In this post: Home hardware and trim can make the biggest difference in your home’s character, including moldings, door knobs, drapery rods and other decorative trim.⇒
There are some things that once you realize them, they open up a whole new world of possibilities for you.
I grew up in a home that was constantly being worked on. My mom insisted on freshly painted walls every few years and she had loads of DIY projects for my fixer-upper dad. She changed throw pillows and accent decor and would buy new linens from time to time. But much of what they modified revolved around these simple refinements that never veered very far off the track of what was already existing. If a door knob broke, it would be replaced by a new one that looked exactly the same.
As such, it never dawned on me, until I bought my own home and saw what other people were doing, that pretty much anything in the home was fair game for upgrading. THIS rocked my world.
I started to see details as opportunities. They became a chance to add character and personality to our home. Fixtures weren’t actually fixed in place. Not permanently, anyway.
This was a liberating notion that once you see, you can’t unsee. Never again would I look past a piece of ugly hardware, assuming it was stuck there for life.
Ultimately, the sky is the limit in terms of what kinds of hardware updates can be added to the home. Likewise, design styles are endless and you should follow a healthy mix of what’s trending and what best expresses your taste. My rule of thumb is if it’s not currently popular, be sure it’s at least of superior quality and possesses a degree of classic elegance.
For the purpose of this post, I’m going to leave light fixtures out of the equation, because that’s an entire topic unto itself. You can see my post about lighting for an in depth look at several lighting categories.
Instead we’ll focus here on smaller trims and hardware, but know this is not an exhaustive list. The main purpose of the post is to get you thinking about upgrading these so-called incidental features, than can make a huge difference in the character of your home.
Molding and Trim
A great place to start is with crown molding, baseboard molding and chair rails. But it doesn’t end there. There’s board and batten, bead board, wood beams and more.
You can use decorative trim options like dentil or egg and dart, pictured above. You can choose a variety of paint colors or even stain your moldings, if the quality of wood is good.
But the thing to be most aware of is scale and size, because nothing kills a trim faster than a skimpy cut. Intricate moldings can be built up during installation using multiple pieces and a creative artisan can deliver the most appealing look for your home. Even a clean, understated look should not be skimpy, as balance is key.
In addition to relatively flat moldings, there are a plethora of choices for more complex decorative millwork, from corbels and brackets to ceiling medallions and scrolls. There are appliques and onlays in wood or resin, which come in an array of patterns to suit any taste.
These architectural carvings can be added to flat surfaces, lending a delightful flourish to your home’s trim. We added an intricate centerpiece to our fireplace mantel surround for a personal touch that makes a lasting impression. You can also add rosettes, decorative corners, capitals and keystones, plus finials, swags and elegant drops.
Knobs and Pulls
One of the easiest instant upgrades can come from the smallest trim hardware, such as knobs and pulls for cabinets and drawers. You can completely change the character of a piece of furniture or a room with built-ins, by substituting new knobs for the existing ones there. It takes little more than a screw to make a complete transformation. The options are endless, and run the gamut from sleek and modern to ornate and bedecked.
Changing your door hardware can also make an impact, whether it be your interior door knobs or locking entry door sets. These are often the first thing you see when you enter a home and become a focal point in the entry foyer, setting the tone for the house.
Consequently, the pieces you choose should work well together, reflecting the same design sensibility as the rest of your decor. I particularly love picking knobs for French doors in pairs, as the aesthetic is doubled by the parallel design.
Faucets and Bathroom Hardware
Faucets, and bathroom hardware in general, can be thought of as the jewelry of the room. From the style and shape, to the color and finish, these pieces make a huge difference in the rooms they are present in.
In a simple white kitchen or bathroom, golden hardware can steal the show. Pay attention to spout shape and lever style, along with the finish.
Additional items that can be added to dress up a space include towel bars, robe hooks, paper holders, and wall shelving.
In our kitchen we added a large refrigerator door pull – but used as a mini towel bar – to hold our dish towels in a convenient place. And I’m one of the few people I know who can get all excited about a shower door handle. I like when everything looks like it was designed with care.
Drapery Rods and Tie Backs
As I mentioned above, if you love a design feature that’s not particularly current, you can still use it and follow your heart. Just take care to ensure the items around it are up-to-date, so the net result is a room that doesn’t look stuck in the past.
For me this is applicable in the case of our drapery rods, forgoing the simple French returns that are trending up. I preferred to select rods that reflect the character of our room design, with finials that evoke a sense of European gentility, sitting comfortably with our modern French decor. Yet this ornate hardware is balanced by simple linen panels, keeping the look from getting too outdated.
I’m also pretty crazy about antique tie backs and enjoy collecting them as I find them in antique markets. These tiny bits of elegance add polish to a room and pedigree to a home.
Some More Hardware and Trim Ideas
- Add columns and fluted trim to drab boring surfaces
- Upgrade vent covers and grates to be pretty and decorative
- Use a pot filler over the stove to play off the kitchen faucet
- Towel warmers in the bathroom are both useful and chic
- Doorbells can be decorative and add grace to your entry
- Refrigerator door handles can be upgraded and quite pretty
- Don’t forget stairway railings and bannisters for a polished look
There’s a lot that goes into making a home special, and many people put all their attention into choosing furniture and paint colors. But one of the things that can take a home from builder’s grade to truly unique is personalizing your home with hardware and trim.
This is one of the areas that separates the ordinary from the exceptional, and details can be added over time as your budget allows.
And once you realize it, you’ll never settle for ordinary again.
To get the look, click on the items below for direct links to the products. Where actual items were no longer available, I’ve provided similar options. If an item is out of stock but may be restocked, I left it on the list.
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