3 Color Secrets Revealed

Are you color impaired? Palette impoverished? Designer and color expert Mark McCauley, ASID, and color consultant Barbara Jacobs show you the road to color satisfaction.

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Hide CaptionShow CaptionMixed metals can look great in any room of the house. This bathroom designed by Dan Heldenbrand combines rustic bronze (the faucet) with different metal tones on the mirror and console.

All About

Mixing Metallics

Dear HGTV.com,
I am building a one-story home in Magnolia, Texas, on a 2.5-acre densely wooded lot and I am using a lot of things inside the house to tie in with the surrounding nature outdoors. My question is about mixing gold, silver and other metallic tones. I have never mixed tones in my other houses, but some of these things seem to look nice together.

I have chosen to use stainless steel/black appliances in the kitchen and my counters are multi-colored black granite with flecks of gold and silver, and tans. I bought a black shiny sink and brushed nickel faucet (which has a little bit of a gold patina to it). My ceiling fans have gold and antique bronze trim. I want to use antique bronze hardware on my doors. Now I’m wondering what to do with the knob on the doors. For example, I would definitely want to use brushed nickel on the pantry door so it would match the appliances. But is all this mixing going to work?
—Heavy Metal in Magnolia

Dear Heavy Metal in Magnolia,
Mixing metals has been de rigueur since the mid-nineties and I highly approve of your mixing, if for no other reason than it just break things up a bit. If you use only one or the other the house will appear too matchy-matchy, and give a sense of too much conformity within the home as a whole. Your home requires more thought than simply using one metal finish in order to look great.

Also, your desire to bring the outdoors in is a great idea, and is a very Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired way of decorating. One of the main things we designers try to accomplish is to diminish the interior and exterior separation created by the walls of the home. You may want to take all this a step further as well. Since you live in Texas you may want to incorporate some Navajo colors as hardware; teals, pueblo yellows and perhaps other metallics in small areas of the home as in powder room hardware.

Using the brushed nickel on the pantry door accomplishes one of two things. First it separates what is essentially an architectural feature (the pantry) of the home from the appliances and kitchen cabinetry, which is not an integral part of the architecture, but an add on. Also, this will help create an easy way to find the pantry in general, by identifying the space with different hardware. The secret of mixing metals is simple: just get in there and try it. You are heading in an exciting direction!
—designer Mark McCauley, ASID

More answers to common color questions>