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We all know that hardware is like the jewelry on a piece of furniture. It’s the finishing touch that can make a piece special. It’s also where a piece can go really wrong.


When I first started refinishing furniture, I felt like I had to replace the hardware on every piece.  I’ve since changed my tune.  If the hardware is original, in good condition and complete, I keep it.  If there are pieces missing, it’s broken or it’s really ugly, then I replace it.  My Tricycle dresser (above) was missing most of the hardware, so I replace it with these over sized ceramic knobs from Hobby Lobby.  I wasn’t sure about how they would work, but they made the piece, in my opinion.



The amber knobs on the Mustard Seed Yellow dresser were actually original and unlike any knobs I’ve seen.  The end of the knobs actually have over sized glass screws that screw directly into the wood.  Again, I wasn’t sure about them, but they ended up looking amazing with the soft yellow milk paint.


I always keep glass knobs (above) and white bone knobs (below) on hand, because they look good on most pieces and work well with my style.



I lucked out on this Empire dresser, that had all of the original ceramic knobs.  Keepers.



The small glass knobs on the Typewriter dresser were also original.

I also always pick up these tortoiseshell-looking knobs from Hobby Lobby whenever I see them on sale.  They look great with refinished wood tops, which are a signature of mine.



Where do I buy my knobs?  Mostly Hobby Lobby and E-bay and I occasionally get hardware from home stores and specialty shops.

What do I do with hardware I remove from a piece?  Keep it!  Well, if it’s kind of cute, I keep it.  I have a bin where I keep all of my misc. hardware and it’s come in handy when I need a vintage screw or if I have a knob that compliments the hardware on a dresser with missing pieces.  I also keep extra antique casters on hand in case I find a dresser with one missing.

When replacing hardware, how do I decide what hardware to use?  I try to make sure the hardware fits with the style of the piece (or the style I’m going for.)  It’s not wrong to put funky, modern hardware on an antique piece, but it has to make sense or it will look out of place.  I like to try out a few different options.

What do you do with holes left by old hardware?  If I’m using a single knob where a handle used to be, I fill up the holes with wood filler and sand it smooth prior to painting.  It’s best to apply the wood filler with your finger, so you make sure it fully fills the hole and you end up with less excess than when it’s applied with a putty knife.  Also, I sand until the filled area feels smooth to the touch.  If you still feel a bump or roughness, it will show once the piece is painted.


Ultimately, the hardware you put on a piece is what makes it uniquely yours and it’s something that’s easy to change out in the future, so have fun with it.  You can even have a couple of sets of hardware for a piece of furniture and swap them out based on your mood or the season or whatever!

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  1. Such great information and advice. The photos are also fabulous of your gorgeous pieces of re-painted furntiture.

  2. Larain Shannon says:

    One again I have read another of your postings which answers my questions without me having to ask,

  3. I have a dresser that I picked up a while back. I finally started working on it and found out the wooden knobs also screwed into the dresser. There wasn’t an actual screw but more of a wooden screw that was attached to wooden knob. I had never seen anything like it! Those are keepers for sure.

    • Helen, please take pictures so we can see this! You might have something very valuable there. Ann

  4. Interesting. I usually like your choice of hardware. They’re most always complimentary.
    I kind of imagined that you kept any extra or offbeat pieces of hardware…rather than a been… I quite imagined a bread bowl or something like that it!

    The Honey keeps all his odds and ends nuts and bolts in a lil’ red wagon! We just pull it around the yard to whatever shade tree he happens to be working under at the moment.

    enjoyed this post, always nice to get another look at your paint colors too!
    I like ‘typewriter’…

  5. ha! that was supposed to say ‘rather than a BIN’

    oh well… I’m a nerd… I had to come back and correct myself!

    … man is it late or what? Pat

  6. I agree 100% with this! And I love the idea of switching out hardware on a piece….it really will change the look!

  7. I do this all the time !I used to switch out harware right away. Now I love the old character of it! You’ve lucked out with some amazing dressers that already have beautiful hardware!!

