What color should my kitchen cabinet hardware be?

This is the single most asked question we get.  The short answer is that there is no right or wrong.  Get what you like.  Would you like to know more than that?  OK, here goes.

What color are your kitchen cabinets?  If your cabinetry is going to be white we would suggest either polished nickel or dark antique.  Chances are you know what polished nickel looks like, but what the heck is dark antique?  Dark antique is what most companies call oil rubbed bronze.  We don’t like the term oil rubbed bronze, because it is not bronze.  It is brass in a very dark finish.  Here are two lovely kitchens, in white, with examples of each finish:

traditional kitchen

remodeled and updated kitchen

Photo courtest Crown Point Cabinetry, Claremont, NH.

But what if your kitchen is something else?  Stained wood, blue, green, etc?  Well, the same answer applies.  Use the hardware finish that you like.  It’s your kitchen after all.  Antique brass and satin nickel are two popular options that will give you a warm look.  For something a little more rustic, you might try hand forged iron.  And of course, polished nickel and dark antique aren’t limited to white, you can use them on any type of cabinetry.  Here are some examples of wood cabinets some more unique colors.

kitchen featuring hand forged iron hardware

Photo courtesy Faneuil Kitchen Cabinet, Hingham, MA

victorian style kitchen

Photo courtesy Crown Point Cabinetry, Claremont, NH.

So there you have it.  Several different examples and ideas.  If in doubt, order samples, return what you don’t want.  One more thing, and I think this gets missed by a lot of people.  Hardware is the only part of your cabinetry that you touch on a regular basis.  The way your hardware feels to the touch is as important as the way it looks.  Please choose good raw materials and a company that does good finishing work.

Enduring Design Classics: Bin Pulls & Farm Houses

Just outside Stockholm, Wisconsin, a modern custom farmhouse built amidst 40 meandering acres cuts the dramatic skyscape with the gentleness of a butter knife.  Simple in design yet high in function, this weekend getaway pays tribute to  the Swedish influenced mid-western sensibility of the region. Clean lines, nuetral colors, large windows, natural materials, high ceilings and built in cabinetry add to the design’s efficient grace.

Horton Brasses Nickel Pulls & Knobs

With 27 years of marriage under their belts, Jay and Jennifer Olson-Goude presently use the house as a weekend retreat. Eventually, they will retire there, along with their Golden-Child, Otto.

Homeowners Jennifer and Jay Olson-Goude designed their future retirement home in conjunction with Todd Hansen of Albertsson Hansen Architecture.  The custom blonde wood inset Shaker style kitchen cabinets were crafted by Ted Nolen of Total Home Cabinetry (Hudson, WI) and feature Horton Brasses’ hardware as the finishing touch.  Horton Brasses bin pulls and knobs are throughout the house,  contributing to the streamlined yet inviting aesthetic.

Dining Room Storage / Built-in Buffet


Built-in storage throughout the house keeps things neat and tidy.

Jay, who works in architecture, was looking online for bin pulls for cabinet drawers when “an internet search led us to Horton Brasses, who’s products looked much nicer than the many cheaper options out there. “ Jennifer works in the financial services industry. It is no wonder that between the two of them, they outfitted their home with an eye for detail and value.

For a complete look at the house, from construction (Hokeness Construction) to the breathtaking countryside, visit Jay’s online album.

Gasp! Gorgeous. Thanks for the pictures, Jay!

Mixing Finishes


Whether decorating a new home or snazzying up an older model, the question often arises as to whether or not it is okay to mix finishes. Maybe all the doorknobs in your house are a shiny brass but you had your heart set on satin nickel in the kitchen and oil rubbed bronze in the loo. Or maybe you just can’t decide between polished nickel and polished brass. And satin nickel. And milk glass. And want them all in one space–the super expensive kitchen you are remodeling. You want it to look finished and pulled together and are afraid mixing finishes will give you a final product more akin to a Home Depot kitchen showroom than the Crown Point Cabinetry website.

Well, rest your pretty little head. While it is true that most of the pics of kitchens you find online will make you believe matchy match match is gospel, some Google Image searching will turn up quite a few well executed examples of mixing finishes in the kitchen without looking like you outfitted your cabinets in salvage off of eBay. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Here are some real life worries regarding mixed finishes: 

I am planning on stainless cabinet hardware but want to get an ORB faucet….will this look okay?  

Can I mix matte bronze light fixture with satin nickel cabinet hardware?

Brushed nickel cabinet hardware, stainless steel sink and faucet…can I go dark bronze on the lighting?


These kinds of threads always pop up on the GardenWeb Kitchen Forum,  possibly the most useful reference and interactive website when it comes to remodeling a kitchen. As you can see from visiting the linked threads, there are some traditionalists out there who probably go so far as to match their faucet to their saucepan. That definitely is playing it safe.

But mixing finishes is not a strenuous task best undertaken by design mavens only. Even us commoners can use our good sense to pull off a fabulous mixed finish space without looking mis-matched. Let’s call in some visuals!


