How to get the brass-look drawer hardware for (much) less

The drawers in the studio finally have hardware.

It took forever to put them on and here’s why: I’m terrible at it. Seriously, terrible. I put the cabinet/drawer hardware on in the kitchen and pretty much every one is crooked. How is that possible when you have a template and measure over and over again before drilling? I can not say. I’d like to blame the drill.

Regardless, I decided I was not willing to install the hardware on the drawers in the studio because they really needed to be straight and my track record wasn’t promising. With 12 million other projects in the house, the drawer pulls kept getting pushed off until my darling husband finally gave in to my constant request and worked his magic.

NOTE: installing hardware should not be this difficult. Simply find the center of the drawer, mark where the screws will go, drill a small pilot hole and then increase the drill bit to the correct size of the screw.

Now that the pulls are installed, let me start at the beginning and show you how they came to be.

My inspiration for the studio desks was this picture of the same dresser from ikea with brass bar pulls. I instantly fell in love with the look and wanted to recreate it in the studio.

After searching every resource possible online, I found that long brass pulls are crazy expensive. I adore these from Schoolhouse Electric, but there were two problems. 1. I was hoping for something longer than they offer (ideally 15-18″) and 2. $74 per pull was not in the budget. My sister has the same pulls in her gorgeous kitchen and while they are expensive, they are beautifully made, very heavy and true statement pieces. I just couldn’t justify it for this space.

Since I kept coming up short, I decided to improvise with a cabinet pull diy.

I found a 10-pack of 15″ bar pulls for $49.49. The size was good, shape was minimal, but color was wrong (they only came in satin nickel).

I figured it was worth a try to change the color with my go-to gold spray paint.

I rigged up a way to spray them to get even coverage by poking a hole through a cardboard lid and screwing in the pulls as you would on a drawer front. This little system worked great!

It only took a couple of light coats and the pulls were looking more in line with my vision.

The gold spray paint (Rustoleum Universal metallic in Pure Gold) has a pretty champagne-y gold finish and they would have been fine, but I was hoping for something just a bit more patina-ed and worn. Something that would more closely mimic the look of aged brass.

Out came the Gold Leaf Rub ‘n Buff.

This stuff is basically shoe polish for metal.

You take a glob and rub it onto the surface in a circular motion with a rag. It doesn’t take much until you have a richer golden/brassy color.

See the difference? On the left is the paint alone and the right has the polish on it.

How about a little side-by-side comparison:

For just $5 per pull + spray paint, polish and a little bit of time, I am really happy with the results.

If these were going to be used in a daily, high-use area – like a kitchen, for example – I might be a bit more cautious about choosing a spray painted pull. I can imagine that the paint will scratch over time and they may not look as good. For this space, though, they work great. And they look so nice on the dressers-turned-desks.

As you can see, there was one additional problem: the new pulls don’t line up with the pre-drilled holes.

So for the next diy, I patched the little holes for an (almost) seamless look.

We had a container of this patching paste in the garage, so I pulled it out and got to work.

I just dabbed a bit on my finger, sm0oshed it into the hole and wiped the excess away.

The holes were not quite covered after one coat, so I went over it again with a second and this time used a ruler to scrape it flat against the surface. A putty knife would probably be the tool of choice, but a ruler was right there and I didn’t feel like searching out the right tool, so I just went with it. #thestoryofmydiylife

Usually when you use this patching paste, you lightly sand off the excess and then paint to cover. In my case, I didn’t really want to sand the drawer fronts for fear that it would take off the pre-finished white paint. While my original plan was to paint the dressers a deep green, I’m really happy with the white for now and want to live with them this way for a while.

It dawned on me that since the paste washed off my fingers with soap and water, perhaps it would wipe off of the drawers as well (just the little bits of excess around the patched hole).

So with a bowl of warm, soapy water, a scrubby sponge (my fave from here) and a paper towel, I gave it a try.

A little bit of scrubbing and the patching paste came right up, just as I hoped.

If you look closely, you can still barely see the holes, but not enough to really notice.

Overall, I feel quite happy with the hardware choice and achieving the brass look for much, much less.


dressers | wood countertop | pulls | lamps | chairs | sheepskin | floating shelves | floors

wall + trim color: Shoji White by Sherwin Williams

For more about this space:

The Finished Studio

The Classic + Modern Design Plan for the Studio

A Hiccup in the Plan

Semi-Diy Table Lamps

38 Responses to How to get the brass-look drawer hardware for (much) less

  1. Sue April 5, 2018 at 1:16 pm #

    I’m thinking of trying this using the Koppang dresser from Ikea. Has anyone already tried this? Do you think it would work?

