August 19, 2010

RESIDENTIAL HARDWARE CHOICES

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BIGGER IS ALWAYS BETTER.....
An odd topic to make an actual “Master Class” of, but hardware is an important component when upgrading a home.
I’ve always assumed that door and household hardware isn’t on most people’s radar when looking at a house. Therefore, I’m always surprised when someone notices the hardware… Men get turned on about general household hardware and the women get all giddy about cabinet hardware…what-ever…


I think hardware is a wonderful, ‘not-out-of-reach’ luxury.
This is, in my opinion, one of the tell-tales of a homes quality level. Most builders choose to cut the budget by using ‘fancy junk’ hardware in spec homes. Odd, as I feel it’s a defining component to the character of the house.

There’s a subliminal satisfaction to touching something of quality. Grabbing a solid knob, or pushing a nice, solid door closed and have the ball-bearing hinges glide it through the swing, then once the latch hits the strike-plate and you hear that heavy metal ‘click’ shut… it’s just nirvana! And, something many people actually do notice!

How many people glanced over at your doors whilst reading this??? How many have window latches or hinges that are painted over? Or, doorknobs that feel wobbly, or crappy when touched? How many have powder rooms that when you lock the door you’re never quite sure if it’s locked or not??

The choices are endless for styles of knobs; from gold-plated Rococo styles to bronze 'tree branches.' BUT, you shouldn’t get hardware that’s not appropriate for your style house. For example: Arts & Crafts style isn’t good for an 18th Century home, nor is Baroque for a Mission style home.


With zillions of metal finishes, it’s almost overwhelming.

Below is a small description of the basic metals. 
Each finish is also available in brushed, satin, antiqued, rubbed, etc.
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POLISHED BRASS: Brightly polished brass with no blemishes, lacquered; indoors only.

LIFE-TIME BRASS: Molecularly modified brass, it will never tarnish! It's awesome.

CHROME: Chrome is the old standard “silvery” polished finish, gray in color
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NICKEL: A lovely, warmer colored silver finish.

GOLD PLATED: Usually solid brass that’s been electroplated with 14kt gold. Will always look bright and warm.

BRONZE: Warmer than brass; colors range from almost black to a deep brass tone.

OIL-RUBBED BRONZE: A finish that appears to be antique black, sometimes with highlights, sometimes solid brown depending on manufacturer.

MIXED FINISH: This is a term for hardware that has two different finishes. (i.e.: chrome with polished brass)

SILVER: Real silver-plated hardware. Often lacquered; tarnishes quickly if not lacquered. Lovely, but high maintenance.



BASIC HARDWARE TERMINOLOGY


KNOB: Not always a round orb!
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LEVER: A handle, or lever not a 'knob'
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ROSETTE: the larger round medallion that fits against the door. You want the smaller one, generally.
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LATCH: The angled ‘tongue’ part that sticks out of the end of the door that goes into the jamb to hold the door closed.
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DUMMY KNOBA doorknob which is used only to match another active knob on a pair of doors

CLOSET KNOB: Closets have a normal sized matching knob outside and a small thumb turn inside (saves money)
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PASSAGE SET: A standard set of knobs on each side of the door, no lock.

PRIVACY SET: A standard passage set with a built-in lock on one side (bedrooms or baths)

THUMB-TURN: The piece that mobilizes the dead bolt, it’s a small version of the doorknob.

ACTIVE DOOR: The door that is used the most

PASSIVE DOOR: A door that opens after the primary door is opened

STATIONARY DOOR: A door that does not open; fixed in place

BYPASS DOOR: Doors on a closet (usually) that are hung on a track that allows them to bypass each other on a track. Not popular.
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POCKET DOOR: A door that slides into the wall, out of sight.
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BI-FOLD DOORS: Pairs of doors which are hinged against the jamb and they are hinged together too, when they open they fold to the side(s).
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STRIKE PLATE: The small metal square piece that’s on the door jamb with a hole in it where the latch goes to hold the door shut.
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MORTISE LOCK: A large metal box that’s inset into the doors edge which houses the latch, deadbolt and has two small manually operated buttons to make the door auto-lock or not.
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ENTRY MORTISE SETS: Exterior doors only.
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SURFACE "BOX LOCK" SET: Colonial style door hardware
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BACKPLATE: A large metal plate which has the knob and lock cut into it (most often front doors)
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CREMONE BOLT: A surface-mounted bolt that is applied to the face of the French door or French windows, it locks the top and bottom simultaneously by turning one knob. The door is not drilled or cut to accommodate this bolt.  (same as surface bolt, but this is for top and bottom)
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THREE-POINT LOCKS: (Exterior doors) three separate locks built into the inside of the door (top, bottom and edge) that operate by a single lever. Used mostly with new French doors or Impact doors.

