If your apartment or house is a hovel, making all your switch plates or drawer pulls match isn’t going to do much. But if your apartment or house is nice, new switch plates and outlet covers, and matching drawer and cabinet pulls, will give your place a very nicely finished look and feel.
Switch Plates and Outlet Covers
Switch plates and outlet covers come in a few different colors (tan and white are the most popular) and don’t cost much at all. If yours are mismatched, your room will always look unfinished no matter how nicely you’ve painted and it. New covers come with screws, too, so those match as well. As mentioned once before, use a hand screwdriver when installing switch plate and light switch covers. Power screwdrivers can go too fast and crack them. If you’re really after a professional look, make sure the slots in the screws all point straight up and down. Also, if your covers are okay but missing a screw here or there, you can buy the correct color screws separately for just a few pennies.
When you’re shopping, make a good count and take a list in with you to the hardware store so you don’t forget any and have to make a separate trip. Because switch plates come in so many different configurations, I make a quick sketch of what I need rather than trying to describe it, just so there’s no confusion once I get to the store.
Cabinet hardware is more expensive, but if your knobs and pulls are hideous or broken or missing, they are also an easy-to-install upgrade. This is one I’d try to get the land-lord to pay for or at least split if you rent.
The trick with buying new cabinet hardware is 1) getting the right sized replacements, and 2) making sure the store you’re shopping at has or can order everything you need. There’s nothing more frustrating than spending a bunch of money and still having mismatched drawer pulls because the store had six and you needed eight.
To make sure you get the right size, take one of each type of pull or handle you’re replacing with you. They will have threaded posts sticking out the back, and you want to make sure the new ones have posts in the same place and the same length. To make getting the right number easy, put a piece of masking tape on each of the old pulls and write the number you need on the tape.
Removal and installation is straightforward. The threaded posts slide through holes drilled in the drawers or cabinet doors, and are held in place by screw-on caps. To remove old hardware, unscrew the caps with whatever type of screwdriver they require. Either Philips or a flat-head. If a knob spins as you try to unscrew the cap, hold it with one hand and use your screwdriver with the other.
Installing the new handles and pulls is just as easy. Slide the posts through the holes and spin the caps down over them. Tighten them down pretty good with your screwdriver so the pressure of the cap against the drawer holds everything tight. If a pull starts to feel loose over time, just get out your screwdriver and snug it up.
Et voilà! Your kitchen looks brand spankin’ new!