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Design

Has Silver Taken Over The #1 Metal Spot? Is Brass Out? Here’s What We Think

Now that I’m in my mid-30s I’m finally experiencing the first round of the styles from my childhood being popular again. It feels wild to me that Y2K fashion is in because it wasn’t even good then! But just because velour tracksuits, butterfly clips, and giant oversized t-shirts are back in a big way, it does not mean a classic, well-fitted jeans and a white tee shirt combo is out. This is how I feel about most trends – they are cyclical, and can be extremely fun (for me too), but don’t cancel out the classics just because they are having a moment. You could draw a similar parallel between what’s currently happening with silver and brass. It would be silly to say that brass is “out”. It’s still everywhere. But since silver/chrome and even polished nickel are having a wave of attention, let’s walk through my theories as to why along with some pretty examples and some shoppable options at the end.

photo by bethany nauert | from: fdr chic – a dude’s mix of antique, mid-century and bohemian style

I think the first and biggest reason is that gold has reigned supreme for years and people want something fresh. As beautiful as brass is, designers are here to try and breathe new life into spaces and playing with new metals is a fairly easy way to do that. Plus, let’s not kid ourselves, chromes and silvers are classic too! It’s not like hot pink hardware is taking over and is too risky for 99% of us to put in our homes. It’s a fun and fairly safe option to get into:)

Secondly, from what I’ve observed over the years, the rest of the world has a much bigger appreciation for silver. I feel like most of the times I’ve seen silver used in really cool and beautiful ways it’s been from somewhere abroad. Take this incredibly beautiful kitchen in Milan, Italy! So naturally it was bound to move further west. To be fair, the first time we called this silver resurgence was in 2017! Now six years later it’s back baby:)

i normally where that big ring on my other hand but i wanted to show it off and i need that hand to take the photo:)

Then the last theory was actually brought up by Emily and I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of it…fashion, DUH. There is so much silver and chrome in fashion right now. I mean Y2K was all about the silver jewelry so it shouldn’t be a big surprise. I think I even remember saying way back then, “I’ll never be a gold jewelry girl.” SYKE. Some years after that I swore to be an only gold jewelry lover FOREVER. But then after Emily said that I looked down at my hands and realized that I now wear exclusively silver rings, though not really on purpose (the diamond one was my grandfather’s, I bought the square one from a vintage shop in Brooklyn, and the ring temporarily placed on my thumb is from & Other Stories). Oh, and the bracelet is from Eden Hand Arts in Cape Cod I got with my mom when I was 14 (IYKYK:)).

So those are the reasons I think chrome and silver are currently HOT, or rather just getting some much-deserved respect.

As a previous “gold only” gal, this Schoolhouse floor lamp was my gateway into falling for chrome in design back when I was new to EHD. It was sent to Emily back in 2017 and I remember feeling like I was having an identity crisis. I just loved it so much. I actually loved the lamp so much that I asked for the gold version for my last apartment. I wanted the chrome but the gold just worked with the overall design of the room so much better.

And though Emily will always be a brass gal (I mean this blog was originally named “The Brass Petal” after all:)) There have been times she’s chosen silver:

The Portland Project kitchen has just a little sprinkling of silver. She chose a chrome pot filler because she wanted to match the range but then picked polished nickel for the sink faucet since it was a little warmer which she liked with the brass hardware a bit more. This is a great example of mixing metals:)

Then here are a few more examples of chromes and polished nickel hardware from the Portland Project. It’s nice to see it so elevated rather than the builder-grade low-quality stuff that I’ve had in every apartment I’ve ever lived.

photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: velinda’s tiny Kitchen makeover takeover

Actually, speaking of rentals, Velinda designed her home’s basement unit’s mini kitchen for her renter and it would be the dream kitchen rental! This is how it’s done right. I love the satin nickel in this instance and is stunning with the pale blue. It’s really just about making sure that when you choose silver that you make sure the overall design doesn’t go too cold visually. At least that’s how we feel:)

Now let’s go through some Instagram posts I’ve saved to show you some really awesome examples of how people are using silver right now:

The younger generation is definitely on Team Chrome. Take Marco Zamora. While he has done a whole series about how he’s added color to his apartment rental, his love for cool chrome accents is clear:) But with all of the wonderful colors he’s added, the chrome is a welcomed and fun accent. Gold or brass wouldn’t have felt right.

