Hi Diane, I am so darned impressed with the work you are doing on your kitchen cabinets. We have high end oak cabinets painted in a washed white finish and they need a refresher too. I am going to follow your lead and try and do them myself. I am a novice at this but, you give such excellent instructions that I feel I can do it, starting in January. I want our island to be a dark, almost blue/black finish and the other cupboards done in white. Love yours. I am going to do the counter tops with the paint (Carrara Marble) if I can find it in Canada. I think Home Depot will sell it. I have one big problem. When we originally had our kitchen done back in 1987, they put corrian edging around the edges and I want it taken off. Do you have any suggestions on what to put there to replace it? A friend suggested putting a wood molding there and just painting it too. I just don’t know if it would stand up. Help! Love your great ideas. Thanks so much, Peggy
For Shaker-style cabinets, look for hardware like small round knobs or hardware that feels organic to the craftsman style. I like the idea of brushed nickel or brass for this style of cabinetry. With modern fronts, choose hardware with a sleek and simple design, think matte black or stainless steel, or don’t be afraid to ignore hardware all together and have a custom groove built-in. When planning for a more traditional approach, push the boundaries in your hardware and look for more ornate knobs.
A good price for pulls begins at around $12.00 a piece because anything less looks cheap and the quality will be sub-par. Look for cabinet hardware at plumbing or cabinet showrooms. They will have a larger variety and better quality. Look through the displays or catalogs and order several samples in different styles and finishes to compare to the rest of the finishes in your kitchen.
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.
What color will your appliances be? What about your lighting? Your faucet? For some people, matching hardware to appliances may not be particularly important—we’ve seen plenty of kitchens with brass pulls and stainless appliances. But if you like everything to coordinate, consider the whole kitchen when you pick the color of your pulls. (If your appliances are stainless and you don’t particularly like the look of silver pulls, black hardware makes for a harmonious look that isn’t too matchy-matchy).
I thought for sure I’d go with the modern beauty on the upper right (the It Pull), but when I held them both up to the cabinets they whispered to me “go for the Bronte.” Like Shakira’s hips, cabinets don’t lie, so I went with the Bronte. Then we needed to chose the finish. As much as I lurrrrrrve gold hardware, my husband nixed that idea because he does not understand this is not the gold of the 1980’s. 😉 Since he gets very little choice in the rest of the house, I took one for the team (not really, I actually love the dark finish too) and chose the lovely Venetian Bronze finish. While gold would certainly have elevated this kitchen to on-trend status, I went for what works best for our marital harmony.
Cabinet hardware is composed a variety of materials -- most of which are metal alloys. Brass hardware typically has a lacquer or plating applied to its surface that makes it very durable in a kitchen. It is antimicrobial and helps to reduce the spread of germs. Bronze hardware is also antimicrobial, offers a substantial look and feel, and works well for cabinets made of thicker woods. Stainless steel is another option because it is so durable. Pewter and nickel are popular choices, too. Or, you can choose knobs made from glass or crystal for a vintage look.
If you don’t want to match to your faucet, then think about some of the other components in your kitchen. For example, if you have a black stone countertop, then antiqued metal or even satin black knobs could help tie the room together. Alternatively, base your color and finish choice on the cabinets themselves: Dark hardware to match dark wood or light hardware as a contrast. Choose more rustic finishes like antiqued or hammered metal to go with traditional cabinetry or go with sleek brushed metal for a more modern look.
Even if you have multiple light fixtures in your kitchen, don’t worry about finding new fixtures that match exactly. By varying the design slightly, each light fixture will stand out and create visual interest in your kitchen. However, when choosing one-off pieces, just be sure to stick with a theme for your lighting so it looks purposeful. In other words, if you’ve picked a rustic metal chandelier for over your dining table, choose something that is also rustic inspired to hang over your kitchen sink, like a simple pendant light, and keep that theme going with other lighting choices as well.
Some pulls and handles are specifically made for appliances like refrigerators, dishwashers, and other appliances where you might have panels installed on the front of the item to match the surrounding cabinetry. Typically, appliance handles and pulls have been designed to higher standards than traditional, mid-century, or modern cabinet drawer pulls because they need to withstand more wear and tear—your fridge door has suction that resists opening, and you probably open the fridge more times than most of the cabinets in your kitchen. As a result, many appliance handles and pulls are larger, wider, or thicker than similar cabinet hardware.
Painting cabinets yourself is cost-effective -- a few gallons of paint, sandpaper, cleaner -- but the process is time-intensive. You can paint most cabinet surfaces, but proper prep is key to success. For laminate and melamine finishes, be sure to rough up the surface with 150-grit sandpaper, and apply a good bonding primer before topping it off with the color of your choice.
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.
Swapping these items out is often easy, and Los Angeles-based designer Betsy Burnham says her clients are frequently surprised at the visual impact of something as simple as carefully chosen hardware. Last summer, she added door pulls made of rope tied in small nautical knots to the built-in cabinets at a California beach house, inexpensively adding a dash of personality to the space.
When choosing a backsplash color scheme, keep in mind the type of look you want for your kitchen. By choosing a backsplash color that blends in with your wall color, you’ll be creating a streamlined, coordinated look. If you want to make a statement and have your backsplash pop, try choosing one or even a few colors that accent your wall color, making it stand out from the background.
In my opinion, going to a specialty showroom and paying the extra expense is worth it, because you’ll find choices outside the mainstream and you can get expert help there. These come from the selection at The Plumbery, a kitchen and bath fixture store in Northern California. Here you can see glass knobs, swirly knobs, modern knobs — all just a tad pricier than conventional choices at a hardware store. But look at the workmanship and style, even the heft. Though the average kitchen has 20 to 40 knobs, you might want to splurge for something unique.
One of the last things considered when shopping for kitchen cabinets is the hardware. But kitchen cabinet hardware can make a big impact on the look and feel of not just your kitchen cabinets, but the entire room. The shape of and finish on your pulls, knobs and handles can put the final touch on your kitchen design. The very same cabinet might have a vintage feel with porcelain knobs, or a contemporary look with brushed nickel pulls. You can give your kitchen a very personalized treatment with something custom, like artistic glass knobs, or handworked metal in oil-rubbed bronze. Think of the hardware like jewelry for your cabinets. Let it speak for your style - be that contemporary, modern, vintage or traditional. Here are some of our favorite examples of great kitchen cabinet hardware from around the web.