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What’s Your Take? Brass and Bronze in Decor

You might not have noticed, but there’s a little sporting event happening right now in London.

I’ve been completely sucked in to the Olympics, have you? The emotion, the stories, the pressure. I can’t look away.

Andy and I like to entertain ourselves by deciding how well we would perform against the Olympians in various sports. Could we score a single point in beach volleyball? Could we swim one length of the pool in the time it takes for the real athletes to complete a full relay? Do I weigh less than the women on the U.S. gymnastics team… combined?)

Also, Andy has been practicing “sticking his gymnastics landing” by leaping from the couch onto the floor. No, not my two-year-old. My fully-grown husband.

In honor of the Olympics, let’s talk medals.

Er, metals. Brass and bronze, which seem to have quietly crept back into trendy home decor sometime when we were all undergoing intense athletic training. I mean overeating.


If you’d have asked how I feel about bronze decor a few years ago? I would have scoffed at you and turned up my nose at that dated junk. I would have been picturing the shiny yellow fixtures in homes in the 80s and 90s. Stuff like this:

Shimmering gilded boob light of yore


But actually? It’s kinda growing on me. Designer Emily Henderson does bronze like no one else. Look how beautiful:
Decorating bookshelves - Designed  by Emily Henderson
Designed by Emily Henderson
Gold lamp by Emily Henderson
Designed by Emily Henderson
Gold wallpaper by Emily Henderson
Designed by Emily Henderson

I think the trick is avoiding the yellow shiny polished brass in favor of hefty bronze with a deep patina.

If you’re wondering about the difference between brass and bronze, brass is a metal alloy made of copper and zinc with a high malleability, whereas bronze – just kidding. I don’t know what I’m talking about.

Increasing you can spend wads of cash on unlacquered brass faucets and fixtures like this.
unlacquered brass faucet in home decorating

Removing the lacquer takes off a protective layer and allows the fixture to weather beautifully with use.

waterworks etoile unlacquered brass shower fittings

Waterworks Etoile Collection
It’s only about $20,000. Just bring your lunch one extra day each week, for like 38 years. You can afford it.

Lately I’ve found myself being more and more attracted to this weathered bronze/brass/whatever, like here on our office bookshelves:

And bronze pieces keep jumping into my hands at yard sales. (You can find some GREAT deals on bronze pieces right now on yard sales. Most people still hate it, I think.)

…And that brings me to the question of this post.

I want to know what YOU think.

Do you hate it? Or love it? Like it only in certain situations? Or is it slowly growing on you like a persistent honeyed rash? (What?) Would you like to sponsor my husbands Olympic-couch-leaping dreams?

P.S.: Check out the other “What’s Your Take” posts and weigh in on juju hats, jacobean fabrics, Turkish kilim rugs and faux flowers.)

Let's connect


  1. 1. Upon being sucked into the games, I proclaimed I wanted to raise an Olympic athelete. Rick pointed out that neither one of us are remotely athletic. Is that a problem?
    2. Those gymnastics girls might look small but you can bet they have plenty of pounds in MUSCLE. I can’t believe the muscle. I flex my own and cry a little. (Not really.)
    3. Brass and bronze are growing on me, too, in the right finish!

    • And that should obviously be athlete not athelete. Ugh. You should probably be able to type that word correctly if you want to spawn one. An Olympic athlete, not a typed word.


  2. if you had asked me 9 years ago when we bought our first house, i would have said, “no way, you will, like totally never catch me with brass or gold in my home….. gag me with a spoon!” but these days i say “bring it on!” (i am much cooler now, too and not so much a valley girl)

  3. Tomorrow on the blog you will see that the brassy bug has bitten me. I swore I wouldn’t go there but I did. $.80 brassy picture frame…and I don’t have to spray paint you. Yes, please.

  4. Isn’t it crazy how things come back into style? I wonder how long it’ll take for my office to just rotate back into style. if I just leave it with the wood paneling and green shag carpet, do you think it’ll be super cool in 10 years?

    I love some brass lamps and accessories. I’m not sure I’m ready to embrace faucets and permanent things.

