1. Stick with the theme. The hardware you choose speaks to your theme in the same way your kitchen cabinets do. Which hardware works best with different themes? Sleek, tubular pulls, like those in our Torino collection, complement the streamlined look in modern and contemporary kitchens. Traditional cabinets tend to have more detail and benefit from simple, smooth knobs, like the Projectionin style from our Drake collection. French country can benefit from hardware with an antique look, like our Windermere collection that comes in gun metal, rubbed bronze and brush pewter.
If the idea of metal tarnishing is not your cup of tea, a dose of chromium may be just what the doctor ordered. Stainless steel is steel infused with around 10.5 percent chromium, which keeps it from tarnishing and keeps it low-maintenance. It is also a self-healing metal, meaning if it is scratched, the chromium content will quickly restore a protective oxidizing layer over the blemish.
The next step was to decide whether to go with pulls, knobs, or a combination of the two– and also the size. THIS WILL SEND YOU TO THE MADHOUSE if you’re not careful. To make my decision easier, I perused my kitchen ideas board on Pinterest and realized the look I was going for was modern and symmetrical– and many of the modern kitchen used only pulls, not knobs. Hmmmm, this was interesting. Maybe it wasn’t so hard to choose?
Sandra, I’m so glad that I came across your blog! You’ve given so much great information that I can use every day in my job doing kitchen cabinet sales. And then there’s the whole DIY part for me personally! I’m really hoping that you can answer my question, though. I have a customer who is refacing her cabinets. She has frameless cabinets and used to have exposed hinges. She wanted concealed hinges so we had the hinge holes drilled 1″ (center) from the edge. She has her new doors but when she hangs them, there’s a 1/4″ gap between the door and center stile, even after adjusting them. We were using full overlay hinges. Can you advise which type of overlay hinge to use and how to rectify the gap? Thanks so much!
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.
Below and above the sink can be two different color schemes. Don’t worry, you can mix and match more than you might think and still obey the laws of symmetry. It can provide a sunny, uplifting splash to have a lighter color above the level of the countertops, such as a warm brass or gold. Particularly with items like faucets and sconces, a lighter color around eye level will create a happy glow.
For easy access to below-counter drawers and cabinets with minimal aesthetic impact, hidden pulls can be a great option. They’re usually attached to the top edge of each door and designed as small slivers of metal that jut out of the flush portion. They are designed to be largely concealed by the work surface above, forming a subtle lip that does not deter from the material and design of the cabinetry itself.
Excellent post! I already knew about the different options, but it’s so nice to see it all compiled in one place. 🙂 Very handy! I love the look (or rather, lack of) of concealed hinges… but roughly $10 a pair makes me cringe. If I’ve got about 20 doors, I’m looking at $200–for HINGES! The visible hinges run about $3, for $60 total. 🙁 Hmm… debating.
You might think that after making dozens of tough decisions during your kitchen remodel, something like choosing handles for your cabinets would be easy. Yeah, so not the case. You’ll soon find out that there are more cabinet knob options than there are stars in the sky. But don’t panic. And by all means, don’t make a knee-jerk decision just to get it over with. When I used to make up design and swatch boards, I would remind clients that the hardware matters as much as the big stuff. Remember, you’ll be looking at and touching your kitchen cabinet knobs every single day. So you want to make the right choice. And after all, this is a micro design element that can have macro impact.
Aesthetically when do you choose to a long handle or a cabinet door vs. a button size knob. This does require some finesse and doing some drawings to get it just right, but here are few tips to take into consideration. You may want to lean more towards small knobs and handles if you are going for a more contemporary style in your kitchen space. Often mixing and matching round knobs with drawer pulls work well in these style of kitchens. A longer handle may be used in a more modern kitchen for a more polished look in a space, while having too many small knobs would feel cluttered for this type of kitchen. In a transitional space, you may want to select one style of hardware and then make that one particular style of hardware larger or smaller depending on where it’s going in the kitchen. For example you would have larger handles for your refrigerator and pantry doors, but a smaller version of the same knob for the upper cabinets in your kitchen area above the refrigerator.
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!
Hanging knobs on a flat-front cabinet is pretty straightforward: You’ll want to position the knob in the bottom corner (for upper cabinets) or top corner (for lower cabinets) of the door. Knobs should be placed equidistant from both sides of the cabinet. A guide like this one can help you to get the measurements right. The exact distance will depend on the look you want and the size of your knobs: Test one or two before you drill a whole kitchen’s worth of holes.
Your kitchen is coming along really well, and all that lovely light will be an absolute joy! Sadly, I have just a word of warning about the handles though. We had these in our kitchen, and they proved quite annoying. They’d catch on your clothing, especially blouses/shirts. That end of the front of button-through blouses, where the seam folds back would always get hooked onto the end of the handles! And pockets, too would get caught. This invariably ended up with torn clothing, as you continued to move away, not realising you’d been ‘caught’. We also live near the sea, and ours rusted over a few years, although that may be just an inferior brand. I lived with ours for about 4 years, then changed them all. We had them in our bathrooms, too, and they’ve all been changed as they were such a pain! I can see you love them, so don’t want to burst your bubble, but just thought I’d let you know. :(
Getting the right finish for your kitchen cabinets can make the difference between a good and a great space. The right finish offsets other design choices in your kitchen. For example, you can match your appliances to your hardware finish to create a sophisticated, coordinated look. Alternatively, you can use your kitchen cabinet hardware finishes to show off your fun-loving personality, choosing a bright metal or unique design.
Finally, another popular way of opening cabinets without the use of traditional pulls or knobs is through cut-outs in the cabinetry. These are frequently found on custom cabinets where a minimalist look is desired, or where the budget is tight and saving on hardware is desirable. Cut-outs can come in a range of shapes, and are often designed to facilitate ease of opening. 
It’s important to choose hardware that will complement the rest of your kitchen décor and accentuate its worthy features. Generally, most people want their cabinet and drawer hardware to coordinate with the handles on their appliances. The colors should work well together, and the finishes shouldn’t clash. Drastically different shapes can also make your kitchen feel cluttered. You should use functionality and your personal preference to approach choosing knobs vs. pulls, but there are a few general guidelines to follow that correlate with your style of cabinets.
This step will work best with raised panel or recessed panel cabinets, my cabinets are raised panel. OK, so I have a little confession to make, I outsourced this step, my routering skills are not top notch and I wanted the kitchen to look good, not like something put together by Dr. Frankenstein. The good news is it was very inexpensive and I was able to get 10 little doors done for less than the cost of a new upper cabinet. If you’re an ace with the router then you know exactly what to do, so have at it!
At a home renovation in Connecticut, cabinet fabricator Michael Madore experimented with what he calls an "aggressive" metal-sanding process to pull out the grain from the whitewashed oak plywood. For the hardware-free cabinets, Julie Salles Schaffer looked to a drawer pull detail derived from Giò Ponti’s work—though she admits the radial edging is an effect entirely her own.

