Once you know whether you want cabinet handles or cabinet knobs and which sort of design you want, you’ll want to choose a material and finish. Cabinet pulls and handles come in a variety of materials, from inexpensive plastic to high-end polished brass. As a general rule, nickel or stainless steel cabinet handles usually give a more modern, sophisticated look to a kitchen, whereas bronze and brass handles often project an antique or rustic look. Most materials come in different finishes, from glossy polishes to dark antique finishes, so you’re sure to be able to find something that matches your kitchen decor.
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.
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.
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.
Black was a great color choice for the bin pulls used here on stained wood cabinetry. When choosing knobs, hold them against various finishes to see which color looks best. You may have seen a photo of a knob you love in polished brass, but with a different cabinet door color than the ones you actually own. Bin pulls come in almost infinite other finishes as well, including chrome, oil-rubbed bronze, cast iron and brass.
For knobs on a cabinet with a stile, like Shaker-style cabinets, allow the stile to be a guide for hanging the knob. If the knob is too large to comfortably fit in the corner where the two stiles meet, then hang the knob centered on the vertical stile, with the bottom edge of the knob aligned with the top of the intersecting horizontal stile. (Or the top of the knob aligned with the bottom of the stile, for lower cabinets). The knobs in this kitchen from Ivory Lane are a good example.
They say that design is in the details, and when it comes to the hardware on drawers, cabinets, and other storage millwork, we’d have to agree. You may have noticed how swapping out the knobs on a piece of old, tired furniture with modern brushed nickel pulls, for example, can give it a whole new look, or how using concealed hinge on a cabinet door can transform a kitchen. It can be difficult to get a handle (pun intended) on all the different modern kitchen cabinet hardware ideas out there—especially when some are hidden—so read on as we delve into the different types of cabinet hardware for kitchens, bathrooms, and other areas of the home.
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.
The type of knob that works best in a kitchen will range in size and style depending on the color and type of cabinetry you have (which is also why so many people go with simple white cabinets in their kitchens!). Knobs also come in a range of shapes and sizes, but are often designed for comfort and ergonomics, so there are rarely sharp edges that could potentially hurt someone pulling on it.
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!
I love your site and your super helpful advice. We’re installing full overlay cabinets in our kitchen and we’re trying to select hinges for the upper cabinets — particularly the cupboard doors on the end which when closed is perpendicular to a wall. Since the door aren’t inset, I’m concerned we won’t be able to open the cupboard a full 90 degrees. Basically, the issue is how to solve the problem of the door swing? Are there any hinges that could solve this problem? I can send elevations if that helps. Thanks so much in advance!
Knikki Grantham is a Trend Manager with over 20 years in the Furniture and in the Furniture and Design Industry. She grew up in the furniture industry with early memories of sawdust and hand tied springs. After working in various phases of furniture production and development she moved into Design Sales for a Luxury high-end retailer, attaining an Associate ASID as well as other accreditations from various furniture manufacturers.
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.
“We find it refreshing for people to purchase what they like and what feels good to them, not caring what the ‘Joneses’ have,” says Renee. The Brandino Brass team regularly works with professionals who have their own signature styles. “One architect in town may use the same small knob all over the house all in the same finish for continuity. Another one will use different styles and finishes in each individual room,” says Jessie Isom, Brandino Brass team member. “There is no right or wrong if you like it.”
Look to the other elements of your kitchen to help you determine the right style for your kitchen hardware. You’ll notice that your cabinets, countertop edges, and lighting fixtures have either square or curved lines. Choose hardware that matches those lines. Curved hardware tends to be more traditional, while square hardware styles are often more contemporary.
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.
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.
Furthermore, hardware attracts the eye like a bright light. Functionality aside, it is the ultimate accent piece — it provides a pop to cabinets and drawers that can make or break the décor of a room. It also keeps the wood of our cabinets and drawers looking fresh by taking the brunt of the natural oils in our hands, which we leave behind every time we reach for the cabinet to grab something.
These small items — doorknobs, drawer pulls, cabinet-door handles — are "the jewelry" that can add style and sparkle to any space, says New York-based interior designer Young Huh. Just as the right necklace can turn a simple dress into a fashion statement, a striking new set of knobs on an old cabinet, or vintage crystal doorknobs can bring a huge dose of style to your home with minimal expense, she says.
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, 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.
Chrome, nickel and stainless steel finishes will never go out of style, but warm metallics offer a fresh, modern look. For a quick update, consider replacing your lighting, faucet or cabinet hardware with products in gleaming brass or bronze like the ones in this chic space. “The updated satin brass cabinet hardware is really striking against the simple shaker cabinets,” says designer Elizabeth Lawson.