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You’ve already picked out the perfect front door, accenting your entryway with a statement that ties the whole front of your house together. There’s only one thing missing: an entry door handle that strikes the balance between practicality and visual appeal.

While door handles can often go overlooked in the process of picking out a door, the right selection can provide an extra aesthetical layer that will mesh with your front door and complete your entryway in style. For anyone looking to find the right combination, here are three guidelines to keep in mind when selecting a front door handle and hardware system.

Start with the basics.

A basic door handle system is so commonplace that you could be forgiven for believing it was invented nearly at the dawn of mankind, somewhere between discovering the wheel and inventing sliced bread. Even though door locks themselves are at least 4,000 years old, door knobs actually weren’t thought of until the 1870s, when an obscure American named Osbourn Dorsey unintentionally created a revolution with the first patent of a door knob. While wealthy homeowners had used various key systems dating back to days of the pharaohs, Dorsey’s invention opened up a wide range of possibilities for both security and design for entryways, forever replacing the clumsy system of using leather straps as front door handles.

Although much has obviously changed since Dorsey’s day, practicality remains a central tenant to the modern front door handle and the starting point for choosing wisely. Considering your entry door handle is something that you will likely use multiple times every single day, you should imagine doing everyday things (e.g. carrying groceries) as you make your selection. That way you can determine whether it’s best for you to go with a decorative door lever, a long and elegant pull handle, or keep it simple with the type of knob or lever that Dorsey envisioned more than a century ago.

You also want to make sure that you’re comfortable with the type of lock system, as the last thing you want to do is choose hardware that looks great with your door but drives you crazy every time you use it. Basic deadbolt locks are always classic options, although an advanced gripset or a lever-handle system can also be great alternatives to a standard knob lock design. Meanwhile, a digital lock with a simple thumb turn can be the perfect modern touch that can go with any type of door. Just as Dorsey invented the door knob to make everyday usage a little easier, functionality to fit your lifestyle is as important as anything when picking out the right front door handle.

Matching your handle and door.

The good news about living more than 140 years after Dorsey’s breakthrough is the wealth of visual possibilities that are now available, which makes it easy to find the right look without sacrificing security or comfort. If you have a solid timber door in mind, a long, heritage-style rounded stainless steel handle can be the perfect complement that will add a touch of dignity, although the versatility of wood provides other options as well. While the rounded look is a favourite for those with wood doors, a squared handle with a brass gripset and brushed nickel finish can also help create the modern look you’re going for.

For those who want to go a different route than wood, or need to take weather into consideration, both aluminium and composite fibreglass doors can also give you an exciting set of options as well. Stainless steel pull levers tend to create a nice juxtaposition for any solid-coloured aluminium or composite fibreglass door, although a digital lock can complete the modern aesthetic while also providing peace of mind for anyone with a habit of misplacing keys. Another favourite for aluminium and composite fibreglass doors is the classic square lever handle set, which comes in a couple different designs and provides an understated but elegant addition to your front door. If your door design has plenty of glass, it’s also best to talk with an expert about front door hardware, as the placement of glass can limit your options. Smaller hardware (like digital locks and square level handle sets) often goes nicely with glass-heavy designs, creating an understated look that keeps eyes focused on the custom glass.

Don’t be afraid to make a statement.

The front door threshold has been an important symbol since the Bronze Age, an era when a proud homeowner might show-off a simple wooden door designed to keep debris from careening into a house and ruining dinner. But while a front door has always been partly utilitarian, it also long ago became an essential symbolic dividing point between the public and private sphere, an opportunity to make first and lasting impressions to be interpreted by everyone who comes knocking. Although the features of the front door have evolved a bit, the front doors of today still hold the same symbolic and practical value as they have through the ages.

Despite being a relatively late addition to the historic time lime, front door handles are now an essential part of the process and a great finishing touch that can make your entire entryway pop. Whether you want to go with something fancy or a simpler approach that still catches the eye, it’s critical to take your time and home in on the handle that complements your door and lifestyle. The right handle and hardware combination can not only improve the viability of your door but send an important message of both security and décor before a visitor even enters.

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