Cabinet Hardware Color Wheel

When selecting your cabinet hardware designs and colors, there are a lot of things to be considered when generating you kitchen cabinet hardware ideas. Are you coordinating your entire kitchen, or is it split between two different designs? If it’s split (like if you have a contrasting island), can you use the same hardware finish on two different cabinet styles? If your entire kitchen is one color and style, have you considered how you are going to tie that look together throughout the entire kitchen? Moreover, have you considered how the style of hardware you pick is going to coordinate with your cabinet style, and the aesthetic that it will bring or add to your kitchen? So many questions! Let this cabinet hardware resource be your guide.

Your guide to knob colors and hardware finishes

Cabinet hardware is available in a veritable rainbow of finishes and visual textures.
Cabinet hardware is available in a veritable rainbow of finishes and visual textures.

Cabinet hardware colors and styles are as varied as the kitchen storage units on which they’re installed. Some knob colors are passing fads: they come blasting onto the scene and everyone wants them – for a while. Then the fad passes and they fade away, never to be thought of again (until the next remodel!). Others are timeless, and they have been available in the kitchen industry for years.

Different cabinet hardware finishes evoke different thoughts among users, and the texture of hardware you choose (in this case, I’m referring to the visual texture – the ‘look’ of the piece) can also be a big factor in the mood you create. It’s even more important if you’re coordinating all of the fixtures in your kitchen, like faucets and lighting too. Check out this guide to finishes and colors to make sure you’re creating the right feel for your kitchen.

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The hardware finish selection makes a difference!

When considering the colors of the knobs and pulls for your kitchen, remember some of the following tips about color and what people will think when they are working in, walking through, or eating in the space you’re designing:

Yellow and gold are elevated colors.

Yellow’s a great color for kitchens because it’s been shown to increase metabolism, and it can also bring a lot of cheer to any room. But it might be overwhelming if you make an entire room that color! Gold is a bit more subdued, and it connotes more luxury and ‘high-end’ feeling. Again, though, a whole room of gold would be very bright (not to mention expensive!).

However, instead of making an entire room in those colors, bring a little touch of it in by choosing yellow- or gold-tinted hardware finishes. While it’s not necessarily been in vogue recently, Polished Brass was a staple of the kitchen industry for years, and Antique Brass is a more subdued look that combines the antiquing effect of brown (a soothing, earthy tone) with brass’ golden hue. (We’ve also heard that brass is coming back!)

The difference between nickel and chrome

While we’re touching on the yellow colors, it’s worth mentioning that if you don’t want to go as bright as Polished Brass or as dark as Antique Brass, nickel finishes are a more golden color than the standard polished chrome. Chrome faucets are ubiquitous: you’ll find them in many (and I mean MANY) kitchens across the country. As a rule, chrome is more of a ‘blue’ color. This is not to say that it actually looks blue, but that it is a ‘colder’ color tone than nickel. Both Polished Nickel and a brushed nickel finish like Cliffside’s Silver Satin will have more of a warm, golden color while still giving you the classic gray look that’s found in so many kitchens. I’m certainly not saying there’s anything wrong with Polished Chrome, though – it’s popular for a reason! For a striking visual of the difference, look back up at the color wheel (in the upper-right quadrant).

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Gray hardware is popular and easy to match.

There are plenty of shades of gray in the world, as evidenced by the overwhelming selections in cabinet hardware. Gray is truly a shade of black, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have variants. In addition to the differences between chrome and nickel mentioned above, you’ve also got stainless steel (which has been popular in kitchens for years and is similar in color to nickel), antiqued finishes like irons and pewters, and dark colors all the way down to pure black. Many of the differences in gray hardware have to do with their texture (keep reading – we’ll get to that part later).

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IBCL in Polished Chrome on a white cabinet
Cliffside’s IBCL-PC installed on a white cabinet.

Bronze hardware can be either brown or black.

There are tens if not hundreds of different interpretations of the color called ‘oil rubbed bronze’. Every manufacturer, brand, and distributor has a different color, and they all call it something different. The overarching term ‘oil rubbed bronze’ has grown up to include shades of both brown and black, highlighted with a variety of different tints. Bronze itself can be more golden, reddish, or whitish in tint, so each of these bronze colors can cause a difference in the final oil rubbed product, and each company’s interpretation varies.

Some oil rubbed bronzes, like Cliffside’s special-order weathered bronze, have a golden tint to them. Cliffside’s antique brass hinges actually share this trait, although they are glossy where most bronzes are matte. Oil rubbed finishes that simulate a reddish bronze material usually have copper highlighting – this is a look found in a lot of box stores and in Cliffside’s Venetian Bronze finish. Many bronze colors are ‘over-rubbed’ in appearance, causing them to appear almost black – you’ll find this a lot in exterior gate hardware. Still other solid oil rubbed bronze colors are similar to a dark brown, like Cliffside’s Old Antique.

