Rental Cabinet Knobs Aren’t Pretty, But These Cheap Swaps Are

Same goes for boob lamps.
Photography by Belle Morizio; Styling by Julia Stevens

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I recently moved into my first solo apartment that, although a dream, does not happen to be one of the few tastefully finished rentals out there. To add fuel to that fire, I’m also not someone who can live happily among indelicate details.

Picture: my bathroom lit by a boob lamp; the kitchen cabinets harshly accented with brushed nickel knobs; every door handle evoking more college dorm than adult home. It’s not like I own the place, so investing in replacement hardware that will inevitably get left behind in a few years’ time feels like a fool’s errand. And although I could save the originals to swap back in before moving, I’d hate to waste even an inch of precious space in my tight 17-by-13-foot apartment. (Not to mention the handyman I’d have to hire again to schlep back and reinstall the original fixtures.) Hence my dilemma until I landed upon a somewhat obvious solution: Replace that ugly cheap hardware with pretty cheap hardware. You know, the affordable goods that are easy enough on the eyes but not so much of a knockout that I’ll cry when we part. 

If you, too, have been searching for cheap rental apartment decorating tips, then read on for my shopping guide to the products that will get it done. Starting with these doorknobs that spark joy every time I look at them but are reasonably priced to easily leave behind for the next (lucky) tenant when that day comes.

Harney’s Polished Chrome Knobs in Stevens’s apartment.

1. Get a Handle on Those Doorknobs

I found these after searching multiple variations of “cheap doorknobs” on Google (here’s the privacy version), and they seemed too good to be true. Polished chrome is my go-to metal, and the square base gives it a nice traditional look. Below are the runners-up, like this chunky matte black one that leans a little more industrial.

Door Knob Set Closet / Hall / Passage Function

Harney Hardware

Door Knob Set Bed / Bath / Privacy Function

Harney Hardware

Kwikset Matte Black Pismo Door Knob


Cirrus Passage Door Knob Set from the New Traditions Collection


2. See Ya Never, Brushed Nickel

Cabinet knobs are the easiest to swap out because you don’t need a handyman or an electrician—just screw them in. I’m considering painting my unfinished wood knobs the same color as the cabinets or something complementary for a pop. I’m super-inspired by this example from a recent Domino story. 

Wood Ball Knob

Woodpeckers Crafts

Golden Door Knob (2-pack)

Zara Home

Aspen Matte Black Egg Cabinet Knob by Sumner Street Home Hardware

Home Depot

Small Black Cast-Iron Cabinet Handle

House of Antique Hardware

Tiny Brass Cabinet Knob

House of Antique Hardware

Small Brass Knobs


Kela Handle


Ethan Satin Brass Cabinet Knob by Sumner Street Home Hardware

Home Depot

3. Bye-bye, Boob Lamp 

We don’t know what it is about boob lamps that supers can’t get enough of, but we have a feeling it has to do with the price tag. However, spending just a bit more can get you something modern that blends in. Add a dimmer and you’re in business. 

Woven Flush Mount Light Fixture by Frideko Home


Frihult Flush Mount


Globe Electric Oswald Semi-Flush Globe Ceiling Fixture


White Drum Linen Flush Mount Light


4-Light Semi Flush Mount Ceiling Light Fixture


Wide Flush Mount Ceiling Fixture by Nuvo Lighting


4. Bring on the Mood Lighting

Speaking of dimmers, installing one in my bathroom changed my life. Essential for relaxing nighttime showers, this quick $18 Amazon buy plus an electrician is my good vibes starter pack. 

Toggle Dimmer Switch for Dimmable LED, CFL and Incandescent Light Lamp Bulbs by ELEGRP


LED Dimmer Light Switch by Maxxima



Julia Stevens

Contributing Editor

Julia Stevens is a Domino contributing editor. Basically, she’s a professional online shopper. She started at Domino as an intern and spent almost seven years in the style department curating products for our gift guides, trend roundups, and product reviews and on set styling the beautiful homes we get to share. Off hours, you can find her scouting New York’s newest design shops and restyling her shelves