Some things just naturally go together: Peanut butter and jelly. Moonlight and kisses. Kardashians and cameras.
Another enduring combination is matte black and warm metals. Used together, they add instant glamor to any room, thanks to their yin-and-yang union of light absorption and lustrous reflection, recessive cool and earthy heat. And unlike a Kardashian union, this marriage will almost certainly stand the test of time.
“I think it’s classic,” says interior designer Rachel Hutchens of Maven Home Interiors in Utah, who has used the combination in a couple of projects, from an art deco apartment to a new prairie-style house. “It’s funny how it can work for different time periods,” she says.
When we talk about warm metals, we’re referring to gold, brass, copper and bronze — autumnal finishes that connote fire and earthiness, as opposed to their chillier counterparts, chrome and nickel. (The latter two also look good with black, but aren’t having a “moment” right at this, er, moment.) Paired with black, the contrast is subtle but effective, the two finishes playing off each other like musicians in a jazz trio.
Romance in the Kitchen
While all-white kitchens remain extremely popular, you rarely hear them described as sexy or seductive. Which might explain why we’re seeing more matte black in the kitchen. “I feel like a lot of people are tired of white kitchens,” says kitchen and bath designer Terri Sears of Hermitage Kitchen Gallery in Nashville. “I don’t think white kitchens are necessarily going away, but I think people are willing to take a little bit more risk.”
Appliance manufacturers are joining them, with companies such as Frigidaire, Samsung, Whirlpool and LG producing refrigerators and ranges in black stainless steel, which Frigidaire is calling “a new and updated alternative” to the classic silver finish. It’s more than just a novelty, however. When rendered in black, stainless steel takes on a luster and depth that’s inviting and — unlike conventional black appliances — doesn’t suck all the light out of a room.
Warm metals are a natural accompaniment to black in a kitchen. “It’s a fantastic combination when it’s married together,” says Sears, who used a brass range hood, light fixtures and hardware in a Nashville kitchen outfitted with black cabinets and a Delft-like blue-and-white floor. “Black is kind of a neutral,” she notes. “You can bring so much color in with black and it’s not going to clash.”
Hardware manufacturer Richelieu makes a wide array of knobs and pulls in warm metallic finishes like gold, copper, brass and bronze that pair beautifully with black cabinets. Some of the company’s offerings even combine warm metals with matte black in a single piece, pairing ebony wood or leather handles with brass supports in a pull, for instance, or brass or copper stems with a black crossbar in a tailored, T-shaped knob. These would look great with black cabinets, or as a way to add a bit of urban sophistication to wood cabinetry.
Faucet companies such as Kohler and Brizo have joined the black bandwagon, as well. The latter’s Litze kitchen faucet is runway-chic, with a matte black body accented by a burnished gold handle and spout that add just the right amount of bling. Range hoods are another great way to add matte black and warm metals. Several manufacturers, such as Hoodsly and CopperSmith, sell ebony range hoods accented with metal rivets or straps, or — as in the case of Hoodsly’s sinuous curved hood — a broad brass band around the bottom.
Luxury in the Loo
Rachel Hutchens transformed a modest Salt Lake City bathroom into a vision of Hollywood glamor by painting the walls black, installing matching tile wainscoting, and accenting the space with brass hardware, towel racks, lighting and picture frames. “I was so nervous about doing that,” the designer admits. But as soon as she saw the results, she was sold on the look — as was her client.
In a Nashville bathroom designed by Terri Sears, big brass knobs punctuate a black vanity like buttons on a Chanel suit. “Those are very fun,” acknowledges the designer, who crowned the vanity with brass faucets, sconces and mirrors. “We wanted the bathroom to be bold, but neutral,” adds Sears. “That’s where the black comes into play.”
Although neither designer included a black toilet, there are plenty of options for those, as well, including a matte, one-piece model from Swiss Madison that looks like something out of an art gallery. It would be a great way to introduce pizzazz in a powder room — or inspire conversation.
You can even get on-trend with a heated towel rack. Amba offers models in matte black that almost look like sculptures. The company produces versions with gold, bronze and brass finishes, too, which would look very stylish against a matte black backdrop. All of Amba’s towel racks are designed to coordinate with the finishes in Brizo plumbing fixtures, but would look just as fine with fixtures from other companies, as well. Besides keeping your towels toasty, these racks help prevent mold and mildew from growing and can help heat the bathroom, too.
Lighting that Shines
Metal lighting fixtures have been around since the dawn of electricity, but pair them with a black backdrop and suddenly you have a look that feels up-to-the-minute. In Hutchens’ Salt Lake City project, contemporary brass sconces from RH flank a brass-framed mirror mounted on a black wall. The contrast makes the lustrous metal pop like a strand of pearls on a little black dress — and is equally timeless.
Lighting that combines matte black and metal in a single fixture instantly evokes urban sophistication with a touch of midcentury modern style. (Use them in a country cottage at your own peril.) Perfect over a kitchen island, Visual Comfort’s Hicks pendant features a black shade and milk-glass globe bound together by a band of antique brass. Matte black also appears in the company’s conical Cleo pendant, whose burnished-brass interior rim adds a golden glow to tabletops and the people sitting at them.
Lighting that not only looks great, but makes people look good. Now that’s what we call a win-win.