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Metal in interior design: The remix

How to pull off the mixed metal interior design trend everyone is raving about.

By Michaela Satterfield

Using metal in a space is a great way to incorporate texture. It can add a whole new dimension. It’s edgy, but not too much. It’s luxurious, yet practical and durable. We’ve spent far too much time on a pendulum swinging from gold to silver. Warm metals, such as gold and brass, were all the rage toward the end of the 20th century. At the turn of the century, there was a shift to cool metals, such as silver and chrome, in modern design. Now, there’s no need to choose. Homes full of matching metal finishes are a thing of the past. If you want the metal in your space to be hip, mix it up. The current trend taking the interior design world by storm is to use different types of metal, all in the same space. Don’t put the pedal to the metal just yet, though. There is a method to the madness of mixing metals in your home. Let us tell you how it’s done.

The mixed metal playbook

BOLD AS BRASS• The beige sofa, gold cushions and matching metals create a luxurious space in the top photo. Above, metal art, lamps and a side table transform a dead space into a gathering place.

It’s all about balance. First, choose a dominant metal that matches your space. Warm metals typically fit traditional spaces, while cool metals are more likely to fit modern spaces. It’s a good idea to start with one metallic piece or fixture and build the room around it. For example, if the light fixture above your dining table is primarily gold, go with gold as your dominant metal. Then, use other metals to accent the dominant metal. A good ratio is 70 to 30, meaning 70 percent of your metallic pieces should be the dominant metal, while 30 percent should be the accent metals. In addition, you’ll want to make sure the dominant metal contrasts enough with the accent metals. Using metals that are too similar in shade, such as mixing gold and brass, might miss the mark. Using gold and chrome, however, and you’re onto something. Don’t forget to consider the finish of the metals, either. Worn metal has an antique, traditional look. Shiny metal screams new and modern. If you break the rules and it still looks good, though, don’t listen to us – trends are always evolving.

SILVER & GOLD • Accessorize your dark spaces with gold metals. If your space is lighter, class things up with silver accents.

Put the trend into action

Mixed metal can work with almost any interior design style. Rustic spaces, modern spaces, industrial spaces and eclectic spaces can all benefit from the use of metal. The kitchen is, without a doubt, one of the spaces in the home that features the most metal. Light fixtures, cabinet hardware and appliances are all fair game to incorporate the mixed metal trend. Choose a chandelier that mixes metals for your dining room. In the bathroom, consider mixing up the faucets and cabinet hardware. Add a mirror framed in metal for another metallic pop. Throughout the home, incorporate the trend with décor, such as metal sculptures. Wall art is another option. Some wall coverings even use metallic finishes.

Troubleshoot corrosion

Living in the humid Lowcountry, right next to the ocean, means corrosion of metal is something to look out for. Corrosion requires moisture and oxygen to occur. The chances are increased if your metal pieces are near wood, as wood is known to store moisture. If you can keep the metal away from any wood in your home, this is your best bet. However, if this isn’t an option, there are other steps you can take to protect your metals from corrosion. Applying a protective paint coating is one possibility.

Stay gold

Tarnish is a form of corrosion that presents itself as a thin layer on the surface of metal. There’s nothing worse than the tacky look of tarnished metal – unless, of course, it’s supposed to be that way. Tarnished metal fits right in with traditional, antique spaces. Metal in most other spaces, however, may require some upkeep. You don’t want the shiny metal in your contemporary home to look like you found it lying around in a barn. In case your metal gets tarnished, there are natural solutions to take care of it. The solution you should use depends on what type of metal you’re dealing with. For brass, use a solution of baking soda and lemon juice. Apply with a soft cloth. Chrome can be polished with baby oil or even aluminum foil with the shiny side out. Common household products work, too. Try ketchup for copper and toothpaste for gold. A little extra care will keep your mixed metals looking brand new.