This shaker-style kitchen from the Crown Point Cabinetry website shows stained wooden knobs, stainless steel hood/range/sink/faucet and a wrought iron chandelier. The result is positively un-quirky.


Another example from the esteemed custom cabinet maker Crown Point, painted wooden knobs, copper sink and wrought iron pendants. Three different finishes, one unique charm!


GardenWebber Cotehele’s gorgeous kitchen remodel, complete with Horton Brasses dark antique cabinet hardware, stainless steel faucet and white fireclay sink.


From Southern Living, this kitchen shows the eclectic pairing of antique brass pendants, stainless steel appliances and oil-rubbed bronze cabinet hardware.


Bronze, stainless steel and brass finishes adorn this Nantucket kitchen featured in House Beautiful.


Above is a glimpse how mixing finishes can give a high end effect on a budget. This Ikea kitchen remodel, by DIY Gardenwebber Brickmanhouse, was done for under $20k. Finshes include glass as well as chrome bin pulls, fireclay sinks and a black chandelier. This kitchen definitely is an inspiration on many levels! For more pics and info, click here.

Below is my own personal favorite, which not so coincidentally happens to be my personal kitchen. I could bore you with the details: white enamel light fixtures, satin nickel and polished nickel hardware. And milk glass and crystal and antique brass. Satin nickel faucets as well as chrome w/brass. I could go on and on about the four different tiles, two different grout colors etc., but instead, you can look for yourself.

So, while I don’t want to squelch your creativity, let me share some guidelines (I use that word loosely) to help you ease your fear over mixing and matching your finishes.

1) Know your style. Defining your decorating style will give you a design neighborhood to work in and help you achieve a cohesive end product. Are you going for a cottage look? Is a vintage or period feel where you are headed? Or are you trying to create a sleek, modern space? Asking these questions early on will allow you to narrow down your style choices (bin pulls vs. bar pulls) and may also steer you towards certain finishes or away from certain finishes.

2) Look for natural divisions of space. Good design organic and not over thought. Examine your space and determine where there are natural divisions or breaks. You may want to offset a work island from the perimeter cabinets with different hardware. Or maybe bring in a finish on a hutch or pantry cabinetry. Another way to visually divide up your space is to think in terms of horizontal layers. Ceiling fixtures, then sink/faucets then cabinet hardware. There are many ways to break up the space, adding reason and order to your varying elements.

3) Be practical! Don’t forget to find out what kind of care goes into the finishes you’ve selected. Most lacquered hardware won’t require much upkeep at all, but do your homework. And don’t rule out chrome faucets just because the rest of your kitchen is chromeless. I promise you, the shine of chrome, while being bluer than the pink tones of polished nickel, will not clash. There will be no pictures turning up in the press with your kitchen listed as a “Fashion Don’t.” I promise.

4) Don’t sweat the small stuff. This goes along with “be practical” but I feel it is de rigueur for any list of guidelines to include this cliche’. What I am thinking about here is your sink drain. Get chrome. Trust me. I don’t care if your sink is black or white or stainless or pink. Chrome is the most durable finish and perfect for water applications. I had a Brasstech satin nickel basket for my drain and within a month or so I had myself a two toned satin nickel/brass basket where the finish rubbed off. Of course, if that is your idea of mixing finishes, than go for it.

5) Fill your kitchen with what you love! Another cliche’? Oh, totally! This is actually one of the most over-simplified decorating advice I’ve come across, but still, on one level it works. Of course, if you are like me and find yourself completely adulterous to any one style, you’re on your own. Perfecting that bohemian, time traveler look is probably one of the most complicated styles to execute. But if you’ve made it this far down my list of guidelines and have honed in on a specific style, divided your space up visually and have some practical ideas for your choices, then I say you have enough parameters to pick out your faves and deck your kitchen out in those things. That’s what I did.

How To Care For Your Hardware

how to care for your cabinet hardware

A few months ago, we completed our kitchen remodel. It was a big deal, involving moving supporting walls and two full months of starvation. About a week into the tear out, I discovered I was pregnant with my third child. Our busy life was about to get busier.

Functionality was my inspiration when making my choices for the remodel. While I definitely wanted the space to look great, I wanted to make sure I could maintain that achieved level of beauty as effortlessly as possible. Maybe I knew deep down inside that we would one day end up with another baby. Or maybe I knew that whether or not more kids were in my future, life these days is never simple. So many commitments, so many unexpected things popping up—who has time for high maintanence surfaces, nooks and crannies that need scrubbing with a toothbrush or anything “delicate”?

In my new kitchen, I chose hardware that requires absolutely no maintainence other than a quick wipe down on an as needed basis with a ph neutral cleaner. That’s right. Dish soap. I have knobs and pulls from Horton Brasses in satin nickel, polished nickel and dark antique finishes, as well as some crystal and milk glass knobs from around the web. I do absolutely nothing to them other than sponge off crud and gunk as it happens. And they look great. We lived for two years with the antique brass finish on our hardware in a kitchen we remodeled in our old house. Again, nothing but warm soapy water as needed and the knobs and pulls looked fabulous.

