Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Decorative Hardware - From Function to Style.

For many designers and homeowners decorative hardware is the “eye candy” of the kitchen.  Before we talk about decorative hardware let’s review a “loose” history of hardware in general.

Hardware, mainly in houses and barns for agricultural purposes, were hand forged for centuries.  Hand forging dates back to the 12th century.  It was all about function and durability.  Style and finish were not a consideration.  Hardware started being mass produced during the industrial revolution in the 1870’s.  With the improvements in mass manufacturing of that era, style and finish came into play as it related to door hardware.  Decorative and functional hardware for the kitchen became more common in the 1930’s, as noted on Amerock’s website.  Most likely there were other innovators back in the day but Amerock is the only modern survivor we know of.  At the same time kitchen cabinets went from being free standing to built in fixtures in the home.  Decorative hardware didn’t enter the modern era until the mid 1970’s when wholesale distribution to the kitchen and cabinet industry expanded.

Candler Collection

CabinetWare is one of those wholesale distributors, beginning in 1980.  For many years the decorative hardware choices we could offer our customers was pretty narrow.  If you’re an “experienced” kitchen & bath industry professional you will recall that white plastic along with venerable polished brass knobs and pulls were the mainstay for at least a decade.  Today there are literally 10,000+ decorative hardware options to choose from.  This is the result of the explosion of designs and finishes since the mid 1990’s.  The internet also helped fuel this change.  CabinetWare was one of the earliest to sell decorative hardware on the internet beginning in 1997.  We feel that we have some experience when it comes to decorative hardware.

The option of styles and finishes for “eye candy” can overwhelm some people.  They tend to pick a common mushroom knob in a finish they like, and there is nothing wrong with that.  Simplicity and function over style.  At the other end of the spectrum the plethora of choices send other people on a quest to find that special piece.  Style and finish take precedent versus function, and there is nothing wrong with that either.  Good designers and savvy homeowners find a good blend of function, style and finish in their decorative hardware selection.

Anything goes.  That pretty well sums up the new normal.  The major decorative hardware companies have from 50 to 100 finishes.  Just as polished brass dominated the market in the past we have seen brushed nickel, stainless steel, weathered nickel and oil rubbed bronze as the current popular flavors.  Anything goes and what was once old is now new again.  Polished chrome is slowly making a come back along with smooth and sleek contemporary styles.  Other recent trends are coordinated hardware for the home.  Now you have the option of matching bath hardware to the decorative hardware on your cabinets.  Oversized knobs for bi-fold doors in bathrooms and large kitchen doors are also available.  Other options include larger pulls to go on today’s larger cabinet doors and drawers.  Massive sized appliance pulls in matching styles and finishes are also available for the refrigerator.

As you can see, there are many options when it comes to “eye candy”.  From traditional styles and finishes, to contemporary and eclectic hardware, there is something for everyone’s taste.  Function, style and finish.  Most importantly, choose something that YOU like!

Abernathy Collection

Monday, July 9, 2012

Transitional Wood Shakers in Black Walnut, Quartered White Oak and More

Northern Contours is introducing a new line of transitional style Shaker doors that they’ve called “Shift”. I was excited about these when they first debuted them in their Wood & Veneer Product Guide as I’ve always loved contemporary styles but have never had a living space that would fit with a full-on contemporary kitchen. These new styles, with their larger stiles & rails and different grain directions, do a brilliant job of merging traditional materials and construction with contemporary lines and design sensibilities.

  • The Stride and Symmetry styles have the familiar square edges around a 3” frame with the Stride having a shallow flat panel and the Symmetry having a flat panel with a deeper recess.

Shift Series

  • The Degree shares the 3” frame size but sports a deep bevel on the horizontal rails of the frame. This works beautifully with a horizontal straight grain on the panel.

  • While the EuroShaker and the Attitude styles have the 3” vertical stiles, they both stand out with dramatic 4” rails at the top and bottom. The rails on the EuroShaker have square profiles while the Attitude has a deep bevel similar to the Degree.

  The standard drawer fronts for all styles are slab and 3-piece. For larger drawers, Northern suggests ordering a door with the appropriate grain direction. There is no reduced rail option available. All of the styles listed are available in Cherry, Maple, Red Oak, Quartered White Oak and Black Walnut. All species are Select Grade meaning they’ve been selected for maximum grain and color consistency. Northern also offers finishing in thirteen stain colors and two paint colors.

  Since the transitional style of these doors work so well with both traditional and contemporary designs, they can be incorporated into a wide variety of jobs. They can add a touch of contemporary to a traditional office or they can be the more traditional doors in a kitchen with aluminum framed accent doors. Even something as simple as changing the grain direction from plain sliced vertical to horizontal straight grain can radically change the look of a design giving this series of doors a much broader range of applications than the modest five styles would initially suggest.

  Take the time to browse these styles. They really help to expand your horizons. If you find traditional styles too tired but contemporary styles too severe, there is a whole world of design options available between the two. Northern Contours just added a lot more colors to the design palette.