Dark Finishes - What You Need to Know, from Matte Black to Bronze

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For the first decade of the new century, gleaming chrome was the finish of the day. It was 2000, dammit, and we were going to look like the future or die trying.

As chrome faded out, a brass renaissance rose to took its place. Some versions of brass sought to give it a new look, while others intentionally recreated the bright eighties lustre that had only recently been seen as dated. Such are trends. With the level of content created and consumed in today's world, it's been all brass all the time on many décor-imagery outlets, leaving some to feel they have seen enough brass to let it pass. 

Enough, in fact, to look for a replacement. So what's next?

The initial rumblings have begun and it's clear: It won't be long until dark finishes are all the rage.

Dark finishes work in contrast to bright spaces and also complement beautiful dark paints such as some of the shades of green, blue, grey, and brown taking up more of the marketplace. Newer tones like matte black and black stainless steel will dominate kitchens and bathrooms while good old bronze will become a more noticeable, talked-about finish of choice for everything from faucetry to cabinetry to lighting fixtures.

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We definitely released all of our pieces in chrome for a hot minute there. But we've been making nickel, brass, and bronze the basic finish options on every fixture for a long time, and here's why: They're all timeless. Sure, we've upped our brass numbers in stock to accommodate the changing winds of taste and windfalls of fashion. When the brass comeback is officially over, people will still be using it and pieces in it will still look good for decades to come.

The thing about finishes and metals is there are only so many of them. Trends may come and go and come back around again, but there are certain things that are always going to last. What matters is the quality of the piece.

This is partly why, over the past several years, so many interior designers have been urging homeowners to mix metals (as we did in this blog post). Mixing metals speaks of a subtle sophistication, but there's an art to pulling it off.

This kitchen really pulls it off, with our Wadsworth semi-flush mounts contrasting bands of Aged Brass with black metal installed along the ceiling with complementing millwork, coppery finishes on the sconces and floor lamp, a nickel finish on the faucet, and, in the adjacent dining space, Troy's Andromeda tying into our Wadsworth through the use of two-tone finishes, heavy on the Carbide Black dark finish, and matching the faucet with its accents of Polished Nickel. A sophisticated sense of design unity and confidence results from this use of finishes and lighting.

Olivia Korenberg and Jenn Pablo of TwoFold Interiors chimed in on the brass trend, noting that "In general for high-traffic spaces, such as kitchens, we prefer to opt for oil-rubbed bronze or chrome fitting and hardware, which feels a bit more timeless to us. If you are committed to introducing brass accents, consider adding touches with your lighting accessories, or simply opt to mix and match your finishes, which can help to create a design that is more organic."

Choosing a dominant piece in a room, like a light fixture, to be the brass representative and then opting to make other metal in the vicinity bronze, nickel, copper, and chrome creates a balanced look sure to endure the passing of trends. It works other ways, too. A chandelier like Buckingham in bronze can set the scene, with nearby accents in different finishes that complement it. Doing an entirely matching set of faucetry, knobs and pulls, and lighting fixtures in a space may be very exciting at first, but risks soon looking passé when the metal of the moment loses its lustre (metaphorically speaking, of course).

Some new favored finishes have no lustre at all, and that's by design. Matte of any sort and especially matte black are trending. Faucets that contrast dominant matte black with small glinting chrome accents are one creative expression of this new trend. At this year's Salon De Mobile in Milan, matte in a variety of intriguing permutations was one of the dominant design themes, so be on the lookout for how this texture is going to be making waves.

This sort of textural contrast has already been at place for a few years at Hudson Valley. We've created fixtures that place rough black iron and matte black finishes in close proximity to brass and nickel. See Glendale, Roundout, Liberty, Tupelo, and Desmond for a few examples.

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Tupelo

Hudson Valley Lighting

2128-AGB

29"W x24.50"H

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Glendale

Hudson Valley Lighting

8916-AGB

16.25"L x 16.25"W x 30"H

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Roundout

Hudson Valley Lighting

1222-PN

26"L x 26"W x 30.50"H

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Desmond

Hudson Valley Lighting

6044-PN

27"W x36.50"H

Another new variety of dark finish likely to become more popular in bahsh and kitchens is black stainless steel. Starting with an underlayer of black or another dark hue, this new variation on stainless steel is covered over with a glossy sheen which resists fingerprints. No less an authority on all things décor than Nathan Berkus is recommending it for kitchens. "The finish is rich and luxurious, and there is a wamth and patina to it," Berkus says. "I've always believed that a kitchen should feel timeless, using classic materials and design elements that will look good today, and in 10 years' time. It's both sophisticated and handsome, and it will up the ante in any kitchen." 

Black is not going out of style any time soon—or ever. But to go dark one need not go all the way to black.

For Hudson Valley Lighting's purposes, dark finishes mostly means "bronze." (Troy, in particular, has many interesting dark finishes, so be sure to check them out.) Bronze offers a subdued vibe and comes in several versions, each of which has its own character. In order to see our bronze options, just click "Filter" at the top left of any results page and click on the check box next "Bronze" under the "Finishes" drop-down menu. Click next to "Black" and "Mixed Metals" for even more fixtures in a variety of dark finishes.

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Barstow

Hudson Valley Lighting

8819-OB

19.50"W x 30"H

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Barrington

Hudson Valley Lighting

327-HB

17"W x27.75"H

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Charles

Hudson Valley Lighting

3224-OB

24"W x10.50"H

We'll leave you with descriptions of the different varieties of bronze. 

Old Bronze 

This rich finish has deep chocolatey tones up close. Its immediate impression is of history, solemnity, and selectiveness. Muted metal emerges like old treasure in the details, such as in the peaks between fluting. This finish is the perfect accent in rooms drenched in darker colors as well as an excellent complement in lighter spaces.

Distressed Bronze

Rigorous hand-detailing by artisans creates a depth of field in this mellow finish. Distressed Bronze manages to be both rugged and refined. A subdued, brassy underlayer glints through a vigorously edge-rubbed dark upper layer, giving off a warm feel. Its vivid striation lends it well to a vintage and industrial setting, though it is certainly not limited to one.

Brushed Bronze

This finish reveals most of the coppery element in bronze. Of our bronze finishes, it also has the smoothest appearance. We developed this finish to complement similar hues and tones in high-end plumbing fixtures; it's featured primarily in our bath and vanity fixtures. 

Historic Bronze

This bronze finish accentuates the caramel and rose in this legendary metal alloy. When applied to a fixture, this subtle difference imbues the piece with a sense of historic authenticity.