While hardware may not be the first thing a designer thinks about when beginning a kitchen or bath project, it is an integral component to the look of the finished product – and the functionality of the space.
Hardware is also the finishing touch that unifies the space, according to manufacturers recently surveyed by KBDN. “[Hardware] is the last piece of detail that can pull everything together,” says Warren Ramsland, president of Top Knobs, Inc. in Hillsborough, NJ.
Daniel Tripp, product marketing manager for Hafele America Co. based in Archdale, NC, agrees: “Hardware within a kitchen or bath often is a functional accent. The hardware needs to both serve the intended purpose and complement the room.”
Doug Mockett, founder and CEO of Doug Mockett & Co. in Manhattan Beach, CA, notes, “The hardware serves to complement the furniture or cabinetry without becoming a distraction. A truly effective piece of hardware will not go unnoticed, but will blend seamlessly with the overall design.”
Stacey Singer, general manager for Alno in Sylmar, CA, concurs: “It’s time to say goodbye to the gimmicky hardware. Consumers are looking for enduring, classic styles, whether they are contemporary or traditional.” She adds that coordinating appliance and larger pulls with cabinet knob designs is a growing trend.
Hardware can also play a major role in personalizing a design, according to Kevin Dewald, marketing and product manager for Keeler Hardware, a brand of Grandville, MI-based Belwith Products LLC. “From a decorative standpoint, the hardware will express homeowners’ personality and taste, an expression of their inner self.” Of course, hardware must also meet the functional needs of the homeowner, he adds, which is where designers must consider size and scale to determine the best choices.
Clean and Simple
Trends are moving away from complex styles toward a cleaner look, manufacturers say, with transitional and contemporary designs leading over traditional.
“Customers are also looking for clean and simple designs,” says Ramsland.
Greg Sheets, product marketing manager for decorative hardware at Hafele America Co. agrees that the trend is toward less ornate products. He states, “It used to be, especially when it came to wood ornamentation, people were looking to put it anywhere and everywhere in a kitchen. That trend has diminished and we’ve refocused our products on cleaner [looks].”
Lisa Koskela, manager of the Keeler Design Studio for Belwith, LLC says, “Simple contemporary and rustic designs are popular among our high-end customers. The desire for hand-detailed ornamentation still makes a classic refined statement, which we’re also seeing on the high end in a variety of finishes. Mainstream design needs are more streamlined, though, and soft contemporary designs are still most popular.”
At Alno, Inc., simplicity is also very important. “The trend seems to be streamlined toward effortlessness in appearance and sophisticated sleek in style,” says Singer.
Mockett offers a different perspective on the trend, however. Rather than choosing simple or fancy designs, he asks, why not all in one? “Typically the fanciest designs are, well, simple. One of the most attractive features in modern design is the ability to blend seamlessly with the overall design,” he says, adding that convenience, subtlety in design and functionality are the key components of any classic design.
The slow economy continues to impact hardware trends, with many consumers updating their spaces rather than doing full remodels. This has an umbrella impact on styles and finishes, according to Mary Nichols, senior product manager for Baldwin Hardware in Lake Forest, CA. “For the first time in years, we’ve seen an increase in brass finish products. This is mainly because consumers will stay within a finish/style that is already within the home when replacing products versus when they are remodeling and can start with a blank slate.” Additionally, she says, “Consumers are doing a lot more research before making a purchase decision. And they’re not only looking for inspiration but also how they can achieve a particular look at a more accessible price.”