Sweat the de­tails like door­knobs, han­dles

The Progress-Index - At Home - - ASK A DESIGNER - Melissa Ray­worth

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 York­based 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.


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 worn,” 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.

Flynn uses a lot of brass, es­pe­cially “satin or an­tique fin­ishes, be­cause they’re more so­phis­ti­cated and less for­mal than pol­ished, glossy styles.”

In ad­di­tion, “a newer op­tion I’m see­ing and to­tally love is matte black hard­ware,” he says. “This is ex­cel­lent for mod­ern kitchens or for adding dark con­trast to an oth­er­wise light and bright space. The matte fin­ish helps cam­ou­flage any scratches or smudges you’d deal with on glossy black pulls and knobs.”

Another dra­matic fa­vorite of Flynn’s: un­lac­quered iron.

Up­grades and Changes

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.

The same ap­proach can make grown-up fur­ni­ture look just right for a baby or child’s room: If you are turn­ing a guest room into a nurs­ery, Burn­ham says, change the cab­i­netry hard­ware to some­thing “sweet or pink or shiny,” or choose knobs shaped like birds or other an­i­mals.

If you’re shop­ping, Huh sug­gests hunt­ing for an af­ford­able piece of fur­ni­ture and then mak­ing it look more ex­pen­sive by adding dra­matic hard­ware.

The range of avail­able styles is enor­mous, and shop­ping for new or vintage items online is easy. Even if you’d pre­fer to buy in per­son, Burn­ham says a bit of online re­search “makes your cre­ativ­ity kind of per­co­late a lit­tle bit.”

“Just pay at­ten­tion to di­men­sions,” she warns, be­cause you “may not re­al­ize that in per­son, an inch-and-a-half sphere is quite large.” Mea­sure the size and lo­ca­tion of the holes left be­hind by your cur­rent hard­ware, she says. If you buy re­place­ments that don’t match, drill new holes and fill the old ones.

And amid all the fo­cus on style, do choose hard­ware that is easy to grab and use.


Knot­ted rope drawer pulls add a ca­sual, nau­ti­cal style to a sim­ple white dresser in a guest room de­signed by Burn­ham De­sign.


A master bath in a res­i­dence in Bev­erly Hills, Calif., that is adorned with sleek, Asian-inspired me­tal drawer pulls, a fa­vorite de­sign choice of in­te­rior de­signer Betsy Burn­ham.

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