Choosing the Right Finishes for Cabinet Handles, Pulls, and Knobs

Choosing the right cabinet hardware finishes for your home is made easy in this simple guide to picking the best hardware for your home by Christopher Scott Cabinetry.

We all know that updating cabinetry hardware is a game changer when upgrading or switching the style in any part of the home. But do you know how to choose cabinet hardware? How about how to choose cabinet hardware finishes? Did you know that mixing and matching cabinet hardware—and even finishes—can make for a completely cohesive and high-end look if done right?

Christopher Scott, master cabinet designer and craftsman at Christopher Scott Cabinetry, has an expert eye for all kinds of detail, particularly when it comes to knowing what’s best in cabinet hardware. For starters, the cabinet hardware finish you choose will have an impressive impact on the room you’re working in—for better or worse. Picking the best cabinet hardware finish that matches your personal style and the overall design aesthetic in the space is key to bringing everything together.

So, how do you choose cabinet hardware finishes for your own home? Read on to find out.

Understanding Cabinet Hardware Finishes

First, you need to understand cabinet hardware finishes before choosing cabinet handles, pulls, and knobs for your home. And not just what names are assigned to which colors and polishes but how each one may impact the design in any given space.

Many of the common hardware finishes are associated with particular design styles. For instance, matte black hardware would naturally be connected with farmhouse or industrial chic aesthetics. Below are a few more examples of the most popular cabinet hardware finishes and which styles might work best within your home.

  • Matte black hardware—farmhouse, industrial chic
  • Antique and brushed brass hardware—farmhouse, traditional, midcentury
  • Polished brass hardware—modern
  • Pewter or copper hardware—colonial
  • Chrome hardware—contemporary, vintage
  • Brushed nickel hardware—traditional
  • Painted hardware—colonial, modern, cottage chic

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it offers a few guidelines that can help direct your decisions when picking the best cabinet hardware finishes for your home. Remember that choosing the right hardware finish can elevate the look and feel of your cabinetry and even offer the appearance of a serious upgrade in your space! But that means the opposite is true—older or poorly chosen hardware will look out of place and possibly cheap.

The good news is that you’re well on your way to being able to choose the perfect hardware finish for you!

How to Choose the Perfect Hardware Finish

Thoughtfully picking out the perfect hardware design and finish for your home will make a significant impact, so following a simple step-by-step guide can be incredibly reassuring. These four steps can easily lead you as you figure out how to choose the right hardware finishes for your specific style and space.

1. Know Your Overall Style Choice

The most significant foundational piece of choosing the right hardware finish is understanding the design look you’re going for. As discussed above, you’ll want to begin this process by matching your style with the naturally paired hardware finishes.

2. Think In Terms of Color

It may seem like a no-brainer, but you can think of different styles and hardware finishes as being on a spectrum where traditionally warmer spaces call for warmer-toned metals, and cooler colors work well with cooler metals and even glass or crystal hardware. It’s not a hard and fast rule because, for example, black hardware could pop on either bright white or warmly painted or stained cabinetry. But you won’t go wrong regarding matching tone and color if you follow that spectrum concept.

And now, we say what may seem like it opposes what we just said: it’s okay to mix and match cabinet hardware finishes. But learning how to mix and match cabinet hardware finishes (and when to stop) is key to making your space cohesive and chic rather than a jumbled mess of random hardware and metals. When in doubt, go with black and another metal. Black has a way of keeping things grounded and traditional but goes with mostly anything. Try pairing matte black with brass or satin nickel. And if you want a warm + cool combination, just remember that contrast is essential. Don’t pick two metals that look too similar, like aluminum and stainless steel, as you want the mix to look purposeful instead of seeming like you tried to match two metals but couldn’t. You might just find that a set of aged brass cabinet hardware might complement a chrome sink faucet. (Hint: it really, really does.)

3. Check for Inspiration + Validation

Some will consider this an optional step, which is perfectly fine—and we’re certainly not suggesting you limit yourself to only the most popular hardware finishes. But once you’ve found a combination that you think will look great, don’t be afraid to check in with any mood boards you’ve created or at professional cabinetry and design portfolios to reinforce your choice in cabinet hardware finishes. Images that inspire do so for a reason! Professionals know how to choose cabinet hardware that complements and enhances the interiors they’re designing for.

