Thursday, January 23, 2014

Let's Get Down To Brass Tacks

I had a mini conversation on Facebook about Brass. And how its back. And... mainly it resulted in horror.

Something I love about Pinterest is it's a nonstop stream of learning for me.
And while in that stream I stumbled apon a couple interior designers who pin stuff I really like. So I was looking through their boards and they had boards named "Brass is Back."

I was like "Wait, What!?"
I, like you (I'm sure), had begun to associate brass with the monstrosities we are constantly removing from homes--- those brass 80's updates. I like, most who like to DIY, had begun to think the ONLY way to deal with brass stuff was spray paint  -- because I assumed brass was just the worst thing known to man.
But because I really liked these designer's tastes I decided to check their pinterest boards claiming Brass is Back. I was sure my opinion of these designer's was about to plummet. But I clicked anyway.
And suddenly my eyes were opened.

Brass is not ugly.
Its a thing of beauty that has long been abused by gross misuse.
If you do brass right its fantastic!

Skeptical? I know I was too.
Take a leap with me...just peak at my brass board here.

I pinned these for you just click here and humor me for one moment.

See what I mean...
Pretty prettiness.

Ok so why (besides the fact that these photos are pretty) am I getting on board the brass is back train?

Well, there are a few reasons.

1) It kinda blew my mind. Like in the best way. Like in a way that taught me to just go with what looks good --- not what everyone thinks you need to go with. (I mean yeah, this is trendy now, but simultaneously, its kinda of a secret to most people. So if I go and put brass back in my house, some people are gonna come over and immediately comment (or think) about how that must be painted or changed because its dated, just going on whats been normal for some time now.)
 I too had thought "ew" when I heard the word brass. But do you know I had pinned a lot of these pins earlier without even noticing there was brass in there? Yeah it just looks so right it didn't draw any attention to itself. So until looking at these brass boards and being informed that "Brass is Back" I would have shied away from, and painted over, all things brass because I would have thought that was what we are supposed to do.
These boards were an "ahah moment" for me. It really woke me up to just going with what I like, even if someone else says "no." (This applies of course to more than brass.)

2) After years and years of people taking out brass and displaying just stainless and nickel, with only oil rubbed bronze (which is essentially black) for warmth, houses have become very cool toned. And that can start to feel sterile and chilly. Adding bronze back in warms up the world, it feels like a smile to me -- like the laughing real smiles of friends, not the posed pretty smiles of "perfection." Cozy, real, a little earthy, but gorgeous. Feels like home. 

3)Despite this being seen as a trend, brass is very classic. If brass is back, we should really admit that it never really left. Almost every era has some sort of really sweet brass going on. 
(I just went to see "American Hustle" and was nearly drooling on myself looking at all that brass. Yeah some of it was crazy, but some of it looked like stuff we pin. And now I know why. Ya know?) 
Brass can go back to super-antiques like in palaces, shows up stunningly in the roaring '20's fantastic art deco, makes gorgeously simplistic cameos in mid-centery modern looks, does some really good/some bad in the 70's, then 80s kinda killed it by making everything GOLD often very cheaply (all gold everywhere changed the balance to much, too warm --  so we got sick of it. Design needs to be evened out: hot and cold, masculine and feminine, etc) so as a whole we kicked it out to get our equilibrium back (some people knew to hang on, but not most), and now its showing back up in the modern-modern stuff because we miss its warm smile. 

4) (And this might just be my favorite reason) The fact that brass is beautiful is still a big enough secret, that thrift stores are bursting with brass treasures for SOOOOO cheap. 
     No, not every brass piece there is back. Some are very, very, very not back. (Ditch scary-80s-chintzy and look for timelessness (which also could have come from the 80s -- time doesn't play fair.)      
     And not every cool piece will look good in every space. 
     And you may not want brass in all your spaces. 
     You have to be discerning -- just like you always do a a thrift store. 
But, it is not hard to find brass in these places that is for sure. And if you get on the train before the rest, these can all be yours for fantastic deals. Even free at times. ("Roadside pick up"(Throw away rescue). Craigslist free stuff. Freecycle. etc.) I don't know if this trend is hotter other parts of the country and maybe they aren't just laying around shelves? But in the midwest, no one knows yet. It's pretty awesome. Because you can look like a million bucks for three. What could be better?!? 

Ok so some stuff you might wanna know about Brass. (If you are ready to ride like me.)

  • Brass is non-magnentic
So if you wanna know if you are getting real brass vs fake brass or brass plated stuff, have a magnet
with you. If it sticks, it is either fake (like painted) or just plated over steel or something like that.
If it does not stick, you might have the real deal. But it could also be coated over a non magnetic metal. The other way to tell is to scratch into the metal (in a non conspicuous spot) and see what color shows up. Bright gold = real solid brass. Silver equals plated brass.

Some of this won't matter, if its real or not. If the piece is gorgeous, just go for it, real or not. Only you will know.

BUT, if its like the super bright gold, and you want to mellow it with an aging treatment, that's only gonna work on solid brass. If you try to naturally age/tarnish plated brass it will eat off the brass and you will end up with messy silver. If it's plated but you don't want bright gold --- you can of course use paint -- paint is always an option in design world.

This leads me to a sort of already stated idea.
  • You can age brass so it's not SO bright gold.
Here's a great tutorial.

  • And inversely, you can polish brass back to bright gold if you'd like it to sing.

  • And if you are into natural aging. You can get unlacquered brass (or take the lacquer off lacquered ones yourself) and let it start out Bright and Bold, and age over time with use.

and one more thing...
ebay is also a good place to find it.

I find it interesting to look for brass on there because you can tell the tides are turning -- some of the brass stuff goes for tons, and some of it goes for nothing. This of course can be due to variations in style. But it can also just be due to exposure (or lack there of) in searches on there. You can still find great looking brass online for cheap. 
I just bought handles Blake and I love for my kitchen. Very streamlined-simplistic-modern real brass prettiness.  27 pulls for $33 shipping included. That's $0.81 a piece! awesome way cheaper than I can find in stores.

Speaking of handles I bought --  for some bathrooms, I found these aged looking brass plated library type pulls at the thrift store. I don't even know how many, I think like 17 pulls in a bag, for $2. SOLD! They are cute. And for that price, I can paint them or whatever. I love used awesomeness. Makes my day, week, month, year(s). 

So yeah....
I'm for it.

Some of you still may not be. 
And that...
is ok.
As long as it's because it just doesn't suit you.
I hope its not out of fear of ugliness.
If you like it, its not ugly.
Your house should make you happy.
If it makes you feel good you are on the right track.
Decorate with what you want around you, no matter what someone else thinks.


  1. We were "crazy" and bought brass doorknobs for our home when we moved in five years ago. It just went with the feel of our 60's home, even though we were updating. It wasn't what everyone else was doing but our house needed it. I agree about it being warmer too. Seeing you renovate your home reminds me alot of when we bought ours, every room had to be redone. It looked like the brady brunch lived here. It is a never ending project and I will never buy a fixer again! Lol!

    1. Alisia, I was totally stressing over door knob choice! For weeks. As a team we went with oil rubbed bronze. I still don't know if I'm really on board. (I really wanted gorgeous, too expensive glass and brass antique ones.) I knew silver would look off in the space.
      You have me a little nervous hearing never ending. ;) But at least for now I'm positive I'm made for making over this house. I need the projects. I'd be twiddling my thumbs in a done space.
      I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one using some brass. :)

  2. Ever wanted to get free Twitter Re-tweets?
    Did you know you can get these ON AUTOPILOT AND ABSOLUTELY FOR FREE by registering on Like 4 Like?


Link Within

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...