Mixing and Matching Materials in the Kitchen

I’ve been worried I’ve gone too far mixing metals and mis-matching materials in my kitchen, and it’s an easy mistake to make.  Even a thoughtful amalgamation of mis-matched metals and surfaces can get out of hand quickly in a kitchen makeover, since a quick tally of kitchen surfaces, adds up to at least ten: 1. Cabinets, 2. Counter, 3. Backsplash, 4. Floor, 5. Sink, 6. Appliances, 7. Faucets, 8. Lighting, 9. Hardware, 10. Wall color.  It is a lot of stuff, and more importantly, these materials each add another layer of color to the space.

various kitchen hardware

The design community is about evenly split on how much mixing and matching in the kitchen is too much, but I have always been most comfortable mixing.  In an old house like mine, I prefer for essential elements, like lighting and appliances and flooring, to appear as if they have evolved over time.  But how much is too much, and is it possible there’s a rule to follow for when we’re just not sure?

I’ve designed many kitchens, but as is always the case in such dilemmas, my own project is proving to be the exception to the few rules I would ordinarily follow.  My rule of thumb is 50/50: Out of the ten surfaces every kitchen is a compilation of, I recommend that half of them, ie any five, should somehow match.  So looking at my kitchen as the example, the cabinets, counter, backsplash, and hardware, are all white white.  Hmmm . . . that’s only four matches and I’m shooting for five.

spectrum of kitchen whites

Let’s try it another way.  The floor, island and cabinets are wood.  No help there.  The lighting doesn’t all match–but I would count that as five consistent surfaces, if it did.  I’m getting warmer.

Clearly the metal surfaces in my kitchen are a gigantic metal mixing mess. There’s a lot of brass . . .

Some stainless

kitchen stainless microwave

Vintage pewter

vintage pewter fixtures in the kitchen

Ah, oil rubbed bronze

oil rubbed bronze faucet in the kitchen

Polished nickel

polished nickel faucet in the kitchen

And a copper sink

kitchen copper sink

OMG, I have gone crazy.  And each differing metal is of course, adding another color to the space.

Since I introduced a little more brass on the pantry doors, and the lighting is the closest thing to another single consistent metal finish I have, I’ve decided to replace some of the existing mix of materials with one single choice of metal–Brass.  I’m certain I’ll get this mis-matched materials problem squared away in no time at all, I’m even going to fix up the boring stools while I’m at it.  I don’t think I’ll make the stools brass, but I have an even better idea for brass that’s sure to solve my metal mixing dilemma with style.

Kohler fixture box

Stay colorful!

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8 thoughts on “Mixing and Matching Materials in the Kitchen

  1. I agree with Gretchen. It looks great and not contrived – just natural. I wish I could see the floors – I love hardwood floors in a kitchen. I bet they look great with all those wonderful fixtures.

  2. I really like the way you mix the finishes and think they look great in your kitchen. Especially in all your other kitchen posts….. don’t think I would notice they don’t “match”. But I can’t wait to see what else you come up with.

  3. Gretchen
    I’m glad to hear that you mix too. It’s hard to know when when it’s too much but I don’t think that’s the case here.

  4. Gina
    Thanks! Glad to see you’re reading. You can see the faucets in the next post, put them in just for you.

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