Saturday, 29 March 2014

Knobs + Pulls! Where to Buy Hardware

I've got a photo to show you today. This is a picture of an old dresser that I pulled out of my parent's basement. For years this century old piece of furniture was used to store discarded items for the annual McCutchen family yard sale. When Chris and I first moved in together (in Stratford) we had lots of extra space in our new apartment and it was then that I decided it was time to show this pretty little dresser some love. 

My plan for the dresser was this: refinish the top to it's orignial dark shining wood and paint the bottom. 

There was only one problem. I didn't like the original hardware (it was just thin cheap brass) and I didn't know where to get new hardware for replacment. 

Of course, not all original hardware needs to be removed. I have another small dresser that acts as a side table in our living room and its hardware suits it very well:

But in some cases you simply want a replacement. So where do you go? 

Well,  I won't sugar coat it for you. The selection is definitely poor. Even with access to the online market place there are not a large amount of quality options. And living in Canada you end up dealing with companies that are not willing to ship outside the U.S. 

But there are some options and I'd like to share them with you today.

First, let me say this: Canadian Tire and The Home Depot do have some hardware options, but the pickings are slim and the hardware is not interesting. The selection that they carry is better suited for replacing the handles on your kitchen cupboards. (Think: changing out old outdated brass knobs for brushed nickel cup pulls). You will not find creative original hardware pieces suitable for most furniture refinishing projects at these larger home stores.

After ruling out the large home stores, my next stop was Anthropologie. If you're not familiar with the brand, Anthropologie is a high end clothing and home-wares store with a rustic hippie chic esthetic. They make some incredibly lovely products that are simple and understated in their beauty. They also keep their prices incredibly, unbelievably high. I had viewed their expansive hardware collection in stores, but it can also be found online

Their hardware is creative and interesting. There's a knob or pull for everyone and every project. If you're doing an art deco kitchen or a refinishing a night stand for a nursery, there's a unique and impressive piece of hardware for you. You just need the money. And with a dresser potentially having anywhere from two to ten knobs (mine had six), paying $8-$18 for one knob can really add up. 

So I continued working on my dresser (refinishing the wood on top was a very fun and satisfying project) but I ruled out Anthropologie as a source of new knobs. It just seemed too expensive.

After searching online I found some other good hardware options. 

Restoration Hardware has a large selection of antique and classic style knobs and pulls. They are an American company that are just now starting to open stores in Canada. If you shop online they will ship to Canada, but a 20% charge will be added to Canadian orders. Their products are not as exciting or artful as Anthro's, but if you want something that looks truly vintage, they have many good options. 

Prices are still fairy high at $6 -$20 for a single knob or pull. 

Look in the Attic and Company is probably the best and most extensive hardware company that I found. They are online, and the website is huge! Not only will you find the pulls or knobs that you are looking for, but with this company you can outfit your entire home with vintage inspired door knobs, light switch plates, door plates, door knockers, cupboard knobs, drawers pulls and more. They have a wide selection of materials, including glass, crystal, brass, nickel, pewter, bronze and more. They ship throughout the U.S as well as to Canada and Japan. 

Many knobs are reasonably priced (around $5) and the prices go up from there. 

Castle Green Knob, Anthropologie.
Mother-of-Pearl Knob, Antrhopologie.

With my little hardware investigation at a close, I concluded that knobs and pulls are simply an expensive item. While I did find some $2 knobs, they often were just not what I was looking for. If you are refinishing a piece of furniture or replacing cabinet hardware, it is going to be somewhat costly. 

But don't fret over the high cost of hardware just yet! During a kitchen reno, keeping your original cabinets and updating them with fresh paint and new hardware WILL be cheaper than a complete overhaul. And if you pick up a piece of cheap furniture at a thrift store or yard sale (maybe it even comes free from a familiar basement), the cost of paint and hardware really shouldn't be more than purchasing the item new. It's also important to remember that when you upcycle old  furniture, you generally end up with a piece that has a lot more lasting ability than a particle board piece from Ikea. 

So spend a bit of money. Buy yourself some beautiful hardware, choose the right shade of paint or stain and make your perfect piece of furniture that is suited exactly to your own personal taste. 

And where did I end up purchasing hardware for my dresser? 

I went to Anthropologie's Yorkville location in Toronto. I decided that I just love their selection and since most of my favourite knobs were fairly pricey anyway, picking them up in person and not having them shipped made the most sense. 

Their in-store selection is very good. I had lot of fun looking at all the pretty knobs, each on is like a bit of art! 

It was also of value to shop in store because I was able to hold each piece of hardware and get a personal feel for the size and shape. Some knobs were just what I wanted but they were too small for my dresser. 

Striking black and white, so retro.
Streamlined brass pull,
perfect for a mid century modern piece of furniture.

Finally decided on my hardware!
After much deliberation I was able to settle on two sets of hardware. I chose two matching glass knobs for the top dresser drawer and four brass pulls for the bottom drawers. I am very into antique brass right now, I just love the way it looks with cool greys, which this house it full of! 

My dresser is all done (it has actually taken me years to complete it) and I can't wait to show it to you! I will be revealing our Bedroom Before + After this Monday on the blog and that post will include the 'After' photos of my dresser.

Here are the 'Before' photos of the dresser:

Using chemical paint stripper to begin refinishing the dresser top.
Top is stripped, sanded and ready to be stained.
The bottom of the dresser awaits a good coat of paint.
Check out the 11th this Monday to see the finished dresser!

While you're waiting for Monday to hurry up and get here (I know, I know, you're on the edge of your seat), take a look at this side table Before + After that I have not shared before.

I bought this table for $5 at Goodwill.

It's a great example of a piece that needed nothing more than a fresh coat of paint and some new hardware.

I replaced the original metal pulls (already removed in this pic) with the Mother of Pearl knobs from Anthropologie (pictured above).
See you on Monday for the Bedroom Reveal!


  1. I love the different hardware. I have started to replace all of the hardware in my house with unique pieces. It takes a while to find ones that I like and that are all different. I also do not want them to be too different. They should not look out of place. I would say I have completed about half.

    Brandi Bradley @ Rotax Metals

  2. I have just installed iStripper, so I can have the best virtual strippers on my desktop.