Get The Look: Shortcut To An Industrial Style Bathroom

If there’s one piece of design advice you hear over and over again it’s this: update your hardware. It’s tried and true, but so over-stated that it’s become tired and trite. Because, sure, updating your hardware is easy and inexpensive. But in most cases it also doesn’t make that big a difference. So why do people keep repeating the same piece of advice that isn’t actually all that helpful? Because if you do it just right, a hardware swap really can transform your space. The key is, it’s not just the cabinet hardware you have to change. Let’s use this industrial style bathroom by Wise Design & Remodel as an example.

An image of an industrial style bathroom with black tile flooring and accent wall, and matching black hardware throughout.
Replacing your hardware can make a huge difference – but it only works if you go beyond your cabinet pulls (by Wise Design & Remodel LLC)

Why it Works

There are two big mistakes that people make when putting “update your hardware” into action. The first is making a small or lateral change. If you have some simple satin nickel cabinet pulls and replace them with satin nickel cabinet pulls in a slightly different style or shape? It simply won’t have much impact. Ditto for going from no cabinet hardware to cabinet hardware that matches your faucets, towel bars, and so on. It’s an upgrade, sure, but not one that will stop anyone in their tracks. A really dramatic color change, though, like going from nickel to matte black, oil rubbed bronze, copper, or brass, will reset the way you look at the space.

The second mistake is only upgrading your cabinet and drawer hardware. To really make an impact, you need to replace it all; not just pulls, but bars, faucets, lighting fixtures, picture or mirror frames, everything. Not only will it amplify the impact of the new cabinet hardware, but it will create a more cohesive feel. Do it right, and it can even alter the base style of your space. The dark-finished hardware in this bathroom is the sole difference between a very urban, industrial style, and a more traditional country cottage.

Get The Look

If you’re remodeling a bathroom from the ground up, it’s not a bad idea to splurge on a vanity that comes with nice hardware; the price difference can be steep, but nice hardware often indicates well-designed storage. For most projects, step one is: pick a color and stick with it. Cabinet pulls might seem the intuitive first choice, but personally? I’d start with a more distinctive piece, like your bathroom faucets or a lighting fixture. These key pieces will do most of the heavy lifting, and it’s often easier to find pulls that match a nice sconce than vice versa.

Whatever your starting element, the most important thing is to keep consistent with the finish and style from there. Your tub faucet doesn’t have to be a perfect match for your sink faucets, but it should be an identical finish and a similar style. It’s important to be thorough: your mirror, towel bars, towel hooks, toilet paper roll – any and all hardware and accessories should get replaced with one in your new finish. Matching tile isn’t a must, but the seamless floor-to-accent-wall matte black tile really underscores the contemporary industrial style of the space and nicely emphasizes the freestanding tub.

If you spend an hour with a screwdriver replacing your cabinet pulls and nothing else, you’ll likely be disappointed with the result – and left wondering why this piece of advice is touted like gospel. But investing in replacing all the hardware in your bathroom (or kitchen!) can have the far-reaching, budget-friendly impact you’re hoping for.