Jewelry for the Kitchen: New knobs and handles can add a fresh look

2013-06-15T00:00:00Z Jewelry for the Kitchen: New knobs and handles can add a fresh lookMichelle Krueger Times Correspondent
June 15, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Since the typical kitchen has upwards of 20-40 knobs, handles or pulls, changing them can add up. That’s probably why most of us don’t do it very often. But, when the time comes, it can be a fun way to add some fresh sparkle and style to your kitchen – like adding new jewelry to a favorite outfit.

“We offer decorative hardware two different ways,” Ken Fritz, one of the pros at Schilling’s Kitchens and Baths Design Center and Showroom, said. “Our in-stock selection is more focused and reasonably priced, while special orders tend to get a little higher priced since they come from the more premium companies. Generally speaking, older kitchens are smaller, with fewer cabinets. A good-size kitchen in a newer home can have upwards of 50 knobs, and I’ve seen some with 150-200, but that’s a pretty good-size project.”

When selecting decorative hardware for your kitchen, there are many different styles, materials, finishes, themes, brands and price points to choose from – just like jewelry. One online site alone offers more than 300,000 choices with 70 brands ranging from the “ordinary to the extraordinary.”

“We keep a good supply of a couple hundred different pieces in stock,” Fritz added.

“Our in-stock pieces range in price from about $2 with $8-$12 the mid-level. You can get a nice quality piece in the $10 range. For people in search of something more unique, a one-of-a-kind, special order expands their options. They can expect to pay more. I would say the average is around $25-$30 a piece, and there are some out there with semi-precious stones that run as high as $175 a piece.”

Personally, I’ve always admired the eclectic vintage to contemporary selection at Anthropologie. For me, checking out the latest additions to their collection is better than window-shopping at Tiffany & Co. After all, the knobs on your kitchen cabinets not only affect functionality, but the overall look of your kitchen.

“Once in a while someone will walk in knowing exactly what they want,” Fritz, who helps coordinate selections for builders as well as individuals building or remodeling their homes, explained. “But it’s more likely they will need to whittle down their choices by eliminating certain finishes and styles. Satin nickel and oil-rubbed bronze are very strong finishes right now, and simple styles are selling. People are leaning toward a more transitional look, between contemporary and traditional.”

When it comes to finding the right decorative hardware for your kitchen, it might help to keep in mind that certain kitchen cabinet styles lend themselves to specific hardware.

Modern or contemporary kitchens typically feature minimalist flat-panel cabinets that work best with tubular or flat stainless steel bar pulls, tab pulls, recessed pulls, channel metal rail pulls or integrated wood pulls depending on whether you want the pulls to stick out or not.

On the other hand, raised-panel cabinets, which are used in more traditional kitchens, often resemble fine furniture and are nicely complimented by more ornate hardware. From drop pulls and accented wire pulls to knobs with decorative back plates, painted wood knobs and a combination of bin pulls and knobs, it’s important to consider both the cabinet finish and countertop before adding these stylish embellishments.

When it comes to kitchens that features flexible recessed panel or shaker style cabinets, you can go either way - from modern or contemporary to traditional. Nickel or steel knobs plus bin pulls are a great choice with white cabinets and stainless appliances, while vintage glass or ceramic knobs look great with stained wood cabinets and mix well with pulls for drawers if desired. For a more industrial look, try vintage pulls with exposed screws, and for a more modern look, try tubular bar, flat bar or accented wire pulls.

If you have more than one style or color cabinet in your kitchen, by all means, mix and match the hardware as well. Choosing the same style, say knobs and bin pulls, but using different finishes looks great when pairing white wall cabinets with nickel and a stained wood peninsula with antique brass.

Also, if you’re replacing hardware versus starting anew, you’ll want to take the existing installation into account, according to Fritz.

“You’re sort of locked in to knobs with one hole,” he said. “For handles, you’ll want to verify the center set – the space between the two holes - so you purchase the right size the first time.”

When it comes to injecting a little fresh style into your kitchen, a simple change like updating the knobs can make a big impact when it’s done right. But keep in mind that they will stand out even more when complemented by another update or two.

“In my experience, the hardware alone may not transform a kitchen,” Fritz said. “But add some fresh paint, a new tile backsplash, new countertop or floor and you’ll increase the impact. A lot of people don’t want to tear out their cabinets right now, and the find that re-facing can be just as expensive as replacing them. We probably see the biggest number of people who want to update their countertops and handles plus maybe the floor for the time being. The results can be amazing.”

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