An Overview of Different Types of Cabinet Handles, Knobs, and Pulls

Choosing the right cabinet handles can be daunting for such a tiny object. But not impossible! Choosing the right hardware can significantly impact the aesthetic of your home.

Because cabinet handles might seem like a small consideration when viewed within the broader context of a home’s overall design aesthetic, you might be surprised to see how significantly cabinet hardware can impact the overall aesthetics of your home. Whether through style, finish, color, or functionality, choosing the right cabinet hardware is an essential design detail that can enhance the beauty and appeal of any space. Don’t underestimate the benefits that could be yours by selecting beautiful cabinet hardware. Well-designed cabinet hardware:

  • Helps define the style and theme of a room. For instance, sleek and minimalist hardware can complement a modern design, while ornate and detailed hardware might enhance a traditional or vintage look.
  • Acts as a visual focal point in a room. Bold or unique hardware designs draw attention and can become statement pieces that add character to cabinets or furniture.
  • Elevates the perceived value of a home. Well-designed cabinet handles show attention to detail and quality craftsmanship, which can be appealing to potential buyers or guests.
  • Expresses individual style and preferences. Distinctive cabinet handles add a personal touch to your home and can reflect the homeowner’s personality and taste.

Understanding Cabinet Handles And Cabinet Knobs

While both cabinet handles and knobs serve the same primary function, your chosen style will depend largely on your cabinet’s style and your personal style. While small in stature compared to the overall size of your kitchen, these little pieces of metal can greatly impact your overall design.

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Definition And Purpose

Cabinet knobs come in various options, from common geometric shapes like squares, ovals, and circles to more ornate designs. Knobs are typically used on drawers or cabinet fronts. They are easy to install (only requiring one screw) and are typically less expensive than cabinet pulls. That said, knobs are small and naturally do not give as much grip as cabinet pulls, so they can be awkward to open and, if installed on lower cabinets, can catch clothing easily. 

Cabinet pulls are larger than knobs and come in a wider variety of shapes, finishes, and designs which can greatly impact your overall design. While a bit trickier to install (requires two screws and just the right measuring), cabinet pulls are easy to grip and open–even when opening heavy drawers.

Design Considerations

Choosing kitchen hardware can seem daunting at first. Consider these design tips to help you find the just right hardware.

Pick your hardware last. Well-planned cabinet hardware can communicate volumes. Once your kitchen design is in place, you’re in the perfect position to add style and personality through your hardware choices. Make this the last design decision you make!

Consider your cabinet style. Your cabinet style will naturally lend itself to a particular cabinet pull or knob style but don’t be afraid to mix and match. This can bring authenticity and visual interest to your kitchen design. For example, If you have beautiful cabinetry or a stunning backsplash you want to highlight, you may choose knobs.

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Choose between cabinet pulls, knobs, or both. Generally, if a hinge is present, like on a cabinet front, use a knob. Use a pull if a side is present, like in a drawer front. Knobs provide a classy vintage appearance, and pulls are perfect for contemporary and traditional designs. Consider this a guideline, not a firm rule. Your choice will come down to personal preference and functionality. Knobs make opening cabinets easier, while pulls are ideal for sliding drawers carrying more weight. 

Coordinate your hardware with your overall kitchen design. Your cabinet hardware does not have to match your appliances, lighting, and faucet hardware perfectly, but they should complement each other to create a cohesive design. While mixing colors is often encouraged, stick to one finish.

Personal Preference. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder; what truly speaks to you from a design and style standpoint is what matters most. Choose hardware that reflects your personal style and personality. 

Choosing Cabinet Hardware for Different Styles

Different cabinet styles lend themselves to specific cabinet handles. However, you can use cabinet pulls or knobs with any cabinet style or kitchen design. 

Modern Kitchen Design

Cabinet handles with sleek lines, minimalist designs, and contemporary finishes often complement a modern kitchen aesthetic. Use minimal pieces of hardware that feature straight lines. A stainless steel bar often has an industrial vibe, while extended bar pulls offer a dramatic touch. Flat bar pulls in black shades are ultra-modern and complement straight lines with their square edges. For a minimalist look, size your knobs down. For an impressionable oversized appearance, choose a longer cabinet pull–the longer the pull, the more contemporary the appearance. Popular modern kitchen hardware materials and finishes are stainless steel, nickel, or brass, with polished, satin, rubbed, or matte finishes.

Traditional Kitchen Design

Shaker cabinets can straddle the line between modern and traditional. They can be both sleek and simple in design or more decorative. All this means is that shaker cabinets are compatible with various cabinet pull and knob options. Black hardware, nickel, glass, brass, and ceramic knobs or pulls are commonly used on shaker cabinets. Tube-shaped handles create a modern look, while bar-styled pulls can lend a contemporary air. 

