KNOB APPEAL continued ....

Marcy Chromy, sales consultant and hardware specialist at the The Finial store in Mequon, Wis., advises her customers to begin by looking at knobs and handles as part of the entire design of a room, not just as small components.

Knobs and handles can blend seamlessly with the rest of the room or be used as a counterpoint that makes a statement, she says.

Hardware choices have increased dramatically in the last three to five years, with a growing variety in materials, finishes and colors.

Sources caution that hardware can get expensive, depending on the number of pieces you need and the style you like.

Setting a budget will help in making decisions, they advise. As a group they cite prices ranging form 69 cents each to $200 to $300 or more if you choose a style embedded with semi-precious stones.

Joan Shelley, owner of the Knob Galelry store in Brookfield, Wis., sees style trends:

Asian and Contemporary: Clean, simple lines suited for small or uncluttered settings.

Yvonne Gigstead, owner of The Finial, and Chromy add to the list. In addition to artist -designed hardware, they note these trends:

Gaskill, of Home Depot, also adds more trends:

Gaskill also notes that design matters to his customers more than the touch or grip of handles.

"The feel is not as important as the look," he says. "Look is No. 1."

Photo gallery of decorative knobs and handles

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