  2. Christy February 11, 2018 at 3:01 pm #

    I’m so happy I found this post, thank you for this tutorial!! I’ve been having the hardest time finding pretty gold/satin brass chandeliers to hang over my kitchen islands since none of the colors I’ve found actually match. I recently found nickel chandeliers that would be perfect to paint using these colors!!

    • emily February 11, 2018 at 6:19 pm #

      How perfect!

  3. sarah September 11, 2017 at 7:08 am #

    Hi there, I’m just wondering how the drawer pulls are holding up after 6 months. I’d love to try this DIY with my kitchen drawer pulls … it’s just beautiful and so simple! I’m trying to figure out the very best way to go about it, so I don’t have to keep re-doing it every few months. Ha!

    • emily September 11, 2017 at 9:16 am #

      The drawer pulls are still looking great … BUT, they are rarely used. I don’t know if they would hold up the same in a kitchen with heavy use …

  4. Joy Gross March 15, 2017 at 12:36 pm #

    Love how your did you dressers. Fabulous!

  5. Jennifer March 11, 2017 at 7:09 am #

    This space looks beautiful! Did the wood countertops have the perfect width or did you have them ripped? Also, how many did you need to cover all 3 dressers and extend out towards the wall too? Trying to figure out how you got your wood tops on and it looks like they meet in the middle of each dresser but how are they attached to stay?

  6. Jesse May Danson March 10, 2017 at 10:36 am #

    So many excellent ideas! Thank you! :)

  7. Amory March 9, 2017 at 8:42 am #

    I did this before Christmas with my kitchen handles (they were gold and we sprayed them a blackish rubbed metal). Have you had some rub off? We are starting to see the gold coming through on the handles that are used the most. Should I have put a sealer on it? Or do you think the rub-n-buff worked as that for you?

    • emily March 9, 2017 at 11:24 am #

      Mine have only been on for a week or so and they are not used regularly as they would be in a kitchen – so I can’t speak to the durability yet.

  8. Vanessa March 7, 2017 at 10:05 am #

    💯 This is EXACTLY what I did in our kitchen, with the EXACT same drawer pulls (only in black, bc they are the only ones on the planet that sell them in that color). Despite 5 different remeasurings and making a template, the holes are 2 mm off. 😑 Story. Of. My. Life! Way to go, Emily!

  9. Beverly Wellington March 7, 2017 at 6:15 am #

    This is a brilliant idea! I wanted handles like this for our kitchen but was totally turned off by the price tags! I wish I had thought of this back in December when we started the reno!

  10. Shara March 6, 2017 at 8:42 pm #

    THIS is why I follow your blog! I love this simple, classy, doable DIY. Thanks for the inspiration Emily.

    • emily March 6, 2017 at 9:11 pm #

      Ah, thanks Shara!

  11. Rebekah March 6, 2017 at 6:05 pm #

    These look great! Love your diy! I have a kind of crazy request. Any chance you would show us the inside of these drawers? I have a similar amount of drawer space in my office and am curious about what you choose to keep in yours. I know you maybe would rather not, and I would totally understand if so! Love your new house and all you are doing to spruce it up!

    • emily March 6, 2017 at 9:12 pm #

      I haven’t loaded them yet, but just bought a bunch of baskets to try to keep things organized. Once I put them together, I will definitely show you how I organized!

  12. leslie March 6, 2017 at 2:01 pm #

    I have a question, Emily. Did you end up getting new leather chairs or are these the same ones? By the way, it all looks dreamy and I love following all your steps and seeing your creativity in progress. Thanks for sharing.

    • emily March 6, 2017 at 2:10 pm #

      They are the same chairs. They almost work so I’ve been using them for now. We have a plan for how to raise them up – hopefully it will be done in the next week or so! I’ll share details once we figure it out :)

  13. Judy Caywood March 6, 2017 at 1:09 pm #

    Emily it is so helpful to see how you made it happen and ended up with a version of what you wanted. No one could tell the difference and it is beautiful. I have a nice white Ikea desk too. Would attach a photo if I could figure out how, now I am thinking of white shelves after seeing yours.

