Mixing metals - all or nothing?

LinelleMay 1, 2014

I've chickened out on mixing metals in my guest bath. I have a satin nickel door handle that won't be changed and it seems irrelevant at this point.

My vanity faucet and bath hardware are chrome. I blithely ordered a brushed nickel vanity light and at the 11th hour cancelled the order and ordered a completely different light in chrome. So chrome(1) + chrome(2) + chrome(3). I caved, I matched.

I need a towel bar, hook, and toilet paper holder. I don't see the point in not going with chrome(4), unless it's just to be contrary and instead it might look like a miss.

But, there's vanity pulls/knobs to choose. I think this is the place where I don't have to match. It's a mid-stained alder. I'm thinking either black or ?? Not brushed nickel, which would seem a real miss at this point, right? Or am I being silly to be hesitant to mix brushed nickel and chrome?

I'll have gray floors, carrara counters and white subways in the bath/shower. With all the chrome but not really wanting chrome knobs/pulls, what would you do?

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There are some of us out here who have mixed metals in our bathrooms and lived to tell about it. My master bath has Kohlers vibrant brushed bronze fixtures which are a light colored bronze. My door and cabinet hardware and vanity lights are dark oil rubbed bronze. Don't tell anybody but the door hardware in my master bedroom is still 1980's brass. Oh horrors! Did I mention that I have stainless pulls in my kitchen. Definite multiple personality disorder going on in my house.
I think black vanity hardware would look great with your other choices. So would that Crate and Barrel Mirror that you couldn't pull the trigger on. ( Sorry couldnt help teasing you about that)

    Bookmark   May 1, 2014 at 12:51AM
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I don't think you have to worry about mix and match. It's probably better to have consistent groupings, (i.e. all faucets one finish, all towel bars one finish) but difference between groups is OK, within reason. That is, brushed nickel faucets with polished chrome towel bars is OK but polished chrome faucets with dark bronze towel bars I'd have to really think about in context.

For myself, I decided to match a Kohler style, which I like, so I got the drawer pulls, faucets and grab bars in that style. But, even there, it won't be consistent. The grab bars are in polished stainless steel, so they have a more brownish hue compared to the polished chrome faucets and pulls (similar difference with polished nickel). I'm adding one towel bar and decided to use the same style grab bar as a towel bar - and won't be consistent there. The existing two towel bars are the tile matching kind (ceramic ends with a plastic rod) which I want to keep. My vanity refinish will not match the existing bathroom door nor the new door when I get around to replacing it and I'm not worried about the door knob hardware.

The biggest disconnects that would bother me are different faucet finishes between the vanity, shower and tub and different fixture colors between a toilet and tub, especially if it's just a shade off indicating a replacement and the match wasn't available (expensive to fix). But even there, I've seen pictures of vanity sinks different from the toilet/tub that work nicely, depending on context. Light fixtures should probably match (all dependent on context, of course). I've got a ceiling fixture and a light bar and decided to go with polished chrome for both. I'm trying for a 50's look, so I'm staying with polished chrome as much as possible, but there's nothing wrong about being eclectic and picking what you like.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2014 at 7:01AM
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Dreaming and Badgergal, I really appreciate your comments. I've read both of them a couple of times and you both bring up good points. Ordinarily I have no problem mixing things, that's basically my life in a nutshell. I generally keep things and add to them. I don't think I have a single piece of wood furniture that matches another. But it's like trees in the forest, nobody comes in and says, "redwood, get out of here, you clash!"

Badger, your use of different bronzes seems a no-brainer good example of mixing. As for the mirror I passed up. :) It could have been amazing, or maybe not. Based on a recent review, I was concerned that the silver tone veered more into gold, which I don't want. I did a live chat at the C&B site (love live chat!) and the person didn't totally allay my concerns. At that very moment I was second-guessing both my original choice of style and finish for my vanity light and I was concerned about going nuts with finishes I'd never seen in person.

I went ahead and ordered a frame for my mirror (Canadian walnut) that is very similar in tone to my vanity. If I don't like it, I'll put it somewhere else in my house. I think it will be fine. See, I have no problem mixing wood. :)

I think adding an element to an existing room is a lot easier than choosing finishes all at once and trying to figure out if different ones, only photos, will be hits or misses.

Dreaming, I called my lighting store and cancelled my original order just as the guy was about to hit Send on the computer. Saved myself a hefty restocking fee. I just wasn't convinced a major element sitting over a chrome faucet would be fine in a different finish. So, I caved, I matched. But I think the new light is better overall (plus, 5 lights @ 100 watts).

I think at this point, I'll chrome out, except for the pulls and do something subversive and black, maybe even glass. They will NOT be chrome.