  8. I do the same–have a bucket full of hardware from old pieces of furniture. I have enough batwing hardware to sink a ship!
    I am fortunate in that I have a lot of friends who are “on the lookout” for unusual hardware for me. And now that we have a Hobby Lobby…
    (BTW, I absolutely LOVE the vine painting that you are doing on your pieces! It reminds me of the designs used on Fraktur pintings we see here at Old Salem. I may attempt something similar on a smll piece.

  9. I always admire the hardware on your pieces. Love that a lot of them are the originals!! I’m the same as you…if it aint broke, don’t fix it! I love keeping the original hardware if I can. It’s the best way to keep the character of the piece and the cheapest option too. I haven’t have an antique piece yet with ugly hardware but I finally have one that has one mismatched so I picked up an antique set at auction to replace them! Thanks for sharing your tips. p.s. To all who have not been Hobby Lobby does have the best hardware, prices, and selection! Different and cheaper than the hardware store. :) Love that aisle!

  10. Sarah Clark says:

    There is another option…similar but, unmatched hardware. While it could get too crazy if there are multiple drawers/cupboards it does look nice on a piece with, say, just a couple drawers/one cupboard. It gives a made over time look. All about variety and looking at a piece with imagination. In fact, I used collected silverware for kitchen cupboard hardware and on a small dresser once….charming! Thanks for the daily inspiration. Sarah

  11. Marlene says:

    Thanks again – I love your spirit and information you share!

  12. Shala says:

    I am obsessed with hardware! Hobby lobby and Habit for Humanity Rehab are my favorite places to look. We remodeled my kitchen and instead of cookie cutter brushed nickel I found these gorgeous teal glass door pulls. Everyone is always commenting how they just “make” they kitchen. =)

  13. Those amber knobs are fantastic!!!

  14. Thanks for the great advice Marian!

  15. I agree, the hardware can make or break a piece of furniture! And yours always looks great – you definitely have a great sense of style :)

  16. Love all the hardware here on all of your pieces. I often use knobs from Hobby Lobby, which always have the washer and nut for attachment. However, after a few months they always “pop” and become loose and stripped to where I cant even tighten it anymore. At first, I thought it was the kids and husband being too rough, then it happened with my dresser as well. Then I thought because they were older pieces the drawers didn’t come out smooth enough so I waxed them up, the drawers now pull out better but the knobs all are loose again and wont tighten back up. I have purchased new nuts for all of them only to happen again. I recently bought hardware for one piece from Lowe’s and I don’t have any problem now, but I looooove my Hobby Lobby knobs AND the price. Do you have this problem and if you so how do you fix it?

  17. The Lob has great knobs!!! LOL!

  18. Love, love, love all these knobs! Nice hardware is difficult to find. I too have had problems getting the newer knobs to stay put. Adding a washer on the back of the knob before the nut gives the knob support and keeps it steady. There is nothing like the original knobs though, my grandmother collected white procelian knobs for years, and now I wish I had them! Thanks for sharing your sources!

  19. I love the selection at hobby lobby.They always have a good sale of these.And sometimes they are even on clearance which is even better.Love your choices too!

  20. Maybee's Mom says:

    Hob Lob has such a nice selection of knobs….years ago I purchased a boot box full of wood knobs in different sizes(hardware store auction)…..and a huge box of latches and pulls…..I have painted and used and changed many pieces of furniture…..I purchased a box of outdoors faucet handles for a song and have used them as drawer pulls…..hardware can change the look of ANYTHING…and really a pretty cheap revamp…..Love you..

  21. Great information. I have a chest of drawers to paint but haven’t any luck (haven’t looked much) finding pulls so plan to spray paint the old ones for now until I find some I love and can afford. 😉 It needs thirteen. :) Thanks for sharing your tips!! :)

  22. I love good hardware as well, the problem being sometimes the sheer number you need, and what will ‘make’ the piece drives the price of the finished piece up so much, that I can not sell it!

