I was reading an article from a local magazine about “decorating with style” in which the opinions of three different people involved with furniture and design were shared. All three emphasized that you should fill your home with pieces that you love… and I couldn’t agree more! However, when it came to the subject of tone, the article really grabbed my attention. The first person directed readers to “honor design principles: don’t mix wood colors and keep your metals in the same family.” When I arrived at the final design profile, it was delightful to see a bullet point that said “mix materials: natural and painted wood, shiny aluminum and rusted steel.”

I found humor in the fact that these two perspectives were sitting side by side in the same magazine article. But humor aside, it also makes an excellent point about the rules of design… and knowing when to break them… and this is one rule that I’m all about breaking!

With that said, here are a few tips to make the mix work:

As was mentioned in the article that I was reading… mixing wood is fine, but opt to mix a painted wood with a natural wood, and choose tones of one paint color and one stain color. For example: this living room photo is from a project where the husband would not remove any of the dated honey oak in the home. In order to balance the honey oak, I introduced black and charcoal tones in the wood furnishings and finishes.

By all means please feel free to mix your metals, but between all of the options, just choose two. For example: in this bathroom photo I mixed blackened bronze and brass in a way that balances the two with blackened bronze on the mirrors and cabinet pulls, and brass fixtures on the sinks and in the shower.

Mix your stain colors… literally! Let’s say for example that you have white painted cabinets and you would like to add a stained wood table to create a little more dimension… but you just aren’t finding the right stain color. Go ahead and literally mix your stains! In the photo that shows a close-up of a table, I blended a dark walnut and an ebony stain to achieve the desired color.

None of this is meant to say that a perfectly matched home is a bad thing. It isn’t at all! My message is for those who don’t have that option, or don’t want that option. You shouldn’t feel like your home can’t be beautiful, harmonious, or balanced if things don’t match. Don’t be afraid to experiment, mix your metals, and refinish a piece of furniture or two. Layers are a beautiful thing!