I do love my kitchen pulls so much that I will probably put them in the bathroom too.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2014 at 11:26AM
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My sibling who is a design professional suggests sticking with cool metals vs. warm metals OR shiny finishes vs. matte finishes. But, she's all in favor of breaking "rules" occasionally . . .

So, we will have rustic bronze door hardware (throughout the house) and chrome fixtures in our baths. Plus I think something in one is satin nickel because that was on sale . . . shhhh don't tell anyone ;-)

Good luck, linelle.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2014 at 12:21PM
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I struggled with this in the 2 bathrooms I redid. In the master I have all brushed nickel, except for the vanity faucet, which is more of a pewter shade. The vanity knobs are pewter, but a different finish than the faucets. I think it looks fine. Good, even.

In the other bath I did all chrome, but when it came time to pick vanity knobs I hated the way the chrome looked against the medium stained alder vanity I chose. So I ignored the horrified gasps of the salesperson and mixed a bit of brushed nickel with the chrome. I am not offended by the look, and though I may be in blissful denial, I think it looks good.

Same with our powder room. I didn't renovate that room, and it has the existing brushed nickel faucet, towel bar, etc. But I went with a chrome light fixture because I liked it, and threw caution to the wind... I figured if I hated the mix, I'd eventually update the rest of the bathroom to chrome. At this point I think the update would be unnecessary.

I guess the upshot of this is that I think it's fine to mix, as long as it's done somewhat purposefully. Though it's hard not to stress about each and every decision.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2014 at 3:37PM
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sas95, I'm also getting a medium stained alder vanity. I'm liking how black looks on it. Satin nickel also looks good. Once I decide on knobs and/or pulls, changing them later won't be an expensive mistake. I have antique pewter pulls on my kitchen cabs and I love that it's darker and with dimension. I'm wondering if it's a bit too vintage looking with the chrome.

I decided that the key to mixing should be purposeful, and not just because matching is too easy or can look builder's grade. This bathroom, while not high-end, is not builder's grade. I have a lot of mixing throughout the rest of my house, but it is a result of collecting and not always paying attention. Larger rooms put enough space between disparate items that it's not even noticeable.

It should be no surprise that I'm keeping the existing wall color, having gone through that agony years ago and I'm not about to toss a new paint color into the mix.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2014 at 5:29PM
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hey sas95, do you have links to your bathroom reveals?

    Bookmark   May 1, 2014 at 5:48PM
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Linelle, I didn't do reveals. It's so hard to get good pictures of a bathroom. But I will try to take some pictures tomorrow when the light is better, so I can at least show you the places where I have different finishes close to each other.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2014 at 8:53PM
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Post some pics of your choices for knobs and your vanity. I mixed finishes in my kitchen in that my faucet was Stainless Steel, as was my sink and all appliances on counter. Everything else was oil rubbed bronze. I think it looks great.

In my Master BR everything is brushed nickel except the shower doors (got such a good deal on those I went with chrome), but I really don't think anyone would notice, and I certainly don't care. I think because they are all similar in design and scale that it all works really well.

In my next BR I plan to do all shiny (polished) chrome, but will probably do something else on vanity, no clue what yet, but I think the vanity is different from fixtures so it doesn't need to match. Though it can tie in style wise.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2014 at 1:51AM
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I tried to get as much of the hardware as I could in one shot, but it's hard to get an angle in a small room. Anyway, here's a shot of the alder vanity with chrome faucets and brushed nickel knobs. As others have said, I think the vanity is different than the other fixtures- it's a piece of furniture, and as such it really doesn't have to "match" the towel bars, toilet paper holder, etc. When I held the chrome knobs next to the alder finish in the store, I thought the chrome sort of cheapened the look of this particular vanity. I think the black hardware you are considering would be a nice choice.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2014 at 8:50AM
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sas95, thanks for that shot. I love your vanity and the stain color. I think mine might be a little darker, not what I'd originally planned, but it will be fine. My sample from the cabinet people is more uniform in color than my KD's sample and I'm hoping for variation in tone in the actual piece, as yours does.

I agree that the vanity is a separate thing altogether. It will be the non-white/gray/metal thing in the bathroom. Oh, and the mirror which will be wood-framed. I'm thinking black hardware will look good and eliminate my angst over too matchy and/or a near-miss.

Despite loving pulls in general, I like how all knobs look on your vanity. More decisions. :)

    Bookmark   May 2, 2014 at 10:41AM
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I went with mostly polished chrome but didn't flinch at all when the curved shower rod I wanted only came in stainless. Also my chrome is from all different sources as I could not find one line that had all the pieces (train rack, hooks, toilet paper holder, towel ring). I wanted and liked each individual piece. It looks fine to me.

