How to choose fixtures for your house

Okay kids! Today we’re going to be talking about FIXTURES!!!

I was kind of hoping that all caps and multiple exclamation marks would really sell this topic to you, because it’s a really exciting one! REALLY!!!

So, when I say fixtures, I mean lights, faucets, door knobs, cabinet hardware, and basically anything metal that is attached to your house with screws. These guys may seem little, but they are style heavy weight champions. The fastest and most affordable way to “remodel” your space without really remodeling it is to pop in some new fixtures. It will completely transform the aesthetic of your space. Can you operate a drill and/or screwdriver? It’s like having a super power.  In our last house, for the investment of a few hundred dollars invested in light fixtures and faucets, we added thousands of dollars to the value of our home. It’s all about the simple but powerful impression that cohesive, well-chosen fixtures have on the senses: they register in the brain as QUALITY, STYLISH, DECISIVE, ELEGANT, and most importantly EXPENSIVE– even if they are not. We’re talking BIG bang for your buck–especially when it comes to adding value to your home. And if you are not moving any time soon, updating fixtures is the one house project you should move to the top of your to do list, for your own sake. It easily and quickly gives you the impression that you have totally transformed your space, even though you haven’t knocked down any walls or replaced any flooring. Prioritize it.

No matter the kind of house you live in, it can almost definitely benefit from a fixture overhaul– even if that means simply replacing the sad little boob light over your bed, or swapping out the ruffly frosted-glass 80s fixture over your bathroom vanity.   If you live in an older home, you probably have a round up of completely random fixtures from four different decades and in three different finishes. If you live in a newer home, your fixtures probably all match, but are standard-issue, cheap and/or snoozy. Either way, the solution is the same!

So, are we sufficiently pumped about fixtures? Are we ready to charge the drill battery and create a Pinterest board called “Fixture Upgrade Dance Party!” Excellent.

Choosing Fixtures

So how do you choose fixtures? Shopping for features isn’t the same as shopping for earrings. You can’t just choose something you like, because you are not accessorizing yourself, you are accessorizing your house, which has a style all its own that you have to accommodate.  If you simple fill your house with the fixtures that are currently trendy, in ten year’s time,  somebody will be yanking out the fixtures you put in (because they will be the gag-worthy relics of yester-year), and replacing them with what’s trendy then. (Probably bionic-ionic super-charged space lights. Most likely.) Instead, you must take a long, critical look at your house. Your house deserves the right fixtures for its style in the same way that you deserve the right clothes and accessories for your style. You want to choose something that transcends trends and that completely matches the style of the house. That being said, following the style of your home as your main guideline, you have to find something that you also like. It’s a definite balancing act.

House Styles

There are oodles of different house styles, but we’re going to make a few broad categories that most houses should be able to fit into. (You might have house that could fit into multiple categories. Put some thought into it, and decide which direction YOU want to take things!) When you are assessing your house, look to the lines. What are they doing? Are they straight and structured, are they layered and asymmetrical, are they soft and organic? Another good indicator is detailing. What are the details in and outside the home telling you about the home’s style? Read on for more details!


Image result for modern house

Modern houses are clean-lined, geometric, and asymmetrical with minimal detailing. They can range from craftsman, Frank Lloyd Wright inspired homes to mid-century suburban to some 1980s builds. If you have a modern home, when you’re picking out fixtures, try to repeat the lines and detailing of your house. Straight, minimal, structured, and geometric. Avoid curved, organic shapes. (Except globes. Globes are great!)


Image result for cottage house

Cottage homes are small and snug, typically single storied, and traditionally shaped (the way a five year old would draw a house). They include lots of nature-based detailing. Think cobble rock, flower boxes, wooden shingle siding, thatched roofs. When picking fixtures for a cottage, look for finishes and details that feel antiquated. Soft, classic, old-looking.  Never crisp or striking.


Image result for southwestern house

 Revival homes come in all shapes and sizes and styles. Anything from a modern stucco pueblo, to a Tudor-inspired split level, to an Italian piazza style Vegas mansion. Basically any reproduction of a style of home that was in over 200 years ago. The key to choosing fixtures is to look to the tradition that the home is hearkening back to. Look for pieces that are rich with exotic or folksy detailing.


Image result for colonial house

 Colonial homes are typified by their flat facades and symmetry. They are usually two-storied with rows of windows and a centered door. Picking out fixtures for a Colonial home is as straightforward as the houses are themselves. Keep it simple, sensible and symmetrical. I’m going to supplement that with minimal, classic, but handsome.


Image result for victorian house

Victorian homes are the end all in frippery. They are typically tall with layered, twisting and turning roof lines that almost always include steep triangular gables. They simple ooze detailing. Filigree, turrets, ornate railings and molding. When you pick out your fixtures, honor the Victorian need for deets. Lots of elegent and fancy detailing. Like your accessorizing a princess.


Image result for farmhouse house

 Farm houses come in lots of different styles, but tend to be somewhat stark in the detailing with a very traditional shape. They often have big porches and outbuildings (such as a barn or shed).  Context is really important with farm houses. If you can’t tell if you’re house is a farm house, look outside. Is there a farm? Or was there once a farm? Then you’re in business. When you are choosing fixtures for a farmhouse, think like your farming, pioneering predecessors. Creative and rustic solutions shine in a farm house. Think beyond convention and employ wood, glass, or recycled items.


Choosing a Finish

Any finish, be it gold, chrome, wrought iron, oil rubbed bronze, or copper, can  really look good in any style of home if you have the right style of fixture. It’s all about consistency! Once you pick a finish, use it for knobs, lights, faucets, pulls, hinges, and racks. (Obviously you don’t need to replace everything at once! Just keep an eye toward getting there eventually.) If you don’t know which to finish to go with, there are several hints to look at. If you have an older home, do some googling and look at what your house type would possibly have had originally. Or see if you can find a stray original fixture in your house itself. Go from there. Or if you have a recent build but hate the finish and style of your fixtures, find one fixture that you absolutely love— a great chandelier, an amazing kitchen faucet, and base all your continuing finish decisions from that one great piece.

This is a fun and thoughtful adventure and I wish you the best as you find your perfect fixtures!

Love and guts,