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Watch Your Back Brass...

Trending: Chrome is Making a Comeback

Emily Henderson Trends 2017 Lighting Furniture Accessories Chrome Intro 21
Photo by Tessa Neustadt

Would you guys be upset if I changed the name of my blog to ‘The Chrome Petal? JK. For those of you who don’t get the reference when I started this blog 9 years ago it was called The Brass Petal because I loved both brass and flowers so much. Then I changed it to be more you know, branded (by the way www.emilyhenderson.com has always been taken). Anyways, I loved brass a lot and I while that love is not gone, NO, we are seeing Chrome come back and we aren’t shocked. We love gray and chrome is just a gray metal. For the record good chrome was never gone (see below for reference), but I think that the 90’s may have chromed us out (in reaction to the 80’s shiny brass surely).

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Photo Source

So, let’s talk about where we are seeing it and how we are going to use it.

Chrome Lighting:

Emily Henderson Trends 2017 Lighting Furniture Accessories Chrome Intro 28
Photo by David Tsay

Chrome lighting in the kitchen and bathroom areas is something that will never go out of style (nor has it, just like those chokers I keep trying to rock). Yes, it may have taken a back seat to the brass surge of the 2000’s and 2010’s but there will always be a place for any sort of silver metal in these rooms. The color is classic and traditional and it is something the general public will never tire of. But, we are starting to see chrome bleed more and more into other styles of lighting (table and floor lamps) like in the below pic of Orlando’s old living room.

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Photo by Tessa Neustadt

For the last little while just about every table and floor lamp was made in every metal except for chrome, which meant you had to search vintage to get something good, but chrome is coming back mainstream and in such a good way in the lighting category. We just finished styling out a makeover with Target’s new Project62 line and although yes it does have some brass in it, chrome is taking the lead and we were very into it and all the options that they had.

The key with chrome lighting is to balance it out with some warmer tones so that it doesn’t start feeling too cold or sterile. When you are choosing a shade (if it doesn’t already have one) you will want to keep it simple with white or black as anything else may play weird next to the chrome.

Chrome Furniture:

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From side tables, to chairs, to coffee tables to everything in between we are seeing chrome pop up all over and we like it. While we may not endorse a full chrome chair, chrome furniture accents work very well in just about every style and room.

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Photo Source

When used sparingly, like all metals, it can help to bring a reflective quality into a room and add another layer of subtle texture. In the below pic the chairs add just the right amount of metallic to the room without saying, “hey look at me and my shiny brassy gold legs” like they might if the legs of them had been in a brass tone. Brass was always so bossy.

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Photo Source

Generally speaking chrome leans more modern where as brass can lean towards more regency or glam styles. It is not a steadfast rule, but if the legs of the chairs above were brass the room would definitely have a more regency vibe going on.

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Photo Source

Chrome Accents and Accessories:

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By a show of hands how many people have brass accents all of their house? This will include brass animals (old Emily loved these), brass bowls, brass abstract sculptures, brass bookends? I am sure quite a few of you rasied your hand on that one and while they aren’t out of style by any means, we love some of the chrome accessories that we have seen on the shelves lately which like we mentioned before are much more subtle in color and texture than their brass loud-mouthed brother.

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I see you chrome penguin cocktail shaker, and I am very into you.

So, who else is into the chrome trend? Or who has been rocking  their chrome for years all through the brass-capades of the 00’s? We will be pulling together some of our new favorite accessories and furniture in an upcoming roundup, but let us know if you have any questions on this one in the meantime. Until then, Brass better watch it’s back because Chrome is coming in hard.

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  1. This was an excellent blog piece, but to be honest it has me a bit worried. Chrome is literally the only metal I don’t like. I can get behind some brushed nickel because it’s softer and slightly warmer than chrome, and of course things like iron or brass are fine by me. Chrome just seems office-y and cold to me; very sterile, kind of like a hospital. My fear here is that chrome makes a comeback and then it becomes ubiquitous and impossible to avoid at stores (kind of like how matte brass is these days for anyone out there who isn’t feeling it yet). Having choices is great; the fear factor comes into play for me when my choices are actually reduced because whatever is the flavor of the moment takes over the marketplace with gusto. That being said, thanks for writing a great post! At least this way, I see the train coming before it hits me :).

