Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Trend Alert: Soft or Antiqued Brass


A few years ago the very notion of brass fixtures was positively revolting. The polished brass faucets, door knobs and shower enclosures that were all the rage in the late '80s and early '90s had become the ugly duckling of the design world by the late '90s and early 2000s as designers and builders began favoring bronze over brass as the new metal du jour. Despite this fall from grace over the last decade, designers have recently been reintroducing brass as an acceptable metal. This time around though, the high sheen of polished or lacquered brass has been replaced by a matte (aka "soft") or antiqued finish.

Kelly Wearstler

The hallmark of the "new" brass is its softness and its subtly. The metal also has a way of giving a certain sophistication and age to even modern interiors. Brass coordinates perfectly with warm neutrals but is also a great foil for the cooler grays that have increased in popularity in the past few years. In short, the metal is just as versatile as nickel, but has the advantage of being a bit more unexpected. Like all metals, soft or antiqued brass is perfect as an accent, so accessories and fixtures are the ideal way to incorporate the trend into your existing decor.

I particularly like how a soft brass works with pinks and corals. The effect is pretty, yet sophisticated. And another example of how well brass works with pinks from the great Mary McDonald:


In this bedroom by Alessandra Branca, brass nail head trim on the headboard coordinates with the vintage brass bedside lamps.

Canadian House & Home

I'm absolutely in love with this hanging pendant lamp. It's shape is traditional, but its oversized scale feels incredibly modern to me. While brass is often thought of as very traditional, this breakfast nook illustrates that it can work just as successfully in a more modern interior.

Elle Decor

A traditional brass nail head trim is the ideal way to subtly work this trend into your home. Don't worry about coordinating your other metals to "match"; oil-rubbed bronze (as shown above) is a beautiful and natural compliment to the warm gold tones in the brass. For a truly eclectic look, try mixing brass with nickel or silver.

This season, major retailers have begun to get on board with the trend and there are a ton of gorgeous (and even affordable) accessories and fixtures in brass to choose from. Below, a selection of my favorites:


Source list (clockwise, from top left): 1. Moreno Nesting Tables from Crate&Barrel ($399). 2. Hampton Upholstered Bench from Ballard Designs ($359 plus cost of fabric). 3. Meurice side table from Jonathan Adler ($295). 4. Albany pendant from Restoration Hardware ($49.99). 5. Van Dyke cocktail table from Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams. 6. Derrick Tower small table lamp from Circa Lighting ($420). 6. Mother-of-Pearl knob from Anthropologie ($14). 7. Greek Key nut bowl from Williams-Sonoma Home ($28). 8. Orion Convex Mirror from Avid-Home ($240). 9. PB Standard drapery rods in Warm Brass from Pottery Barn ($79-$119).

Source List (clockwise, from top left): 1. Nate Berkus Etched Feather Tray from HSN ($69.95). 2. Basil Flush Mount from Circa Lighting ($420). 3. Brass Oval Lattice Planter from Ethan Allen ($119). 4. Brass candleholder from Pottery Barn ($59). 5. Sabine Brass table lamp from Revival Home & Garden ($315). 6. Calvin Leather Chair from Tonic Home ($1,585). 7. Costello Stool from Modern Dose ($365). 8. Egolomise coffee table from Beeline Home. 9. Bamboo brass table from Avid Home ($645).

30 comments:

Liz @ It's Great To Be Home said...

I've always had some brass in my home, and I agree that aged brass is the way to go these days. I wonder what we'll be thinking about it in a few years . . . :) I'm hoping I'll still love it!

MyLittleHappyPlace said...

A few years ago, when we remodeled our Heights kitchen and bath, I never even gave a moment's thought to using brass hardware, etc - now, I'd work it in some way or another. Lovely examples!

Sarah said...

I know, who would have thought, right? I will admit though that I am falling for this trend..I just put those soft mat champagne frames in my mood board!!!

Isabella & Max Rooms said...

Yes, amazing turn around, with a big difference...the finish. I've had my eye on the Basil light fixture from Circa for awhile now, but not in the budget!
Janell

Christy said...

I never thought I'd buy brass myself, but we did just purchase a brassy-ish light fixture for the new guest room! Who knew!? I love that pink/coral room you featured - you're right - that's a good color combination!

Nichole said...

I LOVE that coffee table from Beeline and am absolutely terrified that they don't list the price on their website. That's usually a good indication that I can't afford it:)

Aesthetic Oiseau said...

Averill - you always have the best pictures! I am DROOLING over every single one of these (much like your decorated ceilings post). Kudos - beautiful post! Love all of these examples.

Karen@StrictlySimpleStyle said...

You have found some beautiful examples of brass done right. I think that it is the shiny, garishness of the '80's brass that we all dislike. This trend is so much better.

