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A new year means new “in” and “out” lists coming your way from the world of design. Gazing into my somewhat cloudy crystal ball, I can predict one thing for sure: You’ll hear that brass is over as the hottest metal, but also that brass is back. To cut through the confusion, I won’t bury the lead. Brass is still the go-to for adding great flavour to kitchens, but there are nuances to getting the recipe just right.

Kitchens can be cold, clinical spaces when you consider our national penchant for white cabinets and stainless-steel appliances. That’s why brass has enduring appeal for its ability to instantly warm up the cool visual temperature of the home’s busiest room, especially when compared to its chrome or nickel counterparts.

It’s a matter of taste, of course, but I think brass shines brightest when it plays a supporting role. Sure, I’ve seen some brass range hoods and even, yes, cabinet fronts that made my jaw drop (in a good way). Those wow moments are fine for carte-blanche budgets and designer show houses meant to provoke and inspire. But for those of us who don’t plan to renovate again for 20 years or more, brass is best saved for special touches such as faucets, cabinet hardware and light fixtures.

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Of course, not all brass is created equally chic. Look for unlacquered finishes – as long as you’re okay with imperfection – that will oxidize and age beautifully with use. If you’re not comfortable with patina and prefer a cleaner look, brushed brass gets a big yes for its soft, satiny glow.

Don’t waste a minute fretting about mixing metals, it’s actually the secret to a layered, sophisticated space. In fact, I reckon the only reason we’re discussing brass ennui at all is because we’ve seen a lot of brass-everywhere kitchens in the last few years that felt trendy and one note. When brass is integrated judiciously and with intention, it’s a classic choice.

I wouldn’t give you any advice I wouldn’t follow myself, so here’s a final disclosure: I renovated my kitchen eight years ago with an unlacquered brass bridge faucet, brushed-brass cabinet hardware and brass accents on the pendants over the island. These warm-toned ingredients, mixed in with a stainless-steel fridge, stove and range hood, and butcher-block counters, make the kitchen sizzle. Zero regrets.

Need some advice about interior design and decor? Send your questions to personaldesigner@globeandmail.com.

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