Silver toned metals read confidently cool in a provocative decor recently imagined by Alice Lane Interiors. Creative Director Jessica Bennett welcomes us inside the home and shares the secrets to using cool metals here and in other chic interiors she and her team create. 

Jessica Bennett

Take a look at some of today’s most compelling interiors and you may notice an uptick in the appearance of cool-toned metals and finishes. Jessica Bennett and Suzanne Hall—celebrated designers and hosts of our fave podcast Dear Alice—recently responded to a client’s “no brass or gold” directive for her contemporary decor. They chose cool metallics to deliver style and sparkle that make the spaces really shine. We were instantly wowed, so we asked Bennett about these materials and finishes and to share the ways she and her team used them to elevate the style of this and other projects that are undeniably cool.

  “We have been seeing the cool metal tones pop up and dominate the fashion industry for at least 3 years now, and we knew it would carry over into interiors,” says Bennett. Citing patent chrome purses by Coach, alien-like futuristic sunglass shapes and blades, all things Kardashian and even chrome-toned fingernails, she explains, “The coolest of the cool have been at it for years.” Cool metals have a clean, modern feel that can help drive retro or vintage modern style. “Think of all of the beautiful vintage Ralph Lauren cars, crystal chandeliers, silvered mirrors,” she exclaims. “And with no yellow or golden tones, they never really feel old.”


“I always love a range hood in nickel,” says Bennett. “It feels more culinary, and I love the sheen of it against a paint grade or stain grade kitchen.” Above, a head-turning hood makes a bold statement with its organic, polished nickel form cuffed in blackened nickel.


Bennett has a simple strategy for creating the biggest impact when layering eye-catching elements like cool metals into a space. “Start by layering them at eye level, “she advises. “You’ll get extra credit for them.” High-flying chandeliers, for example, may not instantly catch your attention, but lamps, table-top accessories and other mid-level additions make an immediate impression. In the home’s library, Bennett and her team used framed art, a swing-arm sconce and a nickel-and-lucite table base to place shots of shimmering cool metallics front and center.


Yes, you can—and should—mix metals, contends Bennett. “Not leaning too hard in any one direction keeps the home feeling beautiful no matter the current trend,” she says. And for those not ready to commit to cool metals, Bennett advises easing in gradually. “Introduce them slowly. Once you start having an eye for it, you’ll be confident to do more.” These homeowners shunned brass and gold finishes, but the Alice Lane design team snuck in brass C tables and a gold-handled tray to counter—and complement—the living room’s sleek steel-framed chair and ottoman and, across the room, an arced chrome floor lamp.


There are many ways to introduce a glimmering metallic look beyond metals. Bennett includes mirrors, silver leafed ceilings, mercury glass lighting, wallcoverings and platinum-finished furnishings among them. She and her team dressed the home’s two-story stairway wall with a composition of vertical mirrors that reflect light while doubling the visual impact of the stunning, nickel-accented glass railing.  


“I see the nickel, silvered and chrome finishes in an edited, chic way,” says Bennett, who turns to “all-things hardware” from drapery rods and doorknobs to plumbing suites, door hinges and cabinetry hardware to showcase these cool materials. Discreet ledge pulls, plumbing fixtures and even the window cranks shimmer in cool nickel, delivering  jewelry-like accents to the streamlined kitchen.


“If comfort and warmth is the goal, using the right colors with your metals will give you those feelings, as will adding natural light, living finishes, patterns and textures,” says Bennett. In the dining room, nickel-finished chairs deliver a dash of reflective decadence to the stand-out space, while the thick rug, cascading-chain chandelier and live-edge wood table top inject soothing texture and materiality.\


Look to the home’s hardest working spaces for adding cool-metal magic. “Because we use the metals primarily in kitchens and baths, we pair them with the finest finishes in the home,” Bennett says. Think marble, wood finishes, mirrors, lighting’s glass crystals and more. “Nickel just shines against all of those gorgeous natural living finishes.”   

Want more expert tips on utilizing these finishes? Read up on Bennett’s take on nickel vs chrome.

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Brad Mee
Brad Mee is the Editor-in-Chief of Utah Style & Design Magazine.