Brass Hardware – A love letter and sourcebook

April 13, 2016

Vintage fittings - Brass Vacant Engaged toilet lock

 

I blame Emily Henderson for my obsession with brass, hell maybe American styling in general, but I’ve become a bit of a Hollywood Regency enthusiast over the last year or so. In the past I happily tripped along with pewter and pewter effect as a more stylish alternative to silver (which seems to be my families metal of choice and style) but the warmth of brass has really captured my imagination in the new house. I’ve used it in loads of places and totally love it, it brings a bit of sunshine to a door or a light fitting and when done well adds lots of class. We luckily bought a house with no plaster work needed so, not only have I been able to merrily paint away in our new home, I’ve also been able to buy and install the fittings that I want without having to wait for boring things to be done first (have I mentioned I’m naturally impatient?!). So, today, as it’s Milan Design Week, I’m celebrating by focusing in on one small area of design and sharing my top picks for places in the UK to pick up classy brass.Some recommendations are items, anyone looking for a cheap(ish) brass shower fitting is in luck, but also places I’ve found are good for sourcing vintage brass. I’ve bought a few vintage door handles to bring the rest into symmetry and whilst I obviously can’t recommend those to buy, I’m going to suggest sites I’ve found useful along the way. Salvage yards are a good place to start but in my experience they can also be frustrating if you want to get particular items in mass or quickly. I’ve been waiting for a three arch Victorian front door to come in at my local yard for 5 months (please someone bulldoze the home of my dream door!).

brass-vacant-engaged-lock_1

First mention has to go to this breathtaking beauty which wins the prize for the best hardware I’ve bought this year, maybe any year. This thirties style vacant/engaged latch is on our downstairs loo, it’s so decadent and I can’t tell you how ludicrously happy I am with it. It’s from Willow & Stone for £61.50.

Industville Lighting
I also have to make special mention of this next company as I think they are swell, they have such a great offering at a wonderful price point. Industville make lighting with an industrial slant but at prices that don’t make you weep. They do great brass, copper and pewter. One of the things I most like about them is that you can choose to mix and match metals on most designs, so you could have a brass pendant with a contrasting pewter bulb holder for example. I love the Brooklyn vintage metal dome light so much that I have put it in two bathrooms, which may make them sound like a one trick pony but I loved this design so much I couldn’t help replicating it in the downstairs loo.

Antique Brass bathroom fittings
Brass bathroom fittings, grr!! if I could count the number of hours I spent trying to source these in the UK, or the number of times bathroom stores told me they were becoming popular but they didn’t stock them yet, I could have had a marble worktop and maybe a bath cast in brass. If you have a wow budget there are a few UK based companies that make great fittings, I loved some of the examples in particular from Living House. If you’re looking for cheap in the UK it is a challenge, and unimaginably annoying that most well priced chrome taps are either brass or copper underneath that’s been plated in chrome! If you’re budget is more within human realms, you will probably be delighted to hear that you can buy great looking brass fittings from China on eBay, I’ve enquired in commercial spaces where I like the look of taps and online and everyone seems to be buying their brass from eBay! Now I do have to admit that with this beautiful shower fitting above we have gone from having an amazing power shower to something of a medium flow so if you have lower pressure or you must must be gushed during ablutions this may not be the shower for you. I bought the majority of my bathroom hardware from cheaptap.co.uk which is a Chinese company but eBay and Amazon are also both great places to start. Mine cost £199 from here and the wall mounted taps were £65.99 here. The beauty with brass taps is that they will gain patina with age but obviously with brass taps you need to consider bath waste, sink waste, curtain rail metal (if you have one) towel rail, towel hooks, mirror, storage hardware, vanity shelf which can all be a nightmare in brass the UK. I bought from many different sources for these, including a regular curtain pole from John Lewis as I  couldn’t afford the specialist bathroom ones and we painted our towel rail to match the wall for similar reasons. But my best advice here is that Google is your friend, we bought from many random places and a plethora of Countries. This is the only way until brass bathrooms breakthrough here. You may be unlucky and get the odd duff item, or one that needs to be adapted (we did), so brass is maybe not for you if you like security and don’t have an enviable budget.

Ferm Living Brass Bathroom towel and toilet roll holder
Moving into the modern, I love these chic Scandinavian fittings from Ferm Living, we have chosen them for our downstairs loo.  I love the simplicity of them. The towel holder retails at £30 and the loo roll holder is £26, you can buy them in many places, I bought mine from Amara.

Victorian-Brass-Bell-Push marble

For something with more of a vintage feel (but new) this brass, marble and wood bell push is stunning. We have one hiding inside the hideous porch we plan to knock down and it’s like a quiet period piece winking at me of brighter days to come! It also makes a pleasing sound when rung. I bought it from Architectural Decor for £55.