    1. I love your comment Jessvii,
      Stock up on all the brass. I am a mad lover of chrome. We’ve been remodeling the last few years and chrome works better with what we have done (white, marble, light blue, dark wood).
      I have had such a hard time finding lighting and accessories that look amazing and don’t break the bank because everything is either brass or shabby chic (which I also love but won’t work decor wise). At least the design gods are swinging back in my favor again. I do agree that chrome can feel cold. It’s all in how you mix it with everything else. I am mixing it with black to give it a more “now” feel.

  2. Love it! These are all pretty neutral or cool rooms, though. If you have warmer tones throughout – especially warm woods – can you pull off chrome? Can you do it with old traditional rugs, like red or burgundy persians, without looking like you’re mixing styles (brass to me just seems to make more sense because it also looks antique)?

    1. Great question!

    2. Chrome has always been my metal of choice and what’s nice is that it actually looks best in a warm toned room (in my opinion anyway) bc it cools it down and balances it out in a way that’s more subtle than hanging some ice blue painting or something. For you in particular, I would say looking to some Art Deco style pieces that were often done in chrome toned metals, if you are wanting to stay consistent with your traditional look.

    3. I say yes, maybe even especially then. It’s nice to temper all the warm colors with something cool.

  3. I’ve ALWAYS preferred silver toned metals. My house is full of brass, but it is a 1980s modular rental, so in a mostly horrible way and not my choice. This makes me happy.

  4. I prefer polished nickel over chrome for its warmth. What are your thoughts on polished nickel?

    1. Good question–interested to hear what Emily thinks. I love polished nickel too, but I always have trouble finding enough polished nickel things to make it feel cohesive. When I used to design high-end homes for clients, I would try to do polished nickel throughout a bathroom or kitchen and always ended up with a few items that would have to be in chrome (toilet handle, mirror hardware, etc) and then I would feel like the room looked disorganized, mismatched by accident. It’s a small thing but it was hard to manage! Wish that manufacturers would provide a more comprehensive range of metal finishes throughout collections. I like mixing brass and chrome because usually you can get a lot of accessories in each finish and then the final mixing feels intentional and balanced, unlike nickel and chrome, which are too close to each other to really show the contrast.

    2. Agreed. Polished nickel has a certain richness and quality appeal to it where chrome appears to be on the cheaper side.

    3. I could be mistaken, but the pendants over the island in the third photo “Chrome Lighting” looks to be polished nickel to me.

      1. Second — I think those pendants are polished nickel too! They have warm black undertones. Chrome has more blue undertones.

    4. Yes, I agree! Came to say that..in general I don’t like shiny finishes, would definitely prefer a polished/brushed nickel (and same when it comes to brass)!

  5. Oh this is such perfect timing for me! We are just nailing down lighting in our new house and we are doing chrome plumbing throughout and matte black door hardware. So my question is… am I ok to bring in other metals in lighting or is 3 too many? How many can a room handle? Do I need to carry my black/chrome into all my lighting? Help!

    1. Hey Emily, I’m not Emily but in my home I have chrome and black. It looks amazing. Adding a third could work in a separate room like a dining room or powder room but to me more than two looks really busy and not as intentional. I would love for Emily and her team to dive into this one.

      1. Well I am glad to hear they look good together at least haha I can see easily adding in say ORB since it will look similar to the matte black but there are also some fixtures I just love in a warmer tone and would use if I could!

    2. Hey Emily, I’ve always thought that if done correctly, a room can definitely handle three or more metals. For you though, since one of your “metals” is matte black which is really just a color and not metallic at all, you would for sure be safe to bring in another. I actually think oil rubbed bronze would be the one to stay away from bc it is so similar to black it may look like as though you tried to match but couldn’t find the right finish. Hope his helps some.

