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Even for homes, it's all in the accessories

"Handles, door knockers and address numbers often reveal a home's age, but not in the best sense," said Jonathan Begg, product marketing manager for National Hardware, of Lake Forest, Calif.

When worn, tired and rusty, they say, "Stopped caring," which is a shame because they are easy and inexpensive to replace.

"It was simple," said my friend of her updated career look. "A few pieces of statement jewelry did the trick, and it was a lot less than buying a bunch of clothes."


To give your house jewelry an affordable makeover, Begg offers these hardware refresh tips:

  • Pick a finish.  Just because your builder chose polished brass for your house when it was built in 1978, doesn't mean you have to stick with that finish.  Satin nickel and oil-rubbed bronze, once considered alternative finishes, are mainstream today, said Begg. "They are the norm on new home builds."  Polished brass, antique brass, antique bronze, pewter, and plain black are also popular.
  • Make them match. Whichever finish you select, stick with it for all your outdoor hardware. Handles, door knockers, mail slots, and outdoor lamps should match. Note, however, that, just to make life frustrating, one manufacturer's interpretation of brushed nickel or antique bronze is often different from another's.  "Before installing, put the pieces next to each other to make sure the finishes match," said Begg.