No idea if this is at all the style of your bathroom, but I went with glass knobs with a chrome back. I wanted to go with glass cup pulls, but dh objected to the ergonomics. So I used the cup pulls on my dresser. I'm linking them.

Here is a link that might be useful: Glass cup pulls

    Bookmark   May 3, 2014 at 11:27AM
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crl, I'm definitely considering glass knobs with or without a chrome back. I don't know that they're the style of my bathroom, because I'm not so sure what that is in the first place. Transitional, but that covers a lot of ground.

I've got about 4 different sample knobs on my old golden oak vanity. I love the glass.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2014 at 8:01PM
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Our door levers throughout the house are satin nickel. The vanity faucets and shower fixtures are polished chrome, as are the hinges and towel bar/pull on the frameless glass shower door. Our designer said I should stick with PC for the towel bars because the towel bar/pull on the glass is PC. I did not want PC pulls on the vanity cabinet, so we went with satin nickel. I think it all looks good together.

In our kitchen, we have chrome faucets, chrome and glass pendants, stainless steel appliances, and brushed nickel pulls, and it all works together.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2014 at 5:05PM
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Isn't it nuts what we put ourselves through? I think there's something about choosing everything altogether at once that makes it so difficult, when nothing really exists besides a sample of this and that.

When I think of the main reasons I'm in a bathroom, usually my surroundings are secondary, kwim? Hot water? Check? A full roll of toilet paper? Check? Dry towels? Check. Disparate metal finishes? Not so much.

Like kaysd, it's all gonna be chrome EXCEPT for the knobs/pulls. And I think I'm gonna do all knobs because I don't have anything left in me to pick knobs AND pulls. I'm leaning toward glass because it avoids the issue of match/not-match finishes. I figure glass knobs will coordinate with the beveled mirror and medicine cabinet. A stretch, but whatever.

Unless I go with black knobs, but they're losing ground.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2014 at 5:27PM
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badgergal said:
So would that Crate and Barrel Mirror that you couldn't pull the trigger on. ( Sorry couldnt help teasing you about that)

Yes, well. Yesterday I received the frame I ordered online that was to have a mirror inserted. The 3" sample of "Canadian walnut" molding looked fine, even though it's a picture-of-wood veneer. But a 48x30 frame with a 3" wide face? It looks fake. I've seen better fake wood on Aaron Bros. budget frames which I have throughout my house. The 48" width is long enough to see the grain pattern repeat. In any other room it might be good enough, but it just looks cheap to me.

The C&B Silver Birch mirror is still on sale. I just bought it. I had been dithering because a reviewer said it looked gold (hello? SILVER birch?). So I called the SF store in Union Square, got a nice salesman who happens to have the mirror in his house. He convinced me it was silver, but it could be affected by the temperature of the lighting, as would anything in the light's path. So I bought it. Unlike the faux wood frame, if I don't like it, I can take it back.

So badgergal, I'm holding you responsible. Kidding. But thanks for the little kick in the rear that remained with me. :)

    Bookmark   May 13, 2014 at 1:42PM
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In the picture from sas95, I think part of what makes the hardware look so nice is it contrasts with the wood, and the metal complements the cool wall color, so it pulls everything together. If you're having a hard time deciding, I say back up and look at the big picture. For example, if you have white cabinets, and you're trying to decide about the hardware, instead of thinking about matching the metal, consider the end result you're going for. If you want more contrast go with dark hardware, if you want it to be more neutral go with chrome or nickel, if you want something as an accent go with glass or ceramic.

I also don't think there should be any rules about metals, because if you box yourself in you might miss a combination that looks really good. My mom finished her guest bathroom recently in black granite, white subway tile, and hexagon white floor tiles with black accents. She used chrome sink fixtures from RH (which I rolled my eyes at, but it does look good) and opted for cabinets without hardware, which I love. She originally bought chrome gallery frames for prints on one wall, and they didn't look right, even though they matched. She switched them out for a wider, brushed silver metal that has the same bright tone as the chrome, and it looks so much better. i know it's not a fixture, but the variation is more interesting!

Plus, maybe it's just me, but it would really bug me if all of my hardware and fixtures matched each other exactly. I mean, yeah, I'm probably not going to change doorknobs from room to room, but even as I'm writing i can't commit to that - what if it's the same doorknob in the same finish and style but the one to the guest bath is glass and the knobs for the closet and laundry room aren't? I'd consider that! I'm sure this sounds like a commercial, but in 10 years I want my house to feel like it evolved over time, not like I bought all of my fixtures from the same store in the same popular finish in 2014. That's how all of the houses full of matching, shiny brass hardware happened:)

Also, regarding the mirror, I agree with considering the lighting in the one review. I have a round, brushed nickel frame mirror that I brought with us when we moved here and in my family room, with taupe walls and very little natural light it looked champagne. In my bedroom, where it's bright, it's clearly silver.