Ajai Guyot is also very much in love with silver and chrome accents and her new home! Did you see her kitchen in the kitchen trends post from a couple of weeks ago? So while Ajai prefers a far more neutral color palette to Marco, her soft and warm tan walls make the whole space feel cool and dreamy.

Tasmin Johnson is currently one of my favorite designers and I adore her intentional use of silver in this living room. It’s just two very special light fixtures and an accent on the coffee table. Just the perfect amount that unites the space.

I don’t think I’d ever go for a stainless steel kitchen if I were to be able to design my own but I love love this one by DGN Studio so much so that I might consider it. The mix of steel and natural wood is such a beautiful contrast. I also love how the sconces and the backsplash are almost the exact same material. Ugh, it’s cool.

This is another example that pulls me pretty far over to the silver side. I am absolutely in love with this design.

And look how chic and modern that thick towel bar is. Makes me happy and hopeful I made the right decision to go with the silver hardware in my bathroom instead of trying to mix in brass where I could. I think an easy way to not have silver metals look too cold (like in Ajai’s house) is by using organic materials – limewash paint, wood, linen, etc.

But you don’t have to go too “organic” if that’s not your style. Look at how Laura Hodges used silver in this stunning, bathroom suite! With the light-toned wood, everything blends together so beautifully.

Now, while I’ve given a lot of examples of silvers and chromes in neutral-toned rooms, they also very much belong in happy bright spaces too! This lamp is a total star in this bold room. I am obsessed with this design concept store in Mexico City, Originario. If you are ever they you have to go visit, you won’t regret it.

via h&m

I am sure all of you are now frantically searching your homes for the perfect spot to add in a little silver. To help assist once you figure that out, here are silver lamps and decor options:)

1. TÄLLBYN | 2. Dakota Nickel 3-Light Wall Sconce | 3. Rocco Table Lamp | 4. ACKJA | 5. Damo Table Simple Lamp | 6. Blair Wall Sconce

1. Desmond Leather Chair | 2. Kalman Polished Stainless Steel Bar Tool Set with Snack Bowl | 3. Sculpture | 4. Ansel Drawer Pull | 5. Athena Polished Stainless Steel Storage Tower | 6. Fishburne Side Table | 7. BAGGBODA | 8. Kuba Metal Candleholder | 9. Mid-Century Design Wall Chrome Mirror

So what do you all think? Do you already have lots of silvers and chromes in your homes? Do you want brass to share the stage for years to come? Are you ready to see Emily’s farmhouse guest bathroom soon where you might remember she chose polished nickel for all of the hardware?? Let’s chat!

Love you, mean it.

Opening Image Credits: Design by Caitlin Higgins | Styled by Emily Bowser | Photo by Sara Ligorria-Tramp | From: The Reveal We’ve All Been Waiting For! Caitlin’s Mostly Thrifted, Postmodern Regency Deco Living Room

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Susan
3 months ago

Silver just doesn’t sing for me in interior photos. In real life we have mostly silver and polished nickel in the house because that’s what we have and I’m not going to spend piles of money switching it all over. Living with it is fine, what I’m attracted to in images is brass. Haha

Loveley of @lovelyloveley
3 months ago
Reply to  Susan

You could just add brass in your decor. I have both chrome pieces and brass pieces throughout my house, and the mix is really nice.

DE
3 months ago

Griffith Park used chrome furniture, I think in the living and sun rooms. And you guys had 3 posts about chrome in 2017. Here’s one (and, bonus, the other two are linked at the bottom of it) https://stylebyemilyhenderson.com/blog/trending-chrome-furniture-decor

Erin
3 months ago

I love y’all’s pulse on trends and how they are used by different designers, but I really dislike this notion of framing entire materials or colors or whatever as “in” and “out.” This is largely driven by capitalism. Do you ever notice how clothing, makeup, and now even interior trends swing so wildly from year to year, with large proclamations around how you need to ditch whatever that last “in” thing was? That’s because they want you to throw out old all your old stuff and buy the new stuff! Rinse, repeat, until we are all drowning in disposable things and overflowing landfills. I’d like to credit beauty critic Jessica DeFino for pointing this out with recent eyebrow trends: first bushy thick ones were in, then celebrities embraced sparse/bleached/no eyebrows. Why? Because it’s an entirely different line of products needed to achieve each look and beauty companies need to sell, sell, sell. Celebrities can afford these drastic swings but the average consumer cannot, nor should they want to. It harms our planet. I think we should buy what we love, what makes us happy, what is functional and beautiful for our homes, and really focus on things that last. None… Read more »

