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Antique Hardware: Making Spaces New Again

Updated: Mar 20

Bored with your home décor and ready to donate every piece of furniture and start over? Consider saving a sizable amount of money and inspire renewed interest in your space with vintage hardware. Don’t get rid of that hand-me-down hutch – jazz it up with antique cabinet hardware for a whole new look that is uniquely you!

Vintage hardware is making a comeback in a big way. Whether you are looking for brass fan top dresser pulls, cast iron hooks, or custom, handmade cabinet hardware with ‘70s flair, you are going to find all the inspiration you need to turn your décor around at your local antique mall. The keys to finding the perfect vintage inspo include time, patience, and the thrill of the hunt!

What is Antique Hardware?

From antique cabinet hardware to antique door hardware and even rolling library ladders, antique hardware adds charm and character to any home. Tired of your kitchen cabinets? Add some antique cabinet hardware, and you will create a whole new style – at a reasonable price.

Antique cabinet styled with coastal decor

Examples of Antique Door Hardware

  • Cabinetry pulls

  • Doorknobs with backplates

  • Decorative hinges

  • Door knockers

  • Mail slots

Vintage hardware and antique door hardware offer a distinctly different but decidedly bold character to your home and furniture. If you are looking to add interest to your décor, vintage and antique hardware are an easy fix – but be aware – reproductions are in the mix, so be familiar with the differences between replacement hardware and the real deal.

What are Antique Hardware Reproductions?

Vintage door knockers

Antique door hardware reproductions are close imitations of the originals that have been massed produced in more modern times. While there is nothing wrong with antique hardware reproductions, it is important to manage your expectations with original antique door hardware. For example, are you replacing every doorknob in the house? It may be difficult to find identical interior door hardware from the 1900s for all the doors.

And if you want your doorknobs to match your 1910 cabinet latches and 1880s window locks? That is going to take a lot of time and searching - so a compromise might be a better answer. This is why the reproduction market exists in the first place – it allows you to have matching antique-look hardware without dedicating your life to finding a dozen of the exact same pattern on all your antique hardware!

3 Things to Look for in an Antique Hardware Reproduction

1. Size

2. Pattern quality

3. Finish

1. Size can be hard to determine if buying vintage hardware online.

If you have been searching for the perfect match to an existing piece of antique hardware, be sure to check the measurements on both the piece you have and the piece you have found. Reproductions can vary ½” or more in height and could be slightly thicker than your original. In the early 20th century, “builders’ hardware” was stamped rather than cast and made with a blend of various “pot metals.” Therefore, the resulting hardware was lighter and thinner than more modern productions made of solid brass.

2. Reproducing the crisp patterns of ornate antique door hardware can be difficult.

Before selecting the perfect door hardware, take a close look at the quality of the pattern. If it is a reproduction, the small details in the pattern tend to disappear in reproduction. While it may look like an exact match, some of the details may have gotten lost in the process. Even a reproduction of vintage hardware made using lost wax casting, a very old method of producing fine hardware, can have a sloppy appearance when examined for detail.

3. When you’re looking for a specific finish, a modern reproduction may not be a match.

There is a lot of variety in hardware finishes from the 19th to mid-20th centuries. If the vintage hardware reproduction is made from a historic pattern, some finishes don’t quite measure up. Thankfully, unlacquered polished brass is making a comeback, which means your hardware may patina over time. Finding a match with a similar patina may mean lots of trips to your local antique mall with your original antique hardware in hand.

Ornate tarnished drawer pull

How Can I Use Vintage Cabinet Hardware in My Kitchen?

Unhappy with the worn-out vibe in your current kitchen? Don’t call the Property Brothers just yet! You can get a timeless new look in your kitchen with just a few pieces of vintage hardware. Replace your drawer and cabinet pulls (or add pulls) with a vintage design or eye-catching metal finish. Carry the metal finish to a backsplash or door kick to complete the simple vintage hardware transformation. Add an antique mirror, and your kitchen might be your favorite room in the house!

What If I Find a Piece of Furniture I Love - But I Hate the Hardware?

If you find a piece of antique furniture at your local antique mall, you know the rule – buy it, and you’ll find a home for it! Often, a piece of furniture speaks to us in its perfectly imperfect way. You like the curvy edges or shapely sides, but you’re just not feeling the hardware. Replace it! Find funky vintage hardware or an antique pattern that suits the style and reminds you why you fell in love in the first place.

The same quick fix can be used on interior doors and spaces within your home. Exchange your current builders’ grade doorknobs with fabulously interesting antique door hardware for an instant change in character throughout your home. Add matching metal door kicks for personality! Have a mudroom screaming for attention? Change out the drab doorknob with antique door hardware and swap plain cabinet hardware for decorative antique designs.

Where Can I Find the Best Antique Hardware Selection?

Your local antique mall is arguably your best source for antique door hardware, cabinet hardware, and all vintage and antique hardware designs. The vendors will help you shop for antiques, so enlist them in your search for the perfect antique door hardware to freshen up your front entry or bring added character to your interior doors. They can also find the perfect vintage hardware to let you fall in love with your existing furniture all over again!

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