Specializing in hardwood furniture, trim carpentry, cabinets, home improvement and architectural millwork, Wade Shaddy has worked in homebuilding since 1972. Shaddy has also worked as a newspaper reporter and writer, and as a contributing writer for Bicycling Magazine. Shaddy began publishing in various magazines in 1992, and published a novel, “Dark Canyon,” in 2008.
Once you choose the style of hardware you want, it becomes easier to choose the right finish. There is a wide variety of cabinet hardware finishes: tarnished, polished, brushed, burnished, oil-rubbed, satin, antique or matte -- just to name a few. Stainless steel handles in a highly polished finish look great in a contemporary kitchen. Pewter and brass look more at home in a traditional setting. Bronze will patina over time, mature in appearance, and will make a bold statement in a kitchen. A black finish is dramatic on a light colored cabinet. Whatever you choose, just make sure the finish on your cabinet hardware complements the overall decor of your kitchen.
The first thing you need to consider when looking for new cabinet hardware is the overall look you would like for your kitchen. There are literally thousands of drawer pulls and cabinet knobs to choose from, so you need a starting point. Many cabinet styles are easily adaptable to any style of knobs — modern, traditional or even funky. Spend some time gathering pictures of kitchens you like from home magazines to help you choose a style that suits your tastes.
You don’t need to match your cabinet hardware finish to the rest of your kitchen. This is one area you can add a little bling. For example, we always recommend chrome faucets because chrome is the most durable (and in our experience, although popular, brushed nickel looks dingy and fingerprints are hard to remove), but consider brushed nickel or champagne gold for your cabinet hardware for a nice juxtaposition of metals in your kitchen
If you have a removable island or a butcher block in your kitchen, an easy way to make that extra piece look cohesive with the rest of your kitchen décor is by adding coordinating cup and cabinet pulls to drawers and doors. This addition will make your island look purposeful and blend it with the rest of your kitchen cabinets — even if the finish or countertop is different.
Aside from polishing, the look of stone hardware is largely in the hands of nature. Though your hardware pieces may all share traits if they come from the same slab of rock, each piece is going to be different. This creates a natural variety in appearance that will add zest to your room. Stone is cool to the touch and looks especially lovely in homes with a woodsy touch.
The chrome and stainless steel can vary some too, but usually not as much, and as often as nickel.  To be safe, get samples from different brands and compare the colors, or get all the hardware that you need for  a single room from one manufacturer.  It’s ok if the nickel in one room doesn’t exactly match the nickel in another room.  It only looks mismatched if the different nickel finishes  are right next to each other in the same room.
Hidden hinges also come in a soft-close style if you’re one of those people who want the latest and greatest. (Is it really that bad to hear a door close?) My new cabinets came with soft close hinges that I personally could take or leave.  I still find myself trying to shut them all the way instead of letting them do their thing. You might not want soft-close hinges if you’re the type who likes to slam things when irritated. (Just a thought.)
Hi, Randi! I love all your comments. They are MAKING my day! (Especially how can I be old enough to have a daughter with her own place lol This daughter also has two kids which makes me grandma. Oy. Yes, I’m THAT old!) Anyway, I’m so glad you commented and shared about your kitchen. I’m so glad you’re going for what you want! Sometimes we do indeed get paralyzed but we have to remember who our homes are for…..and that’s US! I think we want to enjoy our kitchen especially, since most of us spend time in there with our families, or at least cooking for our families!
Once you’ve selected your new handles and pulls, it’s time to remove all the old ones. Using a drill or screwdriver, slowly back the screws out, then gently pull the old hardware away from the door or drawer front, so as not to damage the finish. Keep the old screws and pulls/knobs together in a plastic baggy so it’s easy to donate or toss them depending on their condition. If you’re going to repaint your cabinet doors, do it now.
Consult with a contractor or a knowledgeable salesperson about which hinges will work with your doors. If your doors are flush with the cabinets, butt hinges can be used. They are lower in price than others but do not self-close. European hinges are installed on full overlay, frameless or inset doors. They are widely used because of their ease of installation and ability to be adjusted once in place. These hinges self-close. Partial wraparound hardware will support larger doors, but it does not self-close. Several other types hinges are available. The construction of your door, ease of installation and price will need to be considered. .
Ultimately, you should choose your hardware according to your personal preferences, kitchen style and goals for functionality. If you’re concerned about resale value, recognize that the most popular hardware finishes are satin, nickel and bronze. There are no hard-set rules to follow when it comes to adding the final details to your kitchen, and many people choose a combination of knobs and pulls. If you’re unsure of which to choose for your kitchen cabinets or drawers, it’s wise to examine the pros and cons of both.
Hardware makes an enormous difference in the bones of the cabinetry and the style of the room.  If I was facing down an oak kitchen that I wanted to live with, in harmony, for a bit of time, here’s what I would do in one weekend:  Paint it a great color.  Clear the counters.  Lay down a great, eye-catching rug.  Change out the hardware.  Add some color (probably a big framed print and a huge plant in a nice planter).  That’s it. 
Knobs only: The benefit of cabinet knobs is that they are typically less expensive than bar and T-pulls, and they only require one hole to be drilled into your cabinetry. A single cabinet knob can be installed on cabinet doors, but you may want to consider placing two knobs on larger drawers. Cabinet drawers are heavier than doors, therefore you may need that extra knob for ease of use. The minimalistic style of using knobs only for your cabinetry can give a very appealing look to your new kitchen.
Sandra, thank you so much for this awesome post! I’m remodeling my 40 yr old kitchen, and wanted to get rid of the visible old fashioned hinges that show! I had absolutely no clue as to what type of cabinets I have until I read your post! I completely understand now, and will be purchasing the “concealed surface mount overlay hinges for face frame cabinets” I know the 3 holes on the outside will be visible when I change out the hinges, so I’ll just fill them in with wood filler and sand before repainting. You’re so smart, informative and detail oriented just like me! Thank you again so much for this wonderful lesson on cabinets and hinges! I’m subscribing to your website or blog or whatever you have!
The importance of selecting quality hardware is impossible to overstate. As with many parts of our home, hardware is an investment. We have all seen cabinet knobs that loosen too easily and hinges that wear out. Because hardware is going to receive the bulk of a cabinet’s wear and tear, investing more in it is ultimately investing more in the life of your cabinets.
That being said, buying every make and model turned out to be a good idea. I was pretty pumped when I installed my first door…until I shut the door and there was a gap the size of Kansas where the door didn’t cover my opening. I should have taken a picture because it was pretty hilarious-looking. Wrong hinge. So I removed the 1 1/4″ overlay hinge, installed the 1/2″ overlay and was good to go. The holes that need to be drilled in the door will be the same in size, depth and location regardless of your overlay measurement.
If you’re going to paint or re-stain your cabinets now would be a good time to do that. I’m a painted wood kind of gal, so these cabinets got painted, plus it’s a lot quicker and easier to paint them than to sand and re-stain. After the doors and frames have been painted it’s time to install the hinges and the glass. Since my upper, upper cabinets will rarely get used I secured the glass with silicone, if your glass cabinets will get daily use then you might want to use silicone and glazing points. I also put removable frosted film on my glass because after we added puck lights to the upper, uppers I realized how ugly the inside of the cabinets looked.
Once you choose the style of hardware you want, it becomes easier to choose the right finish. There is a wide variety of cabinet hardware finishes: tarnished, polished, brushed, burnished, oil-rubbed, satin, antique or matte -- just to name a few. Stainless steel handles in a highly polished finish look great in a contemporary kitchen. Pewter and brass look more at home in a traditional setting. Bronze will patina over time, mature in appearance, and will make a bold statement in a kitchen. A black finish is dramatic on a light colored cabinet. Whatever you choose, just make sure the finish on your cabinet hardware complements the overall decor of your kitchen.
Flat-panel cabinets.Most often seen in modern or contemporary kitchens, flat-panel cabinets embrace minimal embellishment to focus on natural materials. Subtle hardware choices are best, such as stainless steel bar pulls. You often see long, extended versions placed on the door or drawer.If you prefer square edges, you can choose a flat bar pull. Recessed pulls offer a functional option that work especially well for high-traffic kitchens. If you’re aiming for a minimalist look to your kitchen, you might consider discreet tab pulls for your flat-style cabinets.
Here are the three different kinds of kitchen cabinet doors that demonstrate the different overlays and hinge options.  The first is similar to what I’m working on now – a framed cabinet with an overlay on the cabinet frame.  The second is a framed cabinet where the doors are inset, flush with the cabinet frame.  And the third is a frameless cabinet where hidden hinges are utilized.
This was a great project! I did something similar but much lazier. After installing beautiful brushed-nickel handles to dozens of drawers & cupboards, I noticed that the 30 year old hinges were dark brown and ornate (against white cabinets). Yuck ... So I opened each cabinet & used painter's tape to block off a rectangular area around each hinge. They weren't dirty, so I just painted inside the whole rectangle with silver paint. The result is sleeker and more modern, and nobody would ever notice unless they were really close. Love it!
Want sleek form? Want functionality at its finest? Say hello to handles. Handles for white cabinets allow a firm and full grip to easily pull open or push close any cabinet door. Handles come in a cornucopia of shapes and sizes to male for a match with your kitchen style. Handles offer installation flexibility, with vertical and horizontal options, which allows for additional detailing for your white cabinets.
Aside from polishing, the look of stone hardware is largely in the hands of nature. Though your hardware pieces may all share traits if they come from the same slab of rock, each piece is going to be different. This creates a natural variety in appearance that will add zest to your room. Stone is cool to the touch and looks especially lovely in homes with a woodsy touch.

