The $2 Ball Knobs on Every Door and Drawer in My House
Paint them! Stain them! Leave them natural!
Published Aug 9, 2023 3:55 PM
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There are endless decisions that go into remodeling. So it comes as a huge relief when one of those often overthought choices turns out to be not so complicated (kind of like discovering that reliable, go-to paint color). That’s exactly how I felt when my friend designer Meta Coleman introduced me to maple ball knobs. Not only are they practical and understated, but these low-frill gems are affordable—they range in price from $1.80 to $2.10 each at mom-and-pop hardware stores like Lee Valley.
Initially, I purchased a handful of the warm wood knobs for the new built-in dining room cabinets in our ’40s Bay Area bungalow. There was enough contrast in the room as it was, so I needed to simplify somewhere. You can choose from three sizes; I went with the midsize. Before long, I found myself swapping the shiny brass hardware on my bedroom closet doors for more of the same. Later, when we remodeled our office and our children’s bathroom, it wasn’t even a question. I was using them everywhere.
Other Ball Knobs We Like
Unlike traditional hardware, wood ball knobs are easy to customize. You can leave them untreated, brush on a clear coat, stain them, or paint them. And then paint them again and again. Get the idea? Here are some of the many ways you can make them work in your space.
In the Dining Room
As I mentioned, when we had that set of custom cabinets built for our dining room a couple of years ago, there was already quite a bit happening in the small space: Bunny toile wallpaper. Green trim. Gingham curtains flanking the original French windows. I wanted to maximize all the color, and that meant no interruptions by metal handles or pulls. So I painted the Shaker-style doors and the ball knobs in Farrow & Ball’s gray-green Treron. They add just the right touch of sculptural interest.
In the Bathroom
For our children’s bathroom remodel, we decided to stick to the original footprint as much as possible, including keeping the vintage pedestal sink and cast-iron tub. We did, however, nix the enclosed shower in favor of drawers and cabinetry. I let my kids choose the wallpaper for the space. Once they settled on this vintage clover wallpaper from Svenskt Tenn, I knew I wanted to paint the storage and trim in Farrow & Ball’s Oval Room Blue, which we had used in our adjacent hallway. By this time, I was familiar with how durable wood ball knobs are, so I was confident they’d hold up to some kid-generated wear and tear. Again, angling for a cohesive look against a busy backdrop, I went with a uniform look that pops off against the white and green foliage. But, who knows, maybe someday I’ll update the knobs in a splashy red hue.
In the Living Room
I wasn’t the only one falling for the knobs. Content creator Hannah Carpenter discovered them when our mutual friend, Coleman, suggested them as the pulls for an IKEA hack in her Arkansas home. “They’re great for someone who wants something somewhat special but doesn’t want to spend a million dollars,” says Carpenter. To create storage in the family’s den, she took a pair of pine Ivar sideboards and painted them white. To lend the cabinetry a touch of character, Coleman suggested bun legs from Pretty Pegs and, naturally, complimentary ball knobs.
In the Kitchen
When it came to her kitchen, Carpenter was determined to make the same knobs work against a newly painted backdrop of light blue cabinetry. But this time, she didn’t crack open a paint can. “You can paint them a punchy accent or leave them alone and just let them sort of age and get a little darker with use,” she explains. Even with a steady stream of tweens and teens at home, she says her untreated knobs don’t get particularly dirty.
The bargain knobs were also the antidote to expensive hardware when stylist and Domino contributing editor Merisa Libbey was refreshing her new-to-her mid-century kitchen in Los Angeles. “I knew we’d be doing some more major renovations down the line and didn’t want to invest ridiculous amounts in making these areas feel better in the meantime,” she says. She was flipping through an old issue of Domino for inspiration when she came across a kitchen featuring an oversize version of the round knobs. She ordered a couple of sizes, testing one in a clear coat and one the same color as her freshly painted cabinets. Ultimately, she went with the former to tie into the oak flooring. “They fit the bill of mixing with my 1950s cupboards while elevating them to a more modern aesthetic,” says Libbey. “I loved them so much, I ended up using them in every room with cabinets—some with paint, some with a natural stain, all supercute.”