MAR Silver, Gold-and Brass, too!

In keeping with my latest home design details in MAR silver, gold and brass, I have a doozy of a sMARt tip for you, MARtians — and a few personal MARmories too.

When I was growing up, I had my very own “designing women.” My very creative mother and grandmother were sticklers for good design. In fact, my mother always said, “It is either a blessing or a curse.”

I’m sure I got the design bug from both of them. I have learned a lot from watching their intuitive assessments of both homes and gardens. Masters of good taste — in a snap, either of these two women could tell you what was wrong or right in a room. Instant assessments have become sort of a hobby of mine, as you may have noticed! 

However, as time passes, the rules of thumb for good design have changed a little bit. Like society in general, there is more room for creativity, quirkiness and personalization. The eclectic look no longer signifies lack of organization, but rather an open mindedness. This fresh perspective still must adhere to the basic tenets of composition, form and function, but no longer must we be so “matchy-matchy.”

This going against the grain might be best signified in my mixed metal theory. I believe your shoes don’t have to match your belt, and your metals don’t have to match either. I’m taking the cue straight from the runways of New York, Paris and Milan. Embrace this sMARt tip, people! You can have your burnished brass, aged gold and brushed nickel, too! Here are a few finish facts you should know when blending multiple metals, as I did in the creating of MARTV’s own Green Isle designs:

Chrome: Chrome is a decorative and useful finish made from chromium. Chrome can be represented in a mirror like finish or a brushed finish. The tone is on the cold side of gray. Not typically solid chromium, most metallic finishes are chromium plated over another metal or metallic blend. It is common for chrome plate to finish items and surfaces made from steel, aluminum, copper, brass, nickel, steel and stainless steel. Even plastic can be chromium plated. 

Nickel: Nickel is a naturally occuring element. This finish is very popular today. It can be polished or brushed (also called satin) depending upon the level of shine you are looking for. This metal is lustrous and silver with a slight warm gold hue. Nickel is naturally resistant to corrosion, so it is perfect for places of humidity or that are subject to getting wet such as bathroom and kitchen fixtures. I like it so much, my clients have taken to calling it “MAR silver.”

Steel: Stainless steel is a very popular finish, particularly in kitchens. Many appliances, sinks, counters and more, use the natural benefits of this metal. There are several types of steel. While unprotected carbon steel will rust, stainless steel contains about 10% chromium. This gives steel a desirable corrosion resistance of chromium without sacrificing strength and wear-resistance.

Brass: This metal finish has come in and out of vogue. Brass is a metal alloy made from zinc and copper. It is similar to bronze, which contains copper and tin. Since both brass and bronze contain a wide variety of additional trace elements in varying quantities, scientists and museum restoration experts will typically call this metal, and the common related metal blends, “copper alloy” to be more precise. Brass is very malleable, and it oxidizes to a desirable patina. Fast fact: Brass’ copper content makes it germicidal. That means brass kills microorganisms within seconds to hours of contact. Brass doorknobs make perfect sense!

I hope you enjoyed this truly new and exciting sMARt tip. Time to scour the attic, storage sheds, antique shops and grandma’s basement for those vintage pieces you love, but did not think would match your decor. Try mixing metals with reckless abandon in your own home!

Please share your experiments in design. Post the results on your social media pages complete with the hashtags; #MixedMARtles, #sMARtTip and #CasualLuxury — I just might share your masterpieces, and as always,

Keep it Casual!