Just around this time last year, interior design pundits — from design publications to websites to local retailers — were extolling the virtues of metal. Brass, silver, gold, bronze … all were “in” for 2013 and it appears the trend isn’t fading away anytime soon. In fact, it seems to be digging in for the long haul. So what’s the easiest way to get a handle on the big five before resorting to a designer?
The idea behind metals is that they make an almost ideal complement to natural woods and stone, and can bring a warmth, modernity or vintage tone to interiors by virtue of their assorted shades. Coppery shades tend toward richness, and if you have enough light in, say, the kitchen, coppers can add an almost golden glow. Copper works in backsplashes, tiles and occasionally countertops and can also complement so-called normal tiling in the bathroom. Elsewhere, copper works well with brick and stone, and so can provide eye-catching accents or trim given a little creativity.
Gold is probably the most troublesome of metals. Too often the idea of gold in the home inspires images of chintzy bathroom taps and OTT staircase balustrades. The best way to start incorporating gold into interiors is in small doses — in wallpaper, furniture hardware (knobs and handles), fixtures and accented fabrics. It’s a warm shade that adds a lot to a room, particularly when used in lighting. Using gold can be fraught with risk of tackiness, but it can also pay off big time.
Silver — chrome, stainless steel, aluminium, pewter, nickel — remains the king of metal shades. Most are durable, easily maintained and give off a contemporary vibe that’s increasingly standard. The gleam of silver can also stand in for mirrored surfaces if that’s just too much for your tastes. The beauty of modern silver is that it comes in various gloss levels, and can in fact work in any room in the house instead of the expected kitchen and bathroom.
As “classic” as silver is, brass and bronze are making huge inroads as an alternative to that stalwart metal. Brass — a throwback to the 1970s — has been turning up in ornamentation (vases, serving bowls, table accents, lighting) steadily all year, from designer interiors brands to mainstream retailers and it has finally moved into a place as an accepted norm in furniture; think table and sofa legs as a start. Its image as cheap is long behind it, and as a warm metal it can be as homey (and easy to match) as gold — but more economical. Bronze is just as warm, and if your tastes run less to the glittery the more matte bronze finish substitutes perfectly in the same spots. Its distinction as the “third place metal” is unfair.
Finally, incorporating metals into a space should adhere to two crucial credos: don’t over-do it and don’t be afraid to mix your metals — to a degree. Silver and gold look great in the jewellery box, but in a dining room without restraint it can recall Liberace far too easily. Stainless steel and bronze can work together in the kitchen, two shades of brass can work in accent lamps and lighting and a cool metal (silver) can be ideal alongside a warm one (gold). It all brings new meaning to the phrase “metal head.”