If chrome seems too predictable, and raw brass too expensive, consider matte black hardware with gold accents—an of-the-moment combo plate for contemporary kitchens and baths.

Black and gold bathroom hardware
Greg Birman

Indulge us for a moment to talk about kitchen and bath fixture trends the same way we consider food fads. Polished chrome is the standard, meat-and-potatoes choice that will never go out of style. Brushed nickel has a caramel macchiato vibe—big in 2005, but a little decadent and there’s a chance you could regret it later. Un-lacquered brass hardware is the equivalent of a poké bowl. It was suddenly everywhere around 2018, and it won’t ever be a bad idea, but it might not be for everyone.

Enter matte black faucets, door handles, and cabinet pulls, which are like the plant-based burgers of hardware design. They burst on the scene over the last couple of years, and they took a minute to adjust to. But they’re surprisingly good. When you mix them with gold and brass, they can be very, very good. And they’re here to stay.

Emtek black and gold bathroom hardware

Greg Birman

“Black and gold bathrooms got very hot very fast,” says William Zhang, director of design and product innovation for Emtek, a door hardware brand based in Southern California that specializes in custom-assembled, mix-and-match knobs, plates, and pulls. “If you’re a hardware brand that doesn’t offer a black finish with gold accents in 2021, you’re missing out.”

Rob Diaz, a Los Angeles-based designer with a long, celebrated career in residential real estate, is a fan—and he knows a thing or two about trends.

black kitchen tile hardware Rob Diaz Design
L.A. designer and real estate expert Rob Diaz outfitted this innovative kitchen with mixed-metal finishes, combining brass and copper light fixtures with steel appliances and a black faucet

Todd Goodman for LA Light Studios

“I don’t like anything with too much shine,” explains Diaz, who’s known for outfitting kitchens and bathrooms with unusual slabs of honed marble, soapstone, sanded pale oak floors, and high-end brass. “My first choice for faucets would always be to go with aged brass. But economics play a part in these decisions. Not everyone wants to spend $20,000 on faucets and hardware for a bathroom. Matte black is more economical, and it’s an easier way to go to get a clean line. And I’m seeing that buyers and home owners are ready for a darker, moodier feel.”

“Black is great because it’s so versatile, and so easy to use,” adds Zhang. “And you can make a big statement with contrast, and mix it with various elements like gold, marble, or a bit of chrome.”

Will black and gold ever get old? It’s hard to say. “I think it will hold up well,” says Diaz.

We bet Korean taco trucks thought they would, too. Only time will tell.

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