Like any dynamic duo, metal and wood play beautifully to each other’s strengths. A brushed steel pendant, for example, is a lovely complement to a reclaimed wood headboard. Still, it’s about more than just accentuating the positive — mixing the materials also adds an immediate sophistication and depth to space and elevates a ho-hum room into something worthy of showing off on Pinterest.
The reason? Metal and wood are brimming with visual interest. They’re eye candy. Even just one or two pretty pieces can be enough to carry a room, though piling on multiple elements can look fantastic, too. Throw in some natural materials like stone, glass or even leather and you have a “feel-good tactile experience,” explained Cheryl Terrace, an eco/holistic designer and founder of Vital Design Ltd.
For examples of visible texture, you need only to look out your window. Mother Nature is an expert decorator, Terrace pointed out. And sure, a slab of wood obviously makes the outdoor-to-indoor leap easily, but contemporary metal pieces also do a great job of echoing the earthiness and natural beauty of the outdoors.
Terrace is a big fan of decorating with warm metals, like hammered copper, burnished steel and brushed nickel, “for their want-to-touch, layered-look qualities,” she said. “However, it’s also important to incorporate some shine and glam into an environment, like with light-reflecting polished steel.” (Yep, you read that right: It’s totally acceptable—even preferable—to mix metals and woods.)
Most importantly, Terrace relies on a mix of textiles to counteract the inherent coldness of metal and the hard edges of the wood. An antique rug, a fluffy sheepskin or a few colorful pillows can keep the decor from looking too sterile (or too hunting lodge); they are easy to swap out, and they give you an opportunity to put your personal stamp on the space. When done correctly, the wood-metal-textiles combo can make a room look effortlessly stylish, carefully curated, and downright inviting.
Some examples We love:
- Softening up metal dining chairs with chic, upholstered seat cushions
- Anchoring a fir wood-and-steel console table with a graphic rug
- Jazzing up a farmhouse-style dining table with a bold metallic runner.
Worried about going overboard with all the mixing and matching? Don’t be. Wood and metal can visually handle their share of prints, patterns, and other decorative elements. In fact, there’s not much to consider when decorating with the two materials. Terrace has only one rule: Don’t shy away from using a variety of textures in woods, metals, and complementary pieces.
“This is usually best achieved with neutral colors with some pops of color, artwork, pillows, flowers, and plants,” she explained. “Use nature as your guide.”