The Allure of Mixed Metals in Your Designs

The Allure of Mixed Metals in Your Designs

How to incorporate multiple finishes in the modern kitchen. These bold, yet sophisticated styles make us wonder: were these rules ever worth following in the first place?

Case in point: mixing metal finishes in kitchen designs, where it was once assumed that a single metal should dominate. There's nothing wrong with this traditional approach, of course, and many people still prefer the cohesive look of one main metal finish, such as an exclusive focus on nickel, brass, or chrome. Still, there is something to be said for the eclectic appeal of mixed metals, which are a huge trend right now.

The mixed metal approach feels downright daring, but it can pay huge dividends: a unique style with farmhouse or boho vibes — and the ability to mix and match your favorite elements as you see fit. Mixed metals are surprisingly versatile and have already made their mark in everything from rustic kitchens to contemporary or even minimalist spaces. It takes creativity and nuance to make these blended styles feel purposeful (and not cluttered) but the stunning results can be well worth the effort.

Not sure if mixed metals will work for your kitchen? Before you write off this trendy option, check out our guide to mixed metal finishes in kitchen designs: why they're worth incorporating and what, exactly, it takes to pull off this unique style.

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Why Mixed Metals?

Mixed metals definitely aren't for everyone, and that's perfectly okay. Increasingly, however, homeowners and designers are willing to go beyond strictly cohesive designs as they mix and match the most appealing finishes. Through experimentation, it has become clear that multiple metals can be incorporated without clashing or creating a cluttered effect.

There are many advantages to playing with mixed metals, as we highlight below:

  • Easy and affordable option for updating your kitchen. If you like the idea of upgrading your kitchen design but aren't ready to commit to a major renovation, hardware updates provide a practical alternative. These can be added without the need for a full remodel. Of course, should you choose to update major elements (like your cabinetry) for functional or aesthetic purposes, new hardware can act as the ultimate cherry on top, adding a touch of pizzazz to an already spectacular kitchen renovation.
  • Showcase your personal sense of style. Options abound for highlighting your unique aesthetics within the kitchen environment — but many people find that metal reveals their stylistic preferences in a more subtle manner. The right metal selection can also serve to elevate already impactful design elements, such as memorable cabinet colors or artistic backsplash concepts.
  • Span the divide between trendy and timeless. Metals — like many kitchen elements — come in and out of fashion, so styles that were incredibly popular just a few years ago may start to look dated after a few years. Mixed metals, however, can prevent this problem by ensuring that there is always at least one on-trend finish on display. Simply select the metal finish of the moment and complement it with a more timeless element so that, when stylistic preferences inevitably shift, at least one of the featured finishes continues to look fresh.
  • Edgy, but not too edgy. Interested in playing with dramatic styles but not feeling ready to take the leap to the most daring designs? Mixed metals provide a more subtle opportunity to incorporate edgy elements when you want to experiment — but only so much.

Mixed Metals & Stunning Cabinets at the Lake Forest Showhouse

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The perfect example of mixed metals in a modern and refined kitchen? This 1st place winner of the Design Excellence Awards for the Showcase Space! A spectacular project at the Lake Forest Showhouse, where the ABLAZE Design Group was tasked with completing an overhaul of a previously cramped kitchen. We are thrilled to have been involved in this effort but credit ABLAZE with putting together an amazing kitchen design. This project reveals how, with the right cabinets, mixed metals can instantly elevate any kitchen.

This particular open-concept wonder incorporated custom cabinetry from Plain & Fancy, which, as ABLAZE CEO George Markoutsas points out, are "distinguished by [their] well thought-out interior storage features." These cabinets formed the perfect backdrop: gorgeous expanses of stained Rift Cut White Oak in a trendy two-tone style that came across as both comforting and dynamic. These made the kitchen feel inviting but also visually expanded the space.

While functionality was a clear priority, it did not come at the cost of aesthetics. The final product showcased the best in modern design, complete with multiple metal accents. Examples included a custom hood from Stoll Industries and distinctive hardware from Top Knobs. Stainless steel appliances were strategically integrated, plus two-tone brass and nickel accents The end result was truly stunning, but with a modern twist that anyone with an affinity for contemporary design should appreciate – and clearly a 1st place prize winner in the Design Excellence Awards.

