Without question, the use of quality door hardware enhances the style of your home—interior and exterior—design. It is an item that can uniquely dictate the character of the room and for this designer, one of the more expressive architectural features in interior design.
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The history of the door handle is somewhat elusive. There is no documentation of who invented the door handle. The earliest records of them are 5000-year-old paintings in Egyptian tombs that depict wooden door handles on wooden doors.
In the late 1500s, European royal palaces and gentry’s homes were altered to create individual rooms where wooden doors replaced the woven hangings of the middle ages. Some of which featured wooden bars with leather or hand-forged latches.
Early in the 16th century, wrought iron and brass rim locks came into use and were a statement of wealth and modernity. The less wealthy used large wooden box locks with wood knobs and metal drop handles or brass knobs, to operate these locks.
The first documentation of the invention of a doorknob was in 1878. The U.S. Patent Office received a submission made for improvements on a door-closing device by an African American inventor named Osbourn Dorsey.
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Today, there is an endless array of door handles and door pull styles and mechanisms available. Mostly made of brass, aluminum, steel, stainless steel, ceramic, cast iron, bronze, and wrought iron but, manufacturers will also use materials such as glass, plastic, cellulose, and Bakelite.
IMAGES COURTESY OF H. THEOPHILE
In the decision to purchase, you will want to consider style, cost, durability, and functionality. Ease of use is important, especially for universal design. For example, the texture is key to the grip, so how does it feel in your hand? Is there a smooth release? Will it make a loud ‘click’ with every use? We don’t often think about it, but door hardware is a very tactile experience.
IMAGES COURTESY OF ERIC COHLER DESIGN
Levers are much easier to use than knobs. You don’t need to grip tightly to use them, so they are perfect for the elderly, children, and anyone with any medical condition that inhibits the use of their hands.
IMAGE COURTESY OF P. E. GUERIN
IMAGES COURTESY OF SUN VALLEY BRONZE
You will also want to know as much as you can about the finish. Color and longevity come to mind first, and with exterior hardware, remember to consider and discuss the effect of sunlight and the elements of weather. Coastal homes have a significant challenge with finished materials because of the corrosive salt air. The best part of adding hardware outside is the opportunity to enhance the style of your home and add a touch of your own personality.
There are many finishes available, well–brass plate, porcelain, bronze, gold, chrome, polished chrome-plated, and satin antique nickel, to name a few. The most popular finish is brass, which comes in multiple colors and patinas. New on the scene for 2019 is matte black, which adds a bold modern statement to homes both in interiors and exteriors. Non-reflective finishes like satin are becoming more and more popular because they work well with natural materials like stone and lightly finished or waxed woods.
A question I get asked often is whether all door hardware needs to match. Most of the exterior door hardware should be consistent in style and finish. Several manufacturers offer “families” of door hardware with knobs and levers; however, for some interior rooms, such as a bathroom or a kitchen, it is okay to use a different finish, one for inside, and one outside of the room. Try to keep the hardware consistent as rooms should flow together, and it can be a cohesive element.
The range of possibilities for door hardware has expanded, even in the last few years. It is well worth the research if you are remodeling or building from the ground up. Explore and find the style that will enhance your home. It’s the details that count.