Being a transplant to the South, I noticed that antiques — decor items 100 years old or more — are big here, relatively speaking. And, according to online interior design service Modsy, the antique movement is gaining steam across the nation — maybe not an entire home filled to the brim with antiques, but people are certainly adding some interesting antique details here and there that can add depth to any design aesthetic.
I’m fortunate enough to live near a unique store that specializes in architectural elements and eclectic accents. Owner Deanie Brans of Marietta Reclamation in Smyrna, Georgia, chimed in with some tips.
Whatever your design style, here are five ways to incorporate antique hardware into your home or next flip.
Crystal and glass doorknobs from the late 19th through the early 20th centuries are hot now. Although you can find new ones at any big-box or small hardware store, they wouldn’t be the same as their antique counterparts. The originals were mounted in brass or steel rather than a metal alloy or (gasp) plastic. Original glass and crystal doorknobs were works of art that were made to last.
Most antique glass doorknobs are clear with six, eight, or 12 facets. Look inside the glass, and you’ll see a design, such as a star, bolt, or bullet in the base. There are also colored glass doorknobs in emerald, robin’s egg blue, cobalt, amber, violet, red, white, and Vaseline glass (yellow-green). These beautiful knobs were popular until the 1950s, when steel knobs took their place.
Interior and exterior doorplates, also called kickplates, are a popular way to add a touch of antique hardware to your home. Says Brans, “Doors are abundant throughout a house and are easily noticeable,” adding that doorplates “run the gamut from the mid-1800s Aestheticism’s (art for art’s sake) geometric designs in metal or bronze to the many different styles of brass and copper hardware.”
Brans suggests other enhancements for doors: hinges, locks, push plates, doorbells, knockers, and mail slots.
3. Cabinet knobs and drawer pulls
The right cabinet knob or drawer pull makes a big impact and can elevate the entire look of a room. You can use either a knob or a pull for a cabinet or a drawer, but it’s typically easier to open a cabinet using a knob and a drawer using a pull. But use whatever works best for the piece. Knobs are smaller and easier to install, and pulls are larger and make a bigger statement.
Browse online, and you’ll find stores that carry any antique style you’re looking for, from Victorian to art deco. People sell handles for cabinets, drawers, closets, and doors in any material you like: brass, bronze, cast iron, glass, and wood.
4. Coat hooks
Back in the day, people used hooks located in convenient places throughout the home to (literally) hang their hat. So there’s no shortage of antique hooks of all kinds you can find to add an antique touch in your home. Even if hats aren’t your thing, you can hang towels on an antique hook in the bathroom, a purse on an antique hook in the bedroom, or your coat on one placed by your entry door.
Brans has other suggestions for hooks: drapery tiebacks, brackets and rings, and exterior window shutter dogs (essential to make a window functional).
5. Skeleton keys
Skeleton keys are thought to bring good luck, maybe because they can literally unlock many different locks, or maybe because they are thought to unlock the key to success or the key to one’s heart. The older and more detailed the key, the more valuable it can be. Whatever you believe about them, antique skeleton keys are definitely ornamental and can look great framed in a perfect spot in the home.
The bottom line
Antiques can add a dimension to your decor you just cannot achieve by decorating with all-new things. But having a house full of antiques can be a turnoff to buyers when you want to sell your home or investment property.
Adding hardware is a good way to bring in an antique layer to an otherwise modern home or to keep something you’re sentimental about without overwhelming a home with antiques. It’s all about the statement the selection makes.