4. Get Hardware and Paint Samples IRL

Nothing will beat holding the hardware you’re considering and experiencing what it would be like to use and see it daily. Add in the paint or stain you’re planning on pairing your hardware finish with, and you can make a perfectly informed decision.

Feeling more confident about how to choose hardware finishes? Let’s move on to some popular and trending cabinet hardware finishes.

Top Trends and Other Popular Cabinet Hardware Finishes

Popular cabinet hardware finishes going strong in 2023 include warm metals like bronze, unlacquered brass, and brushed gold. But, possibly surprisingly, chrome and polished nickel have returned to the scene, bringing a sleek, clean feel that some people love. Unsurprisingly, matte black hardware has remained a reliable option that you can count on for almost any kitchen design style.

As for what’s coming up and may really start to trend in 2024 for cabinet hardware finishes, we think we’ll see more mixed materials. Think wood grain drawer pulls with brass end caps or leather loops with securing metal nail heads exposed. We also think more ornate, maximalist hardware will have its place in the next year or two.

Regarding more traditional metal-style hardware trends, we’ll likely continue to ride the wave of warmer tones (e.g., aged brass, copper) and sleeker silvers. This means that you can be sure that upgrading your kitchen with new hardware in 2023 will leave you with a space you can continue to love for years.

Let’s look closer at some of these most popular cabinet hardware finishes and where you could implement them in your home!

Brass Hardware

Brass hardware, whether aged, brushed, or polished, brings a natural warmth and life to any space in the home. It marries beautifully with muted, natural tones or rich jewel tones in cooler or warmer realms but pops off the former. We believe that brass has a very long life in terms of hardware popularity, so would be a perfect choice for updating your home cabinetry now.

Polished Chrome Hardware

Polished chrome hardware is a great choice, especially if you’re ready to mix and match hardware finishes. It pairs well with warmer gold-toned metals and brightens up a modern kitchen or bathroom easily because of its reflective nature. Polished chrome doesn’t tarnish, and people appreciate its low-maintenance nature that way.

Matte Black Hardware

Matte black is one of the best cabinet hardware finishes because of its traditional longevity. It has a grounding effect that can let you have a little more playroom with things like color and texture elsewhere because the whole space is moderated by the black hardware. Black hardware goes well with white cabinets, particularly if you’re going for a traditional farmhouse look. But it also deepens the effect of light natural green paint or certain blue hues. It will also look striking against lighter, naturally stained wood grain (another cabinetry trend that’s regaining popularity in 2023).

Nickel Hardware

Nickel is a fairly mild choice when choosing cabinet hardware finishes, but that does not make it boring. Brushed nickel is the perfect complement to deeply stained wood finishes but also provides a stable foundation for other decor items (towels, art, books, plates) in a space to change without switching out hardware to feel cohesive and long-term.

Gold Hardware

The gold hardware trend is still going strong, and for good reason! Paired with warm white paint, it makes a timeless statement in any room. But don’t be afraid to mix it with color, too. Blush pinks, subtle greens, and grays let gold hardware shine while never being overshadowed by it.

Custom Painted Hardware

Custom-painted hardware falls under the growing trend of highly unique hardware finishes. It continues gaining popularity for its ability to make hardware disappear in the most eye-catching way. It’s the perfect look for a minimalist space with all the convenience the right cabinet knobs provide. Plus, it means no one else will have the same look as you, and we’re really into that.

Finding the Right Cabinet Hardware for You

Choosing the right cabinet hardware and finishes for your home can feel intimidating unless tried and true principles guide you and find access to quality hardware that matches your style. Tradition Hardware offers simple and elegant hardware styles designed to last for generations but at a price that allows you to switch things up as tastes change, and hardware finish trends come and go.

Find the right cabinet hardware finishes for your home now!

Feeling like you need expert advice? Reach out to the pros behind Tradition Hardware at Christopher Scott Cabinetry and experience their commitment to providing fully custom cabinetry solutions for you!

Choosing the right cabinet hardware and finishes for your home can feel intimidating unless tried and true principles guide you and find access to quality hardware that matches your style.

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