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Silver or Gold? Choosing the Right Metallics for Your Design

We spent the first two decades of the 21st century using nickel and stainless for all the metallic elements in our designs. But as we entered the 20’s that all shifted. The trend toward warmer colors and cozier aesthetics made the warmer metallics like brass, copper, bronze, and gold top picks in every room of the house.

Some worry that gold tones are a flash in the pan; that they’ll fall from favor as fast as they rose. Could adding permanent fixtures like faucets and knobs in gold tones be risky? When it comes to interior design, you want to pick colors that aren’t going to feel dated. Colors that will be fresh for a decade or more.

Gold or silver? Warm or cool? Which direction should you go with those metallics to ensure they stand out for all the right reasons?

Look to Fashion

When you want to gauge the longevity of a trend, look to fashion. Fashion will always tell you what’s next in interior design because interior design often follows fashion trends. Trend expert and style influencer, Mariana Keros (@stylewithmariana), told Armina Interiors that “it usually starts with fashion.” Keros commented:

“I first started seeing this blueprint about twenty years ago. We’d see a trend from designer runway shows in Europe, and it would trickle down from there, first through ready-to-wear and later through the home. [It’s usually about six months to a year until you see interior take a cue from fashion.]”

What is fashion saying about metallics? Silver is having a comeback. Designers like Givenchy, Chanel, and Hermes all put silver jewelry on the runways recently. Celebrities are making appearances with noticeable silver accessories.

Does this mean silver is making a comeback in interior design as well? Will gold fixtures look dated in a few years?

Metallics Trends in Interior Design

Metallics are a necessity in every color palette. How do you choose the right one? Current trends in metallics provide some solutions, albeit unique solutions.

Mixed Metallics

Perhaps the question of silver or gold can be solved by mixing the two. Mixing metallics is on trend. It lends depth to a design when you add the shine of stainless alongside the richness of bronze. However, the right balance of different metallics is key to making this trend work.

There are three types of metals: warm (brass, gold, copper), cool (stainless steel, nickel, silver), and neutral (cast iron, pewter, gunmetal). Choose one dominant metal and one to two accents. You’ll want to choose one warm and one cool metal to achieve balance. If you choose to go with three metals, adding a black metal to your warm and cool selections is ideal.

Another key to mixing metals is to let your color palette guide you. If your color scheme is mostly warm, go with a warm metal as your dominant metallic. If you have a cooler palette, select a cool or neutral metallic.

Using metallics in your color palette doesn’t mean you have to feature them heavily. A little goes a long way. Metallics should be considered accent colors in your space. Limit them to faucets, lighting, accent decor, knobs, etc. Using a metallic as a feature color in your space will likely result in making the space feel dated or overly pretentious—neither of which are good in interior design.

Creating Warmth with Metallics

The bigger question when it comes to successfully using metallics in our current environment is, how do you make a cozier aesthetic using metals? Metal isn’t something that naturally creates warmth. The color of the metal can help to a certain extent, thus the penchant for gold tones. Other than that, how do you make metal feel cozy?

Finishes and patterns on the metallics can make a huge difference in the cozy factor. Though silver is cool and might feel a little prissy for a cozy design, you can soften and warm its effect with the right finish. An antique or brushed finish can warm up a cool metal considerably.

A pattern can also have a softening effect on metals. A wallpaper with metallic accents in a floral pattern, for example, feels right at home in a cozy design. Tin tile embossed with curvy or floral patterns has a warmth to it that balances the metal.

Aging or distressing is another way to make metal feel softer. At American Tin Ceilings, our Artisan color line features a hand-applied paint and finish that resembles a historic painted ceiling tile. Some of it has a whitewashed look with the metallic peeking through here and there. It brings a warmth and history that makes spaces feel cozier.

The designer of Savour Cafe & Bakery in Centerbrook, Connecticut found the perfect way to make a cool palette with a heavy silver accent feel warm and welcoming.

A rustic, French provincial design invites customers to come right in and make themselves at home. Cool blue and white are warmed up with a hint of whitewash and dusting of creamy wood respectively. The ceiling over the main area features tin tile in Antique Brushed Nickel. However Pattern #7, with its floral wreath in the center and border of egg and dart has a warmth that balances the cool silver.

What really elevates this tin ceiling is the crown molding. The heart-like scrolls and florals arch up and in, inviting upward glances and a finish that’s almost like a hug from the bakery. Of course the windows of baked goods and smells from the ovens further enhance the warmth of the space. Even with a cool palette and generous use of metal, this space is cozy.

Interior design is obsessed with gold tones right now. But that doesn’t mean that silvers are out. Whether you decide to mix your metallics or soften them, you can achieve welcoming, cozy designs where you’ll want to spend all your time.

Get more interior design inspiration from our experts and learn how to infuse your personality into your design.


Design with Personality

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