If you like the mirror, I say go for it! I looked it up, and I think it would be great, but you never really know until you get it in there. Like you said, you can always return it. Well, as long as you aren't like me - I have school pants that have been sitting in the trunk of my car for two months to exchange for my son, and now school's almost out for summer!

    Bookmark   May 15, 2014 at 3:48PM
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The mirror has already arrived at my nearest C&B but I won't get it until next week. I'm excited to see it and relieved that I decided the wooden frame was not worthy. It's definitely not chrome, i.e., totally matchy-ness has been foiled.

I've decided to go with glass knobs on the vanity, avoiding metal altogether. They're kinda old-fashioned, humble and sparkly at the same time. They look nice against darker wood.

Work starts in less than two weeks. Just took my Before pics. Need a shower curtain bar and am still not convinced I want a curved one. I'd rather not drill holes in the tile either.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2014 at 5:58PM
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I've been reading this thread with much interest. We are in The process of changing out the brass hardware in our 17 yr old house. Eight yrs ago we remodeled our kitchen where we went with stainless appliances, stainless cabinet pulls and polished chrome faucets. I love the look.

Recently we changed out the brass door handles and hinges throughout the house with brushed satin nickel...love them.

Powder room fixtures which only include faucet, towel bar and tp holder in Kohler satin/brushed chrome....love them

Now on to the 3 bathrooms....basement powder room has polished chrome faucet, towel bars and shower door trim and shower head/trim kit. Love it..

So the quandary is what to do with the other three. The cabinets are different in all three....cherry, oak and pecan stained. I really wanted brushed chrome to go with the brushed door handles because I fear that the satin nickel faucets will have that yellow tone which I am not crazy about. But finding every piece in the same finish is almost impossible, except for polished chrome...but how will that look on Oak? I'm sure it will be fine on the cherry and pecan.

I tend to be the matchy matchy kind of girl but after reading this thread I can see where that is not really necessary.
Does anyone else have Oak cabinets? what kind of hardware did you use? maybe glass is an option?

any opinions and suggestions would be helpful. Thanks so much.
I am spending way too much time searching online and getting no where.!

    Bookmark   January 20, 2015 at 9:06AM
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This thread has floated up again. :)

Seven months after my bathroom remodel, finally over the babying and fretting, I can honestly say that the fact that most of the finishes are chrome doesn't strike me as wrong. I'm not struck by their similarity, only that stuff looks good. I got a floor register in brushed stainless, door handle is brushed nickel, and no one has cried foul.

I did end up getting towel bar and TP holder in chrome, but they're busy doing their jobs and don't exactly demand everyone's attention.

Match or don't. Whatever looks good to you is the right choice.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2015 at 10:55AM
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What's funny is that I can't even remember the finishes that friends and family have in their kitchens and bathrooms. I don't think that people remember or notice that stuff, unless they're in the process of choosing their hardware/fixtures or they're the kind of people who notice those design details.

I went through the same thing: Mix or match. Except for the bathroom doorknob, I went with all chrome (light fixture, faucets, shower curtain rod, etc.). I love chrome! The only thing that isn't chrome are the vanity knobs and pulls, as I chose to go with vintage-style glass that has a center part that is nickel (nickel is not that large, so not too noticeable). I do love the look of mixed finishes, too, but I felt I would be most happy with chrome.

Whatever you choose, choose it because you love it for yourself, not to please the designing world. You have to live with it. So unless you are re-selling your home very soon so that you are designing to make it pleasing to buyers (and you can't please everyone's tastes), choose what makes you happy and enjoy! You can always change things later if you get tired of them.

This post was edited by grass-cat on Thu, Jan 22, 15 at 9:48

    Bookmark   January 22, 2015 at 9:46AM
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I think the only finish I would avoid is adding a brass or gold tone finish to silver or ORB. (Having said that, in the old BR I mixed gold and silver and tied it all together with taps that were chrome and gold - mind you I also had an avocado sink and toilet- and ended up gutting the whole thing! Ha ha) In the BR we just (OK, a year ago) finished, I was so careful to keep everything brushed nickel, and then the glass shower door came with chrome wheels and handle LOL...I never notice it, and no one has ever commented. Mind you, there is a design consistency in the shape and sizes of all the fixtures so it all flows really well. My towel warmer is technically stainless steel, but it looks very similar to Brushed Nickel...I also sprayed my ceiling fan/light combo in a SS paint, and it too blends well (bought it in an ORB finish that was 75% off so worth it to buy the expensive spray paint and refinish it)

    Bookmark   January 22, 2015 at 2:15PM
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