KEY HOLE: duh?!?

COVERED KEYHOLE: A standard keyhole with a small piece of metal that swings over the actual keyhole. Good for seaside areas outside.
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FLUSH BOLT: A bolt often used on French doors which is carved into the face or edge of the door making the hardware flush with the door face when the door(s) are closed.
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SURFACE BOLT: A hand operated bolt which is applied to the face of the door or window and the door is not drilled or cut for its application. (same as cremone bolt but only operates top OR bottom)
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DEAD BOLT: A lock that has to have the door closed before it can be locked (often with a key) The safest lock.
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DEADBOLT WITH THUMB-TURN: A deadbolt with small knob that operates the lock from inside, and is keyed from outside, good for solid wood doors.

DOUBLE KEYED DEADBOLT: For use on glass doors, a deadbolt that is only operable with a key, inside and out. (so no one can break the glass and reach in to unlock the door)

HINGE: The basic hinge (this one is Victorian)
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KNUCKLE HINGE: A lovely European hinge. When installed only the 'knuckle' is exposed.
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STRAP HINGE: An old fashioned, colonial style hinge
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BALLBEARING HING: For a heavier door. It literally has ball bearings as part of the mechanism.
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HING FINIALS: A small decorative (or not) piece that fits on the top and bottom of the hinge. Most often seen as balls; other finials are acorns, urns and steeples.
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SURFACE HINGE: A hinge that is not 'cut' into the cabinet at all.
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SOSS HINGE: A hinge that is inset into the edge of the door and jamb. It is completely out of sight when door is closed. Good for ‘hidden’ doors.
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BOMMER HINGE: A hinge that makes a swinging door swing and props open when needed.
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PIANO HINGE: A continuous hinge, which is used for heavy doors or cabinetry
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EDGE PULLS: For recessed doors, it's cut into the edge of the door; you pull out a small loop to assist with closing the door.
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FLUSH PULLS: A hardware piece that is inset into the door, used for pocket or bypass doors.
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DROP DOWN DOOR STOP: Great for doors that you used a doorstop with, and it’s always there!
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DOOR STOPS: There are several types: Usually metal with rubber tip to stop the door, or doorknob from hitting the wall. Sometimes magnetic.
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KICK PLATE: A flat metallic plate that covers the entire bottom rail of the door. It's for people who feel a need to kick their door when they open it…

PUSH PLATE: For swinging doors; a flat, usually rectangular metal, glass or ceramic plate applied to the door on both sides of a swinging door.
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You can do it, Im here to help!

August 10, 2010

MIRRORS AND HOW TO USE THEM

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Mirrors are one of the most misused, abused and overused items in the world of home decorating….They’re everywhere that they shouldn't be and nowhere they should be…

How about those friggin’ “sunburst” mirrors…did u ever see anything go viral as much as they have? Talk about overdone…..
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And then there’s those crappy “antiqued-glass” mirrors, can you get any more 90’s ????? Do it right or don’t do it at all….
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Ironically, I love mirrors!!! Good ones in special places, used wisely or conservatively.
The best use of a mirror is for utilitarian purposes e.g.: ones that create space, reflect light, create a believable illusion, or placed where one can actually use them.



As the Arbiter of Good Taste I have some rather strict rules about mirrors and their use:
1. A mirrored wall is great only when it creates an illusion of space, or an optical illusion…not just to have a mirrored wall which duplicates the clutter in the room.

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2. A Foyer or Vestibule should always have a mirror; guests like to check themselves out before entering a room full of people, especially if they've come in from a rain or windstorm.
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(Source: Joseph Paul Davis)

3. Dressing rooms should have full-length, wide-as-possible mirrors, not those shitty Wal-Mart 12” x 48” ones you nail to the back of the door. Get as large a mirror as you can. Maybe a whole wall, or have the closet doors fully mirrored by a pro. 
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(Source: Elle Decor)

4. Bathrooms need good, usable mirrors, not ones that are cutesy and have about eight square inches of glass. The bathroom mirror should be situated so that someone 42” tall up to 6’ can see themselves without stretching or hunching.
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(Source: Joseph Paul Davis)

5. NEVER mirror the entire ceiling, ever at all…period.
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6. Mirrored back-splashes in kitchens are only good in kitchens that are rarely used for cooking. The spots and spatters on the glass make it look two times dirtier and are impossible to get grease off of effectively. But they do look fabulous!
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7. ONE wall-hung mirror per room only!


