How to Choose the Perfect Kitchen Cabinet Hardware

How to Choose the Perfect Kitchen Cabinet Hardware

When thinking of remodeling or updating your kitchen, your mind usually goes to the big items–such as cabinets, countertops, or flooring changes. Many people wait to select kitchen hardware after they have chosen and installed their cabinets, making their hardware choice an afterthought that doesn’t fit the style of their kitchen. Cabinet hardware selection is a small detail that can make a big difference in the aesthetic of your kitchen. Since it can have a huge impact on the look and feel of your kitchen, replacing hardware is an easy way to make and older kitchen feel new or invest in upgrades without breaking the budget. Updating or swapping out kitchen hardware is easy on your wallet, so why not make a change to add value and beauty to your space?

In order to choose the perfect kitchen cabinet hardware, start by narrowing down the style or type of cabinets you’d like in your kitchen. Traditional cabinets generally call for more traditional handles or pulls and the same is true for modern cabinets–they tend to look better with modern hardware. Some cabinets don’t need pulls or handles and instead have grooves or indentations to open them, so figuring out the type of cabinets you want is a good first step to choosing the perfect kitchen cabinet hardware.

Select the right knobs, pulls, and handles for your kitchen remodel. Cabinet hardware comes in a variety of colors, sizes, shapes and materials. From splashes of color to rustic finishing or large handles for oversized cabinets, there are plenty of options to choose from. Don’t get caught up or overwhelmed by all the hardware options available–follow our step-by-step guide to choose the perfect kitchen cabinet hardware.

How to Choose the Perfect Kitchen Cabinet Hardware

Consider Types of Hardware:

When looking at options for your kitchen hardware, refer to the type and color of cabinets that are in your kitchen and how hardware might affect the way they look. If you are remodeling, get samples of your new kitchen cabinetry so you can compare the hardware you are considering against the cabinet drawers and doors to see which material and finish you like best. Nothing creates as much of an impact on your kitchen renovation for the price as updating kitchen hardware, so consider all your options to really make your kitchen look incredible.

Don’t be afraid to venture out from completely traditional or contemporary–many designers can propose integrating different hardware to make your cabinets stand out more and look fantastic. Mixing knobs and pulls in different colors or types can put your own authentic signature on the space and help your new kitchen cabinets and hardware feel like they are truly a part of your home.
Consider the following types of hardware:

  • Traditional
  • Modern
  • Unique/Eclectic
  • Transitional

If you have more traditional or classic cabinets, you may want to choose a traditional hardware set to fit your kitchen’s theme. If you are remodeling your kitchen to be ultra-modern with distinctive cabinets, you should consider a bolder modern hardware that fits with your cabinetry. For those that have cabinets somewhere in-between, transitional hardware will fit your kitchen well and fit most aesthetics with ease.

How to Choose the Perfect Kitchen Cabinet Hardware

Determine Size & Positioning

The size and positioning of cabinet hardware can also make a big different in the appearance of your kitchen. You will need to balance proportions of hardware with aesthetic and functionality when deciding on the size and shape of a pull or knob for your cabinets. Large cabinets and drawers require larger hardware in order to function properly and open smoothly, while smaller knobs or pulls are more appropriate for a small drawer or cabinet.

Industry guidelines for traditional cabinets suggest that pulls should be roughly one-third of the length of a cabinet drawer and drawers wider than eighteen inches may need more than one knob or pull to distribute weight and open correctly. In modern cabinet designs, pulls are longer with handles and pulls typically at least two-thirds of the length of the cabinet door or drawer.

Additionally, pulls are usually positioned horizontally on drawers and vertically on cabinet doors. If you are looking for a more modern aesthetic to set your kitchen apart of fir a theme, consider placing pulls on the cabinet doors horizontally. Consider where the pulls will be located, as larger handles can get caught on clothing if positioned at hip level. Regardless of the size or positioning, functionality should be your top priority. Ensure that the knobs or pulls are positioned on cabinet doors and drawers in a convenient location that makes it easy to open your cabinets, prior to permanent installation. Test out how the grip feels and if you like the look of the hardware in that location on your cabinets–this can be done by asking for a hardware sample or using designer visualization tools to “test” the hardware before you buy it for your kitchen.