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Secrets to Mixed Metal Design

Mixed metals provide a wealth of potential, but this style can also be risky. Follow these best practices to ensure that your mixed metal kitchen remains as sophisticated as possible:

  • Opt for just two or three finishes. While it can be tempting to play with the full range of available finishes, it's easy to take this too far. When in doubt, limit your space to a few favorite finishes that work well together. Be sure to match the undertones and confirm that the end result looks intentional, not haphazard.
  • Select a dominant finish. Your approach to kitchen hardware and appliances should, in many ways, reflect your use of color. Chances are, you have already chosen a main color, (such as white or gray), which occupies the majority of your kitchen but is complemented by a bolder accent. Take a similar approach with your mixed metals. This might mean opting for a favorite finish for the majority of fixtures but building in contrast with one or two less prominent selections.
  • Try aged or brushed styles. High-shine options can look amazing in a modern kitchen, but caution is advised: it's easy for these to look gaudy if used to excess. Aged and brushed styles, however, mix and match wonderfully. Nickel, for example, looks amazing alongside brass and many other metals. It is possible to incorporate more than one ultra-polished style, but beware: this will produce a decidedly flashy aesthetic, which may not be to everyone's liking.

Go neutral. While we love playing with color, a neutral palette is often preferable when incorporating mixed metals. This draws more attention to distinctive metal elements, which otherwise might feel disorienting in a color-filled kitchen. All-white is a dependable option — particularly in smaller kitchens, where eclectic designs can sometimes create the impression of clutter. Gray works well with many types of metals and even trendy, rich shades of beige or brown can be incorporated to great effect — so long as they are added strategically.

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Way to Ace This Style

On the hunt for specific ideas that help you add mixed metal finishes in kitchen designs? While drawer pulls and cabinet knobs make mixed metals easy to pull off, there are many other creative ways to get the job done. Defy expectations with these options:

  • Adorn kitchen backsplash with metal accents. Classic subway tiles are always a wise option for timeless kitchens and should maintain a streamlined look if you go bold with metal appliances or range hoods. Conversely, however, you can take the opposite approach: making a statement with metal kitchen backsplash, which provides an eye-catching way to go glam. Intricate mosaics bring this concept to life and can easily incorporate more than one metallic finish.
  • Use the range hood as a focal point. If you have neutral kitchen cabinets mixed finishes should be relatively easy to apply: use a distinct finish as a focal point, rather than relying on paint to provide a pop of color. For example, noteworthy features like bronze or brass range hoods draw the eye but can be complemented by polished nickel for drawer pulls.
  • Make the most of stainless steel appliances. Stainless steel appliances are practically ubiquitous in modern kitchens, so it's easy to pull off a mixed metal design without even knowing that you're doing so. A common blend involves stainless steel plus brass for lighting fixtures or, perhaps, polished nickel for the faucets. If you have other metals in mind, however, be aware that stainless steel occupies one of your available categories, leaving you with just one or two remaining choices to add. If you select an extra three or four metals, your space will absolutely look cluttered and will lose that refined feel you crave.
  • Establish a modern farmhouse aesthetic. One of the trendiest and most accessible applications for mixing metal finishes in kitchen environments? The modern farmhouse look, which brings a contemporary edge to an otherwise warm and cozy style. This is achieved by blending cutting-edge features with rustic or vintage finishes. Anything that captures the look of wrought iron should be a winner.

Play With Timeless & Trendy Kitchen Styles

As you explore unique accents and other intricate kitchen elements, be mindful of your cabinets and the central role they play in this sophisticated space. Look to Plain & Fancy for stunning, yet functional cabinets that elevate the entire kitchen while allowing you to play with other design elements.

Mixed metals represent just one of many eye-catching, yet accessible styles that can be viewed in action at a local showroom or within our design center. Otherwise, you're always welcome to get in touch to discuss your vision for the ultimate kitchen design — and to learn how our custom cabinets can play into your remodeling project.


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