This poor old dresser needs some work – starting with a new finish and handles. But what kind of handles??
Most people don’t give much thought to drawer handles. In the broad scheme of things, it’s easy to go about your day without ever giving your drawer handles a second thought. But, whether you are putting in new kitchen cabinets or refinishing a dresser, the handles you choose can make a real impact — and help you achieve the overall look that you are going for. In this post, I will help you identify which drawer handles to choose based on the style you have chosen for your remodeling project.
Nothing says “retro Mid-century look” as well as chrome. Shiny chrome curves were everywhere in the 50s, appearing on everything from cars to dining room tables. Add chrome handles to your cabinets and you’ll instantly achieve a “nifty fifties” feel in your kitchen. Of course, you’ll also want to hang some curtains with a cute 50s print. But one thing at a time.
Art Deco: Bakelite
The Bakelite Corporation opened a factory in New Jersey in 1929, coinciding with the height of the Art Deco period. Therefore, it’s no surprise that Bakelite — a form of plastic that has since fallen out of favor — was incorporated into many Art Deco designs. When combined with brass, translucent Bakelite embellishments can resemble amber. It’s a very grand (to use a word from that period) look, and an old dresser can really come alive when you replace the old drawer pulls with these babies. However, Bakelite is brittle — that’s why no one uses it any more. I would caution against using it if the dresser you’re refinishing belongs to, say, a kid. But if it’s for the Art Deco design freak in your family, go for it!
Victorian: Ornate Brass
If you’ve been following this blog, you know that I’m helping my friend turn an old Victorian house into a bed and breakfast. When she bought it, the house wasn’t run down or in disrepair, as is (sadly) the case with so many other houses from this era. However, the house had changed ownership many times since it was built, and was even converted into a community center for a few years. As a result, none of the original fixtures remain. My friend and I spent hours searching for handles to put on the doors, drawers and cabinets. To get as close as possible to the original, we chose brass handles with lion heads and fleur de lis embellishments.
Contemporary: Die Cast Magnesium
There is something about drawer handles made from die cast magnesium that just screams “modern.” It’s a simple, sleek look that will make any kitchen look like Will Smith’s pad in “Hitch.” (The grandkids were over this weekend and they insisted I watch that movie. I know it’s a decade old but his apartment had a very modern look.) You might have to order them from China, but if modern is what you’re going for, magnesium alloy handles will be well worth the wait.
Ceramic drawer handles can add color, character and whimsy to any drawer, cabinet or dresser. From hand-painted Mexican Talavera to knobs shaped like pumpkins, ceramics are charming in all kinds of ways. My niece took a trip to Mexico a few months ago and returned with a spate of Talavera drawer handles. She redid her entire bathroom with them and it is adorable. (I’m very proud of her.)
A Final Note
Shopping for new drawer handles is fun. Actually installing them can be tedious. You don’t want to do the job twice. Make sure you choose correctly the first time.
Photo credit: hdes.copeland / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0)