Nothing amps up a plain veneered dresser like a set of vintage hardware. Elaborate designs can add punch to an unadorned piece, play off the newness of a recent purchase, and give a room personality. The teardrop pulls shown here accomplish all three. And with the additional appeal of a comfortable, solid grip, they offer function as well as beauty. "Vintage-style knobs will reinforce the period details of a room and make a simple piece look as if it has a past," says Nancy E. Berry, author of Architectural Hardware: Ideas, Inspiration, and Practical Advice for Adding Handles, Hinges, Knobs, and Pulls to Your Home.
To buy: Wood-and-brass teardrop pulls in Antique by Hand finish, $13.50 each (1 1/8 inches in diameter), houseofantiquehardware.com.
2 of 10Don Penny
Vintage Floral Knobs
Ceramic Rosy knobs, in linen, also come in five other colors.
Vintage Bakelite knobs can be found on eBay or at flea markets or thrift stores; sizes and prices vary.
4 of 10Jonny Valiant
If Your Style Is Contemporary
Modern knobs and pulls can be as curvy as amoebas or as rigid as bars. A delicate blossom design can look utterly contemporary when wrought in aluminum or glass. Other modern materials include nickel, chrome, Corian, and even rubber. The coral-motif pulls shown here are slightly oversize, bumping up their profile and injecting the room with a fresh sensibility.
5 of 10Don Penny
Contemporary Colorful Knobs
Yellow pushpin knobs or pegs turn a plain bureau into a playful work of art.
For a look that will stand the test of time, try knobs that already have. If these shapes weren't attractive and pull-friendly, they wouldn't still be around. Traditional styles work with nearly any decor or furniture design, whether they're bringing consistency to a piece from a similar era or adding a classic spark to clean, modern lines. And they come in a variety of materials, such as ceramic, wood, glass, copper, and pewter. Ornate knobs can evoke a gilded age, while the pared-down ceramic ones here have a homespun appeal that warms up stark furniture.
To buy: Ceramic knobs with copper hardware, from $14 (1½ inches in diameter), te-ma.com.
9 of 10Don Penny
Traditional Wooden Knobs
Classic knobs are available in oak, cherry, and maple.
To buy: from $8 a pair (1 5/8 inches in diameter), rockler.com.
10 of 10Don Penny
Traditional Glass Knobs
Clear glass knobs with polished nickel finish are also available in three other finishes.