December 31, 2014

Choosing Hardware – Where Do I Start?

When we update a kitchen or bathroom, the first things we tend to think about are those big items- new counter-tops, appliances, and cabinets. While these will have a big impact on the look and feel of your remodel, you shouldn’t overlook the little details. These are what make a design feel complete.
To some extent, the little details are often the hardest to choose, because they’re not as easy to imagine in your current space as say a new fridge. And it’s these little details that can be the most frustrating- there’s so many to choose from, and chances are you’ll need a variety of new knobs, light fixtures and other hardware for your remodel.
When choosing your hardware, it’s important to consider the individual components that contribute to the overall feel of your design, such as the material and finish. Later on we’ll talk about which materials correspond with popular Florida design styles to give you an idea of what will look the best in your home.

Hardware Materials:

The following materials are popular premium choices for hardware:

  • 1Bronze is most commonly an alloy of copper and tin. It retains the warm tones of copper, but has a darker overall complexion, which will continue to darken as it ages. Like copper, over time it will develop a sea-green patina called Verdigris, which may be highly desirable, depending on your own personal aesthetic.
  • Like Bronze, Brass is also a copper alloy, but made with zinc instead of tin. It has a yellow tone to it, closer in color to gold than copper. Brass can tarnish, however protective sealing or regular polishing will help prevent this.
  • Nickel is a popular hardware choice for its durability, silvery-white tone and good price. It is highly resistant to corrosion and rusting and will not tarnish at room temperature.
  • Pewter is an alloy consisting almost entirely of tin, and other metals like copper and occasionally silver. Although it does not tarnish, it will patina. Pewter may be regularly polished to retain its shine and silvery hue, however antique pewter can be highly desirable because of its patina, which darkens the metal, highlights details and adds character.
  • Chrome refers to a highly and deeply reflective metal plating- it is never used as a solid material by itself. It has a cool, bluish hue, but will pick up and reflect any surrounding colors. It’s important to select high quality chrome, as those made from poor manufacturers tend to peel and blister down the line.2
  • Iron may be wrought (meaning it is hammered, stretched and twisted into shape) or cast (melted into its liquid form and molded). Although wrought iron is limited in its availability today, steel is often used to mimic the look- a dark, almost black color in a matte finish, filled with textural details like dimples and other inclusions. Wrought iron (or its steel copycat) is often associated with twisted railings, bars and bannisters. Knobs and pulls with intricate detailing are made with cast iron.


Types of Hardware Finishes

A hardware’s finish refers to its texture and shine. Here are the most popular finishing choices:

  • A polished finish will be shiny and smooth to the touch. This finish looks great and is easy to clean, but can show fingerprints and smudges fairly easily.
  • The terms brushed and satin both describe the same finish, which has a metallic sheen less shiny than polished finishes, and a smooth, almost chalky feel.
  • A matte or flat finish has no metallic sheen or gloss to it and has a similar feel to satin finishes.
  • Antiqued and Distressed finishes can be authentic or made to appear aged and weathered in a shop. This is the perfect finish for those who appreciate unique character and don’t require a streamlined look. Patina and rust are often featured in antiqued finishes.


Pairing Hardware With Décor

Sometimes it’s easiest to start from the beginning. Once you know the theme of your design, or if you have a favorite style, you can work from there to zero in on the details that will pull the look together.
With that in mind, here are some different design styles paired with the hardware that fits best within that theme:

  • Traditional – Polished or satin brass finishes are characteristic of traditional design. Hardware also features ornate designs and superb detailing.
  • Cottage – Though still related to traditional design, the cottage look features less ornate details and curvaceous lines. Bin pulls are especially popular, as is a mix of different textures. Dark metals like bronze and iron go great with this look, as they compliment the delicate shades of white found in cottage décor.
  • Coastal – Soft brushed or satin finishes in both gold and silver tones work well with this style. Brass is the ideal pick for those looking for a more refined ambiance, while pewter works great for those who like cool tones. In coastal design, elements of the sea are often incorporated into the hardware- it’s not uncommon to see knobs and other details shaped like shells, palm trees, or even turtles.
  • Spanish/ Mission – Wrought iron finishes compliment this old-world design motif. Curlicues and twisted iron details look beautiful on light fixtures, banisters and railings.3
  • Art Deco – A staple of Florida design, Art Deco interiors are known for their glamorous and highly polished metallic details, usually in brass or chrome. Hardware is sleek and symmetrical, often featuring fluted glass knobs and streamlined geometric details like concentric lines and circles. The Art Deco look is especially popular in Miami, where many buildings made in the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s were fashioned in this style.


Still Overwhelmed? Florida Design Works Is Here to Help!

The designers at Florida Design Works are well familiar with both historic and modern interior trends. We can help you achieve an authentic look in your preferred design style or come up with something totally new. Whether you start with a theme in mind, or want to work off your favorite painting, our team of experts is there to give you the help you need to create a space that you and your family will love for years to come. Feel free to contact us or stop in to our showrooms for help!

Here are some additional resources our team recommends:

Having trouble imagining how your hardware will look in your new remodel? Hardware Resources has a great visualizer tool that will help take the guesswork out of the equation.
Want to see what your hardware’s like before you make the commitment? Hardware Resources will send you samples of knobs and pulls to test out before you buy.

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