For Your Home: Don’t be afraid to mix metals in kitchen

Vicki Payne
The Charlotte Observer

Have you ever fallen for a light fixture or range hood but thought you couldn’t have it in your kitchen because it wasn’t the same metal finish as everything else?

Rejoice, the finishes don’t have to match. Some of the most spectacular kitchens today are a mix of metal finishes, wood tones and painted cabinetry.

There was a time when we thought stainless steel appliances had to set the tone for all the metal finishes in the kitchen. Not true.

Designer Michelle Workman proves that a well-planned design can incorporate just about any color or type of metal finish. In one of her designs, the stove anchors the theme. It has a black porcelain body, brass controls and stainless steel trim.

The shade of gray for the cabinets is key. It’s a warm gray with brown, not blue, undertones. The cooper cookware collection suspended from a stainless steel bar brings a warm glow that works with the brass hardware.

Workman completed the look by adding a gold-framed mirror over the kitchen writing desk. The black bar stools and desk chair bring the commanding hue of the range full circle.

Getting colors to work together is all about how one tone enhances another. Designers proved that point in decorating a show house for the Junior League of High Point and Traditional Home magazine.

The kitchen of the show house is stunning. Black painted cabinets and woodwork are sitting pretty on a natural wood-tone floor. White subway tiles are classic and make the perfect backdrop for black. White countertops create a transition for the subway tiles.

The appliances are stainless steel, but the cabinet hardware is gold. The light fixtures are a deeper brass tone. The look works because it is rich in color, drawing from the black, brown and warm brass hardware.

The only introduction of pattern is in the black-and-white window treatment and the kitchen stools. Wood-tone stools bring the warm, natural tone up off the floor and into the landscape of the room.

Appliances, for the most part, need to be stainless steel. If you don’t want metal, consider wooden fronts that match your cabinetry. Stainless steel sinks for serious cooks are durable and so much easier to keep clean.

What doesn’t work? Mixing warm and cold tones. Understand the mood of the room as you start to pull together all the elements.

If you are creating a chic, contemporary kitchen and want to work with gray or white, make them cool colors with blue or black undertones. Use shiny metals instead of brushed or patina tones.

Going more tradition or transitional? Think warm whites, creams, blacks, wood tones and browns. Satin, polished nickel, soft brass finishes and warm touches of copper can be complementary.

Lighting fixtures should be outstanding. Don’t pass up something you love because it’s silver, copper or gold. It all can work together.

Designer and home improvement expert Vicki Payne is host and producer of “For Your Home,” available on PBS, Create TV and in national and international syndication. Reach her at