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Tips for Choosing the Right Hardware Finish You’ll Love for Years to Come

Selecting the right hardware finish can feel like a life-long commitment, or as long as you plan on living in the same home. Trends change constantly and personal tastes evolve,...

Selecting the right hardware finish can feel like a life-long commitment, or as long as you plan on living in the same home. Trends change constantly and personal tastes evolve, all while hardware withstands the test of time. How do you go about finding the right finish for you, one that you’ll enjoy beyond what’s trending? We’ll be sharing some of our insights and tips on helping you to make the right choice today so you can love your hardware for life.

@bronzecottage featuring Skylight in Elusive Golden Nickel

1. Understand the Big Picture

Hardware can be an extremely small aspect of a new home or kitchen build; it's rare for homes to be designed around a single object like in this humorous 2003 Kohler commercial (credits). Even in remodeling projects, designers are more likely to think about the overall layout well before materials, furniture, decor and hardware come into the play. 

If you’re early in the process of remodeling or building, you have some time yet before committing to a design. But we recommend starting your search as early as possible to get the creative juices flowing. Due to the pandemic, lead times can be long and starting early can help you stay flexible. We also recommend having a 2nd and even 3rd choice of hardware, just in case you’re in a hurry to move in, or make your space readily usable.


2. Find Inspiration, Find Your Baseline

If you’re not sure what hardware you like, now is a good time to start that discovery process. If you already know what you want, it’s still important to record these ideas and images in one place vs. just in your head. Having something tangible like an image board to take with you when you’re out looking for hardware will help you stay on track. 

Simple Googling and Pinterest is a quick way to start finding other kitchen and bath examples. Search broadly at first like, “black kitchen,” then get more specific over time with search terms like “black industrial kitchen” or “black traditional kitchen.” Spend a bit of time and jot notes to find what it is you really want and like about a particular space or image. 

Overtime, you may start noticing a pattern in your preferences. Perhaps you’re very fond of incorporating exposed brick in a kitchen over traditional backsplash, or you’re not really a fan of the warm look and color of butcher block countertops. 

In the example of black kitchens above which are trending, a person may discover that a full black kitchen isn’t what they actually want through research. Maybe they’ll find that they only really like the idea of a black island or black window trims, rather than committing completely to floor-to-ceiling black cabinets. These sorts of discoveries are best to be found upfront before delving too deep into any home remodeling project.


3. Select Hardware Based on Larger Focal Points, Create a Moodboard

Kensal Rise House, Sherwin Williams Paint, Café Refrigerator, RH Lugarno Faucet, Schoolhouse Regent Chandelier, Serax Metal Fruit Bowl

Are there specific wall colors, statement furniture pieces, cabinet or countertop colors or materials that could influence and help you narrow your choices? There are many different finishes for hardware, but not all of them work universally in every space or over every color.

For general guidance, you want to try to match up the undertones of the hardware you like with the overall color schemes in the room. Avoid selecting hardware in a vacuum and without being informed of the other larger design decisions. Always try to keep the big picture in mind.

For example, think of the appliances you’re working with, if the refrigerator, range and hood are in plain view, this might help you steer your path on making the right choice. Are your appliances mostly white, black, stainless steel or even gold? Perhaps they’re painted like the Smeg refrigerators? Would stainless steel appliances and gold hardware work together or will they clash? You may be surprised to come across examples that mixed metals are perfectly fine.

It can be extremely helpful to get a moodboard going either through a moodboard creation app, Pinterest or Photoshop to see if your hardware choices will fit in with the rest of the design choices in a room. These moodboards should be separated from your initial discovery image boards from the previous step, as you want to begin to narrow down your choices.


4. Study the Finish Colors & Undertones


Carefully examine the overall mood and undertones of the space you’re trying to create. Chrome is a good common example. It’s a very popular cool-toned silver with bluish undertones that will certainly clash over warmer colors like honey oak cabinets that have an orangish hue. 

Ideally, Chrome would look aesthetically best against cooler toned woods and paints with a blue or neutral undertone, like black or gray cabinets. Very warm finishes like Brushed Golden Brass, which feature a reddish undertone may look really odd against a cold blue-gray cabinet, but looks great over a rich navy or sage green.

If you’re unsure about the nuances of undertones, mixing metals and matching finishes, it’s OK to copy a look from your moodboard. If you like the image, the legwork of thinking through the hardware choices in that photograph has already been done for you. 

There’s also no real replacement for ordering a hardware sample and holding the piece directly up to the cabinet in person in the right lighting. If you’re interested, Hickory Hardware offers a sample program where you may select up to 3 pieces of hardware to try.

If you want to learn more about Hickory Hardware finishes, take a peek at these topics previously covered comparing our top sellers:


5. Sleep On It

@verandaestatehomes featuring Studio in Polished Nickel

Oftentimes, difficult decisions can be settled by stewing on them and leaving it to rest for awhile. You might feel steadfast on your decision or you might feel different about your choices the next day, or a week or month down the line. If you have time to spare, give your hardware decision some time, especially if you’ll be living with it for awhile. 

This is why back in Step 1, starting the process of making design decisions relatively early, can’t hurt. Wait and see if you still feel the same about your hardware choices once the cabinets are finally installed or refinished. 

We hope that you have found this post helpful! Don’t forget that Hickory Hardware offers a sample program. Don’t forget to tag us on Instagram @hickoryhardware. We love to see what you’ve come up with!


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