This Easy Method Can Give You an Old-Money Patina Look in Hours

published Apr 19, 2024
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Credit: Julia Steele

The old-money aesthetic, which looks like a moodier alternative to the coastal grandmother trend, has been all over TikTok (think: dark wood furnishings like bookshelves, plaid patterns, and fine antiques). Basically, the trend takes inspiration from how a well-off grandfather might have decorated his den back in the day.

Part of the old-money look is aged brass, which is a great choice within almost any style approach. “Aged brass feels so timeless, and I love the lived-in look,” says Drew Michael Scott, interior designer and creator at Lone Fox Home. “Newer brass pieces can sometimes feel too bright, especially if your home is filled with more antique pieces and aged finds.” 

But brass, when you first buy it, is just so shiny. And if you’re aiming for patina, that shine just won’t do.

Luckily, through Scott’s know-how, there’s a way to age brass so much faster. We’re talking a few hours instead of “up to six months to see a noticeable change.” Like most brilliant ideas that take off these days, he shares his tips and tricks on a TikTok video.

How to Age Brass

To start aging your brass, gather up some distilled white vinegar, salt, a large plastic bin with a lid, and a smaller bin that can be placed inside.

Start with some fine steel wool to clean off the surface of your brass piece and remove any fingerprints. Fill up the bottom of your large plastic bin with white distilled vinegar, up to a half inch. Then add a “good amount” of salt. He explains that the fumes from the vinegar and salt combination will age the brass, but the brass doesn’t go directly into the mixture. Instead, you’ll lay your piece or pieces on top of an overturned smaller plastic bin to keep them aloft, then close the larger bin with its lid to trap the fumes. 

As you can see, there’s already a noticeable difference after an hour, and it becomes visibly aged at three hours. To reach full patina goodness, Scott suggests leaving the pieces in for at least six hours. 

Is Aging Brass at Home Safe?

In short, yes, but you do have to take some precautions. Scott advises doing this process in a “well-ventilated area,” adding, “Gloves and eyewear protection are always recommended.”

Of course, you’re likely concerned about the brass itself as well, which you might’ve spent a lot of money on. According to Scott, it’s perfectly safe, but he adds, “If you don’t prep the metal and clean your fingerprints off, they can show up as a texture. Patina is on the surface — it doesn’t eat away at the metal. If you don’t like the look, you can easily polish away any of the patina with a brass polish.”

He also emphasizes that this can only be done with unlacquered brass. “If the brass is lacquered, you will need to remove the lacquer beforehand, and there are several ways to do this through YouTube videos that have tutorials,” he explains. 

And, like most DIY attempts that may alter an expensive item, Scott has these words of wisdom: “I suggest testing on one piece first.”