Between your cabinets and your drawers, you may have thirty of more cabinet handles in your kitchen, which has a significant effect on the look of the room, so you will want to choose knobs and pulls that match or complement your kitchen decor. If your kitchen has a modern look, consider choosing a cabinet handle that has angles and a very simple design or a square knob. Keep in mind that you can find knobs and pulls in a number of different designs, so if you have a Tuscan-themed kitchen, you can find kitchen cabinet knobs stamped with grapes, and if you have a rustic kitchen, you can find kitchen cabinet handles made from twisted wrought iron.
2. Keep finishes cohesive. You’ll find hardware in a range of finishes from brushed nickel to brass. While mixing and matching the hardware around your kitchen is fine, you should try to maintain the same finish and keep colors as close as possible. Sometimes you’re forced to buy hardware from more than one retailer, but when doing so make sure you keep finishes cohesive.

Once you’ve worked out which types of hardware are comfortable to use, it’ll be time to start thinking about shapes in relation to the shape of your cabinetry. In general, knob and pull styles should be matched to kitchen cabinet styles. What this means is if you have selected a plain cabinet style, for example, shaker or flat, ultra-modern doors, then you’ll want square, plain hardware to match — perhaps something like Emtek’s brass bar knob or a similar style. Recessed panel doors or doors with curving and intricate trim will often do well with more ornate hardware styles.

If you’re looking for a more contemporary approach, tubular bars seem to be a favorite of the future. The current design couples beautifully with darker finishes and larger tiles. Tubular bars can also be used horizontally or vertically, and can be as long or short as you like. Go with a shorter bar for a more modest appeal, or make a statement with longer ones.

It’s definitely possible to change out the hinges without redoing the cabinets – you would just have to make sure that the holes on the frames where the old hinges were, are able to be filled and touched up so that they’re not obvious. I’m not sure of the cost, but hinges aren’t cheap, and I definitely recommend using a carpenter to do the work. Hinges can be maddening!

