It’s a small thing, often overlooked amid major items like furniture and paint colors when you’re decorating a room. But don’t underestimate the power of household hardware.
These small items — doorknobs, drawer pulls, cabinet-door handles — are “the jewelry” that can add style and sparkle to any space, says New York-based interior designer Young Huh. Just as the right necklace can turn a simple dress into a fashion statement, a striking new set of knobs on an old cabinet, or vintage crystal doorknobs can bring a huge dose of style to your home with minimal expense, she says.
In many homes, these hardware items are mostly ignored. Interior doors may have mismatched, inexpensive knobs that were installed at different times. Drawers and cabinets may have functional but unappealing knobs or bars.
Swapping these items out is often easy, and Los Angeles-based designer Betsy Burnham says her clients are frequently surprised at the visual impact of something as simple as carefully chosen hardware. Last summer, she added door pulls made of rope tied in small nautical knots to the built-in cabinets at a California beach house, inexpensively adding a dash of personality to the space.
Here, three interior-design experts — Huh, Burnham and designer Brian Patrick Flynn of Flynnside Out Productions — offer advice on choosing the right hardware and using it to coordinate the look of a home.
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One of the most popular styles now is lacquered or aged brass. “Ten years ago,” Huh says, “it was all about nickel: brushed nickel, shiny nickel. Now it’s the resurgence of brass.” Designers are using “bold tones, and things that look worm,” she says, by installing unlacquered brass that tarnishes over the course of a year, or paying extra for “pre-antiqued” brass that already has a colorful patina.
Burnham and her staff recently gave a preteen girl’s bedroom a more grown-up look by “changing the vibe from kind of old-fashioned to Bohemian.” Their changes included a new set of striped, bone-inlay knobs from Anthropologie that gave the furniture a funky appeal.
Take note of all the hardware and metals in a room, including lamp bases, and decide whether you want them to match or whether you’d like to inject some dramatic contrast.
Either method works, as long as it’s done deliberately. “If you don’t do it consciously,” Huh says, “then it could all look really messy.”