Back in the day, when I started out in the interior design field, polished brass was the standard finish for upscale projects. Door knobs and levers, hinges, bathroom faucets and accessories, cabinet hardware and chandeliers or decorative lighting were predominantly seen in polished brass. Occasionally, polished nickel or brushed nickel would make an appearance for bathroom faucets and hardware. Polished chrome was also popular for bathroom fixtures.
Then, brushed nickel became a very popular alternative to polished brass, especially for transitional or contemporary residential projects and for commercial projects. Brushed nickel became the go-to choice for kitchen cabinet hardware, bathroom faucets, fixtures and accessories, chandeliers and pendant lights, and door knobs and levers. Polished chrome continued to enjoy popularity for bathroom items.
These days, two very popular finishes are quite different from each other. Dark and bold (black or oil rubbed bronze) or light and elegant (brushed or satin brass) are two very popular current trends for cabinet and door hardware, lighting and plumbing fixtures and accessories for 2019 – 2020.
Satin brass (or brushed brass, satin gold, etc.) is a beautiful and elegant finish. With that in mind, I’d recommend limiting it to kitchens, dining rooms, baths and certain types of lighting like chandeliers or pendant lighting so that it seems special and dressy. I’d stay away from using it throughout an entire home (i.e. for all door hardware). It looks great with blue or white cabinet finishes and with classic Carrara marble or quartz counter tops.
Dark finishes such as black or oil rubbed bronze are very popular right now but I think the trend may be fairly short lived. I can see dark finishes staying popular for door hardware and for kitchens (faucets, cabinet hardware and pendant light finishes), but not for dressy dining room chandeliers, flush mounted ceiling lighting, or bathroom faucets and fixtures. But that’s my take on it. I work with several builders and realtors, and dark finishes are in high demand for new home construction and sales. It’ll be interesting to see how long the trend in dark finishes continues.
On a general note, it’s perfectly OK to mix finishes. Just because you like black cabinet knobs, don’t feel obligated to select black finishes for plumbing, lighting or door hardware. I often blend black or oil rubbed bronze with brushed nickel or even polished chrome. That way, the finishes don’t get monotonous or heavy looking. It works!