  23. I love the Hob Lob and go there 1-2 times a week, but last week when they were nearly fully stocked on Christmas (almost entirely made in China) I am rethinking that choice.

  24. Jennifer D says:

    I bought some knobs at Hobby Lobby, but they are too long for the cabinet doors I’m trying to put them on. What is the easiest way to cut them down?

  25. You have just inspired the socks off of me and I wanted to say thank you! I just bought my veryfirst dresser today. I can’t wait to get started on it. I will be using my can of Anne Sloan paint that I won at Haven. I hope to share pictures with you soon. And the knobs are just perfect on this piece. Can’t wait till your paint comes out. So excited!!! Wish we were neighbors 😉

    • Good luck with your first piece. A good thing about Annie Sloan is that you can add water at any time to make it good on smoother. It’s like Magic. I always used a different white wax because I had it on hand, but you really need the Annie wax if you are painting something white and don’t want it to yellow. If you have the dark wax, take it easy, it really changes the look. Ann

  26. This is a great post. I remember in my early 30’s making a terrible choice for hardware for a chest I painted and then I made a change and it made a huge impact on the piece.

    I love all the hardware you choose.


  27. For obvious reasons we agree that hardware is so important and your choices are not only affordable but perfectly styled. If you are looking for hardware with a bit more of a statement to make please check out our selections….you wont be disappointed. love your blog!

  28. a perfect post, with perfect points….and a great chance to see some of your recent creations…my last post shows a piece with Hobby Lobby knobs,the clocks really made this redo a done do…I do use a extra washer and it creates a tighter fit …thank you as always for a daily inspiration…time to go to Hobby for a new project.

  29. Anne Boykin says:

    Dear MMS, You have excellent taste when it comes to hardware on your furniture! They all look so lovely and so perfect together. As always, a great post. Love your photography. Hugs, Anne Boykin

  30. Interesting topic! It should be a chapter in the next book. What I hate is when people paint over beautiful, authentic, brass oval or Chippendale hardware. It hurts my feelings. I think knobs might be a logical extension of your product line. It is amazing what is original hardware. The Empire chest seems like it should have had wooden knobs, not white. My husband has a crotch mahogany Empire chest with 1 and 1/2 inch decorated mirror knobs. A friend of mine that was a dealer at Florian Papp in NYC said they were original. Are you signing and dating your pieces? If not, start now! They will be collectors items. Ann

  31. I’ve been having the toughest time finding hardware for the empire dresser my husband and I recently refinished. I knew I wanted milk paint then I thought gee, make it a milk dresser and add some milk glass knobs. However, it’s been difficult to find…and I’m a tad picky/got something stuck in my head. Finally bought a set on etsy and a similar set on ebay after months of searching (one set are doorknobs we’re going to try to work with). I hope it is the lovely touch that really makes this piece! I agree wholeheartedly about the hardware making the piece. I tend to find the hardware then do a design (until recently). Vintage and antique make up most of my knob collection. I just can’t stop buying unique hardware!

  32. It’s so helpful to see all the different pieces with a close-up of the hardware.
    And I love the idea of treating hardware like jewelry and changing it up.

    Hope your day is extraordinary!

  33. I really wish we had Hobby Lobby’s here on the west coast. I don’t think any of those are around here, and they always sound like they have great stuff!

  34. Denise T. says:

    Great post! Love these hardware. Hobby Lobby is about 35 miles from my home. Will go there soon.

  35. Annie says:

    You did it again Marion. I ask a simple question and you shower me with so much more. Thanks for that. The more I learn, the more I’m inspired. Just wish we had Hobby Lobby here. We have a Lee Valley Hardware that I’m thinking will have similar stuff. Anyways, this was a very informative post and I really appreciate it. thanks.