Brown is a great color for a kitchen, especially if you’re painting the wood cabinets some other color. It’s an earthy tone that connotes wealth (think about chocolate – people even say that it’s ‘rich’). Black is a color that creates sharp contrast and represents power and strength – appropriate for a strong and durable hardware line like Cliffside Industries.

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Cliffsides 105-OA and K4235-OA in use in this kitchen. width=
Cliffside’s 105-OA and K4235-OA in use in this kitchen. Photo credit: Kent Kitchen Works; designer, Trish Namm

Copper hardware can be motivating and social.

If your kitchen is the social hub of your home… if you like to throw dinner parties and want your friends to stay and hang out… using copper is the way to go. Copper’s a shade of orange, which means that it encourages social activity and interaction. It also encourages appetite and can be uplifting to your mood if you’re having a bad day. Cliffside has two finishes with copper shades: the antiqued Old Copper, which combines the metal with antiqued black accents; and Venetian Bronze, which draws together the advantages of both brown and copper, along with providing intricate and unique detailing for your cabinets.

The B622-3 cabinet pull in Old Copper

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Choosing the right hardware texture

Don't just look at color when picking cabinet hardware... texture is important too!
Don’t just look at color when picking cabinet hardware… texture is important too!

Picking your cabinet hardware isn’t just about getting the right knob colors. It’s about creating a mood and facilitating your personal style. The cabinet hardware designs that you pick go a long way toward ensuring that your look is timeless and enduring. Make sure that you’re getting the correct visual effect for your kitchen by considering textures as well as colors. Hardware can generally be broken down into several textural categories: polished finishes, brushed finishes, antiqued or distressed finishes, and solid finishes.

Polished hardware creates a striking visual contrast. Think about walking past a mirror: you’re always seeing something going on as you move past it. Polished hardware creates the same dynamic effect in a kitchen; it captures colors, reflects motion, and increases visual depth. Polished cabinet hardware is striking in any style and accents both traditional or contemporary decors. Cliffside’s polished finishes include the golden tones of Polished Brass; the cool and elegant Polished Chrome; and warm, inviting Polished Nickel.

Brushed cabinet hardware creates a smooth, reflective feeling. It has a calming effect (think of the motion in the waves of the sea) and can blend in well with a variety of different kitchens. The brushing pattern on cabinet hardware can match well with stained woods, as the fine-line brushed accents mimic the grain of the cabinet doors and drawer fronts. Brushed finishes from Cliffside would include the Silver Satin, a brushed nickel finish; Antique Brass, with its burnished golden hue; and Venetian Bronze, a copper-highlighted oil rubbed bronze. You can also choose more contemporary designs from the Stainless Steel suite.

Installing distressed or antique cabinet hardware in your kitchen can create a sense of rustic refinement. It can also lend visual depth to cabinets with a solid-colored painted front as an eye-catching accent, or coordinate with distressed cabinets by providing a similar look. Cabinets with weathered finishes or French-cut edges can benefit from antiqued hardware. Cliffside’s distressed hardware finishes include Iron, a mottled gray and black mix; or Old Copper, whose antiqued hues are extremely popular in the American South. Also available is Cliffside’s Sedona Suite, rustic and distressed in material as well as finish and available in three colors: Antique Iron, Antique Silver, and Bronze.

Finally, solid finishes represent weight and strength. A single color will stand out against detailed cabinets; for example, those using a heavily grained wood. Solid hardware is also effect at providing a visual contrast, such as installing black hardware in an ivory kitchen (or oil rubbed bronze over white, as shown above). Cliffside’s solid finishes include Flat Black and Old Antique (an oil rubbed bronze finish). Polished finishes can also provide some of these characteristics, but never as effective as a solid color.

Coordinating your designs to get the best results

Cliffside's 100 series knob in Silver Satin and Old Antique were used to unify this bi-color kitchen.
Cliffside’s 100 series knob in Silver Satin and Old Antique were used to unify this bi-color kitchen.

Lastly, think about how your design works together. Consider if the products you used coordinate well together. For example, in the photo at left, a kitchen designer in Virginia used the same cabinet hardware in two different finishes to create a unified look despite two different colors of wood on the cabinets!

Cliffside Industries specializes in providing you with unified cabinet hardware ideas and designs. Our hardware suites are designed to do specifically that: we have assembled for you no less than fifty-four complete kitchens of hardware. All you have to do is decide which pieces you like best. On the hunt for a French country look? Consider Cliffside’s Artisan Suite, with 10 finishes available for your perfect selection. Following a more traditional bent? The Rope Suite and Criss-Cross Suite mimic the traditional braided and ribbon-and-reed moldings still common among fine custom cabinetmakers today. Out for a rustic look? Feel the Old World craftsmanship behind the Sedona Suite’s cabinet knobs and appliance handles.

Wherever you search for your next cabinet hardware collection, don’t pass Cliffside by without taking a look at our vast array of products. After all, who knows high quality hardware better than us? With 27 years in the decorative hardware industry, we’ve got the experience and know-how you need to design and outfit your next kitchen.

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