  14. Renee Baranek March 6, 2017 at 12:18 pm #

    Beautiful. Thanks for the product information.

    About being able to barely see the former holes, grandma’s old saying came to mind. “A dumb one won’t notice it and a smart one won’t say anything.” That has helped me in no small way throughout my life. Keep up the good work.

    • emily March 6, 2017 at 1:36 pm #

      That is the best quote!

  15. Diana March 6, 2017 at 12:16 pm #

    Looks so great! I love your idea of using the rub-n-buff. I wouldn’t have thought of that.

    Hardware has been on my mind a lot lately as well. It’s just not something I want to spend a fortune on, but I love finding affordable, stylish options. I just rounded up 8 “splurge vs. save” options on my blog.


  16. Amy Reber March 6, 2017 at 12:08 pm #

    What would it have looked like if you went straight on to the brushed nickel with the Rub’n Buff?

    • Ericka J. March 6, 2017 at 1:31 pm #

      It would probably look very similar (maybe even identical!) I use Rub’n Buff often and never pre-paint before it. I’ve used it on pulls on both dressers in our bedroom and the desk in my office. The only issues is if the surface is SUPER clean/glossy it doesn’t take as well (you can just rough it up with a fine grain sand paper). But brushed nickel should take it well! I love that I don’t have to tape or spray paint anything… I can do it in my dining room with minimal mess. I actually apply it with my finger and then wash it off with hot soapy water. Works beautifully on almost anything! Just remember to rub off the excess – and then you can come back and “buff” it after it dries a bit to get it shinier. It comes in a bunch of different colors too.

    • emily March 6, 2017 at 1:37 pm #

      I didn’t even try it! Thanks for those who have chimed in with suggestions.

  17. Kristyn March 6, 2017 at 11:01 am #

    Looks amazing! I love the white/brass look. Keeping this in mind when we update our bathroom. I’ve been obsessing over brass faucets and this will make changing the hardware on the cabinets a bit more cost effective. Thanks!!

  18. Brooke March 6, 2017 at 10:45 am #

    So beautiful! I love these pulls for so much less. That rub-n-buff stuff is great. Do you think there is a sealant you could use to make sure the paint doesn’t rub off or get scratched?

  19. mary beth at MBZ interiors March 6, 2017 at 10:22 am #

    Perfect! I’m pinning

  20. Cherie March 6, 2017 at 10:13 am #

    You did such a great job!!! Everything is coming together beautifully! But can I ask where you got the pulls? Have been thinking about doing something similar and love the ones you picked out! (AND the price! ; )

    • emily March 6, 2017 at 1:39 pm #

      The link is at the bottom of the post :)

  21. Brianne Cunningham March 6, 2017 at 10:12 am #

    You are a genius. Thank you SO much for they DIY tips. Loving how everything is turning out!!

  22. Amanda March 6, 2017 at 10:02 am #

    So beautiful and a great diy! So I have a question. Do you think this spray paint and rub n buff would give wood a same look as the metal? I have a round clock with wood trim that I would love to make look like brass metal but I’m nervous about trying it. Thanks!

    • Ericka J. March 6, 2017 at 1:33 pm #

      I use it often on wood and it looks great! I’ve turned many wooden picture frames into a more metallic looking finish. I never spray paint them though – I just use the rub n buff by itself. :) It’s way less messy than spray paint (no taping needed, and you can do it inside!)

  23. Amy Olason March 6, 2017 at 9:46 am #

    You are so creative and innovative. I just think you are amazing. Love ya!

    • emily March 6, 2017 at 1:39 pm #

      Thanks, sister. Someday I’ll get those pretty pulls like you have :)

  24. Kim - The TomKat Studio March 6, 2017 at 9:29 am #

    You’re a genius! They turned out amazing!!

  25. Charisa March 6, 2017 at 9:22 am #

    The Rub n’ Buff is such a great tip! It really makes the perfect bronze color. Well done!!

  26. Pam M March 6, 2017 at 5:14 am #

    This is looking SO good! I love the DIY with the drawer pulls. I’m also a big fan of rub-n-buff. I had some lamps that had a base made of twisted black metal (sort of like himmeli) that I hated. The black seemed to draw attention away from the room straight to the “meh” lamps. After a quick application of rub-n-buff my lamps actually look pretty great.

    I love you DIYs. Keep ’em coming. :-)

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