  6. Thanks for the heads up! I’d like to see a piece on how to mix metals. It is such a conundrum for me but when it is done well, it’s amazing.

    1. Yes, how does one go about mixing metals?

    2. I second this request!

  7. Hooray! I just chose chrome handles for my kitchen reno.

  8. I love this!! My home is a mix of brass and chrome and I love love love it. The brass brings that regency glam, and then the chrome cools it off, and both contrast with big bold textures like chunky throws and velvet upholstery. So glad you are loving chrome again!

    1. Chrome = Sexy

    2. Would love to see pics. Sounds amazing Nicole.

  9. I like chrome in bathrooms and kitchens. Anywhere else and it starts looking clinical and cold. I still like brushed nickel. It’s soft and I like it. Though I know it’s so very out now. Sigh.

  10. I say just do you – whether it’s chrome, brass, matte black, copper (yay copper!) because that shit is always in rotation…just when you are finally able to afford a Jonathan Adler knockoff chandy that’s out and something new is in. Just do you – but own it and make it look amazing.

  11. Such pretty rooms for some mid-week inspiration! I’m not mad chrome’s coming back, just don’t push out brass yet! Still loving it!

    C’s Collection | http://chelseascollection.com

  12. I purchased my house in 2013. At that time, my area (Nashville) was just coming out of the bronze/brushed stainless era and beginning to see chrome pop up its head. Brass has never been back in full swing here except for the 1980s/early 90s. Maybe trends take more time to catch on here, but brass still feels new and fresh. I prefer polished nickel over chrome. My bathrooms have chrome fixtures and while they look okay, they lack warmth and that perceived quality that shows through with nickel and unlacquered brass over chrome. I’m hoping brass has some more time here before it moves out because I’m not ready to see it leave yet. 🙂 I often see chrome like a mirrored accessory: It works well as an addition to a room, as you’ve shown with a few accessories, but you would not want an entire room of it.

    This is another great post and I like the examples you’ve given. A post on mixing metals would be very beneficial. Should you mix chrome with unlacquered or lacquered brass? What about mixing these with bronze?

  13. I got these awesome vintage cantilever chromecraft chairs off Craigslist. They are wicker, but not the smaller version either. They are going into my north/ northeast facing family room/breakfast nook. I have a navy and creamy white rug for the spot and a linen drum shade. I need some light, neutral “chrome friendly” suggestions? Please. The dining room is dove tale with dusty velvet navy drapes off of the breakfast nook. I was looking at tallow before the “paint chrome catastrophe” took place. 😘

  14. Ha! OK, so, confession: I am a devoted fan; honestly, truly, I am — but I still (still!) am not into brass. (What?! Is that even allowed?)

    I am fine with some chrome though. Indeed, I redid a bathroom about a year ago, and, while I initially chose brushed nickel or some such thing for fixtures, I later called back & had them switch it to chrome. Crazy!

  15. This makes me so happy. I’ve always stuck with the silver tones. I actually don’t have a single gold or brass item in my apartment. I like brass in other people’s homes and Emily, you make it look beautiful (and have even caused me to second guess my all silver/chrome stance on more than one occasion) but it just isn’t for me. I feel like it is related to the fact that I only wear silver jewelry – gold just doesn’t look good with my skin tone and because my apartment is an extension of my style, I stick to silver in decor too. All this to say, I am excited for more chrome options popping up. Thanks for a great post!

    1. Yes! I am the exact same – silver tones all the way for me.

  16. I’m into it. Just a little scared that satin nickel will be next… so over that.

  17. I love this! I’m glad to see some branching out from the brass craze. I’ve always preferred chrome for bathrooms and kitchens; to me it’s just a very clean, crisp look, which suits those rooms well. I just redid my master bathroom and went with chrome, and that option was by far the cheapest of the finishes! The chrome trend clearly hasn’t caught on in the market yet, so get it while the gettin’s good (or cheaper)!

