All offset hinges have a form designed to allow a door to swing smoothly without interfering with the frame that it meets at an irregular, or "offset" angle. Unlike "overlay" hinge setups, doors using offset hinges fit snugly within the space created by the door frame; there is no overlap or "overlay." In this sense, offset-hinged doors are similar to inset-hinged doors. However, an offset-hinge is exposed, whereas an inset hinge only exposes its knuckle, the cylindrical joint of a hinge. Aside from having this basic form, offset hinges may come in a range of types, varied in their size, function and decorative detailing.
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Decorative Offset Hinges
The offset hinge, while elegant in its function, is a traditional type of hinge, widely-used for many applications, including cabinetry. Because the hinge is exposed, it often takes decorative forms, such as the ornate, curlicued cast-iron hinges seen on old doors. You can find offset hinges in a range of decorative styles, including the "heart strap," which extends a long, narrow arm along the width of the cabinet door, ending with a heart shape. This strap-shape hinge is especially useful for very wide doors, as it extends so far across them. For a more austere look, you might opt for an "H shape" hinge. While simple, an "H shape" offset hinge in black wrought iron will still stand out as an accent particularly appropriate to clear-varnished wooden cabinetry.
Self-Closing Offset Hinges
For greater ease and convenience, you can install offset self-closing hinges on cabinets you use regularly. Especially convenient for busy cooks, these hinges are still surface-mounted and exposed, but they close automatically, like many of the modern fully-concealed or "European" hinges. Generally, these hinges are less decorative than those types that do not close automatically. Nonetheless, you may find them in a range of looks, including matt, satin and highly-polished finishes; nickel, brass and stainless steel materials; and a range of neutral colours.
Offset Hinges for Wider Clearance
Typically, offset hinges are so designed so that a surface-mounted hinge can open an inset door. However, it's also possible to use an offset hinge to "throw" a swinging door open wider than usual. When you use this type of offset hinge, the fully-opened door will completely clear the cabinet frame's opening space. If your cabinetry just barely accommodates some of your larger items, you may wish to install offset hinges to give yourself the maximum space to move things in and out of the cabinets. You might also use this type of offset hinge when installing window shutters, so that the opened shutters sit back from the window panes, flush against the exterior walls.
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