Updating certain hardware pieces throughout your kitchen is a simple change that can have a big impact on the overall look of your kitchen. Replacing basic ceramic or plastic knobs on your cabinets with heavy-duty stainless steel or brass knobs can give your kitchen cabinets a whole new refreshed style. Depending on the look you’re trying to achieve in your kitchen, you’ll find metal cabinet knobs that range in aesthetics from simple and contemporary, to ornate and decorative.
New cabinet door hinges are costly, and you can save a substantial amount of money by repainting old hinges yourself. The preparation work will be the most time-consuming part of the process, but skipping this step could cause you more work later. Don't waste time using all-purpose primer; use a rust-inhibiting metal primer to ensure that the paint adheres. A top-quality paint will give the hinges a professional-looking finish.
Picking the perfect cabinets for a project is hard enough, but the effort it takes to research, test and finally decide on the best piece of outward-facing cabinet hardware calls for even further inspection. While the main material for the cabinet door heavily contributes to a kitchen’s character, its hardware serves to accentuate that character further still. A key detail within one of the most important spaces of a residence, cabinet hardware sits squarely at the intersection of form and function, and making the right choice here can elevate the design of the entire kitchen.
At one point I considered trying to update the cabinets with more modern hidden hinges, but after some research I realized that isn’t possible for all cabinet styles and can also be pretty costly. So instead, I started making a plan to update the older-style hinges we already had. They started out an aged brass finish. And not a beautiful antique brass, but more like brass that had been soaking up kitchen grease for 40 years. Not exactly what I wanted to use on my ‘new’ white cabinets.
Then I drilled and drilled. If your drill is a wimpy one, be prepared for this to take a minute…or five. I realized what a difference a decent drill makes during this process as I had three different ones going–one with a bit to drill the pilot holes, one with the hinge bit and one to use as a screw gun for screwing the screws into the cabinet doors. If you have lots of doors to do, it might be a good idea to borrow a second and/or third one from a friend or you’ll spend lots of time playing musical bits. If you have multiple drills, use the most powerful one for the large hinge-drilling bit.
If you’re looking for a style that’s hot right now, look no further than modern cabinet hardware. This look features sleek, straight handles in horizontal lines, usually in a stainless steel or chrome finish. The hardware is skinny and will likely stand out against the color of your cabinetry. Another option is a rounded, long and vertical handle in the same finish.
You’ll also want to think about how visible your hinges will be—do you want them to be a major design feature and mounted directly to both the outside of the frame and the outside of the cabinet, known as a surface-mounted hinge? Or take a more minimalist design approach and have them virtually invisible from the outside when the cabinets are closed, known as a concealed hinge? Are you worried about the noise of cabinet doors closing, and think that soft-closing hinges are important?
Cabinet hardware sizes can vary depending on your own personal design preferences, but you’ll want to choose a size that is both stylish and functional. Bar pull sizes are generally determined by the “center-to-center” measurement (the distance between the two screw holes). If you have pre-drilled cabinetry, you’ll need to buy hardware that fits the existing center-to-center measurement. Otherwise, you’re left to your own devices in choosing the size of your cabinet hardware. Here are a few general guidelines to follow:
Traditional style cabinetry typically has elaborate detailing, embellishments and moldings. Decorative, ornate hardware is in keeping with this style. Often, interior designers choose drop handles for traditional style doors with coordinating knobs on the drawers. Want a vintage look? Try a handle with a porcelain overlay for a sophisticated farmhouse feel.
“What is your overall style? Traditional, contemporary, arts and crafts, eclectic, cottage, French, Mediterranean, Western, Art Deco or coastal,” asks Brandino Brass co-owner Eric Brandino. He encourages clients to think about the style of their home or the style they would like to incorporate. “Is there a consistent style throughout or does it vary from room to room? Transitional style has been one of the most popular looks recently,” he says of what’s trending in hardware. “Clean lines with just a touch of traditional features and finishes, such as an unlacquered brass or bronze.”
Shaker style cabinets. The most common style of cabinet offers flexibility in design, and they work well with knobs or cup or bin pulls. Shakers are known for their simplicity and clean lines, so simple hardware is often used, such as round knobs.Traditional nickel or steel knobs or pulls are common, as well as vintage glass or ceramic knobs. Vintage pulls with exposed screws provide a classic touch or industrial feel to a new kitchen with shaker cabinets. Tubular bar pulls — which can be short or long and dramatic — modernize a traditional kitchen with shaker cabinets. Flat bar pulls offer a contemporary edge, while wire pulls keep your décor traditional. Arched and footed bar pulls offer a classic look on shaker style cabinets.
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.
“People come in and say they have a ‘standard’ door,” says Renee Genereux of the Brandino Brass team. “But there is no such thing as standard. You need to know your door thickness, how does it swing, what’s the width, what kind of holes do you have.” Avoid multiple visits to the hardware store because you don’t have all of the information and measurements you need. “We give them all of the questions to answer and then they come back with all of it.” Call Brandino Brass ahead of time to ask what you need to know for your visit or check out the sheet below as handy guideline for getting to know your doors and cabinets better.
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.
Knobs are installed with a single screw through one focused entry point on a door or drawer. Pulls are installed with two screws through two points of contact on a door or drawer. Before any holes are drilled, make sure you give detailed instructions to your homebuilder or remodeling professional so that they know the correct type of handle to install on each cabinet door or drawer. You will also need to specify the position of the knob or pull so that they are installed in a consistent manner throughout the kitchen.
Installing new hinges can be easy, but only when choosing the correct cabinet hinge upgrade. The door style, door thickness, and hinge type, all play a role. Once this information is obtained, you should be able to find a soft-close hinge that is a direct retrofit to the existing hinge, or choose one of the many independent dampers and keep your current hinges.
Budget: Get an idea of the full scope of your makeover project first. Then get an idea of how much of that budget can go toward your door and cabinetry hardware. The cost of individual pieces can be broad, as hardware can be produced by many methods. Material and intricacy of the handle itself affect price as well. A Gross Electric hardware expert will help you get the most bang for your buck.
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!
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!
I can totally appreciate that. You’ll notice that these cabinets are also flush with the cabinet frames, which makes the hinges a little less noticeable. But sometimes, the hinge effect just isn’t quite as charming, and can be more distracting than anything. A lot depends on what kind of cabinet overlay you’re dealing with and the aesthetic that you’re looking for in this sort of project.
Kitchen knobs, pulls, and hinges have come a long way from the traditional styles that have been available over the years. No longer are homeowners limited to plain, simple, and functional. Instead, functional and pretty can now go hand in hand. Today’s styles include finishes in antique copper, iron, nickel, polished chrome, aged bronze, polished brass, glass, stainless steel, and antique brass. Additionally, a variety of knobs, handles, and pulls are available in ceramic styles.
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.