March 2012


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

           In the all encompassing goal of refacing or replacing your kitchen cabinets, homeowners tend to completely overlook the hardware they’re going to use (the door and drawer pulls) until the last minute. Usually this cabinet hardware is prominently featured next to the cabinet displays in major home improvement stores, but even then people either overlook it or ignore it. The differences between one style and another can make a major difference in the overall visual effect.

Ask yourself, do you want the hardware to blend with your cabinets or stand out as an accent piece? Perhaps you want something in between.

Consider these factors when picking out your cabinet hardware:

  • cost
  • size
  • ease of use
  • ease of installation
  • color
  • material (wood, brass, etc)

Round kitchen cabinet knobs produce a different impression than oblong or elongated handles. Shiny hardware gives a different statement than muted finishes. Homeowners who mix the two styles will usually stick with one style for doors and the other for drawers. You don’t want to mix and match styles however. Do you best to stick with matching pieces for a complete look.

Where to Buy Hardware

Generally its best to visit a hardware store so you can easily compare the handles and knobs available, and match them for size and color against your cabinet doors and drawers. It can be very difficult to look at a picture of a door handle and know if it’s going to provide the right visual effect in your kitchen. Your computer monitor resolution could be set so that it appears larger or smaller than actual size, and the colors available may be different from real life.

If you do find hardware in a store that you like, write down the item numbers and prices. You could take that information to the internet and search for the numbers to see if they are available at a cheaper price online. Be sure to factor in shipping and the total volume of pieces you need. Some suppliers requie you to buy a certain number of pieces to meet a minimum quota, others have high shipping fees. Online shopping is best when searching for highly unique pieces that are not among common stock materials at your local store

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The Art of Mixing Finishes

An eclectic blend will appeal to today’s buyer. The trick is doing it tastefully.

At the height of the building boom, builders had to move fast to stay on top of their production schedules, especially with material and labor shortages. In some cases that led them to use whatever fixtures they could get easily and quickly. As a result, the master bathroom might end up with oil-rubbed bronze faucets on the vanity, a brushed nickel light fixture, chrome plumbing fixtures in the tub and a polished brass door knob. Today, those same builders are often under extreme pressure to use whatever fits in the budget, and the end result is typically the same – a combination of several finishes in a single room.

The Art of Mixing Finishes Photo credit: Jamie Kern, Design Theory Interiors
Combining two different finishes, such as these sconces and faucet, adds visual interest to a room.

But if approached correctly, the blending of finishes is not necessarily a bad thing. While individual designers have their own opinions on what works and what doesn’t, there’s more latitude than one might think when it comes to mixing and matching.

In a market where resale value is a high priority, using suites of matching finishes is the safest thing to do, if not the most interesting. But when people intend to live in their homes longer – as is the case with most buyers today – they will respond more favorably to eclectic touches. “With the slow economy and people living in their homes more, we’re looking to create differences, not uniformity,” says Irvine, Calif.-based interior designer Kelli Ellis. “Now it’s okay to mix things.”

Bellevue, Wash.-based interior designer Gail Monica Dent, owner of Provanti Designs, likes to create what appears to be a collection of fixtures, rather than a set. She finds that people respond favorably when the various fixtures in a room look like a collection of items that were purchased by the same person at different times. “It’s much more fun and interesting, although it takes a little work to do.”

If there’s a general guideline about mixing and matching finishes, it’s that mixing two contrasting finishes in a single space is fine, while three or more will appear cluttered or confusing. Jamie Kern, ASID, president of Design Theory Interiors in Atlanta, says that when working on a kitchen or bathroom she prefers faucets in one finish, with a contrasting finish on cabinet hardware. “I like the dynamics of the contrast, as it allows each element to have its own identity,” she says. “And it also gives you some flexibility.”

Another method of blending finishes in a bathroom can be used when a shower, tub or vanity is treated as a focal point. Examples might be a shower with the luxurious Waterhill® Spa suite or the nature-inspired Bamboo® Shower collection, both from ShowHouse® by Moen®. In this situation, Kern recommends using faucets with a different finish than the other fixtures as another means of setting it apart and adding visual interest.

The above guidelines apply to wood finishes as well. In fact, contrasting wood finishes within a space are a must to prevent “visual monotony,” according to Kern. She says that the contrast will highlight each piece much more effectively than a sea of identical finishes, making for a more interesting space.

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Cabinet Jewelry

Matthew Marin

 Whether your kitchen is contemporary or traditional, choosing the right decorative hardware can add instant flair and just the perk some cabinets need. Not to mention, loads of personality, reflecting the homeowner’s sense of style. And given the current economic woes, replacing knobs, handles and pulls with the newest pieces is a perfect “quick fix,” as it is an inexpensive alternative to a major remodel. As consumers are spending more time at home, it’s becoming more important for them to be happy in their living environments, so “they want to customize their space with a personal touch,” said Claire Parrish. Hundreds of the latest decorative hardware options allow them to do just that.

With multiple hardware offerings to choose from, homeowners have narrowed their search to finding classically styled, simple pieces, complementing the style of the kitchen and broadening its appeal during unsteady times. “The economy is demanding that people make sensible choices and not go too far out on a limb with decorating choices,” said Adrienne Morea, president of Atlas Homewares. “Hardware is truly the ‘jewelry’ of the kitchen, and each homeowner spins it the way they want. They are going back to basics and rethinking the kitchen. They don’t want to get tired of something in two years.”

Keeping decorative hardware simple and clean allows the homeowner to place a greater emphasis on the cabinetry and surfaces, according to Morea. “It’s important to realize that hardware cannot be the ‘main event’ anymore,” she said. “All a homeowner really wants is good functional pulls that match their appliances.” For example, a “clean” polished-chrome or brushed-nickel pull can complement modern or traditional cabinetry and truly add the finishing touches to the kitchen, “similar to the way a fabulous pair of shoes would set off a basic black dress,” she added.

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