Episode 364: Swapping Knobs and Renovating Kitchens

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Happy balmy winter! It is so lovely here in Connecticut. We’ve only had the lightest dusting of snow. Everything has been so tranquil and lukewarm to mild to just barely cold. I understand that that might all lead back to climate change, which is not a good thing but it has been a helpful thing for my mental health as I’m acclimating to our new state. 

A lot of you have been asking for updates on my space, but I honestly don’t have any desire to finish my house right now. I’ve been so busy with the business and the Academy that I just don’t have a creative bone in my body right now. 


This episode, we discuss…

[04:35] Choosing knobs for your dresser (Lisa) 

[14:36] Modernizing a kitchen (Maria) 


[04:35] Choosing knobs for your dresser (Lisa) 



I recently purchased a dresser from CB2 which I love, but I think it could use more interesting knobs. I definitely have an eclectic style at times so I’m wondering how to go about choosing. I found a few knobs – one from Wayfair, another from Anthropologie and other from Urban Outfitters but I have no idea how to choose the shape, the style or the size. Should I stick to boring and basic instead? Thank you.



So you’ve picked this four drawer shagreen dresser from CB2. I’ve used it many times myself and really love it. I especially love the unique faux shark skin texture and it’s got this kind of gray charcoal wash to it. It has these very direct geometric square knobs. As some of you may know, I hate knobs that are not round. 

The reason I hate these types of knobs is because when they aren’t perfectly straight and over time, they will loosen, turn, and shift. Anytime they’re not perfectly straight, you can clearly see it unlike a round knob that always looks like a circle whether it’s a little bit looser or tighter. 

Let me give you some guidelines to be thinking about when you’re selecting the new knobs. The first thing is that this particular dresser has a brushed nickel base which means that I would want to use a silver type knob. Now I’m open to it not being brushed, even though I think my natural inclination would be to do something brushed.

The examples you’ve shown me here, we have a few that are shiny, and then one that’s a little bit more matte. I would definitely go with a more matte. The first thing you want to do is make sure that this metal finish that you’re choosing for the knobs aligns with the metal finish for the piece itself. The other thing I like to pay attention to is the diameter of the current knob. I like to replicate it because the proportion is correct, it looks good, right, which is why the company sells it this way.

Many times the knob is 1.25 inches. That’s the most common knob size that I find when I’m replacing people’s knobs. The other very important thing to look at which people often forget is the base of the knob because when you take a knob off, sometimes especially in this shagreen there may be an indentation from where the previous knob has dug into the material. 

You may also find in a painted nightstand like mine, that when you remove the knob, it’s not consistent all the way underneath. I’ve had these nightstands for a while and the sun has bleached them somewhat so the color under the pre existing knob, it’s a little bit different than the pink color. You may also find that there’s some damage under the knob so you want to make sure that you pick a new knob that has a base diameter that’s larger than the base diameter of the previous knob. 

Lastly, and this is potentially the trickiest piece is that you want to make sure that the style of the new knob is cohesive with the style of the piece. This CB2 dresser is very contemporary, straight lines and very geometric. That is why I’m not loving any of the knobs you’ve selected. The three knobs that you’ve shown me are all rather ornate. 

In my mind, they’re more transitional or even eclectic. Now I don’t mind being a little bit eclectic with this very straight line linear geometric dresser, but I wish that this had a little bit more of that severity so it didn’t feel like you’ve put these random knobs on a piece and they’re kind of stylistically competing with each other.

Here’s the other thing. Even though this is a different thing, as I mentioned earlier, a lot of times kitchen cabinets or even a vanity drawer or a desk drawer does not have a pull arm or a knob instead it has a pole. Oftentimes, it’s U shaped. Oftentimes, there’s two holes right where this pole is going to be in. And when you’re changing out poles, you have a little bit more homework to do. 

You still want to make sure it matches the style of the piece. You still want to make sure that the covering for each of the holes where it touches the piece is going to fully cover up any blemishes from the previous pole so it needs to have sort of a wide base and each of the areas where it touches the drawer face. The other thing that you need to do is open up that drawer, open up that cabinet and measure from the center of the screw to the center of the screw. That’s the actual size that will be listed when you’re shopping for new poles. 