Cristin said...

Love brass! Especially today's softer matte version.

I like your selections... the coffee table from Beeline home is the best. Love the Basil Flush Mount lighting too.

xo,
cristin

Couture Carrie said...

Very well written and researched post, darling!
Am loving this trend!

xoxox,
CC

Southern Aspirations said...

I love how you threw in the word "revolting." Our bath is all brass (done in the early 90s originally?) and I couldn't stand it! I thought I hated all gold and was SO nickel-only but I've recently been struck by many of these pieces. Especially the coffee/ocassional tables (many of which you've showed!). Great job. And you're totally right about the shiny v. matte. I also think the tone is a bit different (not as brassy, I wanted to say!).

Allison Hasel said...

I am loving brass right now, too! I am considering a black, white and khaki color scheme with brass accents for our living room.

Kate Coveny Hood said...

Isn't it funny how everything is cyclical but always subject to a new spin? I used to laugh about how people would save certain clothing and accessories claiming that they would be back in style in 10-15 years. Unless you're going for a full on vintage look, your old stuff won't work - it won't have the new perspective. And I assume interiors are the same. I don't have your level of knowledge in this area - but when I think of brass fixtures - I absolutely think of the '80s. What's next? Butcher block counters? Probably. But what will make them "new"?

Style Redux 2 said...

I love vintage and antique brass. A great look and a great post.

Sarah Klassen said...

I love the antique brass look! A little more time-worn of an appearance than typical brass, and I find that this metallic works better with other metals. Last year, I found an amazing antique brass looking vase and couldn't resit its shape (Eighteen Karat/ 18K is the company) -- it surprisingly looks great with my true European antiques and even my new silver pieces. And, I totally agree with you -- amazing with gray!

I really like your examples, Averill. That hanging pendant above the kitchen table is amazing! Bold and perfect in that room...as for your shopping list options, I'm quite drawn to the "Calvin" chair -- I could see it becoming a classic...

Thanks for another fabulous post! You have given me some great ideas :)

SogniSorrisi said...

The right brass piece can look so gorgeous in a room (like that mirror against the pink wall - love!)

Kathysue said...

I love brass so I never got rid of it. This must be where they get the saying,"What goes around comes back again." So true in interior design trends. I love all of your choices. None of these would ever look dated, they are all classic. Great post! Kathysue

walrus studio said...

Really great stuff, where to begin. The Mary McDonald room leaves me speechless. And those yellow chairs from Elle Decor are fab!

Laura@JourneyChic said...

I love the table lamp you found - so unique. Soft brass is quite pretty. Too bad I have the not-pretty brass on all of the door knobs in my house!

margauxhf said...

I love Kelly Wearstler. The room you posted of hers is absolutely gorgeous!

annechovie said...

I am really digging matte gold or brass touches. You put it well, Averill, they do go esp. well with touches of pink. Thanks for your comment and have a great weekend!

Loving Life in Southern California! said...

Aweeee, Kelly Wearstler. Does she ever go wrong? and I love the Elle Decor room. They always know how to throw in a pop of color!

Kara said...

It just goes to show - everything eventually comes back around again. Love that first pic!

Maybe when I'm closer to my guest room redo - I'll have you come up with some accessories/inspiration board for me.

pk @ Room Remix said...

Isn't it funny how things that we used to love now drive us completely crazy? I am liking the new, softer version though. Beautiful inspiration photos here. Have a great weekend, Averill!

Tracy @ Comfort and Luxury said...

Love the "new" burnished brasses. Shiny brass was never my thing anyway so that trend in the 80's totally passed me by, but I might have to get in on it this time around. Beautiful inspiration pieces... I'll take the Ethan Allen planter and a bunch of those Anthro knobs.

You Are My Fave said...

As long as the entire room is covered with it, I like this trend. I'm in love with Kelly Wearstler's office.

La Dolfina said...

I guess brass is back and I'm loving it!
The greek key nut bowl from WSH was gorgeous and very affordable! Thanks for the great post.
Terri

Lettered Cottage said...

LOVING your blog!
So glad I found you today! :-)

Layla

Design Darling said...

i found your blog today via your ten things post on la dolce vita and i'm absolutely obsessed! adding you to my bookmarks immediately. so excited to follow your work!!!

Lawrence said...

What can I say? I love brass. Most of my furniture at home is made of this material. For me it’s elegant and classy. I'm glad I came across your blog because I'm thinking of redecorating my home and your post gave a number of excellent design ideas. I still need to look for a good brass manufacturer, though, coz’ I am in need of this specific brass tubing. Suppliers, thankfully can now be easily searched in the internet.

Well, I certainly enjoy visiting your blogs. Thanks.

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