Brushed nickel finish: still hot or not? That’s a trending topic in cabinet hardware circles around these parts. By that, I mean the internet. If you’re here because you’re remodeling your kitchen or bathroom and can’t decide on your cabinet hardware, I’ll try to give you some direction today.
You might also like this article: Cabinet Hardware People Actually Buy at Amazon. Find out what people are really buying!
What Is Brushed Nickel?
This muted silver hardware finish came roaring into style in the mid-1990’s. I remember when brass suddenly lost its appeal (shine?) and brushed nickel took over everywhere we looked. Cabinet knobs, door knobs, faucets and light fixtures; brushed nickel finish dominated the decorative metal scene for the next 10-15 years.
Not to be confused with satin nickel, which has a bit more sheen, brushed nickel is very durable yet also affordable. That helped its rise as the superstar of hardware finishes as we entered a new century.
I won’t dive into the nuance between brushed nickel, satin nickel, and brushed stainless steel. Although there are differences in the way they are produced and the longevity and durability of each metal, that’s not the point here. All three have a muted silver finish and look very similar; you’re here to find out if it’s still in style, right?
So… Is Brushed Nickel Finish Out of Style?
My answer: sort of
That’s helpful, no? Here’s my rationale. Designers have edged away from brushed nickel for years, indicating it has fallen out of favor. That’s a clear sign that it’s less trendy than in past decades.
Here’s an example. Brushed nickel would work with the stainless appliances, but instead, the designer chose brass for the cabinet hardware.
However, that doesn’t mean it’s completely out of style. If you love it, go for it! Brushed nickel has a lovely, muted finish that looks great with wood cabinetry. If black hardware feels too modern on your wood cabinets, stick with silver.
There will always be a place for a brushed nickel finish in our kitchens and baths. Here’s an example of a beautiful kitchen with cabinet hardware in brushed nickel (or brushed stainless steel, who knows?).
Unless you feel the need to be sharply on trend, why not choose a silver finish that complements your home and decor style? Who cares what the design world is doing? For ideas, jump to this section for tips to make brushed nickel look less 1998 and more up-to-date.
Does Google Think It’s Trendy?
Try googling this question: Is brushed nickel out of style? Most of the top search results say NO, brushed nickel is still going strong. Brushed nickel is timeless. Brushed nickel is here to stay forever. Hmmm. I think they miss the point. Yes, it’s still a top seller, but that doesn’t mean it’s still on trend.
If you think about it, these are reasons why it’s popular at the big box stores:
- Brushed nickel is very affordable, which indicates that it’s a) less trendy but b) popular with home flippers.
- Builders and home flippers are typically men, and not always known for their fashion choices. (Don’t come for me with pitchforks – just look at the homes for sale near you. Pretty safe finishes and design choices right?) They buy in bulk, so this helps sales numbers.
- Stainless steel appliances have been trending for the past two decades and brushed nickel is an easy match. It makes sense that plenty of kitchens feature the same metal finish because it feels safe and looks cohesive.
- Not enough DIYers have read my article on Cabinet Hardware Trends in 2023. Kidding!
Here’s a funny side note. While researching for this article, I came across a 1998 NY Times article explaining why brass was out and brushed nickel was in. Now we’re back to brass ruling the design world, albeit brass with a softer patina rather than bright glossy gold. Everything cycles, doesn’t it?
How to Make Brushed Nickel More Stylish
If you love the soft dynamic that a brushed nickel finish adds to kitchens and baths, here’s how to stay current for 2023. Aim for sleek, modern styling in your brushed nickel knobs, pulls, faucets, and light fixtures. Shoot, just look at the IKEA catalog for inspiration – that store loves the muted silver hardware finish.
Metal finish is secondary to a modern design, so you’ll still be able to modernize your space. Although brass and black have really taken the lead in metal trends, it’s easy to find modern hardware designs in brushed nickel.
The best example is this classic bar pull, featured in the kitchen shown above. Click on the image for pricing.
Consider Another Silver Finish
In case I’ve scared you off from brushed nickel, you could try a different silver finish for a more modern look. Aim for a brighter, polished silver and you’ll be good to go.
Polished nickel is gorgeous and timeless. From Victorian homes to modern designs, polished nickel fits right in and truly stands the test of time. The traditional-style fixtures and hardware in this bathroom look great in a polished finish.
Chrome has more silver undertones than polished nickel, so you might love it in a mid-century-modern design or a very modern home. It has a colder tone than polished nickel when you see them side by side. I chose chrome for the faucets and hardware in our first DIY kitchen remodel.
One of the most durable metals, stainless steel offers an industrial and sleek look to kitchens and baths. It’s shiny, but the less-sparkly cousin to chrome and polished nickel, and it’s a great choice for high-touch spaces.
Best of Brushed Nickel Finish Hardware
If you prefer brushed nickel knobs, pulls, lights, faucets, etc. for your next remodel, here are some great choices in that color family. These are all modern versions in brushed nickel that will help your design stay current for years to come. Click on the images to see prices.
Tons of ideas in these posts as well: