Faucet + fixture finishes

I am working on several new homes and remodels and it seems most of my talk with clients always comes back to the same topic over and over again…fixture finishes.

You know… polished nickel, polished chrome, brushed nickel, bronze, brass, natural brass, polished brass and on and on.

Hardware finish reference!

 Whether its faucets, light fixtures, tub faucets or cabinet hardware..it’s a challenge!

The tough thing is different companies and manufacturer often used slightly different terms to define their various finishes. All finishes apparently are NOT created equal. Just you to try to match different brands.  Not for the faint hearted!;


The little key above from Restoration does a pretty good job of showing the basic difference between polished chrome and polished nickel. One of the biggest issues in this debate.  To me, polished nickel is still shiny and classic but not quite as cold as polished chrome. When I think of polished chrome I think of water spots and very very old school.  Which is not bad just sayin.  I think polished nickel is a great compromise between chrome and satin, when it is available!
Although after this ad campaign below, I will pretty much love anything Kohler does!  I mean seriously the styling..and the tub!  Good job Big K!


Their new Treshman collection has me “like a shaw sink with a perrin rohl faucet on Sally Wheat cabinets”!;; I love the pedestal sinks and toilets, yes toilets! Forget you Toto.


Oh yes Kohler, you had me at gallery wall and wallpaper. Brilliant marketing/styling/branding eh?!


But back to hardware/fixtures

lt’s all about preferences! Do you like bronze door knobs but brushed hardware and shouldn’t a faucet always be polished? (my personal view)

It’s crazier than church people talking about hymns versus praise choruses. Yes indeed, hardware finishes are almost a spiritual matter, at the end of the day it often comes down to personal preference and past experiences; I find sometimes a client won’t want chrome because it reminds them of a scary bathroom in grade school or a mean babysitter’s kitchen.  Or the brass is just too much like our parents 1980s dream home!;


Personally I feel over brushed nickel suddenly (though I have it in my house) and I am loving dark bronze almost black hinges and doors and knobs (unless you paint your doors black or dark gray which I also love) it looks so vintage to me.

And I am all about brass but not too much brass.  I remember the first time I saw brass on kitchen cabinets in a movie this century (does anyone remember the movie, it was a white kitchen with brass cabinet knows and Meg Ryan was in it maybe..it was a Nancy Meyer type movie but not by her I don’t think)  and I realized “OMG brass is coming back…oh no it will never happen” and now look at me putting brass pendants in house all over the US and Canada!

BTW, thanks to the commenters who reminded me that film was THE WOMEN! THANK YOU!

 kitchen 3

This photo below from a California show house is a great illustration of bronze knobs and brass pendants and metal stools and stainless appliances and chrome or nickel pot filler. And it works.  I think brass knobs would have been too matchy poo.

mix of hardware finishes - love this! from Santa Barbara Design House and Gardens Showhouse - Traditional Home


Oh yes we can’t start a conversation about finishes and not bring in Visual Comfort and their amazing hand rubbed finishes!


So so lovely.


So where do you stand on this?  Do you like it all to match (it’s okay if you do) or do you like to mix it up?? If so when is too much in your view?  What is your favorite finish? I just saw where Amerock just came out with a new finish, “carmelized” something…Lord help us!

Oh and does anyone remember that movie???

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  1. Mix it up!!!! No matchy-matchy for me! I am in the process of hunting down oil-rubbed bronze hinges and knobs for ALL our first floor doors – I NEED to rid this house of brushed nickel!!!

  2. I’m currently dealing with that debate and it’s making me crazy!!! We’re building here in Houston. Kitchen cabinet hardware is polished nickel and then a builder’s satin nickel faucet (I know, not fun but will get switched out down the line). The pendants I love are polished nickel and the fixture for the eat-in nook is oil rubbed bronze. Also, the interior door hardware is all oil rubbed bronze. Is there any rule or something I should keep in mind when trying to keep a kitchen and an adjacent eat-in nook tied together but not matchy matchy? I feel like I’m loosing my mind with over thinking it!

  3. The movie is “The Women”. Great house!

  4. Eeek! I LOVE that bathroom! Can we do that , on a smaller scale, in my downstairs bathroom…..?

  5. That Kohler bathroom is one of my faves, ever. I’ve had in pinned for awhile; I want to turn my attic into exactly that. 🙂
    I’m thinking I Need that York Hand Rubbed fixture, oh my goodness. And “carmelized”? I love good marketing even if it borders on ridiculous. LOL. I’m all about a little brass and copper lately!!