  36. Jeanine says:

    Absolutely love the colors in your new milk paint line and the names for the colors are fabulous…

    I learned this trick years ago when I had an antique shop….if you have brass looking pulls/knobs and a magnet sticks to it…it’s only brass plated….if the magnet does not stick to it…then the hardware is solid brass…all metal hardware has a coating over it and it’s the coating that gets black and yucky looking…..solid brass can be soaked in green ammonia and the tarnish will disappear… if you want to age them a little use rub n buff……but ammonia will remove the plating if not solid brass…so plan to spray paint those…..

    I always carried a magnet with me when looking for used and antique furniture

    My very best to you in all your current endeavors… have so much going on…..Love your blog, Jeanine

  37. JaneEllen Jones says:

    Thanks for taking the time to show us your creations and the knobs used. The info is so useful and helpful.I sure would love to be able to find those amber knobs, luscious. Those sure make that dresser. Seeing your creations inspires me to get busy on my next project. Looking for something unusual at thrift stores, yard sales, won’t buy something until it really strikes me right.
    I have an old dresser that I painted. put glass knobs on that weren’t all alike but close enough that it works. The knobs I had were in different sizes but similiar style so I put the smaller ones on top drawer, middle on middle drawer and larger ones on bottom. I got them at an antique store in Ky, love how they look. Had one left over so used it on the chifarobe door. Also had one that was a handle so used it on a jewelry box in same room. I treasure those knobs.; Will have to have a good browse at the knobs in HobLob soon. I usually only look for something when I have a need for it but will have to alter that habit I think.
    Love your blog and all your gorgeous projects Marian. Wish I lived close to you so I could go to your booth at Lucketts.

    • Carlee says:

      Hi JaneEllen,

      How did you change the knobs on your jewelry box? I am looking to do that with mine but am worried because the interior of the box covers the end of the knobs.

      Any advice is appreciated.


  38. Jennifer Santiago says:

    Hey folks, check out they have wonderful ‘vintage’ hardware reproductions and their prices are affordable. They are my favorite place to hunt for new hardware and replacement parts.

    Love this blog.

  39. Jeanine says:

    Thanks Jennifer…that Kennedy hardware looks like a great site to know about…Thanks so much for sharing…Best, Jeanine

  40. Jennifer rizzo says:

    I love hob lob for knobs too. Do you do anything with the screws when they are too long or do you just leave them that way?

  41. That’s so funny when you say you “lucked out” I assume you mean that you got lucky. In Australia “lucked out ” means the opposite. It would mean you had bad luck… Could be confusing…
    I love original hardware also.
    Cheers Fiona

  42. It’s all in the details! Love the choices you made and love how you didn’t just tease us with photos but actually told us original or bought and where! Thanks. Keep cool!

  43. What a good post. I always used the original hardware and usually painted it. Then I noticed all the cool hardware people were putting on the vintage pieces and now I do that. So I did just the opposite of you. Like you, I stick with the original if it’s all there and in good shape. When I’m filling my hardware holes or when I start painting the drawers I place a piece of painters tape over the hole in the inside of the drawer to keep paint from leaking into the drawer or the wood filler from oozing through the hole. I also buy most of my hardware at Hobby Lobby where it is usually on sale!

  44. Samantha says:

    I also came over to ask about what to do about the HobLob hardware where the screws are too long. I have a wonderful dressing table that I have put in my master bath. Through the years and many moves, the kids and movers have been hard on the original porcelain knobs and most have broken. So I got some glass knobs at HobLob to replace them with. But I can’t figure out what to do about the big screws sticking out into my drawers. I feel like they are going to be a nuisance every time I reach into the drawers for something. Thank goodness they aren’t sharp–they’re just LONG.

  45. Melissa says:

    Hi, i am replacing the knobs on all of my dresesers…One thing I am finding is that none of the screws on the new knobs are long enough..How do I fix this?

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  1. […] piece may come with hardware to die for, but often it’s part of why the makeover is needed. Miss Mustard Seed has a lovely post that offers consideration for a variety of types of hardware, as well as how […]

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