It's easy to overlook cabinet handles when you're remodeling your kitchen or building a new home. After all, they're fairly small, easy to install and don't cost as much as, say, a refrigerator or new cabinets. Nevertheless, cabinet handles, also called cabinet pulls, and their near kin, cabinet knobs, can make a big difference in the look and utility of your kitchen. You use your cabinet hardware dozens of times a day, and while hardware like cabinet hinges are not highly visible, kitchen cabinet handles are high profile and can add to or detract from the look of your kitchen, depending on how carefully you choose your kitchen cabinet knobs and handles. Keep reading for information on how to choose cabinet handles that will help give your kitchen the look you want.

These industrial-feeling pulls are a blend of colonial and Arts and Crafts, and come in a wide variety of finishes. While these black ones are a good choice with the black appliances and lighting, don’t feel your knobs must match all the finishes in your kitchen; it’s OK to mix things up. Just don’t mix the knobs and hinges on the same door; those definitely should be coordinated so one doesn’t detract from the other.
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Knobs, which are attached with a single screw, are most frequently used on cabinets, and are available with a built-in screw, known as a one-piece knob, or with a separate top and fastener, known as a two-piece design. Modern drawer knobs are made in a variety of materials including brass, zinc, stainless steel (sometimes found in kitchens), bronze, glass, crystal, plastic, wood, and other natural and man-made materials. 

Nickel and chrome have about the same level of durability, but chrome is sometimes a bit more expensive.  Brushed or matte finishes hide fingerprints and watermarks better than shiny finishes.  You’ll generally find a lot more hardware options in brushed nickel than in chrome or stainless steel. Poor quality nickel and chrome finishes can peel and flake over time.  Stainless steel, which is usually matte, is the most durable of the silver finishes and as such, is usually the most expensive.  True stainless steel hardware is typically made from a full thickness metal alloy and it’s not just plated on the surface like nickel and chrome are. 
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Standard hardware is a breeze to install. All you need is a Phillips-Head screwdriver. Simply replace standard screws into the pre-cut holes.If the holes are pre-drilled on your cabinet drawers and you now want to place a single hole, measure the distance between the two holes and center. If your cabinet doesn’t currently have holes or hardware, knowing where to place the different size knobs on each cabinet can be tricky. If there are no holes, and you’re on your own when drilling into the corner of the cabinet door give yourself 2 1/2 to 3″ of space in the corner before you drill in a hole.
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.
3. Know when to use knobs over pulls. In traditional and country kitchens, putting a knob on a cabinet is not uncommon. In fact, with many cabinets, knobs may a better option than pulls. How do you know the difference? When kitchen cabinets are ornate or finely detailed, go with a knob rather than a pull. A knob is smaller and simpler and doesn’t take attention away from the design of the cabinets.
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!

It may take some time for you to consider what effect you would like to create with your hardware on your kitchen cabinets. In fact, some styles, patterns, and finishes are so beautiful or unique, that they become the focal point in the kitchen and a topic of conversation. Many of the ceramic and glass styles are so cleverly finished that they look too pretty to simply be part of a kitchen cabinet.
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.

Cliffside offers a unique brand of stone hardware. The river rock collection is a series of knobs made from river pebbles, which were naturally smoothed by rushing water and by tumbling over each other. They come in shades like gray, salmon-pink, charcoal black, a rusty Martian red and a speckled white that can complement essentially any color scheme imaginable.
Most knobs and pulls are only a few dollars apiece but when you consider the sheer number that you’ll need, those costs add up fast. For each standard lower cabinet with two doors and one drawer, you’ll need three pieces of hardware — and two more knobs or pulls for the matching upper cabinet doors. With that in mind, here are a couple of factors to consider:

Pulling design from old pharmacies and soda fountains, latch hardware is that without a doubt a nostalgic throwback. Maybe not the most functional if you’re in a hurry, but handy if you’re looking for a little extra security from pets or children. Latches are another hardware type that can easily be mixed and matched, so maybe just keep them to the lesser used cabinets.
Let’s talk first about metals. As a general rule, I like to keep the different metals in a kitchen to no more than two. If you have stainless steel appliances, that counts as one metal. So that leaves one other metal you can bring into a kitchen. If you’ve got brass light fixtures, that’s your one other metal. Your new hardware should be nickel or brass.
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