridges, ovens, etc., this can limit your options.
Fortunately, most appliance manufacturers now offer matching appliance knobs and handles in a variety of metal finishes. So even if your fridge is stainless steel, you can find refrigerator handles in oil-rubbed bronze or brass to coordinate with your mixed metal cabinet hardware.
Examples and Inspiration
To give you an idea of how mixing metal finishes can transform a kitchen, here are some stunning examples and a breakdown of what they did right:
1. Brass and Satin Nickel
This kitchen uses brass on the majority of the cabinet and drawer hardware for a dominant warm metal look. But they worked in pops of satin nickel on the pendant lights, stools and window treatments for contrast. The mix of warm and cool metals looks rich and luxe.
2. Bronze and Stainless Steel
Here bronze takes center stage on the cabinet hardware and shelving while stainless steel is used sparingly on the range hood and the modern bar stools. The bronze gives off rustic and earthy vibes while the stainless steel lends an industrial edge.
3. Aged Brass and Black Metal
In this eclectic kitchen, cabinet hardware in aged brass provides most of that warm, dominant metal look. The black metal accents on the fridge, stools and light fixtures pop against the brass for bold and modern contrast.
As you can see, the key is choosing one clear dominant metal and using the secondary one strategically. This helps the mix still feel collected and purposeful rather than haphazard.
Implementing a mix of metal finishes in your kitchen hardware is an easy and affordable way to add major style. The layered, eclectic look reflects the latest trends in home decor and gives your kitchen a personalized flair.
Just be sure to follow the tips in this article like choosing complementary metals, establishing dominance, and accenting strategically – especially in small spaces. With the right approach, your kitchen can go from basic to beautiful with the magic of mixed metals!