8. Mirrored walls are NEVER, EVER to be in 12” x 12” place-n-press squares…it doesn't get anymore ‘Target’ than that…
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9. Outdoor mirrors must be washed often or have Rain-X applied frequently!

10. NEVER mirror opposing walls, it looks like the ‘fun-house’ on the boardwalk and will have a green-ish cast all the time, and no one looks good in green light…



GOOD WALL-HUNG MIRRORS
A good wall mirror can be above a table, mantle or a pair flanking a doorway or something special. Ones that open up a narrow hallway or reflect light into a odd dark corner are wonderful.

Most people when buying mirrors err on the side of buying one too ornate hoping it will imply a level of taste….. uhhh… NO!
If possible when buying mirrors, buy a fabulous antique one. Not a Victorian one as they’re always wayyy too ornate and clunky looking. Depending on your look, get an English Georgian one, a French Louis one, or even one from the mid-20th century. The secret to a great mirror is SIZE! Don’t spend a shit-load of money on a fabulous small mirror and think it will be OK above the fireplace or buffet just because it’s “good” and cost a lot of money.


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The mirrors above demonstrate how the “visual weight” of the mirror needs to compliment the “visual weight” of the piece its over. A “focal point” needs to be just that, your focus (its not ‘squinting’ point). 

The mirrors below also show you how you can have a mirror fabricated to work in a space, create openness without mirroring the whole wall.
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Designer wholesalers have mirrors for thousands of dollars…if you have that kinda dough, fine pay it. If you want a bargain, you gotta dig for it. Of course I love “the hunt”…..
There are scores of good, well priced reproduction mirrors available on the online market, shown below.
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BAD WALL-HUNG MIRRORS
You can’t swing a cat without hitting a shitty mirror in today’s mirror crazed decorating market. The ones with goofy George-Jetson asymmetrical frames or ones covered in shells or hammered tin. My favorites are the extruded plastic ones in Rococo form - gilded to look like they belong in a Trump property….all for $89. whaaaat???
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That being said….there are some ‘plastic’ framed mirrors that have superb lines and scale. I like to get them and paint them in a flat antique-white paint then distress them a bit. This is especially chic against wall-covering or a colored wall.
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Oh and by the way…when you see a mirror e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e don’t get that one…That pivoting mirror from Waterworks which has now been knocked off by Home Depot and Target...ad-nauseum…is just sooo overdone. Or, those mosaic mirrors with small angled mirrors in one frame with all different angles, etc.....ugh...sooo Pier-1
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"LEANING" MIRRORS
No…..any questions?



OUTDOOR MIRRORS
Used conservatively, they can be a wonderful trompe l’oeuil “moment” in a garden. Add a little depth to a small Charleston or Georgetown garden. Recently I placed an (plastic) elegant mirror over a stone console outside by someone’s pool. It made great sense as most like to get their hair combed out after a swim or adjust our swim-suits.
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GOOD MIRRORED WALLS
A wall which is mirrored and no one 'gets' that its mirrored right away is a successful mirror. Again, a trompe l’oeuil effect. This subliminal effect can create the illusion of space without the passé “mirrored wall” look.
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(Source: Joseph Paul Davis)
The dining room above is in a home that I staged to be sold in Palm Beach. The space had no windows...I know, duh, right? Anyhow, I mirrored the back wall and the butlers pantry door to seamlessly reflect the living room windows and bring in some light as it was obviously a dark room.
The potted palm in the corner actually contributes to the illusion as it breaks the reflection of two buffets, etc.

The room below is in an ocean front residence that I wanted to repeat the sky colors in the room, so I designed a high back banquette and mirrored above it. This makes the room feel huge, and creates an illusion of another room behind.
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(Source: Joseph Paul Davis)


The photo below shows another condition where a mirrored wall helps the rooms dimensions or shortcomings; this very long and narrow family room with the skinny long windows at the end needed to be wider or it would have looked like a hallway. The mirrored wall above the built-ins gives the room breadth without feeling like it has a mirrored wall when you enter.
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(sorry for shitty photo, I took it - not a pro!)