JinFL
3 months ago

I found the perspective that silver is a trend vs gold is classic interesting, because I have always thought exactly the opposite. I thought gold was the trend and silver was the classic. Maybe this is because I’m 10 years older than you and in my early adulthood, I perceived anything brass as outdated and old looking. When the brass/gold trend came back 10 years ago, I never jumped on the bandwagon. My home has mostly silver type finishes and just a sprinkling of gold finishes.

Loveley of @lovelyloveley
3 months ago
Reply to  JinFL

i think for faucets, silver has been the standard/classic, except maybe in very very old homes. and brass became super trendy in the last decade or so. but now i think brass has become a classic after all this time because it’s become so commonly used in design.
silver faucets throughout our home, i have a couple chrome tables. a brass console and mirror. and both throughout in decor pieces. i think a mix is really nice.

Cici Haus
3 months ago

I love silver fixtures in bathrooms. Always.

Loveley of @lovelyloveley
3 months ago
Reply to  Cici Haus

we are redoing our bathroom right now and i wanted gold fixtures and my husband ended up getting chrome and had our contractor install that in the shower. i was SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOo upset. so i started looking at design online to make myself feel better. i came across jean stoffer design. LOVE LOVE LOVE. she mixes metals in fixtures in kitchens and baths so well. so, anyway, in bathrooms, i noticed she usually does silver faucets, gold light fixtures, and a sometimes gold cabinet hardware and hooks, and sometimes silver. but then i decided to just accept it and make the best of it. so i bought a chrome sink faucet and chrome towel bars and hooks. and our light fixture was already brass, and i’m probably going to do brass cabinet hardware. i think it will end up being good. i hope. but i’ve come around to silver fixtures for sure. if they are pretty.

Lane
3 months ago

I don’t really buy into trends and I like all kinds metals at all times. Silver doesn’t work in all interiors or with all skin undertones. It mostly depends on the look someone wants to achieve. Some like interiors that read warm, others like cool or neutral. I love the pictures you found and Tamsin Johnson’s interiors too. She does balance warmth and cool quite well for what I like. Silver seem to work especially well with warm white or cream walls, colorful decor pieces or warm wood furniture. In the past we saw a lot of gold and brass to bring warmth to a cooler interiors, cool white walls, dark floors, cooler green or blue materials, and black metal or wood furniture or frames.

kiki
3 months ago

i feel like the “trend” is chrome and “silver” has just always been a neutral?? Just because it’s safe doesn’t mean it’s not (and hasn’t always been) beautiful 🙂

Ellen
3 months ago

my post-modern 1990s condo (that I am slowly redoing) its leaning in hard to all polished chrome fixtures. I have a couple of brass lights mixed in (that balance is key to good metal-mixing.. i think its perfect at 70-30). Polished chrome looks more expensive to me, even when the fixtures themselves dont cost a lot. Brass on the other hand can look very cheap when buying “affordable” fixtures. Postmodern is in, so polished chrome will be in as well!

Loveley of @lovelyloveley
3 months ago
Reply to  Ellen

yes, this all sounds so good. i have the same kind of mix in my house as well!

Stacey
3 months ago

You mentioned Ajai in this post… how come we haven’t heard from her? I was really looking forward to a house hunting update. I feel like we were kind of left hanging.

Kirsten
3 months ago

I am solidly in brass camp. I only wear gold jewelry, and we are renovating our kitchen and I just choose a bunch of brass hardware/fixtures from Rejuvenation and Kohler….so I am relieved for the “Brass is classic commentary” (whew!). I did try to sneak in a polished nickel faucet because it has warm undertones and compliments brass and my husband was solidly against it. Can we talk about large, bold, veined marble for a second? Is this classic or a trend? I feel like marble will always be classic…. but like I said we are renovating… so asking for a friend 😉

Ellen
3 months ago
Reply to  Kirsten

I think it’s classic. Natural materials are always “in”.

