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Mixing Metals in the Bathroom - What To Do and What Not To Do

by - Monday, September 16, 2019

Our bathroom renovation is long done (thankfully!) but one aspect of the design that I did want to talk about was mixing metals in the bathroom. Is it even ok to mix metals in the bathroom or is that a design faux pas? This was a topic I fretted over but the answer is clear: yes, you can mix metal finishes in the bathroom or any room - but there are some rules to follow. I thought I'd share how we approached mixing metals in the bathroom, what metals work together, where to mix metals, plus share a quick tutorial on how we DIY'd some of our gold metal finishes. There's also a design lesson at the end with metal pairings I think work so read through for that!


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Can You Mix Metals in a Bathroom?


There was a time when a bathroom with mixed metals would have been considered a design no-no. However, as design has become more personal and styles have become more eclectic and diverse, it's perfectly acceptable to mix metal finishes. Where and how you mix metals is key though. Do your bathroom fixtures have to match? Can you use a mix of silver and gold handles on the vanity? Here are a few general tips to follow. These tips hold true whether you are mixing metals in a kitchen, a bathroom, or any room.

1. Select no more than 3 metal finishes in one room.


To make your mix of metals work, it can't be haphazard or random looking. Too many different metals in one room will end up making your room feel like you designed it using leftover materials, whatever was cheapest, or without any thought.

Stick to two or three metal finishes and repeat them throughout the room. In our bathroom, our main metals were:
  1. the warm gold used for all of the Delta faucet and shower fixtures and accessories (Champagne Bronze), vanity handles, and shower rod
  2. matte black on the open shelving and door handle
  3. a darker bronze on the wall sconces.

A few of the items - the vanity handles and shower rod - were not a factory-finish, meaning that I used a DIY solution to give these items that warm gold colour I was hoping for. More on that in a bit!


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2. Keep Your Metal Tones and Metal Finishes The Same


You can categorize metal across different characteristics: are the finishes shiny or muted, and are the tones warm or cool. Examples of shiny are shiny chrome faucets, bright copper pots, or gleaming brass knobs. Conversely, muted finishes include aged brass that has patinaed, brushed nickel, and pewter or gunmetal. Black is the universal metal - it works well with everything. However, black metals can also come in shiny or muted finish.

Generally, you consider the blue-hued metals as cool and gold-hued metals as warm:

  • cool metals: chrome, polished nickel, pewter, gunmetal, black
  • warm metals: shiny brass, aged brass, copper, oil rubbed bronze, black


Here, you can see that we've used warm muted metals. Everything has a bit of an aged look. Mixing your metal finishes works when your metals share same similar tones and finishes. It gives them the same visual language; nothing is jarring or stands apart from the other finishes.


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3. Opt for One Dominant Metal


To help the room flow, proportion the use of your metal finishes so that there is one dominant finish. Repetition is a tenant of good design and seeing one of the finishes repeated throughout the room helps tie the entire design together.

Also, keep your accessories in mind. Though we've used black metal sparingly, just on the floating shelves and on the door handle, the colour black itself is repeated throughout the room. The floor tiles, the woven stool, and the vanity accessories all carry a hit of black and your eye perceives the repetition of that colour.

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4. Keep Metal Finishes on One Plane the Same


When placing your mixed metals in the bathroom, keep everything on one plane or level the same.

For instance, on the vertical shower wall, the shower head, handle, and spout are all from the Delta Faucet Trinsic line in the Champagne Bronze finish. The robe hooks on the adjacent wall are also all in the same Champagne Bronze finish.

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Similarly, all the handles on the vanity are the same warm gold colour. If we mixed metals on the vanity hardware, that would look very inconsistent. However, don't be afraid to mix handle shape and keep the handle metal the same. That's what we did with the cabinetry in our craft room:

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But what if you can't find any factory-made metals that match? How can you achieve a consistent look? How can you make your metals look the same?

How To Paint Gold Metal Finish


In this bathroom, we wanted all the gold metals to resemble the Delta Faucet Champagne Bronze finish. To achieve this, we used two DIY solutions to keep our gold metal finishes consistent.

Option 1: Spraypaint

Our curved shower curtain rod was originally chrome. I looked for gold toned curved shower rods but their prices were astronomical. So, as a budget friendly solution, I spraypainted the chrome rod with Design Masters Gold Medal. It's not an exact match for the Champagne Bronze but it is close enough. I expect that since the shower hooks (in black metal) will wear away the spraypaint at some point so I can try a different spraypaint down the road when I have to repaint.


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Option 2: Use Rub 'n Buff

Over the years, I've seen other bloggers use Rub 'n Buff to get a gold metal look (here's 5 ways to use Rub 'n Buff). However, it didn't seem to be readily available here in Canada. Luckily though, I was able to order a tube of Rub 'n Buff Grecian Gold from Amazon.ca though it did take two weeks to get here as it was shipped from the US!


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Don't let the small tube fool you. You use this product very sparingly and only need the tiniest amount to get that gold finish.

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Our bathroom vanity came with handles in an oil rubbed bronze finish and brushed chrome finish. I took one of those sets and applied the Rub 'n Buff in Grecian Gold using a clean cloth. Rub 'n Buff offers multiple gold hues but the Grecian Gold seemed to have that gold-bronze mix that would match the Delta Faucet Champagne Bronze the best.

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The product is a wax that gets deeper with multiple layers. You can also leave it on or wipe it away quickly to achieve a certain look. For the handles, I used three thick coats to get an even, opaque finish.



I used my fingertips in some areas to get even coverage around the edges. Just be sure to let your objects dry in between coats so that you don't get any streaking or blotchiness.

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You can see it turned out to be a great match for the Champagne Bronze! However - if you look closely, you'll see I forgot to apply the wax to the back of the handles. Oops - that's the original oil rubbed bronze on the back of the handle on the right! I'm not sure if the Rub 'N Buff finish will wear off over time, but if they do, I'll be sure to finish the backs of the handles at that point.

Despite that one small shortcoming, mixing metals in this bathroom was a success. It's a look that is modern and current.

Design Lesson:

So now that I've shared how and where to mix metals, here's a design lesson and metal pairings I think work together. Use these suggestions to create mixed metal combinations in your own bathroom:

Brass pulls and knobs + black faucets and black shower kit


Brushed gold pulls and knobs + polished nickel shower and faucet


Polished chrome pulls and knobs + shiny brass shower and faucet


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