Design/Build Expert: Metals

Magic Metal Mix: The beauty of blending hardware finishes creates a unique look

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Magic Metal Mix: The beauty of blending hardware finishes creates a unique look

Metal is mined from nature and provides durable and stylish fixtures and hardware in our homes. Once upon a time, metal selection followed a “set and forget” method when detailing hardware accents – never veering from the single selected metal – no matter where it was used within a home. If the faucet was chrome, brushed nickel or brass, so too were the light fixtures, the door handles and the cabinet hardware. Those rules have now fallen by the wayside, as designers, contractors and homeowners are switching things up and even adding metallic accents where they were not typically thought of or seen before.

We interviewed Halina Catherine from Halina Catherine Design in Toronto to get her take on how and where she is mixing metals in her projects. First, we wanted to know if there were rules for mixing metals in a home.

Photography: Peter Sellar
Photography: Peter Sellar

BRENDAN CHARTERS: What is the rule when mixing metals?

HALINA CATHERINE: Mixing metals in home decor can give your space a clean and elegant look. Although some people may feel intimidated to do so, there is no hard rule against it. A trick of the trade to create a more esthetically pleasing mix would be to select a dominant metal and accent it with another. A kitchen, for example, with predominantly stainless-steel finishes (stove, sink and fridge) would look nice with an added pop of gold cabinet hardware to offset and accent it, and could be further layered with a matching highlight trim on the stove hood. If the homeowner is more reserved and prefers a more minimalist look, mixing darker metals, but still using different finishes like polished, hammered and matte finishes, can develop a similar, albeit muted effect.

BC: Do you think this somewhat “glam” style of metallic influence has potential for crossing over into fabrics and furnishings?

HC: Yes! Metallic materials in fabrics have started to make their way from the fashion runways into home decor. Sheer neutral drapery with a slight metallic thread running through them is something I’ve incorporated in my interiors for the last few years. It’s so subtle but enhances the overall appeal.

Photography: Halina Catherine
Photography: Halina Catherine

Photography: Halina Catherine
Photography: Halina Catherine

BC: Since runway clothing fashion is increasingly influencing what we put into our homes, what trends are you seeing in metals for cabinet or door hardware vs. plumbing or light fixtures?

HC: We are living in a relatively unstructured time – people are resisting typical rules, they don’t want to follow trends, and they want individuality expressed in their homes. Designers want to flex their creative muscles to the max. Since clients are open to this, suppliers are now developing more metals than ever, in different and more creative ways. Furniture, including tables, sofa bases, kitchen and media cabinets with brass or brushed chrome or stainless inlays, are all unique methods of adding a touch of metallic, which highlights and mixes well with more traditional metallics. Light fixtures and plumbing fixtures are also following suit. I just finished a project where we used brushed platinum plumbing fixtures, accented with polished gold and smoked-amber glass. The combination was stunning! Who thought platinum would be available in plumbing fixtures? I always thought it was reserved for wedding bands!

BC: Boundaries are being pushed and interiors are looking more unique than ever, however, is there an urban vs. rural divide?

HC: It’s important to choose your finish according to how it will make you feel. It’s always about loving your space first, whether rural or urban. No rules. However, in saying that, if I were designing a space in an urban environment, I typically gravitate to cool tones – think chic polished chrome with white inlays, or matte-black paired with nickel. In a rural farmhouse I’m designing in Caledon, Ontario, we have incorporated bronze alloy hardware throughout, containing copper, silicon and zinc, giving all the fixtures a warm coppery-gold undertone. It’s rustic-warm but weighty at the same time to be able to hold its own in rooms with large wood beams and stone.

BC: Trends can change quickly, which can mean costly mistakes or changes. What would you recommend for people in search of something more “timeless?”

HC: The truth is, there is nothing trendy about metals. They have been around since the beginning of time. Gold is timeless, as is stainless steel, nickel, platinum and matte black pewter – though some of the finishing of these metals can change, the metals are all natural, hence timeless by their very nature. I encourage you to stop feeling like you need to follow a trend and instead be your own trendsetter. Do what you love and what feels best to you. Fortunately, the days of choosing all-polished chrome as the only acceptable choice have truly gone by the wayside.

The bottom line is that we can surrender our fears, as we are officially free to mix it up with metals and have some fun. At Eurodale Design + Build, we like to work with professional designers, like Halina Catherine Design, as experts help provide confidence and direction to homeowners undertaking an addition, renovation or custom home project, and their expertise always ensures things tie together nicely.

Brendan Charters is a Founding Partner at Design-Build Firm Eurodale Developments Inc., the GTA’s only four-time winner of the Renovator of the Year award.


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