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Trend Alert: Soft or Antiqued Brass

A few years ago the very notion of brass fixtures was positively revolting. The polished brass faucets, door knobs and shower enclosures that were all the rage in the late '80s and early '90s had become the ugly duckling of the design world by the late '90s and early 2000s as designers and builders began favoring bronze over brass as the new metal du jour. Despite this fall from grace over the last decade, designers have recently been reintroducing brass as an acceptable metal. This time around though, the high sheen of polished or lacquered brass has been replaced by a matte (aka "soft") or antiqued finish.

Kelly Wearstler

The hallmark of the "new" brass is its softness and its subtly. The metal also has a way of giving a certain sophistication and age to even modern interiors. Brass coordinates perfectly with warm neutrals but is also a great foil for the cooler grays that have increased in popularity in the past few years. In short, the metal is just as versatile as nickel, but has the advantage of being a bit more unexpected. Like all metals, soft or antiqued brass is perfect as an accent, so accessories and fixtures are the ideal way to incorporate the trend into your existing decor.

I particularly like how a soft brass works with pinks and corals. The effect is pretty, yet sophisticated. And another example of how well brass works with pinks from the great Mary McDonald:

In this bedroom by Alessandra Branca, brass nail head trim on the headboard coordinates with the vintage brass bedside lamps.

Canadian House & Home

I'm absolutely in love with this hanging pendant lamp. It's shape is traditional, but its oversized scale feels incredibly modern to me. While brass is often thought of as very traditional, this breakfast nook illustrates that it can work just as successfully in a more modern interior.

Elle Decor

A traditional brass nail head trim is the ideal way to subtly work this trend into your home. Don't worry about coordinating your other metals to "match"; oil-rubbed bronze (as shown above) is a beautiful and natural compliment to the warm gold tones in the brass. For a truly eclectic look, try mixing brass with nickel or silver.

This season, major retailers have begun to get on board with the trend and there are a ton of gorgeous (and even affordable) accessories and fixtures in brass to choose from. Below, a selection of my favorites:

Source list (clockwise, from top left): 1. Moreno Nesting Tables from Crate&Barrel ($399). 2. Hampton Upholstered Bench from Ballard Designs ($359 plus cost of fabric). 3. Meurice side table from Jonathan Adler ($295). 4. Albany pendant from Restoration Hardware ($49.99). 5. Van Dyke cocktail table from Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams. 6. Derrick Tower small table lamp from Circa Lighting ($420). 6. Mother-of-Pearl knob from Anthropologie ($14). 7. Greek Key nut bowl from Williams-Sonoma Home ($28). 8. Orion Convex Mirror from Avid-Home ($240). 9. PB Standard drapery rods in Warm Brass from Pottery Barn ($79-$119).

Source List (clockwise, from top left): 1. Nate Berkus Etched Feather Tray from HSN ($69.95). 2. Basil Flush Mount from Circa Lighting ($420). 3. Brass Oval Lattice Planter from Ethan Allen ($119). 4. Brass candleholder from Pottery Barn ($59). 5. Sabine Brass table lamp from Revival Home & Garden ($315). 6. Calvin Leather Chair from Tonic Home ($1,585). 7. Costello Stool from Modern Dose ($365). 8. Egolomise coffee table from Beeline Home. 9. Bamboo brass table from Avid Home ($645).

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