Gold and brass tones are returning to fine finishes

Tired of the standard chrome and stainless-steel finishes for your bathroom and kitchen fixtures? According to the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA), shades of gold and brass are the hottest hues in today’s kitchens and baths.
If fixtures are the “jewelry” of the bathroom, then gold or brass, depending on your taste and style, might be just the ticket to add some pizzazz, patina and a unique twist to your interior décor. While gold may appeal to those with more formal, luxurious taste, brass is the choice for those who prefer a nautical, industrial or ethnic style.
Pasadena designer Cynthia Bennett, noting that “everything has been white and gray,” has two current projects reflecting the gold and brass trend. “We are doing a powder room with gold fixtures and a gold ceiling and lavish wallpaper that’s an addition for a traditional home built in the 1940s in Pasadena,” she says. “It’s a very opulent look.”
For her other project, a young South Pasadena couple’s Craftsman home, the clients decided to mix it up. “The kitchen is stainless steel, but they wanted brass faucets,” Bennett says, adding that hardware in old houses is often brass. “We’ve always used gold or brass lamps as well as mirrors as accent pieces, which can stand on their own in a room and don’t have to match anything.”

Go for the Gold
If your mind immediately goes to “bling-bling” Las Vegas or flashy Trump Tower when someone mentions gold, you might want to rewire your brain and take a fresh look at this design trend.
California Faucets is seeing “a modern-day gold rush” with an increasing number of orders trending in gold as well as brass. This SoCal manufacturer offers one of the largest varieties of premium gold and brass finishes on the market. Tones dubbed Lifetime Gold, French Gold and Lifetime Polished Gold add a touch of glamor; brass finishes like Satin Brass, Satin Bronze and Polished Brass are less about bling and more about subtle beauty. The artisan finishes, produced by hand at the company’s Huntington Beach factory, allow consumers to venture outside their chrome and nickel comfort zones and experiment with an alternative decorative color spectrum.
Another stand-out is the Venezia faucet collection by Fantini, the Italian design firm founded in 1947 by two brothers. Venezia faucets, designed by Milan-based designers Matteo Thun and Antonio Rodriguez, are architectural in form, with a hexagonal spout and elegant crystal handles embellished with black or white serigraphy. Fantini collaborates with artists and architects on its fine bathroom and kitchen collections crafted with high-quality materials in modern Italian style.
Gold is also turning up in chic kitchens. Consider appliances with gold trim, as shown in this stunning kitchen from Ultra Bathroom & Kitchen (above) in Arcadia. “Chrome is less expensive and popular and always nice, but a lot of manufacturers are expanding their lines to include rose gold and brushed bronze,” says Ultra’s Frank Rojas, adding that wine racks with brass from True Residential are “popular right now.”
You can choose between cobalt-blue or matte-white finishes with gold hardware — we love the pop of blue as an unexpected twist to a kitchen design. Combine gold fixtures with white marble counters or tiles or contrast them against black materials for a sophisticated upgrade. Set them against pale wood for a Scandinavian feel. Just don’t overdo it or your bling could crash like the 1929 stock market.

Natural Brass
Known for its ability to weather the elements, brass was used in Victorian times for streetlamps and subway entrances as well as in the shipping industry. In recent decades, it was almost impossible to source unfinished brass, which develops a natural patina with time. (Not to your taste? Then keep it polished to a brassy shine.) Muted, satin or brushed brass can add warmth to a kitchen or bath design. Mix it with handmade tiles for a French-country or Mexican-inspired look.
Kallista is a great source for unfinished brass fixtures. The Unlacquered Brass finish is available on its Quincy and One kitchen faucet line, as well as its Bellis bathroom products. Inspired by 1920s plumbing, the Bellis collection freshens traditional spaces, offering the familiarity and comfort of traditional design with a twist.

Decorative accents
Brass or gold finishes in lighting and mirrors throughout the home can add decorative pop to an otherwise “metal-free” room. Design within Reach has a variety of smart-looking desk and freestanding lamps — from Flos’ geometric Captain Flint floor lamp (at right) by London-based designer Michael Anastassiades (whose work is in the Museum of Modern Art’s permanent collection), to the nautically influenced, vintage-style Oval Bulkhead Light designed by Davey Lighting, a company that traces its origins to the shipyards of 19th-century London. Davey & Co. lights graced the decks of many a famous ocean liner, including the Titanic, and these handcrafted gems are still made in England using century-old techniques.
For a truly unique accent, add an antique gold or brass piece, like the 18th-century Ottoman giltwood turban stand from First Dibs, a distinctive object that transcends centuries of design trends.