Alluring Alloys

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Alluring Mettalics
Photo by Dennis Owen

Brass and copper shine once again in the world of home design.

By Victoria Kertz


The latest metals that seem to grace everything from mirrors to table lamps aren’t futuristic alloys, but rather a throwback to the past. Perhaps most associated with antiques in previous years, brass and copper, in all of their shining glory, have experienced a resurgence in home decor.

Brittney Fischbeck, owner and designer at Abodwell Interior Design, says the trend was obvious at the Las Vegas Market, a major design convention held in January.

“The focus was heavy on brass,” she recalls. “It was on everything—dining chairs, cocktail tables, sideboards, hardware on furniture, stools, mirrors, barstools, accessories. … It was sensational. Copper was hot, too.”

It begs the question: Where can brass or copper be placed in the home without seeming over-the-top? For occasional accents, consider nonpermanent pieces that are easily movable. Furniture with brass accents is a great start, because it can be rearranged. Dinnerware and flatware in these metals add interest to the table when entertaining, and can simply be stashed in a drawer when not in use. Plus, these metallic tones are more subtle than flashier options like gold, for example, and won’t overtake the room.

For a brass or copper enthusiast who’s ready to add some sheen, start small and slowly add more. Begin with hardware upgrades like cabinet pulls, doorknobs, levers, faucets and lighting, then branch out into tile and even wallpaper. Brass accents on tile are one of the hottest trends in bathrooms right now, but Fischbeck has also found that they work brilliantly in another unexpected location: the fireplace.

When she found the tiles, which she used in a recent living room design, Fischbeck says it was love at first sight. “It reminded me of my childhood home in the ’80s and all the great memories that brings,” she says.

But these aren’t any old tiles—in fact, they were originally intended to be placed in a swimming pool. “The richness of the layers in this tile glaze, … [which] range from espresso brown to light gold, is just stunning. An added touch is the tiny bit of iridescen[ce] … that you can see that gives it just enough shimmer without being dated,” she says. “It was a natural decision to run the tile vertically so it wouldn’t look so much like a backsplash.”

Even though kitchens and bathrooms have been heavy on nickel and steel for a while, Fischbeck says trends are changing. “We’ve definitely seen more interest in warmer metals the last few seasons, and that is super exciting to me. I’m happy that manufacturers are making that push to bring more items to market with updated features and aesthetics.”

Unlike stainless steel, almost any color furniture or wall paint works with reddish metals like brass and copper. Whites, browns and mustards complement copper in a warm room, but brass adds elegance to dark libraries and pink bedrooms alike. The same can’t be said for silver metals.

“I’m not one to really live by design rules,” Fischbeck says. “I’ve always just followed my instinct and done what I liked.” Her goal is always to create a timeless space for each of her clients, but she notes an especially interesting trend she noticed in Las Vegas.

“What we did see at Market, which was very cool, was lots of furniture pieces that blended warm metals with cool tone wood and leather,” she says. “The best of both worlds.”

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