Hardware refers to all the metal knobs, levers, latches, pulls, hinges, and handles in a house. When building a new house, we’ll need to decide what style and color hardware to choose for the cabinets, windows, drawers and doors. So, in this week’s brief episode/post, we’ll go over what’s trending in hardware and metal finishes.
The reason this will be a pretty brief episode/post is because in 2019, almost anything goes--from silver metals like stainless steel, nickel and chrome, to warm metals like matte brass, gold, copper and bronze. Non-metallic knobs and pulls in clear glass and clear acrylic are also trending.
The main finishes that you should probably be cautious of choosing are the shiny gold or glossy brass finishes that were so popular in the 80s. They haven’t come back around and they can look pretty dated. But matte, antiqued, or brushed gold and brass hardware is still popular, although maybe not as omnipresent as it was a couple of years ago.
You’ll also find many hardware options in darker finishes like oil rubbed bronze and black, especially matte black.
There are no hard and fast rules. Choose hardware finishes that appeal to you and that complement the style of your house and cabinetry.
If you’re like me and love hardware (I think of it as jewelry for the house) and want your pulls and knobs to make a statement, instead of blend into background, you’ll want to choose hardware that contrasts with your cabinets, drawers and doors. Consider using darker finishes like black or oil rubbed bronze on white or light colored cabinets and doors.
But If you don’t think of your hardware as decorative (but as purely functional) and just want your pulls and knobs to blend into the background, instead of standing out, you can choose hardware that is more subtle. Choose dark hardware for darker cabinets or silver or clear hardware for white or light cabinets. Alternatively, you can forgo cabinet pulls and knobs all together, which will give a much more contemporary look.
Use the same guidelines for or your interior doors. If you like the idea of statement door knobs and hinges, go for lots of contrast— dark door knobs and hinges on light doors, for example. As an aside, interior door levers, which you simply have to push down, are easier for aging hands to operate as compared to door knobs, which you have to twist.
You can also choose smaller scale pulls and lots of small knobs, if you want your hardware to blend in. To be clear, pulls are the longer, linear handles and knobs are the smaller, rounder handles found on cabinets.
To make an even bolder statement, choose larger scale and even oversized hardware. The advantage of larger handles is that they are easier to grab, especially as we get older. And because larger pulls are easier to grab, they help to keep fingerprints and smudges off of the faces of your cabinets and drawers.
Just like with hardware finishes, the sizes of your pulls and knobs you choose should be based primarily on personal preference. But let’s go over some standard sizes to give you a reference point.
For oversized cabinetry you’ll obviously want to use larger hardware. Oversized cabinets and drawers are defined as over 3 feet wide. Cookware drawers or built-in appliance cabinetry are usually oversized. For these large drawers and cabinet doors, consider long pulls which typically come in widths of 6”, 8”, 10” or 12 inches. Some contemporary pulls are even larger than 12 inches. That measurement is taken from the center of one screw hole to the center of the second screw hole). Oversized knobs are 1-1/2” or larger.
Most of your pulls and knobs, though, will go on standard sized cabinetry, which will be 3 feet wide or less. The most common pull sizes for standard cabinetry are 3”, 4”, or 96mm and 128mm, again measured from the center of one screw hole to the center of the other. But many of today’s pulls tend to be on even larger than 4 inches. Standard knob sizes are less than 1.5 inches in diameter.
One rule of thumb that I read says to use pulls that are about one third the width of the drawer or cabinet. But remember, it’s ok to go larger or smaller, depending on your personal preference.
Although both knobs and pulls can be used on cabinets and drawers, knobs, as a general rule, look a bit more traditional than pulls. Today, it’s not uncommon to see transitional and contemporary kitchens and bathrooms with no knobs at all, and only pulls. Simple, clean lined pulls are especially popular in today’s new homes.
What about price and quality?
Interior Door knobs and levers can range from less than $20 to $200. You can find cabinet knobs and pulls from less than $2 each to more than $20 each. Solid knobs and pulls are better quality than hollow hardware. Although you generally get what you pay for with hardware, if your budget is tighter, you might want to choose less expensive cabinet hardware since it’s relatively easy for homeowners to trade it out for better quality hardware in the future.
Alright, let’s briefly discuss the most popular metal finishes: nickel, chrome and stainless steel. What’s the difference?
They’re all silver metals, but nickel is a warmer metal, meaning that, although it is silver, it has a tiny hint of gold in it. Chrome and stainless steel are cooler in color, with more gray or white undertones.
Both nickel and chrome come in shiny, polished versions, or matte, brushed or satin versions. But when most people think of nickel, they typically think of brushed nickel, and when folks think of chrome, they usually picture polished, shiny chrome with mirror-like finish.
Nickel and chrome have about the same level of durability, but chrome is sometimes a bit more expensive. Brushed or matte finishes hide fingerprints and watermarks better than shiny finishes. You’ll generally find a lot more hardware options in brushed nickel than in chrome or stainless steel. Poor quality nickel and chrome finishes can peel and flake over time. Stainless steel, which is usually matte, is the most durable of the silver finishes and as such, is usually the most expensive. True stainless steel hardware is typically made from a full thickness metal alloy and it’s not just plated on the surface like nickel and chrome are.
Be careful when ordering hardware from different manufactures. The nickel from one brand, may be warmer or cooler than the nickel from another brand. This means that hardware from different manufacturers may take on a different appearance from one another, even though they are both called “brushed nickel”.
The chrome and stainless steel can vary some too, but usually not as much, and as often as nickel. To be safe, get samples from different brands and compare the colors, or get all the hardware that you need for a single room from one manufacturer. It’s ok if the nickel in one room doesn’t exactly match the nickel in another room. It only looks mismatched if the different nickel finishes are right next to each other in the same room.
Finally, let talk about mixing metals. Is that still ok?
Yes, it absolutely is. Some very traditional designers and homeowners, though, think that all the metals in room should be the same. They think the cabinet hardware should match the lighting fixtures, the faucets, and the door knobs and door hinges. And if that appeals to you, that’s great.
But most people today feel that mixing metal is not only ok, but in some cases, preferable, to add interesting contrast. It’s also ok to mix shiny and matte finishes.
If you like the idea of mixing metals, just make sure that the mix looks intentional instead of haphazard. To make your design of mixed metals look intentional, choose 2 or 3 metal finishes and use those finishes in at least 2 or 3 areas within the space. That way, each metal finish has coordinating partner in the same space. Take a look at the 3 photos below.
If you want to use warm metal like matte brass or gold or copper in your house, but are hesitant because you’re afraid it might go out of style in the next few years, adding warm metal cabinet hardware is a great way to go. If brass, gold and copper do go out of style in the next few years, most cabinet hardware is pretty simple to replace all by yourself. If, however, you decide on a warm metal faucets, door hinges or lighting fixtures, many of us would have to hire a professional or handyman to replace those items. But cabinet hardware can easily be switch out by almost anyone. Just make sure you use standard sized hardware.
Well, that’s all I have for you this week. I’ll be doing some traveling over the holidays, so I may not put out regular weekly episodes/posts. To make sure you get new episodes as soon as they come out , you can subscribe to the show/blog.
Thank you for joining me. Enjoy the holidays!
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