04 March 2014

Dear Miss Cote de Texas


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Dear Miss Cote de Texas:   I am building a house in Chapel Hill NC.  Style is Country French with classical touches.  Architect said if faucets in bath and kitchen are chrome I have to go with all silver, grey, pewter, nickel  or shades there of throughout house.  I.e. light fixtures, door hardware, etc  I have beautiful lanterns planned for hall in a medium antique bronze by Phoenix Day and other pieces  in dark bronze and shades of grey pewter by Urban Electric Co.  I would love to do door hardware in an aged pewter or satin nickel. A lot of the fixtures can be seen from one room to another.  None of them scream at each other but I do want harmony but not boring.  Any advice would be appreciated.


So, the question is about hardware.  Does it all have to match throughout the house?

The short answer to that question is NO.  And YES.  Whether or not your hardware matches or blends throughout your house is a personal preference. 
It’s like asking – does everything in your house have to be symmetrical and perfectly balanced?  Well, NO, it doesn’t if you don’t care for symmetry – and YES, if you do like balanced designs.


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Symmetry – yes?

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Asymmetry – yes?


In other words, like the symmetry/asymmetry question - there is no right or wrong answer to whether your hardware should match.  But, just like I am a symmetry lover, I like hardware to match.

Let’s back up a bit before we dissect the answer.

When Ben and I bought our house about 20 years ago – shiny brass was all the rage here in West University.   Throughout our neighborhood - door knobs, faucets, kitchen knobs, and hinges – were all shiny brass.  And – like my peers, I too had small round knobs throughout, along with door levers made in brass and I was in love and thought it was the best looking hardware around. 
About 10 years later, the pewter look started coming in style,  especially the rough, handmade looking hardware.   Around that time, white marble kitchens also came into popularity along with stainless steel appliances.  And with that – shiny nickel gained popularity to pop off the white marble.  In other words – my brass looked horribly dated, as did my countertops.
And so, around 8 years ago, I took the plunge and replaced every single piece of brass in my house with a faux rough pewter and added a shiny nickel faucet in my kitchen (which went with my new white marble kitchen.)
I thought I was set and finished.  Never again would I have to worry about hardware in my house again.
 
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Basket weave faux handmade pewter. 

And then – brass came back.  And it’s HUGE.  It’s EVERYWHERE.
Conundrum.

I’m not going back.  I swear.  NO!

But – the look is suddenly young and it’s perfect for the younger set.  It’s paired a lot with dark painted cabinets and that is where brass looks fabulous.



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Such as this – the brass hardware, faucet and sink matched with a dark gray paint.  Beautiful!



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Kelly Wearstler in dark green with brass.  The backsplash is too much for me, but the brass and green is beautiful.

I would think the FIRST question for you is – do you want to go with shiny brass?  I would first rule out shiny brass or decide to go with mostly chrome/nickel/pewter.

Now, if you choose shiny brass like this – in the kitchen, I would use brass throughout.  I would never mix this shiny brass with shiny nickel or pewter.  So – if you shiny brass, carry it throughout – all the way.  

Now – if you want to mix shiny brass with other metals – I would mix it with oil rubbed bronze and vintage brass. 


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This homeowner used chrome – and then mixed in shiny brass.  It doesn’t look horrible, but I would have done brass hardware too.  I just don’t understand this.  Why mix it up – it just looks accidental.



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This just makes sense – the white marble, the chrome, and the crystal. 




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Now, here – they used the oil rubbed bronze which DOES look good with satin brass.



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Again,  satin brass looks good with the oil rubbed bronze.



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White marble, shiny brass – and this looks good with the crystal mixed with gold.



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This designer used Restoration Hardware – then had the chrome plated to this brass.  HERE



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Brass with white marble.  Bunny Williams added an interesting texture to the backsplash and hood.




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Love this – Brooke Shields.  I would mix in brass with this.



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Randy Powers – green cabinets with stainless and chrome.  Notice the chairs with the chrome.




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Remember Gwyneth Paltrow’s Hampton’s kitchen?  Today – she would probably use brass instead of chrome. 



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I love the uniformity here.  And I love the large icebox hinges.




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Here – because everything is shiny – it looks good together.  Even the barstools and floor are shining.



