Morden Door Handles

A Guide to Modern vs. Traditional Door Handles for Interior Designers


Selecting the right door handles is a crucial aspect of interior design that often goes overlooked. While seemingly minor, the choice between modern and traditional door handles can profoundly affect the overall aesthetic and atmosphere of a room. This guide aims to dissect these styles, providing clear insights to help interior designers make informed decisions that align with their design visions. Whether you are outfitting a sleek, contemporary space or a home with classic charm, understanding the nuances of each handle type will ensure that every detail contributes harmoniously to your design objectives.

Defining Modern Door Handles

Modern door handles are characterised by their sleek, streamlined designs that often incorporate minimalistic shapes and clean lines. These handles typically utilise materials such as brushed nickel, stainless steel, and even industrially inspired metals like aluminium or chrome. The finishes are usually matte or satin, lending an understated elegance that complements contemporary interiors without overwhelming them. Modern handles may also feature unexpected, innovative shapes and are often designed with practicality and simplicity in mind, adhering to the less-is-more philosophy prevalent in modern design.

In addition to their aesthetic appeal, modern door handles reflect the latest advancements in technology and ergonomics. They are designed to be user-friendly, often incorporating features that allow for easier manipulation and interaction. This can include push-pull mechanisms or even touchless features, aligning with the growing trend towards smart home systems. The modern design ethos not only prioritises visual minimalism but also emphasises functional simplicity, making these handles a perfect fit for contemporary living spaces.

Defining Traditional Door Handles

Traditional door handles echo the past, drawing inspiration from various historical periods such as the Victorian, Edwardian, and Georgian eras. These handles are typically made from materials like polished brass, antique bronze, or wrought iron, featuring intricate designs that include floral motifs, scrolls, and ornate patterns. The craftsmanship involved in traditional handles is often more detailed, aiming to recreate the luxurious feel and handcrafted appeal of earlier times.

Traditional door handles do more than merely function; they serve as a piece of art and a nod to history. They can be the defining elements of a room, adding a sense of grandeur and timelessness that is particularly suited to classic or period properties. Each piece not only serves as a functional item but also as a testament to the rich tapestries of the past, making them ideal for restoration projects or any design scheme that aims to capture the essence of antiquity.

The Influence of Material Choices

The choice of material for door handles significantly affects their classification as either modern or traditional. Modern designs tend to lean towards newer, more durable materials such as stainless steel and aluminium, which offer both longevity and a clean, sleek look. These materials are preferred for their ability to resist corrosion and their ease of maintenance, as well as for their modern aesthetic that fits seamlessly into contemporary design schemes.

On the other hand, traditional door handles often utilise classic materials such as brass, bronze, and porcelain. These materials are chosen for their aesthetic qualities—the warm tones of brass and bronze and the delicate features of porcelain can add a touch of elegance and warmth to any space. However, these materials also require more maintenance to keep them looking their best, involving regular polishing and careful handling to preserve their ornate details and finishes.

Functional Considerations in Handle Design

When considering the functionality of door handles, it is crucial to think about the daily interaction individuals will have with them. Modern door handles often focus on ergonomic design, making them comfortable to use in frequent operations, such as in public buildings or modern office spaces. The emphasis is on creating a user-friendly experience that does not require excessive effort or particular ways of manipulation, which is ideal for environments that see a high volume of traffic.

Traditional handles, while beautiful, can sometimes compromise on functionality. Their intricate designs can make them less comfortable to grip, and their mechanisms might require more maintenance over time, especially in environments with high usage. Nevertheless, for residential settings where the frequency of use is lower and the aesthetic value is prioritised, traditional door handles can add a significant visual impact without adversely affecting practicality.

Colour and Finish Impact

The impact of colour and finish on door handles is profound, whether you opt for a modern or traditional design. Modern handles often employ neutral shades like black, grey, or the natural metallic sheen of stainless steel and chrome, which help maintain a sleek and uniform look throughout the property. The finishes tend to be matte or brushed, which not only adds to the modern vibe but also hides fingerprints and smudges, making them ideal for high-traffic areas.

