As a living material, brass adds warmth, richness and sophistication to the home. Yet, it also offers a lived-in, earthy quality as it oxidizes and wears, especially in the kitchen.
It’s a nice change after years of sleek, modern design and decorating the home with stainless, chrome and other cold metals. The copper in brass also makes it antibacterial and great for germy rooms such as the kitchen and bath.
“Brass has such a wonderful quality because you find that as it changes over time things are telling a story,” said Courtney Lake, a 2015 High Point Market Style Spotter and owner of Monogram Décor, an interior design firm in the San Francisco Bay Area.
The metal, an alloy of copper and zinc, is strong,. it won’t rust and it’s relatively inexpensive. Brass making dates back ancient times for utensils, jewelry, vases and decorative pieces.
Today’s brass is tasteful and elegant, adding a glow to interiors and a changing look as it patinas. Designers and trend spotters are seeing brass in hardware, furniture, faucets, light fixtures and home accents. It’s being used in the kitchen on doorknobs and pulls, faucets, range hoods and lighting.
Designer Tobi Fairley recently complete a penthouse with a brass-filled kitchen and other brass elements throughout. She also debuted new product lines at the spring High Point Market.
“It’s a natural progression from the cooler metal shades that have been prevalent for so long,” said Fairley, of Tobi Fairley & Associates in Little Rock, Arkansas. “Now the trend is to go with warmer metal finishes, or even to mix cool and warm metals. And it is a great trend that is happening throughout the home.”
Changing out cabinetry hardware or a light are easy DIY projects.
“Or by adding a brass light fixture, bowls for fruit, or other accessories,” Fairley said. “If you want to go bolder, you can also pull in brass with a range hood or by switching out your faucets and fixtures.”
In other rooms, brass is making its way back to beds, ornate light fixtures and wallpaper, Lake said.
“Lighting is one of the easiest ways to swap something out,” he said. “More and more furniture makers are using it in tables and accent pieces.”
Depending on the look, there are three main finishes: shiny brass, burnished brass and a tarnished, or patina, finish.
In its newly cast state, brass has a golden hue that can be polished to a shiny glow. Over time, without regular polishing or a protective lacquer coating, brass will darken as copper molecules are exposed to oxygen.
Brass is fairly easy to care for, especially if you want a more worn look. Brass also can take a lot of wear of tear and holds up better than nickel and chrome.
It depends on the look you’re going for — old world and lived in, or warm yet rich — as to which finish to choose, Lake said.
“It’s a living material so it will patina over time,” he said. “If you want it to darken, leave it alone and let nature take its course. There’s not a lot of maintenance associated with it. You know it’s going to age, so it can be used for exactly what it’s meant to be used for.”