21 July 2009

Life's too short for cheap hardware

I had a conversation with a client about hardware yesterday. Hardware in the sense of cabinet knobs and pulls, door hardware's another animal all together. Anyhow, I told him that if he doesn't know what constitutes "good" hardware he shouldn't learn or he'll never look at a cabinet knob the same way again. I was joking of course, I think everyone should have an idea of why things cost what they do and what separates the good stuff from the dreck.

There is a world of difference between a dollar knob at Home Depot and $30 knob from me. There's more to it than the fact that I have a dog in this race too.

Good cabinet hardware comes from foundries where solid metals are turned into art. Not good cabinet hardware is cast in a cheap alloy and then plated in whatever the finish du jour is. Trust me, that dollar knob only looks like brass.

I'm fortunate to sell good hardware from Schaub and Company in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Schaub designs and sells some of what I say is the best hardware in the business. Schaub doesn't shy away from getting creative and they do some really amazing and unexpected things with shell inlays and semi-precious stones.

This Branches series is from their Symphony collection. They are not for everybody, but for the right person, nothing else will do. Schaub uses black pearls and crystals in these handles and knobs and they have to be seen to be believed.

This series, also from the Symphony collection, uses shell inlays in a nouveau Art Nouveau style I like.

Here's a continuation from the same collection.

And a little more shell inlay here. The crab knobs are my favorite. What a great idea to use pen shell inlays to form a crab shell. Those crabs are gorgeous and light-hearted at the same time.

When I'm looking at the offerings of a hardware supplier, the first thing I look for is whether or not they work with bronze. I'm no metallurgist, but as I understand it, bronze is a more difficult metal to work with. Like brass, it's an alloy of copper and zinc, but bronze is a more dense metal. For my money though, nothing looks or feels like it. It's also nearly impossible to produce cheaply. The presence of bronze in a hardware collection is an indicator of quality.

Bronze hardware is usually really rustic-looking but it needn't be. Schaub just rolled out a new collection of modern-ish bronze handles and I think I'm in love. Again.

This is the co-ordinated knob. Ahhhhhh.

Of course, Schaub does a really good job with truly modern and contemporary stuff too.

I searched for years to find a good hardware supplier and I settled on Schaub and Company about two years ago. For my money, nobody else had as well-rounded a range and though no one will ever accuse them of being cheap, their hardware packs a lot of value into their price point. This is hardware for the long haul.


  1. Don't hate me.... all the cabinet hardware in our house is from Home Depot. {ducking now!!} But we have over 50 doors and drawers in our kitchen alone -- multiply that by $30 each, and that's a whole lot of moolah!! I had enough trouble convincing hubby to replace all the kitchen cabinet hardware at $4.00 a pop!!

    The Schaub and Company hardware is quite impressive. The Branches series is really pretty. I could envision it on an elegant vanity or a piece of mirrored furniture.

    Not sure how I'd feel about touching a crab every time I open a door or drawer!! ;-)


  2. I understand Kelly and besides, it will be a cold day in hell when I pay $30 for a cabinet knob. I get it that there's a time and a place for lifetime hardware and it's not always appropriate. That's why we have Lee Vally Hardware after all.

  3. It would be nice to be able to afford them, as there are some beauties. Like Kelly, I don't think I'd be overly fond of clutching a Crab each time I opened a cupboard or a drawer.

    Thanks for sharing your insight. -Brenda-

  4. Thanks for posting about Schaub and Company (Go Michigan!). Really gorgeous hardware.

  5. Am I the only one who's mad for the crabs?

  6. I love the little crab pulls, too! And even the snail --But I don't think I would want them on every single door and drawer in the house. I think something as unique as that needs to be "exhibited" on a prominent door or drawer and the rest of the doors and drawers should be done in a more simple, clean and classic modern design made of the same matching metal to allow the crabs to stand out and be more of a feature. Dozens of those little crabs all over the kitchen would be to "busy" and would take away from the uniqueness of the design. Just my humble opinion, of course. So just buy one or two or three and make the rest of the doors and drawers somewhat simple and plain, but still matching.


  7. oh, yes, and I forgot -- they look like they would be hard to keep clean in a kitchen with all the "grub" on the fingers all the time and cleaning all those little nooks and crannies would get old after a while.....just a thought....

  8. Hey Kerry,

    The kind of hardware I'm showing there isn't intended for use as kitchen hardware. There's as much attention to detail in them that they border on being jewelry and as such, they're intended to be accents.

    I could see my beloved crabs being used on a dresser or a vanity or maybe one set of them in a kitchen in a spot where they won't get used a whole lot. To see these sorts of collections in person will make anybody re-think their ideas about hardware, that's for sure.


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