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.
Hi Angie, I think that over time the rub n buff would rub off of the hardware from repeated touching. My hinges still look good two years later, but I can still see places where the finish is starting to rub off and the hinges are almost never touched. I do think that you could update your hardware with a good spray paint though. Just be sure to clean them thoroughly and use a spray primer followed by spray paint. I have update furniture hardware this way that is still going strong almost 10 years later. Good luck!
Wine Logic wine racks are built-in right underneath your kitchen cabinets, eliminating the need to take up any counter space with a freestanding wine rack. Wine Logic racks come with two to five separate slide out trays that each hold up to six bottles of wine. And the best part is, Wine Logic’s horizontal design stores wine in the best possible condition, keeping the corks wet and the wine untouched by air.
Try to establish some sense of visual symmetry. If you are going to mix styles, the secret to having it look great is to counterbalance the mixing and matching with a semblance of symmetry. For instance, make sure all your drawers have the same number and configuration of knobs. Perhaps all drawers of the same size should share the same knob, and smaller drawers can display a different type.
but wouldn’t the holes from the original overlay hinges show? I have stained maple cabinets and would love to get rid of the overly hinges but I have two problems. the holes will show, and also, the doors are smaller than what is typical for hidden hinges. All the kitchen cabinetry that I have seen with hidden hinges have cabinet doors that literally touch. inotherwords, they completely cover the cabinet. any suggestions? should I replace the doors? would I save money doing that?
Once you’ve worked out which types of hardware are comfortable to use, it’ll be time to start thinking about shapes in relation to the shape of your cabinetry. In general, knob and pull styles should be matched to kitchen cabinet styles. What this means is if you have selected a plain cabinet style, for example, shaker or flat, ultra-modern doors, then you’ll want square, plain hardware to match — perhaps something like Emtek’s brass bar knob or a similar style. Recessed panel doors or doors with curving and intricate trim will often do well with more ornate hardware styles.
Solid brass, bronze and stainless steel knobs are durable and long lasting, even under heavy use. If elegance is your thing, then opt for knobs made of crystal or marble to take your cabinet décor to the next level. These materials look sophisticated and classy. This simple change of replacing cabinet knobs is easy to implement on your own, and it will cost a whole lot less than replacing your cabinets entirely.
I am taking on more and more cabinet refresh projects (for hire), and still never tire of the transformations.  My latest project is an oak, galley style kitchen, and I’m digging deeper into ideas to make these older kitchens look more modern.  Paint is obviously a big hitter in terms of updating a kitchen, but let’s talk about something else that is equally powerful – cabinet hinges.
The choice between kitchen cabinet knobs and cabinet pulls and handles may seem unimportant, but knobs and handles have different features that can alter the overall look of your kitchen. Because kitchen cabinet knobs are round, they often give a kitchen a welcoming, home-style look that works especially well in country-themed kitchens. Kitchen cabinet handles and kitchen cabinet pulls, on the other hand, can give a kitchen a more sophisticated or elegant look. These distinctions are fairly loose though, and you can find plenty of rustic kitchen cabinet handles as well as sophisticated kitchen cabinet knobs, if that’s what you want.
For pulls on a flat front cabinet, the bottom corner of the pull should be equidistant from both sides of the cabinet. For Shaker-style cabinets, the same rules apply as with knobs: center the pull on the vertical stile, with the bottom of the pull even with the top of the horizontal stile (or the top even with the bottom of the horizontal stile, for a lower cabinet). These aren’t hard and fast rules—you may want to adjust them depending on what looks best for your cabinets and hardware—but they’re a good place to start.
Choose hardware that will contrast with your cabinets. Accent dark wood with brass, stainless steel, chrome or nickel. Light-colored cabinets provide the perfect background for bronze, enamel or copper with an antique finish. Metal hardware with a satin or highly polished finish can be adapted to a contemporary or traditional decor. Oil-rubbed bronze suggests a more casual style. Consider enamel and glass hardware for a Victorian home. Glass is also available in sleek designs to accent a contemporary setting.
It's something you could DIY if you wanted to invest the time and energy into it, but I know my strengths and weaknesses. ;-). This sweet, retired woodworker, is charging $300-$400 to drill the holes in the cabinets, provide the hinges, and rehang them (all 23 of them), so I'm feeling like it's a pretty good deal, and the homeowner agrees! I'm really excited to see the finished look!
Another type of door hardware for opening cabinets are pulls or handles, which are attached to cabinet door fronts with two or more screws. You may have had experiences where you were trying to swap out old cabinet pulls for new ones, say, for example modern glass cabinet hardware, only to realize that the pulls had two screws that were a different distance apart from the new ones that you purchased. Don’t worry—you’re not alone! This happens often because the distance between two screws varies depending on pull type, manufacturer, and other factors.
First, you’ll want to do a thorough count of all your doors and drawers to make sure you know exactly how many new pulls and knobs you’ll need. To streamline the project, match your new hardware’s spread to the distance between the existing screw holes (you may need a tape measure). Or you can just take one of the old pulls with you to the store to shop.
Though not as common as stainless steel or brass, pewter is a very traditional western metal to use in a kitchen. It has a long history dating back around a thousand years — the “Worshipful Company of Pewterers” was even formed in 14th-century England to regulate pewter quality. By the time it began making its way onto furniture in the 1700s, it was a centuries-old art.
There it is, our top 16 knobs and pulls. We were surprised there weren't any on-trend satin brass options on the list. While we've seen an up-tick in brushed and satin brass hardware's popularity, these tried-and-true stainless steel, satin nickel, and oil rubbed bronze knobs and pulls are still leading of the pack. It just goes to show that not everyone is a trend-follower. Choose your kitchen design details based on your tastes, because the trends will always change anyway!
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