Brass Bumble Bee Knocker Michael healy
Staying with entrances, I have to share this which I bought through American Amazon. I saw it on Pinterest over a year ago and started furiously googling til I found the exact one I’d seen. I may not have a door yet, but I seem to have plenty of hardware for it! This buzzy beauty is designed by Michael Healy and cost $100, here.
Willow and Stone aged brass escutcheons
Front door escutcheons with charm can be tricky but Willow & Stone always carry a great range, I’ve bought the beehive ones for the new door, £10 here

Bromleighs Period Dolly Switches
I can’t get enough of dolly switches! We had them in our old apartment from Period House, I wanted to try something different this time and went with a few different finishes from Bromleighs, they are a touch pricey at £48 excl VAt for a single switch here but I really recommend the quality, there’s something very pleasing about the click when you switch them!

distressed-gold-arrow-handle-41433-p[ekm]335x502[ekm]
I saw these Arrow handles for £6.50 on Rockett St George recently and instantly bought three though I only really have a purpose for one! I know I will use them one day, they’d be great on wardrobe doors when baby Ted finally needs a wardrobe. I’ve bought quite a few brass cupboard handles and pulls over the years and as a general rule Anthroplogie is almost always, always the best place for this hardware.

Brass period lever handles


Final nod goes to Architectural Decor and Willow & Stone again for brass lever door handles, the former vintage, the latter new. Stylish lever handles are a lot rarer to obtain than traditional door knobs so I recommend both of these companies for that. I have bought both the handles above for downstairs to complete the Victorian brass we have on other doors.

I am currently trying to find some reasonably cheap brass cupboard handles for the kitchen cupboards when they are painted (grey since you ask). I need ones of a hefty 19cms long so if you have any tips, please do comment and share.

 

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15 thoughts on “Brass Hardware – A love letter and sourcebook

  1. Mari

    I love this post (thank you) as I have been looking for brass fittings in the UK and it’s a minefield! I was looking for an antique brass shower that has a regular shower head, plus a handheld option, and a single tap and the one you used ticked all those which is how I came here in the first place! So I was sad to see that fitting decreased your water pressure. 🙁

    Would you mind checking, and letting we curious people know, what the water pressure in your home is (without shower etc being in use?). You can do that by looking in the boiler if you haven’t done it before, and the pressure is that little dial that points to different numbers. Would be really helpful to have something to compare to to get if the same thing is likely to happen.

    thanks!

    Reply
    1. Design_Soda_Ruthie Post author

      Fantastic, glad you enjoyed!
      Our pressure is about 1.5 which looks on the low side of average (our boiler says the green reading is between 1-2.5) hope that helps, good luck!

      Reply
      1. Mari

        Wow, thanks for that. My pressure is about 1-1.25 so you just saved me some weak showers! Thanks for taking the time to look 🙂

        Reply
  2. Cre

    Hi, I’m just wondering if you are happy with the quality of the shower etc. that you bought from China? We are looking at similar ones on eBay as they are impossible to source here in Ireland, but I’m a bit worried about the price disparity! Them ones on eBay are so much less expensive than anywhere else. Are you happy with yours?

    (Beautiful bathroom by the way).

    Thanks, care

    Reply
    1. Design_Soda_Ruthie Post author

      Hi Cre
      Thanks for dropping by, yes, definitely been happy with the quality so far, nearly a year in and no problems so I don’t think the price disparity is down to quality. Having said that, I can only image that the quality of the UK (and Ireland/Europe too) items are exceptional beyond expectation as the companies that tend to offer brass tend to stock high end items in all finishes if you see what I mean. Definitely no issues with the particular pieces we’ve bought other than slightly lower pressure on the shower which was warned on the item listing. Good luck with your bathroom refurb x

      Reply
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  5. Madison

    Hi! Beautiful bathroom. I love love love your shower tap, but I”m unable to find it on cheaptaps.co.uk. The website seems to no longer exist. Could you tell me what the name of the shower tap is so I could search else where for it?

    Thanks so much!

    Reply
    1. Design_Soda_Ruthie Post author

      Hi Madison
      Thanks so much for dropping by. I’m not sure what happened, I changed the colour of the links over the weekend and one seemed to be corrupted, I’ve changed the CheapTap link now, there’s no name for the shower but I’ve just opened that link and it worked fine for me, the link is just after I mention Cheap Tap where the green text says ‘here’. Let me know if it doesn’t work for you, Good luck with your renovation x

      Reply
  6. Emma

    Hi,
    With regards to the low water pressure with the shower, please may you let me know what kind of boiler you have as I have a combi boiler and fear that it would do the same.
    Do you find that it is just the top shower head or both which have the issue?
    Thanks

    Reply
  7. Sarah Willshaw

    Massive thank you for the Willow & Stone mentions and features in this article.
    I love your choices and I too have been thrilled at seeing how Emily Henderson has helped Brass regain its swagger! Thanks sooo much 🙂

    Sarah.

    Reply

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