House to Home: Many of those traditional design ‘rules’ no longer apply to modern home decor

A mix of copper and stainless steel creates an eye-catching match for the kitchen.

Once upon a time, only white wine accompanied fish, red wine went with meat, and mixing gold and silver in jewelry design was taboo.

All that has changed. I broke the rules in my recent kitchen renovation; see what you think.

The hottest metal finish around for home interiors at the moment is copper.

Copper is a warm, happy and welcoming metal, but it should be used as an accent — too much is overpowering. There are several copper finishes, including a clean and unblemished finish like the look of rose gold, or one that’s more orange colored with a grayish patina.

I was very excited about pairing copper handles with the soft tones of my painted cabinets, which are Pavilion Grey by Farrow and Ball. They looked stunning.

But what about the fridge and the sink? And oh, yes, also the stove. Most are in stainless steel.

When you start adding up the different appliances and fixtures in a kitchen that are metal, there are several. So, do you try to match them?

There are copper sinks on the market that are a feature in themselves. Here I wanted the cupboard handles and the inside of the lights to offer a glimpse of glamour, and I felt that a copper sink or taps would be too overwhelming.

I contacted my friends at Kohler (, who produce some of the most practical and attractive sinks on the market.

I am going to spend an inordinate amount of time at my sink, so I might as well have one that is easy on the eye, practical and fits with my kitchen decor.

Kohler suggested their handcrafted Vault stainless sink, engineered with sound absorption technology. It features tightly angled corners to maximize basin space, and a lowered divider for freedom of movement between basins. The chic lines of the undermount sink blend beautifully with the Neolith countertop.

Neolith is the newest and most exciting material we have seen in a very long time for countertops, flooring and walls. It is a super-durable surface composed of all-natural materials; available in large slabs that are lightweight and bendable, which make for versatile applications and installations.

Neolith offers several finishes and a wide range of colors that originate from the pigmentation of the raw materials that make up each slab.

The BTC Spun Reflector shades on the pendant lights are anthracite gray with a polished copper interior. The stainless-steel sink balances perfectly with the copper cabinet handles and the copper interior of the hanging lights.

I also dressed up the kitchen with some copper containers. You’ll find a selection of copper-finish accessories at good kitchen and home stores.

Yes, today all the rules are more relaxed. Fish with red wine? Go for it! White and yellow gold interwoven, or a gold necklace woven with silver, looks perfect. Choosing a judicious mixture of metals in your home creates a lovely look.

Life is so much more varied and interesting when you mix it up a little.

Q. Our kitchen is bright, with windows and a skylight. We are thinking of changing the paint color of the white kitchen cabinets. What would you suggest?

A. Your all-white kitchen is a very contemporary look, but it could seem a little cold.

It’s time to be brave.

Switching to a color for the cabinets would ramp up the mood. Experiment first by painting a few large pieces of Bristol board and pinning them up over the cabinets to get the effect.

Why not try a warm shade of gray or blue? Or even a pale pink? Bold shots of red and sunny yellow are showing up in modern kitchens today.

Debbie Travis’ House to Home column is produced by Debbie Travis and Barbara Dingle. Email questions to Follow Debbie on Twitter at, or visit her website,