May 2010: Rental Rescue


My mother always told me your hardware is like jewelry for your cabinetry and furniture. And this is from a woman who wouldn’t think about entertaining guests without her best pearls. As always, Mom is right. Your choice of hardware (knobs, pulls, handles) can really dress up your cabinetry, update your space, and create that “one-of-a kind” feeling in your home. However, your hardware can also easily date your space before you ever open a drawer.

Many rentals come fully equipped with outdated or builder’s-grade hardware and fixtures. While functional, basic brass knobs and pulls are a wasted opportunity to add a lot of character and personality to a space. With a few quick, easy steps, you can take your cabinetry or favorite piece from generic to genius in a matter of minutes: 

Holding the knob or fixture tight with your hand, unscrew the screw in the back of the knob with the appropriate screwdriver. Once you have removed the knob from the piece, screw the knob back onto its accompanying screw, keeping the two together for storage. Place all hardware in a clearly marked and labeled container for easy location and replacement when you move out. 

To install your new hardware, insert the screw through the hole from inside the cabinet or drawer. Holding the screw in place with your screwdriver, screw the new knob on from the front. Use your screwdriver for final tightening.

Super-easy upgrade: Dress your cabinetry to the nines with one-of-a-kind hardware.

While the process is simple, there are a few important things to consider when replacing hardware on cabinetry and furniture:

1. One and the same: Knobs typically use one screw, while pulls and handles use two. Since you won’t be drilling any new holes, you want to replace a knob with a knob, and a pull with a pull. 

2. Measure twice: When replacing pulls or fixtures that require two screws, carefully measure the distance between the holes on your cabinetry, and the holes on your new hardware. Don’t assume that all hardware will match up perfectly. Many older homes have hardware and fixtures installed by hand with varying measurements. 

3. Test the waters: Before you go out and buy all of your new hardware, remove one knob to get a feel for what you’re working with. Removing a knob on a painted cabinet may reveal three old paint colors like the rings of a tree. 

Just like Mom’s jewelry box, local stores offer a wealth of options: hardware in a variety of materials and finishes, ranging from the modern and minimalist to the colorful and whimsical. Renters and homeowners alike should consider a stop at Martin Hardware for their cabinetry updates, or enjoy the thrill of the hunt in the bins at The Habitat Store, or check out the unique, vintage-inspired line of colorful knobs at Anthropologie. If you are blessed with a lot of cabinetry, and replacing 30-plus knobs seems beyond your weekend to-do list, consider giving new life to that old hand-me-down dresser with a little high-gloss enamel and some polished nickel knobs.

With no shortage of unique options at your fingertips, you can be sure your cabinetry or that old chest of drawers are dressed to the nines.—Ed Warwick