BAD MIRRORED WALLS
One place are condos where people mirror the back wall of a long skinny living dining room; in their minds it brings the light to the back of the room, however, it only exacerbates the problem, creating a very long skinny room.
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The room above shocks me... the mirrored wall, which was poorly installed using narrow pieces (creating more seams) is reflecting all that chazerai, the books, colors and patterns.. it's just exacerbating the cluttered look, creating a very 'Sanford and Sons' look.

Another hideous invention is the beveled mirror strip used to cover the seams of a large mirrored wall….WTF? Hide a hairline seam with a 4” beveled strip that catches and reflects light? 
Riiiight…good thinking!


BATHROOM MIRRORS
The sinks below have sinks and their mirrors installed in front of windows allowing the natural light in. The contemporary one on the left is hung over the vanity by small chrome-plated chains from the ceiling. The one on the right I had to make the window jambs wide enough to allow for the Venetian blinds and the mirror to be inset into the casing.
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Below, in this blue bathroom I mirrored the entire wall, into which I inserted the fully-mirrored medicine cabinets (Kohler/Robern) and then placed the glass sink in front of the wall creating this wonderful illusion of a floating glass top with no architectural distractions.
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(Source: Joseph Paul Davis)
The divine powder room on the right has that fabulous serpentine sink base and Venetian glass mirror above it and very simple, with solid wall-covering. The perfect alchemy of swank and restraint. If the wall-covering were patterned it would then be pushy and overdone.

MIRRORING TRICKS
My favorite way to use mirrors is by using them in a "tromp l'oeuil" (Fr: fool the eye) manner. Below are two spaces, the one on the left is a dark small apartment with poor natural light. I placed mirrors behind the bookshelves (which I often do) making them "visually lighter" and removing the heavy "look" of a wall of books. The wall seems to recede and gives an increased breadth to the space. The room on the right is a very large living room, long with deep exterior roof eaves and very little natural light. If the end wall were to be mirrored, it would have looked like a huge, dark, cavernous space. I mirrored it and then draped over it with a diaphanous curtain to create an illusion of lightness. The few windows softly, albeit abstractly reflect in the mirror, the white fabric reflects the light, and at night, the lamps and other illuminated items sparkle in this mysterious reflective wall.
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(Source: Joseph Paul Davis)


MIRRORS IN BEDROOMS
Isn't that thing about mirrors in a bedroom being 'sexy' dead now? God, I hope so...it looks sooo trashy when they're in specific places....
BUT, bedrooms are small and need light and space too. Its just knowing how to do it the right way. The two bedrooms below had architectural problems that were tough but not insurmountable.
The modern blue-gray bedroom has ocean views and those damn angled corners (which I hate). So, I mirrored the angled corners and put the bedside tables in front of them, and upholstered the wall between them to the ceiling. This treatment reflected light and views into the bedroom, the upholstered wall connected the two and made it feel like one large bed wall.
The traditional beige bedroom only had one long wall, but it was interrupted by a support pilaster (half-column) two-thirds in from the end, interrupting the "bed wall."
By placing the bed in the center with the pilaster immediately adjacent to the bed, and framing out the one wall 4" to cover the pilaster, then mirroring both sides of the bed one couldn't tell the mirrored walls were at two different planes.
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(Source: Joseph Paul Davis)

MIRRORS ON MIRRORS
Occasionally you need the light or space a mirrored wall offers, but you may want an additional punch. I love mirrors mounted ON mirrors, or paintings mounted on them. Its a very simple process using Velcro.
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BAD MIRRORS
Below are two examples of what I think are poor uses of mirrors. The dining room on top has two bulls-eye mirrors over two bookcases. I think they're too small for the walls. Instead, two large, vertical rectangular mirrors or taller cabinets would've been better. The two small, albeit bold mirrors and the soft painting are competing, especially in a room which has all of the furniture under-scaled....
The dining room on the bottom has that big-ass "Trump" inspired mirror from 'Mirrors-are-us."
a: Why have a brightly gilded mirror in a rustic looking space?
b: A mirror should always (99% of the time) be vertical, NEVER wider than tall.
c. Why is it leaning? So the diners can see the ceiling?
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Remember, seven years bad luck if you don't listen to me about mirrors ...

You can do it, Im here to help!

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