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Courtney's Corner: Mixing it up with metallics

Courtney Lake is a Bay Area based interior design and the voice behind the lifestyle blog, Courtney Out Loud. A graduate of Stanford University, he worked in high-tech marketing and events before launching his successful interior design...

You can mix metals from steel to brass

Forget that old design rule that states you need to stick with one metallic finish when furnishing a room. Find out the secrets to mixing metals with abandon to create a layered and luxe space.

Courtney's corner 1

A few months ago, I went to the home of a potential client for a consult. Walking into his space, something seemed off. Only after sitting in his living room during our discussion did it strike me that everything in the apartment matched. There was a flatness to his space, but what stuck out most was that every metal element in the house was the exact same polished chrome. When I inquired if he would be willing to mix in some other pieces, he hesitated. Digging deeper, I found out that he matched his interior to his chrome kitchen and bathroom faucets! This is an extreme example of matchy-match, but it raises the question: How do you mix metallics with each other? Fortunately, designer and business consultant Krista Coupar of Coupar Consulting found the perfect recipe for serving mixed metals in her stylish San Francisco dining room.

Metallic Dining Room

Photo credit: Photo by Adza

As a mother of six children, you would think Coupar would shy away from a space full of surfaces most would consider prone to showing fingerprints and not necessarily friendly to roughhousing. However, her dining room routinely serves up weekday breakfasts, math flashcard drills and the occasional birthday party. The secret to the room's success is Coupar's flawless mixing of different metals, from brass to chrome. This free-spirited approach to mixing metallics elevates the room's sophistication but also reinforces the space's carefree persona, making it equally comfortable playing host to 10-year-olds and 30-year-olds.

Dining Room Metallic 2

Photo credit: Photo by Adza

To create a similar effect in a room, follow these four tips to effortlessly mix metallics.

Designate an anchor piece

Metallic Credenza

Photo credit: Photo by Adza

If metallic is going to be a central theme in your room's design, call it out by designating a metallic piece to anchor the space. In this case, Coupar used her sideboards as anchor pieces from which the remainder of the room flows. The soft sheen of the furniture pieces complements the other decorative elements in the room.

Add metallics in layers

Metallic Bureau & Bowls

Photo credit: Photo by Adza

Did you notice the champagne sheen in the floral wallpaper? The brass frame of the wall mirror? The silver rim of the plates on the table? Look again — they all are there but are not screaming for your attention. The repetition of the metallic elements reinforces the design direction of the room but is not overt. Subtlety is key when mixing metallic.

Keep it in the same finish

Metallic Bronze Chandelier

Photo credit: Photo by Adza

Coupar chose to keep all the metallic elements a brushed finished. In doing so, no one metal element pulls the eye and breaks the harmonious palette. From her chandelier to the sconces to the sheen of the wallpaper, the brushed finish is a linking element.

Floral Wallpaper and Metallic Sconce

Photo credit: Photo by Adza

Mix in textures of the same metal

Metallic Placesetting

Photo credit: Photo by Adza

If mixing metals still frightens you, then stick with the same metal. Try experimenting with it in various textures, like hammered, etched or burnished. It will still bring visual interest to the space but is easier to implement. Still confused? Take a cue from Coupar's tablescape for inspiration.

Metallic Place Setting 2

Photo credit: Photo by Adza

So why match when you can mix with abandon? Follow the above rules and you will be mixing and matching metallics in your home like a professional designer.

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