Hardware 101: Choosing Styles, Shapes, and Finishes

Brass hardware, a classic choice for traditional architecture, also is trendy and timeless. 

Hardware is something that you’ll be looking at and putting your hands on every day, so it needs to be both stylish and comfortable to use. However, finding the right hardware isn’t always easy. Here are some things I consider when helping a client choose their hardware.

1. Make a list of everything you need

To begin, go through and count how many new handles, knobs, towel rods, pulls, hinges, and faucets you will need in total. Determine your budget and how large you want the new hardware to be. Whenever possible, try out samples at the hardware store so you can see how they fit your hand. It doesn’t matter how beautiful the hardware is if it’s cumbersome to use.

2. Learn about the different kinds available

Levers are usually used in contemporary homes, while knobs are great in traditional-and transitional-style homes. Keep in mind that knobs are more difficult to handle for those with mobility issues, the elderly, and young children. Knobs, unlike levers, can be easily child-proofed.

As far as style goes, traditional homes usually look best with hardware that has rounded curves and intricate details instead of sharp angles. Meanwhile, simple, angular hardware is suited for contemporary homes. These days, I see modern kitchens using very long drawer handles. Pot fillers have been a fad for the last five years, but I try to steer my clients away from them because they distract from the cooktop and backsplash.

3. Pick up to four finishes

Believe it or not, it’s perfectly acceptable to mix finishes. The ideal range is three to four finishes in a home, with no more than two different finishes per room.

Your hardware finish choices should reflect your home’s style of architecture. For example, I would use oil-rubbed bronze in an Italian home, brass in a French, English, or Federal home, and either satin nickel or chrome in a contemporary home. Brass, by the way, is having a huge comeback.

Hardware is front and center of all your doors and cabinetry, so pick a simple and timeless style when in doubt. If this is your first time choosing hardware, you may want to reach out to a designer. I select and place the hardware with almost every job, so I have a lot of experience mixing different styles and finishes in a single home.

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Margaret Chambers

Margaret Chambers, a registered interior designer (RID) and member of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID), leads Chambers Interiors and Associates. Her colleague Caitlin Crowley helped edit this column. Find more design advice at chambersinteriors.com/blog

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