  5. It started slowly for me. First I realized I wasn’t repulsed by the brass cabinet hardware in a beautiful magazine kitchen…Hmm, that’s weird, I normally hate brass. Is something wrong with me?..Then aged brass trinkets started jumping in my arms at yardsales…I slipped, but I can quit anytime I want…Then I bought a brass trunk and there was no denying my addiction. I’m in. Way in. But I already wonder how fast I’ll get over it. Lately I actually find myself looking at copper….But I normally hate copper. Is there something wrong with me?…

    • PS — I’m currently spending a week at the in-laws’ place where we are not watching any Olympics. I’m being polite, but it’s KILLING me. (Missing the Olympics, not the in-laws. They’re cool.)

  6. See I don’t think it’s necessarily the metals themselves that are bad but the nasty trends they’re attached too. We grimace at boob lights gilded like a Greek temple but it’s not the brass’s fault, rather poor design.
    Point is: I’m an equal opportunity metal lover. I just stay away from trends. (or try)

  7. I have been snatching up all the brass pelicans I can get my hands on in the thrift stores for the last 6 months in anticipation of this majority rules. I kept telling my friends to buy it while it’s cheap. I think bloggers are definitely on board since we see so much of it but not sure about the world at large. More for us, right?

  8. I like it in SOME instances. Like on your book shelf. but…fixtures…i just cant….

  9. I like certain brassy accessories, but I pray that brassy boob light never comes back in! Haha! But I’m all for lamps and vases!

  10. I’m a sucker for all metals and I love to mix ’em up, too. But I keep it minimal with the brass/bronze… not sure why but I don’t like a whole lot of it.
    Hope y’all aren’t watching the wrestling or judo — could get ugly around your house. 🙂
    xo Heidi

  11. It’s all about the Olympics here too … my daughter is doing cartwheels, roundoffs and handstands all over the house … and too funny that your husband is sticking his landings! Sign me up as a sponsor …

    And I’m on the brass/bronze fence. I feels like I’ve been eradicating it from my home … and now you want me to bring it back in? I think in small doses and in the beautiful way you used it on your bookshelves works beautifully!



  12. That’s it. I’m taking down my brass boob decor, all three staring at me right now (in the lighting world they come in 3’s not 2’s) and spray painting them. Then they will be silver or nickle, or bronze boobs.


  13. I’m not a huge fan of either, but small doses here and there is fine by me. Our hall bath was disgust-o and just always looked so dingy because we just don’t have the time/money/care to do a complete overhaul right now. We painted the cabinets, replaced lights, hung a gorgeous Martha Stewart mirror, but the off white and brushed nickle knobs on the vanity were KILLING me. Oil rubbed bronze looked funny (that’s what 90% of the fixtures are in there) but an aged bronze knob actually tied it all together. Go figure!
    And I cannot tell you how hard I laughed at your husband practicing his landing skills from the couch. I mean, really, wake-the-baby-up kind of hard laughing.

  14. I am very fickle when it comes to these metals, sometimes I see them and love them and sometimes I see them and think ‘ahhhh, divert your eyes!’ … I’m love the weather brass nautical details though.

    Good luck to Andy, I’m pulling for him!

  15. i am loving it lately! but then again, i pretty much love everything that Emily Henderson loves :). i love that brass elephant on your shelves!!

  16. Sorry.. I hate it. Even the “updated” type. Maybe it is because i live in an 80s tract home with brass everywhere. I spend way too much time trying to get rid of it. I will NOT be bringing any back! 🙂

  17. Part of me just cannot get over the horrid 80’s flavor. The other part of me thinks it somehow feels right….

  18. We are breaking rules around here for the Olympics: eating in the livingroom, in front of the TV, wolfing down our food, staying up past bedtimes~ the Olympics are on people! That’s hard for me to admit, neat-nick, planner that I am. 🙂
    I have a few older brass pieces that are cool because they aren’t shiny ( like a smaller version of the elephant in the last picture).And my goodness, I can see why you adore the Waterworks Etolle Collection faucet, but I can’t say I’m up for the whole trend again.

  19. Absolutely watching all olympic couch leaping events!!

    Actually just today was thinking that it might be better for the athletes (real olympic-tier athletes) and fans (generally couch leapers like me and other spouses) — if a form of the olympic games was held more frequently than only every four years


  20. I LOVE your bronzey elephant. You have inspired me to give bronze a chance…

  21. Definitely a rash of epic proportions! Never liked it back in the day but love it now! In small doses that is! And as long as it’s not shiny! You did it right – love your little elephant!

