Hardware Finishes - What's in style?

busybmeMarch 23, 2009

We are in the midst of a whole house remodel and I had planned to use oil-rubbed bronze hardware primarily (door handles, lighting fixtures, faucets, etc). But, since it has taken us so long to get through the design phase and into the building/finishing phase, I am starting to doubt that decision as I seem to see finishes trending back to chrome.

The only items I've purchased so far are a faucet for our powder room in oil-rubbed bronze (will be paired with a hammered copper sink and antique gold granite) and recently bought faucets for our jack'n'jill bath and guest bath in polished chrome (to be paired with white porcelain undermount sinks and builder grade granite).

Our decorating style leans toward rustic traditional with dark, classic woods and masculine touches.

By the time I'm done, these finish items will be a large part of my budget and I don't want to make a mistake. Where do you see the trend going? It would be a shame to be out of style before I even complete my project!


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I do think ORB will look dated sooner than other finishes. I don't think chrome ever goes out of style. What color are your cabinets? If they are dark wood I'd say go with a pewter look. There are a couple of threads about hardware going on now on the kitchen forum. (I'm trying to figure out the same thing right now. ;-) )

    Bookmark   March 23, 2009 at 10:37AM
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As much as I love ORB hardware (I have a lot of it), I have to agree with kpaquette that it is likely to get dated more quickly than others.

BUT - It is perfect for the type of look you have in mind:

"Our decorating style leans toward rustic traditional with dark, classic woods and masculine touches."

And for THAT reason, I'd choose ORB or something similar (iron, aged pewter, black) anyway. Think of it as a 'whole hose harmony' choice rather than a 'what's in fashion' choice.

Or switch to antique brass, which seems to be making a comeback AND would be a good fit for your style.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2009 at 10:53AM
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My kids bath will have white painted cabinetry so I think the chrome will look darling there but, I agree with what Sweeby said, a darker finish is better overall with our decorating and the tone of our house.

I'm really not a trend-chaser but would like to at least get a few years out of these purchases before feeling they are no longer desireable.

It's funny you mentioned antique brass...that's what's here now! : ) It would actually save me from having to change out the door hinges if I could find nice ant. brass door handles.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2009 at 11:04AM
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Forget about what's in style and go with what YOU like. I'm getting white cabinets and I'll be using ORB for the main part, and glass on another wall. My light fixtures in the room is polished chrome.

Our decorating is similar to yours. :)

    Bookmark   March 23, 2009 at 11:12AM
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In style or not, rustic trad and chrome just don't work, IMO.

In the last year or so, some super-upscale homes have been done with the antique brass. It's likely to trickle down and become more popular if that's important to you.

I think the trick is to stay away from anything that looks like "builder brass". If you don't need new hinges, I would suggest rolling that money into the highest quality brass handlesets you can afford.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2009 at 11:33AM
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Thanks for your comments so far. I especially like seeing the 'get what you like' comments, as that's how I've always decorated and it seems to all come together. But this is a larger project than I have tackled before.

amysrq, our last home was similar to this one and we hired a stager (who was an ASID int. designer) to help us before the sale. She had us switch out a couple things to chrome to give some 'sparkle' to various areas (kitchen sink faucet and kids bath lighting, specifically). It was interesting and it did look fine, although I would not have done it on my own had she not suggested it.

In my mind, I think I can mix the bath finishes without a problem as the areas are quite removed from each other. The door hardware and general lighting, however, I think I need to keep consistant.

What do you think?


    Bookmark   March 23, 2009 at 12:13PM
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Sandy all are acceptable frankly. ORB looks nice with darker finishes, and since that's a focus for you, you aren't going to go wrong with it. I have it on all of my doors (hinges and handles). My interior trim is painted Tint de'nigre (brown almost black) and my wall colorings are mostly rich earth colors. The ORB knobs I picked look great there and I wouldn't consider going for chrome or shiny gold brass.

In my baths, all on different floors, we have fixtures that are appropriate for the color scheme of the room (toned to cabinets and flooring verses the paint since that can be changed easily). My son's bath is all chrome and his knobs are pewter. His light fixtures are chrome and white glass (art deco stuff). In our powder room we have high quality brass (gold) with an antique light fixture that is gold and the toilet hinges are gold. The door to the room is painted the dark tone of our other doors and has an antique gold handle (different because it's a pocket door and all others are regular doors).

And our master is done in ORB (faucets and most fixtures) and the knobs and antique lighting are done in antique gold. It all flows well. In the kitchen we have chrome for faucets but our stove knobs are both brass and silver (stainless) so we have lighting that is silver and gold, and our knobs are pewter. Again it flows well.

I think people get a bit carried away trying to do the doors and all the lights in the same finish. It comes out a bit boring IMO. I'd rather see decor, including fixtures, that works with the style of the room, verses the style of the bathroom three floors down.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2009 at 12:44PM
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Sandy, bath fixtures are a different story. Chrome is a classic, can't go wrong choice for the bathroom. I was specifically referring to door hardware.....chrome would not be my first choice from the way you describe your style.

As for using chrome in the bathrooms and other finishes elsewhere (handlesets and lighting), I agree with you that it is not a problem. I would want chrome handles inside and rest-of-the-house finish outside on bathroom doors.

Don't be a slave to lighting! I think it is safe to try to keep finishes similar on a room-by-room basis, but many times that is not possible or even desirable. Depends on where your matchy-matchy threshold is. :-)

Where lighting is concerned, you'll probably find that the styles you like tend to come in the finishes you prefer, so it should be pretty straightforward. Generally, I think mixing warm tones (brass and ORB) or cool tones (chrome and brushed nickel) in a room is easier to manage than mixing warm and cool in the same room.

You'll find that every manufacturer's idea of "brass" or "ORB" is different. Within reason, it is safe to say that if you get close, the eye will make up the difference.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2009 at 2:37PM
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The only thing I would add to the excellent advice above is to consider avoiding highly polished surfaces for highly used hardware. Doorknobs, I'm talking to you! I've been changing my brass to a mixture of satin nickel and polished nickel, and I'm finding out that doorknobs, and to a lesser extent faucets, should NOT be in a highly polished, reflective finish.


    Bookmark   March 23, 2009 at 5:15PM
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Good advice on the highly polished doorknobs, Blue.

I think I'm going to use ORB door handles throughout the house and ORB as the primary finish on lighting fixtures. Our masterbath will probably end up with ORB fixtures, as well.

I know that my laundry sink will have chrome (Industrial Gooseneck faucet), so between that and the kids bath I will have a spattering of shiny. Hope it all works!


    Bookmark   March 24, 2009 at 8:27AM
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I'm slowly replacing all of our old brass (the 70's kind, not very pretty) with ORB. We used Baldwin distressed ORB for all of the doorknobs and I love them! I mean, I really love them! Our style is also rustic with no bright white or shiny finishes, as I don't think they would work well with our furnishings. Antique brass or polished nickel would probably be nice alternatives, but I can't envision chrome in a rustic setting.

My powder room has a hammered copper sink and ORB hardware and they complement each other nicely. For the kids' bathroom, though, I'm considering going with a finish that's more durable and can stand up to many, many Lysol wipes! Not sure if that's orb, chrome, polished nickel, or antique brass yet.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2009 at 12:56PM
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