This vignette caught my eye when I saw it on the HGTV Remodels Facebook page. The beautiful brass lamp, the artwork casually leaning against the wall, the burst of purple from the unusual flowers, the interesting metal medallion made into art – it’s a beautifully composed scene. Image source.
I really love the lamp (does anyone know who makes it?). It is quite sculptural, and the aged brass finish is one that has really grown on me over the past few years.
The image was featured in a Facebook post from HGTV Remodels about whether all lighting fixtures need to be the same finish in a room, and how this question applies to an open concept house. Click here for the blog post by ‘The House Counselor’ Laurie March to see a video on her thoughts on the topic. Although the initial question was about light fixtures, I got the impression that she discussed more broadly the concept of metal finishes rooms in general, not just light fixtures – two finishes can be friends, but three is a crowd when it comes to finishes in a room. The general conclusion, though, is that mixing finishes is definitely fine and is very common in European design.
When I was working with my designer and architect on some of the finishes in the house, we had a lot of discussions on finishes, although I was quite surprised at the overall low level of concern about ‘matching’ finishes with cabinet knobs, plumbing fixtures, lighting, and door knobs. One of the first ‘finish’ decisions, and one that was important to my architect,was on what to select for the door hardware. My architect wanted the door hardware be consistent throughout the house, and we decided to do an unlaquered brass lever from Baldwin, which has attained a nice mellow look now that we have had it installed for over a year. That set a tone for the house, and the other metal finishes that were selected, particularly with the installed lighting (chandeliers and sconces and such) were made after the lever color was selected.
The plumbing finish decisions seemed to be more standalone – we decided to use either polished nickel or chrome for the plumbing fixtures, and the knobs that are in rooms with these fixtures are the same finish as the plumbing fixtures. I have several rooms in my house where the plumbing and knobs are polished nickel or chrome and the lighting is brass. I even have one room – the master bathroom – where the sconces are polished nickel, and the bell jar light is unlaquered brass. Since all of the levers on the doors throughout the house are unlaquered brass, that is a common finish found in every room and allows flexibility in deciding which finish for the fixture.
I would have to say that we definitely use at least two metal finishes in most of the rooms of the house. In the kitchen we have three – the plumbing and cabinet knobs are polished nickel, there is a polished nickel sconce, the chandelier is a dark metal finish, and the door levers are brass. Perhaps because the door levers do not dominate, I never really thought about the fact that the kitchen has three metal finishes until writing this post!
I would be interested in hearing your experience. What are your rules of thumb for selecting the finish for door knobs, cabinet knobs, plumbing fixtures, and lighting? Do you think two finishes can be friends, but three is a crowd? I would also be interested to hear what finishes you are working with these days.
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