Bathroom Design Trends
Mixing bathroom fixture finishes can have a striking effect. Here satin stainless steel backsplash tiles, cabinet hardware and lighting fixtures complement polished plumbing fixtures.
The rule for bathroom decorating has always been to coordinate finishes. But sometimes breaking the rules creates something unique and much more interesting. That's certainly the case with bathroom fixture finishes. Today's homeowner has a wide array of finishes to choose from when searching for faucets, cabinet hardware and towel bars. But can they be mixed effectively? With planning, mixing finishes is not only possible but great looking too.
To make the finishes work together, it's helpful to find coordinating elements that will play against them. For instance, in the bathroom pictured, the shiny porcelain bathtub, toilet and sink fixtures play against the matte finish tile and against the satin stainless tile inset into the shower and backsplash of the sink. The sparkle of the polished bath fixtures pops rather than blending in -- which is what satin finish plumbing fixtures would have done. The bright chrome finish adds life to the room and makes a dynamic statement.
Floor tiles with soft satin steel buttons at each corner bring the backsplash and shower accent tiles together for a cohesive look that unifies the whole room. The contrast between the satin design elements (which also include the cabinet hardware and light fixture) and the polish of the bathroom plumbing fixtures gives the bathroom a certain balance that keeps it from feeling bland. Had the fixture finishes been satin, the bathroom would have missed some important design zip that gives this bathroom standout appeal.
How to mix finishes
Ordinarily, mixing finishes is difficult to do. But when a secondary element is added -- in this case, the backsplash and tile inset -- the look goes from good to incredible. And it's this secondary element that unifies the two different finishes. If you want to mix finishes, look for a lighting fixture or other decorative element that has a mix of colors to help bring the look together.
Another way to mix finishes successfully is to keep all the plumbing fixtures in the same finish, such as polished nickel, and then select lighting and cabinet hardware in a satin finish. When done right, mixing two distinct finishes looks upscale and uniquely fresh. But don't try to introduce more than two finishes, or the look will become distracting and disjointed.
Is it possible to mix different colored finishes such as bronze and nickel? It is if you have a third unifying element, such as tiles or wallpaper that reference both colors. Another way to carry this off is to create a visual focal point by selecting a unique finish for a standout fixture, such as a tall lavatory faucet for a vessel bowl sink. In this instance, both the sink and the faucet become much more noticeable than if the faucet matched the finish of the rest of the plumbing fixtures. The faucet would look especially good if it were a completely different color finish than the remaining plumbing fixtures.
It's not written in stone that metallic finishes must match -- and sometimes it looks better when they don't. So be daring and experiment.
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(c) 2010 Kathryn Weber