  22. I’m not sure why but, like you, if you had asked me this question a few years ago, I would have turned my nose up or probably slapped you but now I would sigh in admiration! Saying that, I think brass and bronze should be used in moderation. Now I just need to scroll back up and have 5 minutes to swoon over those plumbing fixtures.

  23. I love Emily Henderson so I’ve been trying to venture out of my polished nickel safety blanket to the brass/broze/gold world. It hasn’t been super successful, but I’m slowly trying:)

  24. As I stated in my previous comment. Love brass! Can’t get enough of it. I like to use it in small doses and mix it up with silver as well 🙂

  25. Oh god, yeah, I’ve been on the gold/bronze/brass wagon for a while now and I just can’t get enough of it. Even to the point that I begrudge the fact that when we started on the kitchen remodel, I naturally went with stainless steel and while my entire house has gone to the ‘gold’ side, my kitchen feels like it’s just slightly out of touch (those fixtures you show are the BOMB). Bronze and gold are the future man. And no, I would have NEVER thought a few years ago that I would be so into the look. I think it gives a room warmth – silver/stainless steel/chrome actually feels a bit cold & dated to me now! It’s not caught on much here yet in the UK (at least not in the main stream) because all the shops only seem to carry silver anything – it’s so rare that I find brass/bronze/gold new but I’m doing wonderfully with eBay and spraypaint! 🙂

    Picturing olympic effort into couch jumping sounds like the best thing ever and should definitely be made into an event – Love it! Can’t get enough of it at the moment, it’s on ALL THE TIME in our house. Kinda nice that it’s taking place here in England, the Olympic fever has definitely touched everyone 🙂 xxx

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  27. I love brass and always have, not the dull stuff, the shiny stuff, but done tastefully. I just remodeled a bath (took out an extra hall closet and unused fireplace to add space to master bath). The theme is pale aquas and almost-white, with a light sand colored tile floor and step-in shower. Nickel or stainless fixtures and hardware would have left the room feeling too cold, so I used brass selectively to warm up the room.

    The shower head and control, towel racks, lavatory faucet, two wall lights on either side of a massive mirror and small knobs on cabinet doors are shiny brass. The heavy intricate mirror frame I gold-leafed in an somewhat antiqued look. The grab bars in the shower, toilet hinge, and shower drain are stainless for practical reasons. Brass toilet hinges get grungy and green too quickly (have done that before) and are hard to clean and sanitize. A brass shower drain would likely darken over time, and the grab bars do not come in a knurled version (with cross hatches laser cut into them for a sure grip when hands are soapy) unless one spends a fortune. I am handicapped so safety was an issue.

    The shower has decorative rows of clear glass aqua tiles that reflect jeweled tones (like in a soap bubble) and shiny gold when light is reflected at just the perfect angle. Otherwise, they look clear. I kept everything very light and clean and the brass just… works.

    I do not follow whatever home fashion trend is the craze (marble countertops that look like ground up dirt, stainless and nickel everywhere), dark bronze and cherry, but always seem to be ahead of some of the trends. I had muted turquoise accent walls at least four years before they started showing up on magazines. I have shiny brass in this spot and that and probably always will.

    I just picked up enough new-looking shiny brass Kwikset door knobs/latches to redo my entire house at the Habitat Restore for something like $1.50 each. Those of you who do not like shiny brass just keep donating it and I’ll buy it selectively!

    I do have two brass living room lamps that are just too shiny and have been contemplating how I will update them/tone them down. Probably will go the Rub-n-Buff route, maybe a very light partial spraying with a darker duller gold.

    Thanks for the article!

    • summgardner says:

      I would love if you posted a photo of your bathroom. I also have polished brass in my bath and now that it is “in” I plan to keep it.

      • @summgardner -Will do, but give me time to clean and straighten first, LOL! I have been meaning to post pics on Pinterest for a while anyway. I let all female visitors/guests use my bath instead of the hall bath and almost everyone comments positively on it. I have kept your request in my Yahoo inbox until I can get it done.


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