From traditional spaces that use brass as an accent to contemporary rooms that embrace bold brass decor, here are eight interiors that demonstrate the many ways to incorporate the golden-hued metal.
“Built in 1866, this San Francisco house had beautiful brass mirrors and ornate fireplace surrounds,” says Nicole Hollis. “The custom-designed bar cabinet stands out against the white walls, bringing a warm, golden glow to the room. We use brass in many of our projects to add more warmth to the spaces.”
“Brass can be the cherry on top, if you know what I mean,” says interior designer Cortney Bishop. “If you go overboard with it, a design can lean too glamorous or fancy. But just the right amount adds a sophistication and spunk that we certainly embrace.
“Brass lighting is an easy addition,” she continues, “while hardware can elevate bookshelves and furniture pieces. Incline toward brass being a statement, not a surplus.”
“In this Napa Valley home, the architecture is very organic — lots of stone, wood and so on — so we wanted to bring in a little bling with touches of brass,” says Justin Hafen, cofounder of Hurley Hafen, who incorporated the bling by way of Oluce’s Atollo table lamps.
“Brass is stylistically a very versatile material, because, depending on the context, it can be either retro-modern or traditional,” says William McIntosh. “In this Manhattan living room, we were working with fairly grand and formal architecture, and we wanted the materials to emphasize a more traditional vocabulary than the new build suggested.
“The Horus Bronze windows are bronze,” he continues, “and the door hardware throughout is unlacquered brass. We updated the space with the inclusion of highly polished brass on the custom lacquered end tables and bar cabinet.”
Lastly, he says, “the brushed-brass legs on the cocktail table were specified as a flattering complement to the travertine tabletop.”
“For this glam modern kitchen in Los Angeles, brass is part of a strategic color story. The Benjamin Moore Chrome Green and the gold play off each other perfectly and evoke a classic, regal vibe,” says Caitlin Murray, founder of Black Lacquer Design. “I grounded the glitz of that pairing with sophisticated marble and a fresh take on standard subway tile.
“Since dark green and gold have the ability to read as neutrals, albeit amped-up ones,” she continues, “I added a punch of color with the turquoise Lawson-Fenning stools for one more layer.” The pendants are Tom Dixon, and the backsplash is by Ann Sacks.
This Los Angeles children’s bathroom was also designed by Black Lacquer. “The toddler’s own art was the inspiration for the design,” Murray says. “I wanted the space to be whimsical and multihued, pulling from the finger paint palette itself.
“Because the rest of this house is so chic,” she continues, “it seemed like the natural choice to include brass finishes, which read as yellow next to the primary and secondary colors in this mix. The graphic kelly-green-and-white floor tiles make such a statement, so it was important to carry that impact throughout.” Her solution: Benjamin Moore’s rich Ol’ Blue Eyes paint on the walls, with gold and orange accents. “I think it became a perfectly poppy space for the two little boys to love for a long time.”
The sconces are by Schoolhouse Electric, and the towel ring is from Liz’s Antique Hardware.
“I love mixing in metals — especially brass with black and wood finishes,” says Maureen Winter McDermott. “In this Sag Harbor, New York, project, I made the brass finish the focal point by keeping everything else really muted and minimal, so the fixture really stands out.”
The fixture is by Billy Cotton. McDermott hung it above three chairs she purchased through 1stdibs, for a stunning statement. The marble side table is by Kelly Wearstler, the table lamp by Tom Dixon. The bookcase is custom.
“I find mixed metals to be a very updated approach, as opposed to the old days, when it was all shiny brass of dulled-out silver tones,” says interior designer Drew McGukin. “I especially love working with brass and blackened steel for added warmth and tonality. To me, aged brass is complementary across many design styles and can tend contemporary or traditional when pushed either way.”
He proves his point in a San Francisco entryway, where a Lindsey Adelman light fixture hangs above a limited-edition table and stools by Kelly Wearstler, all providing bronze accents. The walls were hand-painted by artist Caroline Lizarraga and the ombré stair runner is by DMc.
“The warmth and radiance of gold tones provide a touch of elegance, and I used them in this Upper West Side powder room to playfully interact with the contemporary Echo wallpaper,” says designer Bennett Leifer. “One thing to consider is whether you want to watch the metal patinate over time — especially in a bath or powder room. Personally, I love a bit of age on my metal finishes and prefer an unlacquered texture.”
The wallcovering looks extra glamorous combined with the Patricia Arnillas gold-leaf decorative treatment.