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ut this look awful.  Just awful.  These metals are so far apart – and the blue tiles – it’s just awful.  The metals must relate in order to mix them – this brass looks pink.



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Again – no.  There is something about the color of these pendants that looks bad with the bronze.  No. 


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And I love mixing in a fabric/rattan/straw pendant. 



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This mixture works.  The ceiling, floor, and table blend in with the light fixture.  And here, the blue works – because it’s deep blue mixed with cream.  May I say, if you are going to mix your metals – use a professional.   This shows you how put in capable hands – a mixture can look wonderful.  I love this kitchen.


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Jackye Lanham mixes stainless and antique pewter with fabric – and it’s fabulous.  Again – a professional did this kitchen, and it shows.




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Lanham mixed metals again – including pewter, iron, and shiny nickel and silver.  Again – these metals are all in the same family and are easy to mix and look good. 


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All stainless – with black.  A tiny kitchen, pretty.


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Mixing red with black and white. Jeffrey Bilhuber – love.  But again, this should be left for the professionals.



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his is great – but the chairs KILL it.  I would have done a white slipcovered chair here.  This linen fabric and light wood is all wrong with the cool colors. 



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Velvet and Linen recently built a new house – and mixed all the metals.  Here brass and stainless look good together – the wood tone bridges the metals. 



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Brass is a living element.  They chose unpolished brass.  It will naturally patina – you can see the process has already started. 





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I like how this matches – the steel doors and the lights and the granite.  BUT – I am matchy matchy.  A bronze will look good here too. 



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  1. Ever since Ginger Barber’s cone pendant – I’m in love with them.  Here – the brass inside matches the hardware – while the stainless hood blends.  Notice how the large wood boards bridge the metals.



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Is this so matching that it is boring?  Would a bronze or brass fixture been better?



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Kelly Wearstler – dark paint and brass.  I can’t see adding in chrome or stainless in a house like this  - it would have to be all brass.


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A mix of antique brass and matte chrome with stainless.  




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All in the family – oil rubbed bronze and stainless.  Nothing shiny, all matte.  Again, vintage brass over the island would have worked too.



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Here – all in the family.  But, since there is shiny mixed with matte – there is no brass, which is correct.



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Shiny chrome and nickel and tiles with matte countertop – so no mix of metals.  Right choice.  I love the oversized icebox hinges and handles.  The wood shelves add a nice organic touch/texture.




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This open living concept mixes all metals and painted finishes and it works because it all seems to blend together.  I see brass sconces on the right, painted iron over the dining table, dark iron over the island, crystals and brass in the living room. 


Suzanne Kasler:
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In several pictures from one house by Suzanne Kasler – you can see that she has mixed it all up – and it works.  The door hardware is oil rubbed bronze while her light fixture is matte brass.  The mirrors are also brass and there are black iron tables which blend in.  There would be no reason to have brass hardware on the doors, the mixture of these metals works great.


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In the dining room – the chandelier has the dark iron base which works with the sconces and the hardware around the house.  The iron base is a great choice if you want to mix in a crystal chandelier.




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In the family room – the iron and oil rubbed bronze are mixed here.  Again, a matte brass would have worked too.



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And in the kitchen – all the metals are mixed again – but they are are dull, not shiny, so they blend nicely.   Shiny brass would have thrown everything off here.



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And in the bedroom – the mixture continues with the bronze hardware and matte brass sconces.


So, to sum it up – it’s personal if you choose to mix metals.
If you do – here are a few rules to follow:

1.  If you use shiny and matte metals together, keep them in the same color family – either chromes/nickels or brass.

2.  If you use all matte – mixing metals looks good, especially antique and matte brass with satin nickel and oil rubbed bronze.

3.  If you mix the metals in the kitchen – continue the trend throughout the house.  Just be careful not to overdo it the number of choices.  Have a professional look at your choices to be sure.
4.  Remember less is more.  It’s nice to have continuity throughout – pick one knob, one door handle.  Don’t get overwhelmed in the hardware store and buy everything you like.
5.  There’s nothing wrong with understated.  Using the same knob and handle throughout can be very soothing.  To dress up doors to public areas – buy backplates for the door handles.

I hope this has helped!

If you have a design question- mail it to cotedetexas@aol.com
I’ll be glad to try to answer it for you.
If you submitted a question and I never answered it but you still want an answer – resubmit it!!!