  6. I love the mix and the match, I think it adds personality! We recently renovated the kitchen in our 1930 Dilbeck house and went with Martha’s brass cabinet hardware from HD, but mixed it with stainless appliances and a brushed nickel faucet. I love the touch the brass adds to the space, plus I think it looks great in a period home since most of our original window and exterior door hardware is brass. Although our interior door hardware is forged iron, so we have a total mix of finishes and it all works so well together.
    And I love that Kohler bath, beautiful! 🙂

  7. 8 years ago, I would have thought, it all needs to match, but now, I really like the mixes of metals! I just bought brass pulls to replace our kitchen pulls. I’m trying not to go brass crazy and am just bringing it in with little pops here and there. Now we have some polished nickel (faucets and doorknobs), oil rubbed bronze light fixtures and brass knobs and pulls and it all seems to work! And that bathroom…LOVE it. 😉

  8. I love it to be mixed up, but it’s not easy to do well. Personally, I like the ORB on door hardware, brass on kitchen cabinet hardware and either chrome or nickel on kitchen faucet. Pendents in brass. Now. Can you please give us the scoop on mixing farmhouse sinks (white or off white) with stainless steel fixtures? That makes me cray cray. I think it looks fine. The hubs does not. Love that Kohler bathroom! But then again, I’d like ANY bathroom all to myself!

  9. As with pattern mixing, if done correctly it can be lovely. We offer many different finishes and are always curious as to how a client is going to use them.

  10. I’m building my first house right now and I’m trying to select hardware finishes. Great timing! So far I think I’ve decided on flat black for the door hardware and hinges, soft iron (restoration hardware) kitchen knobs and pulls, zinc kitchen island lighting, and chrome (due to $) for faucets.

  11. Evelyn W. says

    Holly, that bathroom is beautiful, but I think it is disrespectful to use Union Jack flags as rugs, especially in a bathroom. Kohler went a bit too far with that one.

  12. i am under the idea that mixing is great! but, i live in a very suburban area, and we hope to sell our house in the next year or so, so i have made a choice not to mix. we have mostly polished nickel things, and i’m hoping we’ll sell while it’s still rather popular! fun post!

  13. I really, really love that toilet. Did I seriously just say I love a toilet?!

  14. I love to mix it up!! I tend to stay clear of chrome because of finger prints and kiddos but may use it in a light fixture! Great post and I really think it depends on the client. Some people struggle with mixing metals throughout the home. I always encourage it!!

  15. I tend to mix finishes, and like yourself- I am pretty over brushed nickel everything! Brass & copper are my favs right now 🙂

  16. Although we agonized, debated, and went back and forth on our decision, the mixing of finishes in my kitchen is amaaaaazing! I love, love, love it. It is subtle, so people don’t often notice at first that there are two hardware finishes. I did go with polished chrome for the pot-filler and faucet, but mainly because money was getting looooow lol. I actually also liked the stainless steel finish that Moen had, that would have complimented the stainless appliances. Alas, it was more money and I cheaped out but it still looks great!
    Oh and don’t tell the orb hardware, but the antiqued brass is my absolute fave 🙂

  17. You’re cracking me up today! Thanks for the laughs! I’m a dark hardware girl in most cases. Feels right for the look of my last two houses. I had gorgeous knobs from Settler’s Hardware in Houston. Here, I went with something simple and much less expensive, but the dark has a nice country feel here.

  18. I’m all about mixing up finishes! In my own home I have polished nickle faucets and oil rubbed bronze hardware for cabinetry and doors. The only brass I have is on some lamps in our living room and nailhead trim on the sofa in the same room. I love brass, but it doesn’t fit my look. I use in my clients’ homes all the time thought!

  19. Our bathrooms are still in the 60s, so I won’t even go there, but we did our kitchen five years ago, and we have mixed finishes. Our pot filler, main faucet and prep sink faucet are brushed stainless, and our cabinet hardware is an aged brass, with the dark patina. Our pendant lamps are kind of a dark brass-type metal, I don’t know what it is. It goes well with our cabinets, which are a light taupe.

  20. I have white cabinets and white countertop, polished nickel knobs, and polished nickel showerhead and handle. Need to install faucets in sinks and am considering polished chrome because it is easier to maintain. My floors and walls are light colored. Any thoughts on mixing these metals would be appreciated. Have wondered since bathroom is mostly white if I should stay with polished nickel. Please help!!!!!

  21. I find the oil rubbed bronze finishes vary too much from product to product and between manufactures. I like the plumbing fixtures to be brushed nickel to blend best with the stainless steel appliances. And I feel it’s more timeless. However I like black door hinges and cabinet knobs as black works with everything and supports our casual interior style. Our kitchen cabinetry is off white and the black hardware looks awesome. But again I picked that because of our casual style throughout the house.

    I pick whatever lighting style/finish works in each room. Not fond of the matchy matchy bathroom vanity lights — but we have them for now. Someday I’d like to change those and follow what Sarah Richardson often does. i.e, unique fixture (maybe vintage) lighting mounted on the sides of the mirror vs. over it. The finish will be whatever works for the room.

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