Looking for original artwork?  Check out this cabinet hardware

By Mark Edmund


It’s a trend more people seem to be getting a handle on.

Mark Veley of Hardware Accents in Pewaukee is holding a set of “Hob Knobs” that will add a little color to any cabinet.

More homeowners — anxious to find ways to avoid what could be ordinary, bland kitchens and bathrooms — are turning to unique hardware items — knobs, pulls, handles — to liven things up.

Forget your typical metal or iron handle with simple lines and expected curves. Hardware manufacturers are creating miniature works of art that are truly functional for every day reaching inside a drawer for a fork or spoon, opening a cabinet for a dish or unlocking a shelf for the moisturizer.

“The percentage of people that buy (the unique hardware items) is small, but everyone looks at them,” said Mark Veley, who, along with his wife, Shereen, owns Hardware Accents, a kitchen and bathroom accessories store in Pewaukee.

Many neighborhood hardware stores, picking up on the trend, are building and rebuilding their supplies of accessories to offer shoppers more choices. The big hardware giants, too, like Home Depot, are also offering these creative treasures to shoppers.

“I gotta tell you, you have to see it to believe it,” Veley said. “There’s so much cool stuff out there.”

A frog clinging on for dear-life from a door knob. Adam- and Eve-like torsos as drawer handles. Pine cones, moose heads and deer for pulls.

Many people are buying the hardware for specific accents on bathroom cabinets or kitchen drawers. Usually the homeowners don’t want to outfit an entire set of cabinets or an entire room with the unusual items.

“Most of the people are building new and have no idea that (hardware) is out there,” Veley said.

Once they discover the funky, fun accessories, homeowners know the items will make a dramatic difference in their interior decoration desires.

“They’ll say, ‘That’s perfect. That will set this room off perfectly,’” Veley said. “The others think it’s too wild.”

Naturally, the added design and detailing of such accessories comes with a price: Maybe $4 or $5 more than your typical, standard knob, handle or pull. Other specialty items are much more.

Bud Close, the manager at Rockler Woodworking and Hardware in Wauwatosa, said he sells some of these accessories at $14 and up.

Rockler Woodworking and Hardware is a specialty store which focuses on woodworking supplies. It sells tools and various hardware needed to build and assemble cabinets, drawers and furniture for do-it-yourselfers. Many go to Rockler to look for knobs or handles to replace lost or damaged items on antique furniture. The store also sells various hardware like locks and hinges to finish jewelry boxes and humidors.

Close said he’s seen more do-it-yourselfers buy the accented hardware. But Close isn’t sure what the big deal is about. “People are looking at a lot of different things,” Close said. “It’s a fad like anything else. It’s not something I think will stick around Southeastern Wisconsin,” Close said.

Veley agreed that some of the accessories may be “too wild for this area of the country.”

But he tries to inject some freshness into what could be a drab, unexciting area of home building and remodeling.

In the sometimes conservative world of suburban Milwaukee, Veley admits he’s sometimes challenged by people’s outlooks on interior decorating.

“Maybe if I were on the East Side of town, people are more into the funky arts thing there,” he said.