Loveley of @lovelyloveley
3 months ago
Reply to  Kirsten

i think its classic and stunning

Erin
3 months ago

Hmm, I wonder if I’ve been Emfluenced (or is that Jessfluenced?) because I have just been looking at these two babies on ebay: https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/296192633778 (way too much, but very cool – the naked ladies give it a touch of class, don’t you think?) and https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/265723218835 (more in my price range).

Paula
3 months ago
Reply to  Erin

I really like the second one! The first one looks like a later copy…even if it’s not one.

Josh Rich
3 months ago

Metals come and go, but mainstays like silver, brass, and bronze never go. They are timeless. The variations of those are trendy go in/out of style. Unlacquered brass will never be out. It may take a supporting role vs being the star, but it’s not off stage. Same with polished nickel, chrome, and silver. Bronze seems to be medium that goes with both.

Brushed stainless doesn’t have a role. Brushed brass is in the same boat….on it’s way out. I feel that black metals are out as well. They were popular, but did not have staying power because they are not natural. Gold, silver, and bronze are more natural which never go out.

Ellen M
3 months ago

I have loved chrome for the last 20 years or so. My home was built in ’52 and pretty small, and before we moved into it I noticed how our dear friends’ chrome table and chair set (in a similar space) bounced light around on those reflective surfaces. The cantilevered chairs are so springy and comfortable too! We found a set like theirs which over time has been replaced with a larger custom (but still chrome based) table and even more comfortable, reupholstered cantilevered chairs. When I imagine our dining room a wood, or matte finished, table and chairs it’s just too sad.
I wonder if the fact that people are living in tight quarters might make the reflective surface of silver finishes appealing? You get to employ the “use mirrors in a small space” trick, but in a three dimensional way.

Paula
3 months ago

I can’t wear silver jewelry (unless it’s “fake” silver, like stainless steel). Silver immediately oxidizes when it touches my skin, and within an hour silver jewerly will start looking black on me. I just don’t wear it … except for brooches where the metal doesn’t touch my skin. In home decor? I don’t really have a preference. I’d choose one over the other based on colors and wood tones in the room.

Sally
3 months ago

Good article but I feel like brass is the velour tracksuit while chrome is the classic blue jeans! Brass looks good in photos but slightly garish irl, and a bit Ritchie Rich.
Chrome (or nickel) always feels calm, neutral and classic (and I’m not saying that that is everyone’s goal in a home.). But I agree with the poster who said it depends on the rest of the design elements. I also think it depends on what you like! I disagree with the person who said black is out – I think black can really sing and is here to stay. The world is so full of divergent tastes that we need to move away from notions of ‘classics’ and the current obsession with ‘timelessness’ (itself a trend imho – thank goodness no-one in the Art Deco or any other period obsessed about timelessness but embraced the zeitgeist!).

Aileen
3 months ago

Can we get some lessons on metal mixing? I have chrome fixtures in my bathroom, but want to replace towel hooks and knobs with some cool vintage brass I found, and I just can’t quite figure out how to make it look deliberate. Any advice?

Jessica
3 months ago
Reply to  Aileen

I think balance is key. Think of one metal as the main event and the other as the supporting actor, or the “jewelery” of the room.

Harriet
3 months ago

I went brass in my recently done bathroom and it was such a pain: unlacquered brass is so unaffordable, then almost every range I found with a nice brass finish had one thing missing: so they’d do everything except a loo roll holder, or everything except a shower curtain rod. So now I have all these mismatched brass fixtures and it doesn’t look intentional, wah. Perhaps no one but me will notice, as the finishes are all on different walls so can be looked at separately. Chrome finishes were much easier to get hold of but I just don’t love it. Nickel speaks to me but was as difficult as brass to find all the pieces. In retrospect I wish I’d mixed and matched, or spared my budget and gone chrome. In conclusion, chrome doesn’t feel classic so much as available; brass can’t be a trend otherwise they’d try harder to bloody sell me what I want! On Instagram I’m seeing more people do chrome simply because unlacquered brass is SO spendy and you can’t get everything from the same range, so it still feels like a compromise even as it’s battering your budget.

annie
3 months ago

this is not at all the point of the article, but you have really nice nails!