Mixing metals adds sparkle, dimension to home decor | Home & Garden


Adair Witmer is over gray.

The designer won’t be painting any walls that color anytime soon. But she’s still onboard with gray’s flashier cousins — like silver and other metals.

“Metal adds some dimension and nuance, which is what I’m always looking for,” Witmer says. “If everything is just satin finish, there’s no reflection. It looks flat. There’s no spark. There’s no sparkle. So I’m always looking to put in glass or metal, even if it’s just accessories.”

Like many designers, Witmer — owner of Lancaster and Rehoboth Beach, Delaware-based Ambiance by Adair — is witnessing a move away from the minimalist and neutral trends of recent years. For that, your basic, not-shiny gray had center stage.

“It became really popular because it’s a neutral background. And people got tired of beige. So, the next neutral that they came up with was gray,” Witmer says. “But if you go in an all-gray room and it doesn’t have any bling to it … it is a really stark, cold, not fun place to be.”

Layering colors and textures, including metals, can change that, Jill Moon says. She and her husband split time between a waterside home in Tennessee and a condo in downtown Lancaster, which they recently started to rent on Airbnb when not there.

The latter has gray paint.

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“Someone said to me not too long ago, ‘Oh, you have gray walls. Isn’t that going out?’ ” Moon says. “I said I think it all depends on what you add to that.”

To get the look she wanted for the condo, Moon brought in Jodi Brewer, a friend from college who has helped her decorate almost every inch of space in her homes over the decades. Brewer owns JL Brewer Designs LLC near Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Both Brewer’s and Moon’s styles are apparent as soon as visitors step off the elevator in the Lancaster condo. Moon says because she grew up in the south, she felt she needed wallpaper. For the entrance, Brewer found her some that has navy blue (Moon’s favorite) along with some shimmer.

A high-top table — there because of a bar area — features a black, textured wood with a brassy base. The barstools are hair-on-hide, which is repeated in a rug below. That has a mosaic pattern of both warm and cool neutrals, which helps tie in the rest of the space, Brewer says.

The console near that is a dark wood with brushed gold accents to give it a modern twist. The mirror above is tortoise. Accessories on shelves offer some symmetrical shine.

Metals continue throughout the rest of the home — from frames to vases to lamps.

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Mix it up

“Anything shimmery or metallic gives a reflective power to the space,” Brewer says.

Brushed brass is popular now, she says. House Beautiful named chrome as one of 24 design trends for ’24.

“This retrofuturistic take sees chrome softened and curved into fluid, organic shapes in vases, side tables and lamps,” writes that publication. “These new pieces are highly polished and reflective, to catch surrounding light and colors with a lustrous and otherworldly effect.”

Chrome is more of a bright, blue, cooler silver, whereas polished nickel has more warm undertones, Brewer says.

“And that’s really my preference if I’m choosing metals for faucets and that kind of thing,” she says.

Overdoing silver and gray can read industrial, Brewer says.

“You want to be careful not to use too much silver because it is a colder feel. That’s why I really enjoy and like to mix my metal tones,” she says. “You mix some gold with some brushed bronze with some silver … That’s where the fun is. Mix in metals with your palette … It just warms it up.”

Moon appreciates the design industry coming up with options that aren’t super shiny but still have some luster.

“As people got away from the shiny golds and the shiny silvers and went more matte, it was like, ‘How can we find a happy medium?’ ” she says. “To me, that happy medium is brilliant.”

Metals with just a touch of shine are a great jumping off point, Moon says.

“I think the beauty is that if you have some of that in your faucets and your hardware, you can add an all-gold frame for a picture or other elements in your bathroom or living space,” Moon says.

She’s come to embrace mixing metals.

“Back in the ’90s I was very much everything had to match. Everything had to be the same,” Moon says. “And Jodi kind of drug me along with the gnashing of the teeth.”

“She said, ‘Jill, you’ve got to mix your textures. You’ve got to mix your metals.’ ” Moon adds. “And so now, all these years later, it feels very natural to me. I wear mixed metals. I’ll wear silver and gold together. And a little of it goes a long way.”

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Let it shine

Sometimes the shiny is best deployed in obvious spaces.

Take a kitchen Witmer recently worked on. There, black is prevalent — from candlesticks to the window frames. So it’s the stainless steel appliances that add shine.

“It’s nice to have this hood be metal. You could always do a hood in wood,” she says. “But in this particular case the kitchen needed that additional sparkle.”

Metals can also be incorporated in unexpected places — like along the edges of a French writing table desk she sourced for a client who lives near Denver. She’d spotted it being used as a display in a menswear shop in Rehoboth and talked the store into selling it to her.

There’s some silver in the chair nail heads — another feature of a room she framed around a specific rug that her clients asked her to use.

“There’s no hard and fast rules about this stuff,” Witmer says. “I am a rule breaker. If you like it, do it.”

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