Cabinet hardware is available in countless finishes, but looks can be deceiving. Why is one cabinet knob thirty dollars and another three dollars? Here are the basics: Most hardware is made from inexpensive zinc or more expensive copper and brass. Often these base metals have a finish, or plating of a different color adhered to them. Stainless steel and bronze can be plated over these metals, but they can also be solid. Chrome and nickel are always plated over another metal, never solid. Confused yet? Well, most hardware is actually pretty durable and a cheap price does not always mean it's poorly crafted. Lets look at some of our favorite cabinet hardware finishes to compare the pros and cons of each material.
Polished Brass looks shiny and golden. It pairs great with painted cabinets.
Pros: Polished Brass is sealed with a lacquer coating, so it will not age or tarnish. This common finish is easy to match between brands.
Cons: Polished brass, like most shiny finishes, will show fingerprints and the lacquer can dull over time.
Unlacquered Brass is a living finish, meaning it will change with time and use.
Pros: You don't have to worry about fingerprints here, unlacquered brass shows wear over time and the spots you touch will stay shiny. This raw brass has a warm, rosy color and you can always polish it back to a shine with brass cleaner.
Cons: If you want a uniform look, unlacquered brass will take more maintenance. We prefer the worn patina on rounded, amorphous shapes. It can look dirty in an edgy, contemporary style kitchen.
Antique Brass offers a patina without the maintenance.
Pros: Antique brass is aged with chemicals and sealed with a low luster finish. This gives you a worn, antique look that will never change or need polishing.
Cons: Chemically aging something never looks the same as a natural patina and the color here is not as warm as unlacquered brass.
Bronze is highly durable and offers many finishes.
Pros: Bronze is corrosion resistant and recommended for use in coastal homes with salty air. Many finishes and colors are available in bronze including the popular 'antique bronze', which looks black with copper highlights.
Cons: Bronze is more porous than brass and can develop shrinkage cavities over time.
Stainless Steel is the best choice for outdoor kitchens, but make sure it's solid. See more of our outdoor kitchens.
Pros: A stainless steel finish is easy to match and will look at home next to your stainless appliances. Solid stainless is corrosion resistant and our recommendation for all outdoor kitchens. Stainless hardware is typically not sealed, so the finish can be polished or even lightly sanded to remove surface scratches
Cons: Solid stainless is more expensive than other options. Plated stainless pieces are a good option indoors, but will not hold up outdoors. Make sure you know what you're buying when dealing with stainless.
Chrome hardware adds drama and reflects light in this bathroom.
Pros: Chrome gives a highly polished and reflective finish that you won't find in other metals. Chrome is corrosion resistant and looks great in polished bathrooms.
Cons: While it won't rust, chrome will dull and develop pits over time. This shiny finish will also show fingerprints and water spots.
Nickel looks soft, but also feels modern with a brushed finish. Check out the rest of this mediterranean kitchen.
Pros: Nickel is available in brushed and polished finishes. It's color looks close to sterling silver and is warmer and richer than chrome. Polished nickel is easy to match between brands.
Cons: Nickel is pricier than chrome. Unless it is lacquer sealed, this finish will tarnish and need maintaining.
Matte Black hardware is contemporary, but we think it's a classic. There’s more black hardware in this colorful kitchen.
Pros: Matte black is usually created by powder coating another metal. This process results in a very durable finish that won't show fingerprints. Similar to hand forged iron, we think this finish works great in older homes.
Cons: Matte black hardware can look dramatic, especially against white cabinets. Use it sparingly and try to mix it with other metal finishes..
We asked two of the best Philadelphia real estate agents about what buyers are looking for in todays kitchen designs. Here is what they had to say:
Are buyers in different neighborhoods expecting different styles?
While a simple, clean and functional kitchen is important to most buyers, Eric Gerchberg from OCF Realty says yes. "The neighborhoods really demand different design styles and choices. If you're in Fishtown, you expect to see more of a rustic, artsy type of kitchen, Old City has more industrial modern style. In Point breeze everything is getting rehabbed, so buyers expect to see shaker style cabinets and quartz counters, something that looks nice, but not a specific design style." The takeaway? It's okay to customize your design, but if your taste is different from the neighborhood norm, try to keep it neutral.
Is everyone still into granite counters, or have we moved on?
Fifteen years ago, granite was hot, but now you see it in every kitchen. Is it a passing fad? Ife Foy from Keller Williams Realty thinks not. "We're still into Granite and Quartz. My buyers really appreciate the look and feel of them and they're durable. Everyone seems to like the grey and white granite and quartz the most." It's true that granite is extremely durable and it's actually inexpensive compared with other stone options. Learn more about countertop selections in our previous post: How to choose a kitchen counter, eight beautiful and durable options.
Do high end appliances make a difference?
Commercial style stoves are popular, but vary widely in price. Are buyers after the look, or is the brand more important? Eric says "the brand speaks more to (buyers) than the look. If you show someone a Samsung versus a wolf, they're going to go for the Wolf, but they don't know why. What I find is more brand loyalty than function of the appliance." So, if you are renovating your forever home, buy what you like, but if you plan to sell in five years, it may be worth the extra money to buy the well known brand. Both Eric and Ife say that mid - low range Philadelphia buyers like Samsung appliances and high end buyers like Viking and Wolf stoves.
What are buyers of an $800k home expecting that buyers of a $300k home are not?
Sure, appliances may be different in a high end home, but what else are these buyers expecting? Ife says "ample space for cooking." Having a large kitchen with lots of counterspace is important for high end homes and opening up the space is popular too. Eric notes that higher end homes have nicer backsplashes and high end buyers are not into the thin glass tiles you see at big box hardware stores. Also, "wine storage is a big thing. It's funny because often buyers don't know that they want it until they see it, and then they have to have it." If you are looking to remodel and want to attract a high end buyer, it may be wise to remove walls and add wine storage.
What DIY fixes can Philadelphia home sellers do to get higher offers on their homes?
Most kitchen renovation projects should be left to a contractor, but what can thrifty homeowners do themselves? Eric says "If you can take a tile workshop class at Home Depot, putting in a subway tile backsplash in your kitchen is always good." Otherwise, "throw a fresh coat of paint up, it's so easy to do and it goes miles for people looking at your home." While quick projects like this can make a big difference, Ife warns sellers about bigger renovations: "statistics actually show that the money you put into your home on a large renovation will pretty much break even. You're not going to make a profit (on the cost of your renovation), but you will probably sell your house faster."
What are some kitchen and bath trends that buyers hate?
When it comes to cool, trendy materials, many buyers hesitate that the trend will go out of style. Eric mentioned the patterned concrete tiles that we are seeing more of, especially in bathrooms. "They look awesome, I love them personally, but in ten years will I love it?" he thinks not. Ife mentioned one of our favorite points, "Folks really don't want a small concrete backyard. Folks want a little bit of green space." May we suggest adding an outdoor kitchen next to those planters?
What kitchen and bath trends are buyers loving?
If buyers are searching it out, then these trends are probably going to stay popular. Ife says "buyers really love waterfall shower heads, spacious showers, large en suite bathrooms, and kitchens that are spacious and highly functional." What is a cool trend that isn't going anywhere? Eric says "Exposed brick. That is the easiest thing to find in Philadelphia, we are a city of brick" and "honestly, I don't see that one going anywhere for a while." We agree, when your space is designed to highlight the character and structure of your home, it will always look timeless.
Thanks to these amazing Philadelphia real estate agents for taking the time to educate us and our readers on the best ways to design and remodel our homes. If you are interested in buying or selling, please see their contact info below.
Ife Foy ifefoy.kwrealty.com 215.380.9595