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Hardware Outdoors

by Mary Ellen Polson on August 3, 2016

in Exteriors

Iron gate hardware is the finishing touch for this appealing entry. Photo: Linda Svendsen

Iron gate hardware is the finishing touch for this appealing entry. Photo: Linda Svendsen

When considering curb appeal and hardware or metalwork, it’s natural to focus on the front door’s entry hardware. What about other very visible hardware? Take a look at the garage and outbuildings, which make up a lot of the visual real estate. Window shutters, so prominently displayed on the façade, also need appropriate hinges and holdbacks. Don’t forget the front gate, a good place for hefty period-style strap hinges and latch. The garage doors are another opportunity.

You can play up quality, period style, and architectural interest in all these areas. Take inspiration from the original entry hardware on your house, traditional hardware familiar from turn-of-the-20th century carriage houses and outbuildings, or even more distant antecedents.

Whether largely faux or functional, early American forms like the thumb latch, strap hinge, slide bolt, and shutter dog transition well to Arts & Crafts exteriors. A lift or thumb latch serves the purpose on a gate without a lock, for instance, while even a purely decorative strap hinge adds scale and presence to a garage door.

Because the forms have been in use for so long, they’ve survived and even thrived through many style transitions, from colonial spear-ended strap hinges to twisted-ring Mediterranean Revival pulls with floral escutcheons. Even the Spanish-influenced clavos now so popular for rustic styles have a parallel in colonial-era clinch nail patterns.

Hardware outside of the house should look functional, even when it’s not. Just as you would choose hardware with the tensile strength to operate a swing-out or sliding door on a garage, faux strap hinges and latches should be of similar size and scale to the real thing, even if the door actually rolls up at the touch of a remote. Placement is everything: if a strap hinge or ring pull is positioned in such a way that it doesn’t look operable, it’ll be a dead giveaway that it’s “faux.”


The same rule goes for shutters and gates: Strap hinges should be placed as though the shutter is operable. Shutters should have sturdy pintles—the piece that pivots the shutter from open to closed—and of course, shutter dogs, which can be as fanciful or period-specific as you like.

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