By Erik J. Martin
The experts agree: The kitchen is usually the most important room in a home, one that can serve as the key focal point in a residence’s design and aesthetic appeal. It’s a big reason why homeowners opt to reinvent and remodel their kitchens before it’s time to list their properties for sale. These efforts are typically rewarded handsomely, as kitchen redos can dramatically improve resale value and offer an impressive return on investment.
But whether you plan to sell your home or stay put, a major kitchen upgrade can be costly. However, there are small projects you can undertake in this space that can make a big difference for less coin than you’d expect. One of the most cost-effective ways to enhance your kitchen, for example, is to swap out your old cabinetry hardware – the knobs, pulls, levers, and handles fastened to the doors and drawers – for new ones.
Replacing cabinetry hardware is a quick, easy, and inexpensive way to update the look of your kitchen. It can tie together a certain aesthetic, make the room look more modern, and create dimension.
To stay current, think about switching out cabinetry hardware every 5 to 7 years.
This is an easy way to keep up with the latest design trends without replacing the entire system. It’s also smart to examine and replace functional hardware like cabinetry door hinges over these intervals, too, as they can loosen and wear off due to tension and friction.
Assuming you only want or need to replace the pulls, handles, and knobs, the good news is that you likely only need a screwdriver and an hour or two to make these DIY changes. Most of these items are easily installed with one or two screws, although you may need to drill an extra hole or two if the old handle you are removing is secured with only one screw and the new handle requires two screws or if your existing drilled hole doesn’t line up with the new hardware.
Some of the most popular handle materials today are gold, matte black, and polished chrome.
It’s important to consider the weight and size of the door or drawer when choosing the hardware, as the bigger the door the sturdier the handle needs to be, and make sure the purchase quality hardware; avoid buying in bulk from a discount store.
Mike Katona, a DIY/home-improvement blogger for ShabbyChicHouse.com, advises choosing hardware that’s classic, timeless, and won’t go out of style too quickly, such as chrome, brushed nickel, or crystal.
“In our older Cleveland home, we chose to go with new chrome and crystal knobs in the kitchen. But if you want to be bold, go with something that’s more of a hot current trend, like gold or rose gold.”
It’s smart to also consider harmonizing with your kitchen’s existing design.
You should choose the hardware style and finish material so that it matches your kitchen’s look and tone. For instance, contemporary works best with stainless steel, transitional works well with black and light-colored metal hardware, traditional matches brass and pewter, rustic loves bronze with patina, and eclectic looks great with painted wooded knobs.
Also, make sure the handles are a common size, such as 96, 128, or 160 millimeters, “so that they can easily be swapped out for an endless number of other handle options in the future,” says Katona, whose new knobs were single-screw types that replaced two-screw knobs. “To pull this off, we needed to drill a hole in the center of the original two holes and also include a knob backplate to cover the original two screw holes.”
That’s why it’s essential to carefully compare the size and shape of your old handles to any new ones you are considering before committing to a product. Keep in mind that, when you remove an old pull or knob, the exposed wood beneath it may reveal an imprint or discoloration; be sure your new hardware is large enough to cover any of these imperfections.