These Knobs Are A Vintage Furniture Shopper’s Dream Resource

published Aug 3, 2021
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Credit: Kim Lucian

Almost every piece of furniture in my house was a secondhand find, and I’ve familiarized myself with what can and can’t be fixed when it comes to vintage items. Water marks? I can probably fix those, especially after friend Shamika of Maximizing Tiny introduced me to Restor-A-Finish. Chipping veneer? Not an easy DIY project, but a pro can probably fix it. However, more than once I’ve passed on a perfectly good piece of mid-century furniture because it was missing knobs, but no longer: I’ve found a solution!

I recently discovered you can buy knobs and pulls designed by modernist designers like Paul McCobb and Jens Risom from Schwinn. Founded in 1932 in Germany, Schwinn originally made furniture handles and knobs from synthetic resin, but today most of Schwinn’s furniture hardware is metal (though they also make some lovely wood knobs and just launched a linoleum collection). 

Credit: Schwinn

The Schwinn Originals collection is a group of 13 knobs and pulls by noted designers that are exclusively licensed to Schwinn for reproduction. Special-ordering designer knobs may seem fussy and, yes, some of the styles are a little pricey, but in my experience, it’s practically impossible to find anything that looks right on a mid-century piece at a big box store or a local hardware store — unless, of course, you get lucky and stumble on some deadstock knobs that have been gathering dust for decades. The right hardware can elevate a piece from looking like a thrift-store piece to something you’d see in an high-end vintage showroom, so this discovery is a game-changer to me.

Credit: Schwinn

As a fan of Paul McCobb, I am especially excited to see the designer’s iconic ring pull available for sale. (McCobb is having something of a renaissance with reissues of his designs from CB2, Fritz Hansen, and Ralph Pucci.) You’ll also find pieces by Dieter Rams and Michael Graves. Also included amongst the Originals collection are knobs by new-to-me designer, Nana Ditzel. Type fanatics will be excited to learn that they sell Alexander Girard-designed house numbers.

So the next time I’m browsing a flea market or estate sale and see a cabinet or dresser with missing hardware but tons of potential, I will feel confident to make an offer, knowing I can source authentic knobs from some of the best mid-century designers right away.