You may think of "chrome" as a metallic substance rather than as a color, but as you know, we take many of the names of the colors in our world from the substances in which they're most readily found. Think of orange, for example. Or chartreuse.

But indeed, when you're looking at the decorating possibilities of a room, you'd be wise not to overlook working with chrome not only as a substance, but as a color as well.

Here, we see chrome used first in the places you'd most expect to find it: the kitchen and the bath.

We're accustomed to finding chrome fixtures and sinks in bathrooms, but to jazz things up a bit, try combining the chrome with something unexpected. Here, the choice of a dark wooden mirror frame, and the wrought-iron shelving, works in harmony with the chrome sink, even though the looks are different.

The mirror frame looks very old-fashioned, and you can see, reflected in the mirror, the old-fashioned tub. These help to balance the ultra-modern look of the sink, and the wrought iron shelving, combined with the wooden mirror frame, bring a Spanish flair to the room.

  • Tip: Often people shy away from using chrome because they fear it will make a room appear cold. This is a danger, but there are plenty of tricks you can use to bring warmth to the room while still enjoying the modern look of the chrome.

In this kitchen, the chrome makes the whole stove area look sleek and polished - and where is it more important to have things looking neat as a pin than in the kitchen?

Using a large chrome piece such as this stove could give a stern or industrial look to a room, but here the decorator has offset that problem by adding plenty of cute, old-fashioned accessories, which add a homey air. Notice the pitchers and the old tea boxes perched on the shelf above the stove, the braid of garlic, the checker-board pitcher high above, and the hanging copper pots. All these details help to imbue the room with warmth.

Another solution for offsetting chrome's harshness is to use fabrics and textures that are ultra-soft, as in the photograph of the two chairs side by side. The room appears to be a loft, something very modern and hip, with that metal railing running behind the chairs. While everyone loves the acres of space afforded by lofts, often they do seem cold, and using sheepskins, as this decorator has, certainly warms things up.

Bear in mind the importance of using other colors with chrome. The choice of white sheepskins on the chairs contributes to the modern feeling of this room whereas the blue touches in the kitchen help evoke the old-fashioned, homey mood.

Chrome does well when paired with deep, rich colors, as it doesn't wash them out or compete with them. You might try maroon, deep blue, and forest green with chrome, for an effect that's striking without appearing to be too cold.

Reprinted with permission from the Sheffield School of Interior Design

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