Brass is Back

By Sallie
Tuesday, Sep 19th, 2023

When we say “brass finish” what comes to mind? Dated polished brass handrails, chandeliers and etageres? That bright shiny brass is staying in the 90s. What’s here to stay is the gold tone itself, found in unlacquered brass, satin brass, and French gold finishes.

Brass has that underlying warm tone that we’ve seen in design more and more. We want our homes to feel cozy and inviting. Warm tones help to foster those feelings.

While we are mainly seeing a brass finish on door and cabinet hardware, it’s being used to dress fireplaces and kitchen hoods. Plumbing fixtures have gravitated towards the finish, and it’s still a staple finish in lighting. Sometimes a customer will waver in their decision to use a brass finish because they’re afraid it’s too trendy and will go out of fashion again. But there are ways to keep this finish classic and timeless.

The trick is to either have it be the only bold statement or allow it to be in small doses throughout a space.

Brass Hardware in a Bathroom

Make a Statement

For the bold statement you could go as far as flanking an entire fireplace in the golden finish or have a kitchen hood with gleaming brass accents instead of stainless steel. If that feels too strong for you, pepper the finish into your space with lighting, cabinet hardware and accent pieces. Either way pairing brass with other finishes such as black, stainless steel or even polished nickel removes the heaviness that can make a space with too much brass feel dated.

You may run into the fact that most manufacturers call their brass a different name: Satin Brass, Unlacquered Brass, French Gold, Polished Brass, etc. All have rich undertones but are subtly different in their own ways. It’s always best to get a sample and try to keep your finishes as similar as possible, though an exact match isn’t always necessary.

Brass fixtures in a kitchen

Choose Your Brass

Unlacquered Brass provides a living finish that will patina over time and use. Unlacquered brass has been trending since the late 2010s and adds variations of texture and color over time. We see a lot of this finish used for exterior door hardware and lighting.

Satin Brass, sometimes called Brushed Brass, has the same warmth as traditional brass without the high polish look and upkeep. It can have a brushed look and seems to be the most common of the brass finishes on the market.

French Gold, sometimes called Burnished Brass, has a deeper glamour about it. Often appearing to have a darker undertone, it can give off a glow and is a softer statement than the bright polished brass of the 80s and 90s.

Lacquered Polished Brass is available, believe it or not. Still seen mostly in traditional homes as door or cabinet hardware, polished brass adds brightness. Lacquered brass will always look shiny and new; no upkeep needed.

Antique Brass looks exactly like it sounds. It has the appearance of a piece of brass you sourced at an antique store with years of tarnish and patina. This is a great option if you don’t want to wait on the natural patina process that happens to unlacquered brass.

What Designers are Saying

Metal accents, like door hardware cabinet hardware, plumbing fixtures and lighting are much like jewelry in a space in a lot of ways. It can be the perfect finishing touch to the whole scheme. We love how a beautiful brass pull stands out on a dark cabinet or a brass faucet elevates an otherwise neutral cabinet and countertop. Brass is timeless and can add a warmth that isn't available from chrome, stainless or black fixtures. We foresee brass sticking around for a long time. With the trends lending more toward a warmer palette and the opportunity to mix brass with other metals, there is no reason to fear bringing brass into your project.

Heather Eubanks & Hannah Davis

The Design Collaborative

Wilson Lumber values partnerships with Emtek, Delaney and Schlage for brass hardware.

Featured Projects

Photos courtesy of Design Theory Interiors, Wilhouse Designs and The Design Collaborative.

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