By Marisa Méndez, from Remodeling Magazine
Walk into a clothing store nowadays and you’re likely to see metallics everywhere you turn. Bright silver shoes, gold bomber jackets, and rose-gold anything (desk accessories to purses) adorn the shelves of retailers. This metallics trend, popular in the fashion world for a while, has exploded in home design. The variety of colors and finishes (brushed, hammered, smooth) available allows metals to be incorporated into any home style. Adding metals and metallic finishes to your designs may seem easy, but it can be easy to overdo it. And if you think it’s a fad, what is the timeless value? Here’s what homeowners should know.
Here to Stay
One thing that all the experts interviewed said is that metals and metallic finishes are long-lasting elements in design.
“I don’t know if I would call metal a ‘trend,’” says Kathy Kuo, founder and CEO of Kathy Kuo Home. “It’s played an important role in interiors since medieval times, making huge resurgences in the 1920s and also all throughout the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s. I think the main difference today is that people are using metal very intentionally and a bit more subtly than in the past. It’s no longer regarded as too showy or ostentatious.”
David Podwyszynski, operations manager of RangeCraft, agrees. Specifically in kitchens, he says that homeowners are getting tired of normal designs. They are looking for something that will pop in their space and provide an accent, which metallic finishes can do.
In recent years, product manufacturers, especially those in the kitchen and bath industry, have expanded their array of metallic finishes. Where once there was only chrome, now homeowners have additional options of brushed nickel, polished nickel, oil-rubbed bronze, gold, brass, black stainless, and rose gold.
Manufacturers reported they’re seeing an increase in the sales of these less-common finishes, though most homeowners remain slow to adopt them. According to the National Kitchen + Bath Association’s 2018 Design Trends Study, stainless steel is the most popular finish for kitchen faucets (80%), while brushed nickel (at 72%) tops faucet finishes in the bathroom. Despite the fact homeowners still seem to be choosing traditional silver-toned finishes, that could soon change.
Jaime Blanken, lead designer and showroom manager at Performance Construction, La Crosse, Wis., says the rise in popularity of HGTV shows has exposed homeowners to new trends and encouraged them to step outside of their comfort zones when creating the designs for their remodeled spaces.
Let it Shine
One reason that metallics is an everlasting design element is the variety of applications for metals and metallic finishes. According to Blanken, more tile companies are including metallic finishes in their mosaic lines. Lighting fixtures, hardware, and home accents are all places where homeowners are introducing the finish into their homes.
“Any area that can be a nice accent has been setting a lot of designs apart from others,” Blanken says.
“From a design point of view, metal brings texture and tone, and often has a reflective nature that opens up [the] space,” Kuo adds. “And from a client point of view, metallic accents can feel beautiful, royal, or daring to include in the home—so there’s this feel-good attitude about metallic pieces that make them so popular.”
Age is not a factor when it comes to metallic finishes. Experts agree that no metallic finish is more popular with one demographic than another. In fact, our experts often said that it’s personal taste and good design that dictate which metallic finish goes with which style.
“I think everyone is looking for something distinct that paints a picture of both their style and oftentimes their background,” says Clinton Cardinal, senior products manager at Delta. “Associating finishes with style choices can sometimes be a result of varying design styles in one’s history, or it can be the conflict between what was previously considered traditional juxtaposed against the contemporary style that draws them in.”
Podwyszynski says homeowners are beginning to mesh different design styles into one space. That allows them to more easily incorporate metallic finishes into the design.
As with any design element, it’s easy to go overboard. Danielle Radic, associate product manager for the kitchen category at Moen U.S. Wholesale, suggests beginning with small pieces, like a light fixture or hardware, when incorporating metallic finishes into a space for the first time. This will allow homeowners to test the finishes and to see how they like them before investing in larger metallic pieces. Testing metallic finishes is especially important for tones such as rose gold, which can be more difficult to work into a space than silver and gold-tone finishes, Kuo says.