A lot of times people measure the outside of the handle right from one edge of the handle to the other outer edge but the problem is you don’t want to be drilling new holes, you want to use the pre existing holes, and just find something that will slot in perfectly.

Something else came to mind. I don’t want to beat a dead pole horse but I feel like I need to tell you this last thing because it drives me crazy when I see this and I see it so often. People replace the knob but the threaded part of the screw that’s on the end of the knob that would then go through the hole is a lot longer than the drawer face. So you have all this extra kind of flathead screw sticking out beyond the back of the dresser, which means that your jewelry is gonna get caught on there, your socks are gonna get caught, it’s just a messy look inside. 


[14:36] Modernizing a kitchen (Maria) 


I’m a long time listener and fan. My husband and I want to renovate our kitchen. I am thinking of doing the same color- a Calcutta gold for the backsplash AND counter top (picture 2). Do you think that will make the kitchen look more modern? I am thinking rose gold or silver handles and pulls. My husband is a plumber and wants to replace the sink with stainless steel. I am thinking to do a black faucet as a way to mix metals. Do you like the idea of having the same backsplash and countertop like picture 2? Or do you recommend picking a different color for backsplash and countertop like in picture 3? I am open to your thoughts about how to modernize this kitchen, also do you recommend sanding down the cabinets and staining them?



 So your kitchen right now has tiled countertops, very dated those square tiles, so I’m glad you’re upgrading.It also has cabinets that have sort of an inset panel that has an arc at the top. Now even if you were to sand these, you’re not going to sand away that carved in detailing. 

Unlike the pictures you provided that had the straight shaker top panel, which is just like a true blunt line, this has some beveling and the arc, which means that it is a very transitional look. Now these are also kind of that warmer light cherry tone, which does look dated. So I think no matter what you decide, you need to paint these cabinets to update them, especially because the Calcutta gold that you’re showing me the inspiration photos that you’re showing me which are very modern farmhouse, they’re very contemporary lines so we’re going to have to really commit to that.

I love your husband’s idea of changing out the stainless steel sink because I can’t see your whole kitchen. If I was designing a kitchen today, which I do fairly regularly, I don’t always love taking the countertop material all the way up, especially because you have this cool amount of wall above and around your window. I’m still a fan of backsplash tile because it breaks things up a little bit but it’s not a deal breaker for me. So you could go ahead and do either one put the Calcutta gold on the countertops as well as the backsplash or choose a different backsplash tile, I am open.

The one thing I think is a non negotiable is painting these cabinets. Also you have this little wooden valance that’s hiding the light above the window that has got to go that looks so dated it looks so 80s-tastic, I would highly recommend popping that out. Then changing that bar light fixture that’s hidden behind there like a fluorescent bar with just a beautiful pendant. I think that would look so much more in keeping with the style you’re showing me like and it just look cleaner and more contemporary.

The one thing that really was a red light for me, when I read your question is the rose gold. Rose Gold is trendy, there are very few options for it. You are going to look dated very quickly. And you know, where else are you going to use rose gold in this kitchen? No, no, no, no rose gold. I’m done with the stainless steel and I know that you want to incorporate the black. So if you’re going to mix these metals, I highly recommend that you pick one piece that’s pretty visually conspicuous that has both tones of metal. That might mean pendants above an island that are both silver and the black metal. That might be the pendant above the sink in front of the windows that I was referencing that would mix those two metals but you need something in here that intentionally shows that you’re marrying both metal finishes. 

Now stainless steel appliances and stainless steel sink. I don’t think personally that that counts as a silver element, you could go ahead and do all the other metal tones in black and then not consider it a two tone finish space even though you have stainless steel. For instance, in my kitchen I have a stainless steel fridge. I have a zinc sink which reads silver and then I have a silver stove. But the colors in the metals are an antique bronze and a gold and there are two tones and I’ve used that to tone finish in a big leafy pendant above the seat in the kitchen table. 

 Then I’ve got these glass lanterns that are the oil rubbed bronze above the island so you can avoid the stainless steel altogether but if you’re going to be considering it a metal you need one place that has both tones.

As long as you keep these cabinet doors, it’s always going to read transitional because of the arc so you definitely want to make sure that your choices are somewhat transitional and not uber contemporary, not super geometric, because it’s going to feel out of place, we do need to incorporate a little bit of curve, even if it’s very clean and very contemporary. 










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