Trends, function, design and personal preference all add up to picking the perfect pieces.
BY LIAM RAZZELL
Ornate hardware, minimalist hardware, colourful hardware, hardware that stands out against cabinetry, hardware that blends in, no hardware at all — when it comes to selecting the finishing pieces in your home, the choices seem endless.
“We’re seeing hardware made from unexpected and innovative materials like resins, wood, marble, leather,” says Charlotte Pommet, a kitchen and custom millwork designer at Urbana Kitchens. “Ironically, the trend for hardware is also pointing in the direction of having none at all.”
So if you’re in the market for new hardware, where do you start?
It begins by recognizing that hardware should not be an afterthought. Designers have long considered it a room’s jewelry.
“[Hardware] is considered an element on its own and can even be a driving force in a project,” says Pommet.
The surfaces you touch every day are some of the most meaningful but often overlooked parts of your home. Handles, knobs, hinges, faucets, levers, pulls — though small, they have a big effect on how your home looks, feels and functions. There are thousands of styles and finishes to choose from, however, which can make planning a cohesive update for your home a tough process.
Design experts recommend starting your search with a few important questions: Why do you need hardware in the first place? Is yours broken or worn out? Are you building a new house or renovating an older one? Or do you just want something fresh?
Changing the hardware in a room is one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to update it, even if you choose primarily high-end pieces. Experts say keeping trend, design, function and personal preference in mind can help you make the right choice.
For those looking to keep up with the times, trending right now is hardware with minimalist design, clean lines and less ornamentation, Pommet says, as well as discreet divots in cabinet doors replacing pulls for a sleeker look.
But while that style works for some homes, especially new builds, it may not suit your home, or your personal esthetic.
“It really depends on what your home looks like,” says Debra Lee, a customer service specialist at Victoria Speciality Hardware who helps designers, architects and individuals select hardware for renovations and new builds. “You’re pretty much marrying what the house is with what your personality is, so it makes a room your room.”
When choosing hardware, Lee says, clients renovating older homes tend to lean toward traditional and classic hardware designs in unlacquered brass, polished nickel and oil-rubbed bronze finishes. Consider the ornate flourishes of hinges styled in Victorian design, the precise symmetry of Georgian knobs or the sturdy simplicity of Craftsman architecture pulls.
On the other hand, those building a new home often lean toward sleek, minimalist designs in trendy matte black, satin nickel and polished brass finishes. Think modern, monochrome faucets, mid-century handles and minimalist door locks.
Regardless of the trends, Lee advises picking hardware that matches your unique personality. She recently helped one client find hardware that matched their steampunk esthetic — retro-futuristic designs that incorporate industrial and Victorian styles. Instead of standard bathroom faucet handles, for example, they opted for small recreations of industrial water shut-off valves. Though steampunk isn’t trending, it makes Lee’s client happy and that’s what matters most.
Trends and style aside, it’s crucial to pick hardware that’s functional. What is the space used for? Who will be using it? How often will the space be used? Rooms used more frequently than others, like kitchens and bathrooms, require sturdier hardware than bedroom closet doors, for example, Pommet says.
For homes with kids or aging adults, it’s important to consider something easy enough to use intuitively and comfortably. Levers can be easier on arthritic fingers and tiny hands than knobs, for example. Even weight and texture can be a consideration. If the hardware is outfitting a showy powder room meant for little more than impressing guests, however, it might be the perfect place to splurge on a quirky statement tap.
It’s little surprise that spending more is likely to earn you a better product, and with the right investment it’s something you’ll only have to think about once. While quality pulls can range in price from $6 to $15 and up, be prepared to spend between $50 and $500 on your front-door handle, depending on the design.
Ultimately, the right hardware has to do the job it’s designed for while showcasing your tastes, your sense of style and who you are — and, at the same time, work with everything else in the room and throughout your home.
“The key is to build an overall palette with all the elements in the space — the floor, cabinets, counters, wall colour, light fixtures, textiles — and look for a flow or thread within,” Pommet says. “My main tip is always to choose pulls and knobs that feel good on your hands. Then think of the narrative, the overall style you are shooting for.”