  18. I opted for chrome fixtures and knobs in my bathroom. I love how shiny it looks, and was surprised by easy it’s been to clean and maintain. What’s funny is the chrome skews kind of traditional in my mostly marble bathroom. It looks pretty timeless in there. LOVE chrome!

  19. This has made my day! I literally bought a Tim Bates for Pieff armchair from EBay this week (for a song – it had been reupholstered to grey velvet from original leather for a shoot and I guess they wanted to shift it now it’s not needed anymore) and have been scared the chrome was perhaps a horrible error but this has given me confidence it’s not a terrible purchase. Thank you, Emily!!!

  20. I’ve started seeing this pop up too! At first I wasn’t sure I was it, but I’m loving it more and more. Just how the warmth of brushed brass was a beautiful contrast on the trending cooler tones of navy’s and blues, I see the coolness of chrome having a lovely contrast with the warmer tones that are trending like millenial pink, mauve, peach etc.

  21. Thanks for this post! I designed an apartment from our garage for my mom, and she commented that she just didn’t want that old chrome anywhere. I told her that she may be speaking too soon because I’ve been seeing it used more as of late. But, really, it seems like all metals are having a moment now. I pick up one periodical, and they’re featuring black. I’ve always been a fan of Mid Century and Art Deco, so my house has all metals, including a chrome-framed Barcelona chair. I don’t have the money nor the inclination to switch all my bathroom fixtures to whatever is the most trending metal. Instead, I try to make all the metals work in each room. The Barcelona chair sits next to my much-loved iron and glass end table where the turquoise lamp which has a brushed brass base sits. None of those pieces seem to mind sharing the same space. 🙂

    1. You make a lot of sense. Thanks.

  22. I think metal finishes should align with the era of the home. If the original house/era of the architecture depended on a certain metal, that tends to work. When in doubt, shiny chrome has always been the basic little black dress of home decor.

    My 1958 house had chrome faucets, brass door hardware with black light fixtures. As I updated, I stuck with the same, though I did blacken out all the new brass so it looked dark and tarnished. Now in a 1995 ranch-ish house with chrome faucets and stainless light fixtures. I swapped out lights for matte black, matte white recessed LEDs.

    I also think a real finish looks better than a cheap one. I’d prefer a quality old-school chrome faucet over a fake bronze finish any day.

    1. Preach. Cheap/fake versions of any of the metals are bad. Mix real metals! Don’t do a room of fake and real brass.

  23. In that first picture there are two gold hexagonal chandeliers. I need those lights in my life! Do you have a source?

    1. That picture is from Orlando’s old living room which she links to a bit further down in the post (https://stylebyemilyhenderson.com/blog/orcondo-living-dining-room). In THAT post, Orlando links to the pendants. Although I just tried the link (they’re from Lamps Plus), but it says “page not found” 🙁 – Good luck!

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  25. I love chrome, we have always had it. I think it stays in style better than brass. Brass feels so old fashion to me. We are building a new house, so all my faucet are brush nickel but my furniture has lots off chrome. I love it.

  26. Agree with a lot of the requests for a mixing metals post. Can you do 3 metals in one batbroom? How? How to choose fixtures/metals for an entire house and not feel like it’s dated in 5 years? Polished nicked over polished chrome? So. Many. Questions.

  27. Love all of those chrome pieces! I’ve had my eye on a chrome side table for my bedroom.

    For the show of hands “how many people have brass accents all of their house?” I reluctantly have to raise my hand. My rental (like all of them in this complex) has horrible 1970s-1980s sliding “brass” framed mirror closet doors. I despise them. If I renew my lease again, I may ask the landlord if I can spray paint them.

    I’m curious if anyone knows how does chrome spray paint look after a while?

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  31. Actually, although I have liked almost all of the brass and copper of the last decade’s trend picture, I have never been able to bring myself to buy any. Whenever a trend gets too big, I shy away from it in my own home, even though I enjoy seeing it in other peoples homes.

  32. A quick question, how do you mix brass and chrome in the kitchen? For ex: chrome faucet for sink and then brass cabinet handles/pulls. Or should you just pick one or the other?

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