“Make a statement without taking over,” Radic says.
Podwyszynski believes the range hood can be another great place to incorporate metallic finishes, as range hoods become the focal point of a kitchen. If a range hood has rivets and trim, those can be perfect places to add in a bit of shine. RangeCraft released a blue stainless metallic hood in 2015, but only now is it starting to take off. He thinks that the rise in the popularity of the blue hood indicates a future of the metallic trend, adding that more metallic colors and finish styles could be coming.
Faucet manufacturers are often leading the charge when it comes to incorporating metals into a space. In addition to the traditional silver-tone finishes, Delta offers both black-stainless and champagne-gold finishes; Pfister released one in brushed gold; and Kohler recently produced faucets clad in rose gold. And while most of these companies have found that stainless steel or chrome are their bestsellers, none of the companies see the trend toward nontraditional finishes fading anytime soon.
“Brushed gold isn’t as bright and flashy,” Radic says. “It’s versatile and plays across many styles.”
Brass and Black
Our experts agree: Brass is making a big comeback. Door-hardware companies still have it in their lines of finishes, while kitchen-and-bath-hardware companies are introducing it to their lines, typically in a brushed finish. Podwyszynski says brass has become a popular accent color in the kitchens, often paired with blues.
Radic cautions designers against certain finishes of brass: The shiny brass tone that dominated homes in the 1990s is still passé.
Kuo adds that brass can be used in “classic, timeless looks.” The brushed-brass finishes create an updated, gold-tone appearance, which Blanken thinks works better for some East Coast designs and styles.
When asked whether brushed brass will remain as popular as some of the other metallic finishes, Blanken says no. She finds this particular finish to be more of a fad, questioning whether enough homeowners will go that far outside of their comfort zones to adopt the finish into their homes.
At the same time metallic finishes are trending in home design, matte finishes are, too. Specifically, matte black has made waves in home design. Several kitchen and bath manufacturers now offer the finish in a wide variety of styles.
Podwyszynski adds that matte black’s subtlety helps to blend a whole design together while metallics stand out. The matte finish provides a clean, contemporary look to a space. It complements the industrial and modern design styles as well, Blanken says.
“I think the matte blacks are very popular, but also you have enough people that want the more elegant, classic look,” Blanken says. “I’ve used the matte black in those settings, too, but a lot of clients want to see that little bit of a bling factor or just want to see different type of metal brought in to mix it up a little.”
Kuo believes, unlike metallic finishes, matte black is more of a trend for homeowners and in design.
“Matte finishes are inspired by minimalism in an effort to keep things simple,” Kuo says. “I think everyone needs some simplicity in their life, especially with all of the crazy things happening in the world right now.”
Going for the Gold
Moen’s new brushed-gold finish is available on several kitchen and bath collections. The company also created accessories with the finish so that homeowners can have matching towel bars, toilet-paper holders, and more. This brushed gold’s specific hue fits current trends and provides a classic look, Moen’s Danielle Radic says. moen.com
Ann Sacks has added gold and silver (pictured) metallic colors to its Elenco tile collection. These finishes incorporate metal, which creates a shimmer and a wide range of color variations. Elenco can be used on floors, walls, backsplashes, and more. The gold and silver options are available in 4×24-inch and 12×24-inch formats. annsacks.com
Kohler has released a rose-gold faucet finish for bathroom fixtures. The company says the finish provides warmth and brilliance in any space and plays well across multiple design styles. The finish is created using the company’s Physical Vapor Deposition system, which helps improve durability and resist corrosion and tarnish. It’s available for both contemporary and classic faucet styles as well as for coordinating accessories. kohler.com
Daltile’s Illuminary line comes in eight iridescent color blends and four solid colors. Colors range from dark browns and grays to whites and light grays. The tiles are a parallelogram shape that can be laid out in herringbone, accordion, or oscillating patterns. Illuminary also offers three decorative liners. The liners come in bar, convergent, and twist designs. daltile.com
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