In contrast, traditional door handles may feature finishes that highlight their elaborate designs, such as polished brass, oil-rubbed bronze, or even gold plating. These rich finishes can introduce an element of luxury and sophistication to any room, making them particularly suitable for spaces that aim to convey

a more regal or historic ambiance. The choice of colour and finish in traditional handles often seeks to enhance the intricate detailing of the hardware, turning functional items into focal points of decor.

Integration with Interior Design Themes

Integrating door handles with overall interior design themes requires careful consideration to ensure cohesion and harmony within the space. For modern interiors, door handles with a minimalist design and neutral finishes can seamlessly blend with the environment, supporting other elements like modern furniture, large open spaces, and industrial accents. These handles can reinforce the aesthetic of modern minimalism, where less is more, and every piece serves a purpose without unnecessary decoration.

For traditional interiors, choosing handles that echo the architectural details and period elements can enhance the authenticity of the design. Ornate handles with classic designs and finishes can complement heavy drapery, detailed mouldings, and richly coloured walls, creating a cohesive and immersive historical experience. These handles become part of the narrative that traditional spaces often aim to tell, embodying the elegance and opulence of bygone eras.

Customisation Options

Customisation plays a key role in the selection of door handles, especially in bespoke interior design projects. Modern handles offer customisation in terms of materials, finishes, and even technological integrations, allowing designers to tailor products to specific project needs. This flexibility is invaluable in contemporary design, where individuality and personalisation are highly prized.

Traditional door handles also provide a range of customisation options, though these often focus more on aesthetics than technology. Customisations may include varying the finish to match other metallic elements in a room or selecting designs that reflect specific historical periods or artistic influences. This level of customisation helps ensure that even the smallest details are in line with the overall design vision, providing a sense of continuity and attention to detail that is crucial in traditional settings.

Durability and Maintenance Requirements

Considering the durability and maintenance requirements of door handles is essential, especially in terms of their long-term appearance and functionality. Modern door handles are generally designed with durability in mind, using materials that are resistant to wear and tear and finishes that require minimal upkeep. This makes them ideal for spaces that demand high functionality and low maintenance.

Traditional door handles, while durable, often require more maintenance to preserve their aesthetic qualities. Materials like brass and bronze may tarnish over time and require regular polishing to maintain their lustre. This maintenance requirement can be seen as part of the charm of traditional handles, adding to the authentic experience of maintaining a piece with historical significance or aesthetic value.

Budget Considerations

Budget is a critical factor in the choice of door handles. Modern handles can vary widely in price, but the use of contemporary materials and mass production techniques often allows for more budget-friendly options. Additionally, the reduced maintenance costs associated with modern handles can make them more cost-effective over the long term.

Traditional door handles can be more expensive, particularly if they are authentic reproductions or made from high-cost materials like solid brass or hand-painted porcelain. The craftsmanship involved in traditional handles also contributes to their higher price point. However, for projects where historical accuracy or aesthetic impact is a priority, the investment in traditional door handles can significantly enhance the value and appeal of the space.

Innovations in Door Handle Design

The door handle industry continues to innovate, with new designs blurring the lines between modern and traditional aesthetics. These innovations often involve the integration of modern materials and technologies with traditional designs, offering the best of both worlds. For instance, designers are now creating door handles that feature classic styling but incorporate touchless technology or enhanced ergonomic features, catering to the needs of modern users while maintaining a traditional look.

Such innovations are particularly appealing in adaptive reuse projects or in settings where designers aim to preserve historical character while meeting contemporary standards of functionality and efficiency. This fusion of old and new allows for greater flexibility in design and can help bridge the gap between differing aesthetic preferences within the same project.


Choosing the right door handle, whether modern or traditional, is a nuanced decision that affects both the functionality and the aesthetic of a space. By considering the specific characteristics, maintenance needs, and design integration possibilities of each style, interior designers can make informed choices that enhance their projects. Whether the goal is to achieve a sleek, contemporary look with modern handles or to imbue a space with the classic elegance of traditional designs, the careful selection of door handles is a crucial element of successful interior design.