To lacquer or not to lacquer

Let’s talk about lacquer. What is lacquer? Lacquer is a coating applied to an item as a way to seal an item and prevent the finish from aging or wearing. Lacquer finishes are applied to all sorts of things, including metals, of course. Most hardware manufacturers apply a lacquer coating to their hardware to keep the finish from aging. Horton Brasses, traditionally, did not do this.  All of our finishes have have typically been “living finishes”. Our various pieces of brass hardware are finished in one of our five brass finishes and left to age naturally. Please note-nickel does not tarnish like brass and this discussion isn’t relevant to nickel hardware.

But what does it mean that our brasses have a living finish?  Well, in the case of shinier finish, polished brass and the like, it means that the hardware will tarnish over time and look like an antique piece of hardware — which it will be.  Everything we make is intended to last forever. Most of our clients prefer to let their brasses age naturally. But, and there is always a but: New hardware that is patinaed in our shop will not age the same way. Our antique brass, which is a brown color, will lighten gently in some areas. This will give your furniture or cabinetry a very natural look. As if it has always been there, even if it is only a few years old. Our version of oil rubbed — we call it dark antique — will age more drastically. In a kitchen setting, you will find that some spots, such as the silverware drawer, will get quite light. In essence, our hands act as a polish and you will see some gold showing through. The aging is inconsistent and to some is considered quite attractive. Do you like that look? Great. Dislike that look? I certainly understand.  If you want to keep your brasses uniform, we would suggest having your hardware lacquered. While probably not necessary for a piece of furniture, a dark finish in a kitchen setting will keep your hardware looking exactly the same as the day you installed it for a long time.

We do offer lacquering as a semi-custom finish option on any and all of our hardware, in all of our finishes.  As of last week, our most popular kitchen cabinet hardware is now being stocked in dark antique and antique with a lacquer coating.  This includes items like our BN-3 bin pull, K-12 knobs, and SL-4 cabinet latches.

We do charge an additional 20% for lacquering.  For a variety of reasons, we cannot do the lacquering in our own shop, so we send it out to a professional in Maryland, who has a proper lacquer spray booth and knows a thing or two about hardware.

Video Blog

We think our hardware finishes are pretty special.  Each is unique and hand done.  Have you ever wondered how we do it?  This is our first ever video blog post and you can see how we make our antique brass finish.  The video was made in house, with original music and editing done by our very own Pablo Alvarado.  Check it out, its a little less than 4 minutes long.  Please pardon the intro and outro, this was our first time and the delivery still needs some work.






Just in time for Thanksgiving, here is the winner of Horton Brasses first hardware giveaway. While the booty may be small this time, be sure to check in regularly to this blog as we slowly up the ante.

The winner of two Horton Brasses Oval Ring Pulls is….

Leslie Howard!

The Horton Brasses mother ship will soon contact Leslie to her address and the beautifully crafted pulls will be mailed to her. We hope Leslie shares some pictures of how she uses her new oval ring pulls.

Congratulations, Leslie, and thank you to everyone else who entered.

Have a great Thanksgiving!

Oval ring pull review and giveaway


oval ring pulls made of solid brass


Okay. Orion just sent me these and, to be honest, I love them. Oval ring pulls. Two sizes. Seven finishes. Lots of options.

What I was most impressed with upon opening the package was the heft of these pulls. These babies are solid. Actually, I briefly contemplated putting the polished nickel ring pull on a chain to wear as a necklace, but first I have to find a chain strong enough. And then I would have to worry about my neck muscles over-developing. But I digress…

Have you seen these pulls online at the Horton Brasses website?  To be honest, the copy for these pulls is great. Wish I wrote it:

Circles and squares? Yes. How about ovals? Why not? Horton Brasses is proud to introduce a new classic. Oblong, elegant,

ovals-a new twist on an old favorite. When a ring is too round and a square is too, well, square, try an oval.

These pulls definitely would work on an entertainment center, hutch, kitchen or bathroom cabinetry, bedroom furniture. Style-wise these oval ring pulls have massive crossover appeal. Depending on which of the 7 finishes you choose, you really could have your way with them anywhere from a colonial/traditional setting to the other end of the spectrum– modern/contemporary.


close up of oval ring pulls

Check this out! Horton Brasses really put a lot of thought into this simple design, The post that holds the oval is milled down so that the ring stops at 90 degrees. This keeps the pulls in place and prevents them from dinging the woodwork behind them-particularly important with modern furniture and cabinetry with its shiny lacquers and veneers. Couldn’t you just kiss them for that?


polished nickel oval ring pull

The large polished nickel oval ring pull measures in at 2-3/8″x1-15/16″ (the smaller size clocks in at 1-15/16″x1-5/8″).  It truly shines against a white background.


oval ring pulls

Set against rustic brick, this ring pull looks simultaneously classic and modern. Mount it on distressed cabinetry and you instantly create visual interest in a room.


dark antique oval ring pull

Black beauty! Okay, not exactly black. Oil rubbed bronze. Or in Horton Brasses hardware lingo, “Dark Antique.” Wouldn’t this pull look dramatic on white cabinetry? Harkens back a bit to the Something’s Gotta Give kitchen. Oil rubbed bronze hardware and white painted cabinets are not an ephemeral design trend but rather a die-hard classic.


The exciting thing about these beautiful ring pulls, aside from their design versatility, insanely substantial quality and the terrific customer service that comes along with them, is all the other info available to you about these pulls. That’s the charm of buying from a small family owned business. Manufactured in England by Armac Brassworks and subjected to the diligent quality control and environmental standards that the Horton-Henderson clan have, for over 80 years, built their business upon, you can feel good knowing where your hardware’s from. 

Additionally, unlike large retailers, when you buy your Horton Brasses hardware, you are eligible for quantity discount pricing. Surely that is a welcomed treat when tackling larger projects–like kitchens. Or colossal media/entertainment centers.


                   dark antique oval ring pulls on brick background

Interested in one of these pulls? They are waiting for you at the Horton Brasses website. Want the thrill of a contest? The two pulls featured in this post are up for grabs to a winner, to be selected at random from the comments section of this post. Leave a comment about what you like about Horton Brasses and/or this blog no later than November 22 and live in the Continental US to be eligible!  Can’t wait to find out who the winner is and hear how impressed you are by the quality and good looks of these pulls.

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.