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Pair traditional cabinets with raised or inset center panels with knobs or handles with rounded details. For square raised panels, consider sleeker hardware options like bar handles. Popular finishes for traditional-style cabinets are antique brass, oil-rubbed bronze, or brushed nickel.

Mixing Cabinet Hardware In One Space

Mixing cabinet hardware has become increasingly popular. Follow these tips to create a balanced look and unified design theme:

Consider your kitchen size. If you have fewer than 20 drawers and doors in your kitchen, you should limit yourself to two hardware types. Stick to just one-handle style for kitchens with less than 12 drawers and doors. You can create interest by incorporating other design elements like open shelving to create visual interest. Following this design tip will help you create a more organized look.

Mix and match finishes! Your cabinet hardware does not need to match your light fixtures and sink faucet perfectly; however, if you mix two metals, ensure each is represented within the space–at least three or more of each metal will help coordinate your look. A basic rule of thumb is limiting yourself to two colors with a maximum of three colors or finishes. 

Mix hardware to highlight a focal point. Use distinctive hardware to help a particular kitchen area stand out (such as the hutch that holds your fine china).

Don’t pair similar materials. Avoid pairing similar materials, such as brass and gold. Similar materials will not give you the contrast you seek and will appear visually uninteresting. 

Use different styles for uppers and lowers. This is a nice way to organize mixed cabinet hardware visually.
Choose only two colors. Limit your mixed hardware to two or three colors. Hard stop! This is a firm rule. Too many metals can ruin even the most beautifully designed kitchen.

FAQs About Cabinet Handles, Knobs, And Pulls

What are the standard sizes for cabinet handles and knobs?

The standard size for knobs is 1-¼. We recommend hardware with at least a 3-3/4″ center to center (the distance between the screw holes) for cabinet pulls. This size looks pleasing on most cabinets. Cabinet 5″ – 6.5″ pulls are also an excellent choice. Their slightly longer length offers a more contemporary appearance while still being small enough to fit onto most drawers.

Can I install cabinet handles or knobs, or do I need professional help?

Yes, to both! While you can install cabinet knobs and handles yourself, it’s not as simple as it sounds. Exact measures and jigs are a must, and employing a professional can help you get it right the first time and avoid costly mistakes. 

Are there any specific guidelines for selecting the right cabinet hardware for different cabinet types?

In today’s modern age, there are no hard and fast rules, but in general, contemporary or modern design favors simple lines while traditional cabinetry is a bit more classic in appearance.

How do I measure the hole spacing for cabinet handles or knobs?

If updating existing cabinetry, open your kitchen door or drawer and measure the distance between the center of each screw. For a new installation, find the center of your drawer and measure the distance from that point to each screw hole.

Are there any special considerations for cabinet hardware in high-moisture areas like bathrooms or kitchens?

Most metals will perform admirably in high-moisture environments. 

Can I mix different finishes of cabinet handles and knobs in the same room?

Short answer? Yes! But be smart about it–the overall goal of design is cohesion, so pay close attention to whether or not a mix of different finishes will impact your overall design and complement existing appliances and faucet hardware.

Are there any ergonomic considerations when choosing cabinet handles for accessibility purposes?

Cabinet pulls are typically easier to grip and use. They are also most comfortable to use and pull when drawers carry a lot of weight.

How do I clean and maintain cabinet handles and knobs to keep them looking their best?

Mix warm water with a drop or two of vinegar in a spray bottle. Spray knobs with the mixture and wipe away the grime and excess solution with a microfiber or soft cloth.

Are there eco-friendly or sustainable options available for cabinet handles and knobs?

Yes! Mango wood, marble, leather, and Jute or Rattan are sustainable and eco-friendly hardware options.

Where can I find unique, custom cabinet handles or knobs for a personalized touch?

Christopher Scott Cabinetry offers a range of stylish and custom knobs and pulls to suit most contemporary or traditional cabinetry designs. 

Cabinet Hardware Heaven: Choosing The Perfect Knobs And Pulls For Your Space!

Whether through style, finish, color, or functionality, choosing the right cabinet hardware is an essential design detail that can enhance the beauty and appeal of any space. This seemingly tiny detail can pack a big punch. It’s one of the main design elements that can ground your space and add personality and style, all while touting perfect functionality.

If you’re looking for a cabinet designer with great attention to detail and custom work, look no further than Christopher Scott Cabinetry. We design our custom hardware brand in-house with a drive for perfection evident in every cabinet handle, knob, or pull we design. Visit our online shop for more cabinet hardware inspiration! 

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