By Chris Sturgis
Jay Jones sells high-end hardware for expensive homes or well-appointed businesses.
His store, Home Hardware Designs at the Glen Roc Plaza in Ewing, sells faucets, sinks, bathtubs, toilets, medicine chests, matching sets of front-door knobs, hinges and locksets, but not the ordinary ones you’d find in big box store or in a tract home. Some drawer handles are hand-pressed brass from England, as they have been for centuries, he said.
“Your hardware is the jewelry for your home. It ties the whole thing together. It’s like when you hang a picture on the wall. It’s really the frame that finishes it,” Jones said.
These items don’t just do their jobs, such as opening a door or shutting off water. Their materials, finishes, lines, textures and craftsmanship establish the ambiance of a home or business, Jones said.
His business has taken him to some very large homes. For example, one client near Scranton, Pa., is building a 30,000-square-foot home, more than 12 times the 2004 average new-home size of 2,400 square feet. The home theater alone is bigger than his store.
Many client homes are in the $2 million range, he said. Some have a prep kitchen downstairs, and a conventional kitchen upstairs connected by a small elevator.
Jones declined to dish on his rich and famous clients, citing their desire for privacy. One job he turned down, however, was near the Connecticut estate of domestic diva Martha Stewart.
Jones said the business is natural to him, as his family owned a hardware store in upstate New York and his father built custom homes. “It’s in my blood,” he said.
The most important ingredient of his business is good customer service, therefore he does not sell out of a catalog or over the Internet. He stocks 25,000 cabinet knobs, 500 door knobs, and 600 custom faucets so his customers can see them, touch them and view them with paint chips and fabric swatches.
Sometimes new cabinet handles and hinges can improve an out-of-style room. Clients should bring doors and drawers to the store to make sure the new hardware is compatible.
Even the humble faucet can make a decorative statement, Jones said.
“I can do silver. I can do gold. This is Swarovski crystal,” he said, pointing out the highlights of a wall of faucets. One manufacturer, Altmans favors fanciful shapes from nature, including a diving chrome dolphin or a swan.
“Then we can take a new faucet and make it look 200 years old through a process called tumbling. It used to be that if you dropped a brand-new faucet it was ruined, now it sells for more money,” he said.
Copper is a popular material, now, which Jones attributed to its antimicrobial properties. A 2004 study by the University of Southampton found MRSA bacteria died much sooner on a copper surface than stainless steel.
Home Hardware Designs sells a deep soaking tub in a hand-hammered copper finish for $10,000. A rustic look was created by pairing “distressed copper” faucets with a cupboard made from authentic, weathered barn boards.
Another art-inspired option is a ceramic bowl-style lavatory mounted atop a wrought-iron stand with wall faucets. One floral-patterned model had a sink stopper in the shape of a turtle. Other choices include sinks of onyx, marble or travertine. Another model is hollowed out from mesquite wood reclaimed from a previous use.
With nothing but air beneath the sink, where do the unmentionables go?
One choice is a Robern medicine chest with built-in lighting and even a television screen. “I can put a television in almost any mirror,” he said.
Bathtub options include ones with options for colored water or tiny holes in the bottom for effervescence.
Jones said you might not think that porcelain convenience, the toilet, could be improved upon. However, the Neorest by Toto has a heated seat, a remote control and a sensor that “knows” when the user approaches.
“It performs all hygiene functions. Let’s leave it at that,” Jones said, pointing to discreet, yet descriptive, diagrams.”
The Neorest costs $3,200, roughly the price of 32 ordinary toilets, but Toto has models costing as much as $5,900.
Are they popular?
“Sold two this week,” he said.
Jones said his staff is very knowledgeable. Debra Sharpe worked in estimating jobs for a commercial construction company, and Geoffrey Thompson is a master carpenter and woodworker.
Contact Home Hardware Design, 192-194 Scotch Road, Ewing, in the Glen Roc Shopping Center, at (609) 883-5353 or visit on the Web at homehardwaredesigns.net.