Throughout the design process of a renovation, you are making decisions on important elements: plumbing and lighting fixtures, countertops, flooring, backsplash, and cabinetry. Choosing your cabinets was a difficult design challenge as it was; style of doors and drawers, wood species, layout of cabinetry, painted or stained, type of trim details, etc. With so many big picture selection decisions, the cabinet hardware is often a missed selection, or a decision quickly made.
Cabinet hardware comes with varying levels of customization options. These include size and positioning of the hardware, the type of hardware (knobs or cabinet pulls), the design or style of the hardware (traditional, contemporary, transitional), the finish or the color of the hardware (gold, silver, white, black, and multiple more options), and the material of the hardware (metals, wood, glass, crystal, etc.). Sparkling knobs and shiny pulls can add a bit of bling, or they can subtly complement the décor of the cabinets and room.
Cabinet Hardware Considerations
Cabinet Hardware Size and Positioning:
While there is no right or wrong choice to the size of the cabinet hardware, it is often dependent on the function of the cabinet and the size of the doors and drawers. Rule of thumb is if your drawers are less than 16” width, installing one knob or one 3”-5” pull directly in the center is sufficient. However, a drawer larger than 16” width, would require two knobs about 1/3 from the outside on both sides and either two smaller pulls 5”-7” or one larger pull 9”-12”.
NOTE: Appliance pulls are needed if your appliances are paneled to match your cabinetry and not all styles are available in lengths needed for appliances. Keep this in mind and ensure your appliance pulls either match or complement your hardware.
Type of Hardware:
For the sake of ease there are two types of cabinet hardware; knobs and pulls (handles). Knobs have smaller profiles than pulls, can be used on both cabinet drawers and doors, and are typically less expensive. Pulls are larger than knobs, can make more of statement, and tend to be easier to grip. They can come in a variety of sizes dependent on the pull and manufacturer, and tend to complement larger drawers and doors. However, cabinet pulls tend to cost more than a simple knob. We often mix knobs and pulls for more visual appeal, dependent on the size and function of the cabinetry. (Insider Tip: If you’re a perfectionist (like me), you might want to choose round knobs as you can’t tell which way they rotate, vs. square knobs which may rotate slightly and look crooked).
Design and Style of Hardware:
While cabinet hardware serves a functional purpose, it also helps define your home’s design style. Your hardware design depends on the style of the cabinet doors and drawers as well as the style of the room. If your style is more traditional, you can choose more ornate cabinet hardware, while if your home is more contemporary, you might choose clean long simple lines. If your room is transitional choose simple cabinet hardware, with a bit of decoration.
Cabinet Hardware Finish or Color:
Often times there are multiple finishes in a room between lighting and plumbing fixtures and furniture. The question becomes “Do I match to a finish in my room?” The simple answer is “maybe.” Some people prefer all their selection finishes to match, while others like mixing it up a bit. The old-school rule was to match your faucet, light fixtures, and cabinet hardware; however, this traditional concept has been replaced with simply ensuring each of these selections are cohesive without necessarily matching. You can also consider colored hardware to match an accent color of the room. It truly depends on personal preference.
Material of Hardware:
The most important factor in choosing cabinet hardware material is how it will look with your cabinetry. Among the most popular are Nickel, Chrome, Stainless Steel, Black and Brass. Dependent on the style of the room, you may also consider a pretty glass or crystal knob or a mixed metal with glass or crystal.
Here are some of my favorites from past renovations and their portfolios to see them in action:
Master Suite gets a Spa-like Renovation with Luxury Style
Small Dated Broad Ripple Master Suite Gets Total Transformation
Dated 70’s Kitchen Gets Contemporary Makeover
Dated 70’s Master Bath Gets Contemporary Makeover
This pull, as well as knobs were used in both the homeowner’s kitchen and master bath.
Elegant and Traditional Bathroom Renovation
Lakehouse Total Transformation – Master Bathroom, Powder Bathroom & Guest Bathroom
Glamorous Kitchen, Dining and Living Renovation with Entertaining in Mind – Kitchen
Glamorous Kitchen, Dining and Living Renovation with Entertaining in Mind – Family Spaces
Luxurious White and Teal Glass Master Bathroom
This homeowner commissioned a glass artist for her cabinet hardware, both knobs and pulls.
Dated 70’s Laundry Room Gets Contemporary Makeover
Dramatic Multi Room Renovation – Powder Baths
Dreary Master Bath Gets Contemporary Update
Traditional to Modern Whole House Remodel – Kitchen Remodel
In conclusion, cabinet hardware adds aesthetic value to your cabinetry, improves functionality and offers personalization. These are pieces you will be touching and using frequently, therefore you want to ensure they are comfortable in your hand. So, touch and feel before purchasing. Can you get your fingers comfortably behind the pulls and are the knobs comfortable to use? Of course, these decisions are based on each individuals tastes, keeping in mind your needs (arthritic hands require something different from a non-arthritic hand). I like cabinet hardware that brings a little of the homeowner’s personality to the room, something that might pop or stand out to the eye.