If I had my kitchen to do over again, there are a few things I would do differently based on all the knowledge gained from my remodel experience. One thing is I would definitely add some more polished nickel to the space. I am an active reader of The Garden Web Kitchen Forum, a great resource for all things kitchen remodel, but at the time of my decision making, had a difficult time sorting through all the pro’s and con’s of polished nickel. Now, after living with some and after having more time to research it, I see that polished nickel is also an easy finish to live with, especially when it is lacquered, as most are.

So now that I am a total walking encyclopedia (very small volume, admittedly) of how to handle those hardware finishes, let me share that info with you, via this blog post.

What’s Lacquer Got To Do With It?

First of all, when it comes to brass and nickel, you are going to want to know whether or not the piece is lacquered. This is important for two reasons. 1) If you are after a high shine (polished nickel or bright polished brass) the lacquered finish will keep that shine for you without any effort. 2) If your hardware is lacquered, you definitely want to keep it far, far away from any polishes. Polish will take the lacquer right off. To achieve and maintain that shine in the future will require your elbow grease. Here’s the scoop on Horton Brasses finishes. All custom work is unlacquered. I had some larger bin pulls custom finished by the Horton Brasses shop to match the other hardware I bought from them. The stuff looks great and I love how it is aging. A warm patina is developing on the pulls where my fingers touch them. Ahhhh. Even though it is not lacquered, I have no intention of ever polishing it. And it should not be polished really. It’s antiqued! Again, if the ‘p’ word (patina) is not for you, then get the lacquered finish. Aside from the custom stuff, the Horton Brasses line of nickel (polished and satin) is lacquered, which means you never have to polish it! Just wipe it with a soft rag and warm soapy water. Easy.


Bright or polished brass will need to be polished in order to keep it looking super shiny. To do this, it is best to remove the hardware from the cabinetry before applying polish to avoid damaging the wood finish. If you prefer the look of unfinished brass or want to apply your own finish, then the semi-bright finish is for you. This is a rough look, so no need to polish. The semi-bright is unlacquered and will give you instant patina and may be an acquired taste. For those looking for a brass finish that shuns polish, the light and dark antique look is for you. Again, warm soapy water. The dark antique kitchen hardware line from Horton Brasses can be purchased lacquered if you fear the patina I so love.

Other Tips For Maintaining Kitchen Hardware

Basically, the only hardware that needs actual care is polished brass. Everything else is a total no brainer. But one of the magical things about polished brass is that, even if neglected for ages, it revives beautifully with a little tlc. For day to day care of your polished brass, a little rubbing alcohol on a sponge will go a long way. To revive tarnished brass, you will have to polish. For very detailed instructions on how to polish your brass, visit this link. As you will see, don’t overdo it! Too much polish will leave your brass prone to smudges and fingerprints. Additionally, a good way to extend the effect of polishing is to coat your brass hardware thinly with oil. Many commercial polishes contain oil, acting as a barrier between the metal and the air. Whatever finish you choose for your cabinetry, there is a beautiful look waiting for you that requires minimal time and commitment for upkeep. And now that the style pendulum is swinging back to polished brass (yes, everything ’80’s/’90’s is new again!), both traditionalists and trendsetters will know just what is involved with keeping that classically current look.

New Product!

Well I am always excited about adding new stuff. We now have a beautiful small box hinge in nickel. It is the same PB-405 extruded brass hinge we have had for years in a new finish. It just came in today so I don’t have a picture, but you can see the brass one and order them all here PB-405 Box Hinge. It is exceptionally well made and sized for wood as thin as 1/2″ thick. I hope you like it. As always, comments are welcome.

solid brass pb-405 box hinge

It’s been a while

Without digging in, I would guess its been a whopping 3 years since my last post. I guess that makes the blog a tad dated. But starting today I would like to get this a little more active. You might want to know what we are up to? Well let me tell you a little bit. Horton Brasses is lucky in that we are weathering our current recession pretty well. With that in mind, one can never be content to rest on our laurels. I am on a full fledged mission to add new products. What new items you might ask? Next week we will be introducing cup casters, square and round, in nickel finishes. Seems like a good idea, no? Well I can’t take the credit. You, our loyal customers, asked us. It is merely my job to deliver. These are the same fine English casters we carry now in a new finish. But wait, there’s more! You have seen ring pulls, square pulls, and rectangular pulls. How about oval pulls? We will be introducing some nifty oval ring pulls in 2 seizes and 6 finishes. I am sure there are numerous uses from furniture to cabinets and beyond. Pics of both items are soon to follow. My goal is to introduce 100 new products by January 1, 2010. Your input is invited. Post a reply or shoot me an e-mail through the website.