“When it comes to hardware, it’s hard to shop on the internet,” says Eric. “Some things that look really good online, look cheap in person and vice versa. Some cheap-looking online items look exquisite in person.” The Brandino Brass team says that not only the look, but the feel of door hardware and cabinet hardware is very important. “You don’t want a handle to poke you or have an awkward grip for your hands,” says Renee.


I mentioned to my super-smart carpenter brother, Mike, that I was wanting to update my hinges but was afraid of ruining my doors in the process.  I watched a YouTube video of DIYer who tried to install hidden hinges, and I’ll be polite and just say that the outcome was not a good one. Thus my fear. The place I ordered my new cabinets from couldn’t order replacement doors, so this was a one-shot deal.
What they are: Art objects as much as pulls, these knobs draw attention. Placed in the center, they draw your eye to the detailing of the worn wood here. Search salvage yards for antique ones and don’t be afraid to spring for the few knobs you’ll need. If you can’t find this sort of door detailing, you can create a similar effect by placing a medallion behind each knob in the center of your doors. Look for antitwist pins to keep the knob from spinning (in fact, do this with any round knob).
Under-cabinet lighting serves not only a fashionable purpose by creating visual depth in your kitchen, but it serves a functional purpose as well. The added lighting will make everything from chopping veggies to reading recipes to measuring ingredients easier to see as your countertops will be under direct light from above. And as far as style goes, the right lighting can make all the difference!

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Accessorizing is the most important part of any outfit. A little glimmer, a little glam or maybe something unexpected and modern can make an ensemble. Well, I think that accessorizing happens to be just as important when decorating your home, which is why we’re exploring the “jewelry options” for the kitchen: hardware! Often overlooked, but capable of extreme 'wow' factor, the pulls on our cupboards can easily be swapped out to drastically change the style of your space.
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