The wonderful world of metallics

Photos by Shoshanah Siegel/Signal Tribune Siegel's illuminated metal lanterns add a glow and beauty to her décor.
Photos by Shoshanah Siegel/Signal Tribune

Siegel’s illuminated metal lanterns add a glow and beauty to her décor.
Shoshanah Siegel

What is so magical about using metallics in your home or business décor? They reflect light, which in turn creates an interesting and lively environment. Metallics come in gold, silver, bronze, pewter, chrome, copper, wrought iron and aluminum, to name a few. These metals can be highly polished, or they can have more of a flat, matte finish that reflects less light. Each has its place in decorating. So that metallics don’t dominate a space and look garish, the secret is to pair them with more natural, organic shapes and textures, such as woods and fabrics.

Mix and match your metals
One question I get asked a lot is whether it is a good idea to mix metals. The answer is yes! The more texture and color you utilize, the more visual interest you create. If you have never tried working with metallics, start small. Metallics work great when they are used as an accent. For example, try swapping out the pulls and knobs of your furniture, such as end tables, dressers or media cabinets, with hardware that have a metallic finish.

Let’s start with the kitchen.
As you probably already know, the current trend is stainless-steel appliances. The verdict is still out if they really add to the value of your home, but if you like the look, go for it. Whether you have a contemporary or traditional home, metals such as copper, wrought iron and aluminum can be used in today’s décor and design. Try a copper hood or hang pots with copper bottoms. Wrought iron is a material that is great for doorknobs or in your lighting fixtures.

More than just a tin can

Aluminum is now the hottest metal when it comes to modern living. You can have an all-white streamlined kitchen, but what is great about aluminum products today is their diversity of colors and clean, even tones. This material pairs wonderfully with wood and glass. Aluminum is also a material that is used for backsplashes. Tiles can be highly polished or in a matte finish. They come in many shapes and sizes. They can be a focal point and make a strong statement, or make a subtle, textural finish. Once again, with all of these metallics, don’t forget to balance the hard and soft look by adding fabrics for upholstery, curtains, tablecloths and cushions, as well as including wood flooring.

Siegel's aluminum armadillo candle holder, made in Mexico and purchased at the Museum of Latin-American Art, is an example of a fun way to bring in color and light.
Siegel’s aluminum armadillo candle holder, made in Mexico and purchased at the Museum of Latin-American Art, is an example of a fun way to bring in color and light.

Where metallics can really shine
Because bathrooms tend to be one of the smallest areas in the home or business, I would suggest using one metal for all of the fixtures. However, feel free to use other metals for lighting, mirrors and towel bars. By first deciding the mood you want to create for your space, this will help you decide which metals to use. For example, to create a Zen spa feel, a less reflective material such as oiled brass, dark metals, and brushed metals might be used. Be sure to pair it with wood and stone. For a luxurious retro Hollywood feel, you could use a high-gloss metal such as a polished brass. To prevent your room from looking gaudy, use only gold tones in your paint or wallpaper selection, as well as any other décor. Want the best of both worlds— relaxing and elegant? I just saw a photo of a bathroom that accomplished just that. The look was monochromatic, using brushed chrome for all the fixtures, framed mirror, accessories and light fixtures. The walls were painted a soft blue-gray. The look was relaxing and chic.

A little goes a long way

Metallics work great in small doses and in unexpected ways. Add a bright, gold picture frame alongside frames that are black. My favorite is adding a pillow that has metallics nestled in with ones that are less flashy. Don’t forget about fabrics— upholstery and carpets now come with a slight metallic sheen, but with a softer finish. However, metallic pieces should complete a look, not compete with it. Metallics are like the icing on a cake, ornaments on a tree, or the jewelry to enhance a beautiful dress.

Gold and brass are back
Adding a gold-leafed table or a brass sunburst mirror adds just the right amount of glam for any type of architecture. I love mixing vintage with the ultra-modern look, because one helps accentuate the other. Brass beds are still in vogue. So are beautiful gilded chandeliers.

A sheen without overwhelming the scene
Remember the metallic wallpapers of the 1970s and 1980s? The expression “everything in moderation” was the key to its success. If not used lightly, the look turns garish. However, these days, with an abundance of materials and textures, they work well in both modern and retro style architecture. They are great for a large accent wall, or in a small room, like a bathroom. Not into wallpaper? There are quite a few paint companies that now have metallic glazes and paints. The look can be dramatic or work as a subtle spot of elegance. On a small scale, I love painting chair rails and furniture with metallic paint because it creates interest by reflecting light.

Whether you add a high gloss metallic look to your environment, or a more subtle glow, have fun creating a space that is truly your own.

Shoshanah Siegel provides color consulting as well as space planning, remodeling, upgrading and staging through her firm Your Color Diva. She can be contacted at (562) 427-0440,, and at her new website, .

[Ed. note— Your Color Diva has just received the “Best of Houzz” 2014 Award for customer satisfaction. Houzz is a website and online community about architecture, interior design and decorating, landscape and home improvement. Siegel’s portfolio and idea books can be found at .]


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