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Patti Cowger

Dear Readers,This column is just for you. Every other week, I’ll answer one of your interior design questions. Just send me an email with your question and I’ll reply right here. This week’s question:

I need knobs and pulls for my new kitchen cabinets. Is there a rule to using knobs versus pulls, all knobs, or all pulls? What about size? When I remodel my bathroom next year, should the hardware be the same as the kitchen?

When it comes to shape, style, and sometimes finish, let your plumbing and lighting fixtures be your guide.

Are these fixtures modern, traditional, casual, formal, linear or curvilinear? Most of the time, there is an element of a fixture that you can mimic — like an arch or ball or an extreme angle.

The finishes and sheens on these metals do not have to be the same. Oil-rubbed bronze, brass, and champagne coordinate nicely. Nickel, chrome and stainless do as well. Polished, satin, brushed, and burnished can work together. The key to successful mixing is being able to justify your choices. This is where it gets tricky because all situations are different. Let me give you a current example.

I’m working on a remodeling project where the kitchen and dining room have been taken back to their studs. The new configuration will expose both of these rooms as soon as one enters the front door. The overall color scheme will be ivory with accents of semi-sweet chocolate brown. The brown will be in the wood beams, doors, ceiling fans and window shades. The kitchen faucet, which will be seen from the front door, is tall, architectural, and dark oil-rubbed bronze.

The kitchen cabinets and quartz countertops are ivory. Given this description, you might think that oil-rubbed bronze cabinet hardware would be the obvious choice. What’s there to agonize about?

I’m taking two things into consideration. The backsplash tile reaches the ceiling on two walls. The tile is variegated orange and creates spectacular focal points. Will oil-rubbed bronze hardware on ivory cabinets stand out too prominently and weaken the dramatic tile? Worse yet, will it look too busy? My other concern is the quantity of brown accents sprinkled throughout the house. Will dark hardware be overkill? Where’s the nuance?

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So, I’m waiting for the project to be completed. Once the beams, fans, and window shades have been installed, I will stand at the front door to answer these questions.

I gave such a long explanation only to show that sometimes making even the smallest of decisions can have big consequences. Take a step back to view your kitchen as a whole. Such a perspective may help determine the type of role your hardware should play.

As for choosing knobs, pulls or a combination, there is no rule of thumb. Nor is there one for determining their sizes. Sometimes, you want the hardware to make a statement (especially on plain door and drawer fronts) and sometimes you want it to disappear. I do think people usually skimp on the size of pulls, though. Sometimes, a drawer’s size and paneling will dictate how large the hardware can be. Don’t forget to take the projection of a knob or pull into consideration. You want enough room for your fingers to comfortably operate.

Your kitchen and bathroom hardware do not have to be the same. Ideally, the styles of each room are compatible with each other, and by default, the hardware will be as well.

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Patti L. Cowger is a credentialed, award-winning Napa-based interior designer and owner of PLC Interiors. For more information about her design services, visit her website at plcinteriors.com call (707) 322-6522; or email plcinteriors@sbcglobal.net

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