Kitchen Cabinets

Hardware Type: Pulls Vs. Knobs

When deciding on the type of hardware to purchase and install in your kitchen, consider the benefits of knobs versus pulls for your cabinets and drawers. While it may seem like a small detail in the overall scheme of things, the details really matter for creating a well-designed kitchen! The choice of hardware will affect the look for your kitchen, in addition to the money you spend and the wear and tear your kitchen takes.

Larger pulls are needed for larger cabinets and longer drawers, while smaller knobs are perfect for small drawers or drawers close together. Additionally, you may want to consider cup pulls for the drawers in your kitchen to add a unique charm to your kitchen. Knobs tend to be less expensive than pulls and are easy from a design perspective, since they are smaller and take up less space on the cabinet.

Pulls are generally more expensive than knobs because they are larger and have more material. Pulls may be slightly pricier; however, that is not always the case as will depend on the hardware’s size and material. The best way to determine the cost and way that hardware fits into your remodeling budget is to get an estimate and determine which product is a better fit.

Pulls are appealing for convenience and aesthetic to many homeowners and remodelers. If you are looking for a more striking hardware or something to significantly boost the look of your kitchen, pulls are often the way to go. In addition to pulls and knobs, there are custom and novel hardware options available if you have a distinct theme in your kitchen or are looking for something truly special.

Kitchen Cabinets

Hardware Materials

Your kitchen’s knobs and pulls will come into contact with a lot of hands, so it’s important to choose materials that will last without tarnishing, scratching or deteriorating due to repeated contact and use. There are many materials for kitchen hardware, and the variety can be difficult to sort through in order to make an informed decision. Ask an expert such as a kitchen remodeler or hardware retailer and read online reviews in order to weigh out the pros and cons of each material and narrow down your selection.

The most important factor in choosing the perfect kitchen cabinet hardware material is how it will look in your kitchen and if you like it. Consider the other metals in your kitchen and how well the hardware or pulls material would match. If you have a stainless-steel refrigerator, dishwasher, or oven, you may want to consider choosing stainless hardware for your cabinets as well in order to tie the kitchen together and avoid other materials that may clash.

The following are popular hardware material choices that can help you begin to narrow down your selection:

  • Nickel
  • Chrome
  • Silver
  • Black
  • Pewter
  • Brass
  • Bronze
  • Stainless Steel
  • Glass/ Crystal
  • Iron
  • Copper

If you have a certain color scheme for your cabinets or an ongoing design, you may want to choose a colored or matte hardware that will fit your theme. If you have an ongoing accent color for accent pieces, such as faucets, shelving, or lighting, you may want to continue that accent color in your cabinet hardware. With white and colored cabinets, consider choosing a bold hardware option to really make the material pop–such as matte black. Hardware of white cabinets makes a bold impression, so it’s a great opportunity to show off beautiful material.

If there are warm tones in your kitchen, choose gold, black, or bronze as your hardware material in order to keep with the same tone. For cooler colors and tones, choose grey, silver, pewter, or stainless, as well as black. Black goes with nearly everything, including contemporary and traditional cabinets, while something like brass looks best with lighter colored cabinets so the color will really stick out.

Kitchen Cabinets

Kitchen Cabinets

Hardware Finishes

Finally, you’ll want to get an idea of the different hardware finishes and decide which option looks and feels best in your kitchen. Consider the overall design of your kitchen. Is it more modern or traditional? Rustic or sleek? Your hardware finish should complement your kitchen and is a little detail that really accentuates the overall design. A polished or matte finish will appear more modern than a burnished or antique finish. If you have a rustic kitchen with a lot of natural wood or earth tones, you should consider accentuating that theme with weathered or antique kitchen hardware.

Some popular hardware finishes for knobs and pulls include:

  • Polished
  • Antique
  • Weathered
  • Satin
  • Burnished
  • Brushed
  • Matte
  • Aged/ Oil Rubbed

If you have children and anticipate that drawers will be touched frequently or by messy hands, a rustic or weathered finish may be better in order to hide wear and tear. While you may choose to mix and match materials or colors in hardware, stick to one uniform finish to tie everything together.

If you aren’t sure about what finish you are drawn to or what will look best in your kitchen, ask your designer or remodeler for a sample or tow to take home. If this is a DIY project, pick up a few inexpensive pulls or knobs from your local hardware store in the finish you are considering and compare it to your cabinets to help you with your decision. Pay attention to lighting, positioning, and how the finish looks against your cabinetry. Ultimately if you really struggle with making a decision, a designer will be able to tell you what finish looks good and is popular with other customers and in similar looking kitchens.