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How to Pick Hardware for Your Kitchen Cabinets

Kitchens with carefully chosen hardware

Choosing hardware for your kitchen cabinets is not as easy a task as one might think. The hardware in your kitchen references any knobs or pulls you have on your kitchen cabinets and drawers throughout. How you want your kitchen to appear in style and functionality is at the core of your decision-making. Depending on what hardware you choose for your kitchen, it can determine the overall appearance and functionality of your kitchen. When you are searching for hardware, make sure you keep the following steps in mind so that you get hardware that is right for you. 

Research Your Hardware

If you haven’t done so already, go to your local home improvement store and walk down the hardware aisle. You may be overwhelmed with the mass amounts of hardware that is available. You can literally choose from hundreds of different hardware types for your kitchen. There are so many features about each one that you must be willing to choose from a select group that you like and then list the pros and cons of each piece. 

Hardware Styles

Kitchen hardware styles

The style of the knobs and pull handles can come in so many shapes. Knobs are round, but they can be smoothly rounded out or take on more of a geometrical shape that is somewhat round like a hexagon. Also, knobs can be thin, or they can be thicker, which is important when it comes to the functionality of kitchen hardware. Cabinet Hardware comes in a variety of styles. 

  • Tradtional or Classic
  • Contemporary/Modern
  • Farmhouse and Rustic

Traditional / Classic hardware

If you want cabinet hardware that includes a deeper level of shapes and designs on the pulls themselves, then you should search through the traditional options (Etsy has some great hardware options). They can take a basic kitchen in your home and give it a level of classic elegance that is always appreciated. The details are in the pulls and knobs themselves, and they are often found in the more classic finishes like brass, gold or bronze. 

Contemporary / Modern hardware

Some cabinet hardware takes the approach of minimal design where they have a straight contemporary appearance of being thin and having straight-lined edges. They can also be thicker in some versions rather than others, which is something to consider when you are purchasing pull handles. Keep in mind that they will be vertical on your cabinet doors to align with the cabinet. However, if you use pull handles on your drawers, they will be horizontal, so you need to like the style of the hardware in both directions. Contemporary pieces can come in all finishes but many seem to navigate towards the more recent finishes like brushed nickel, chrome, stainless steel, black or white. 

Farmhouse / Rustic

Add a layer of cozy to your kitchen when you choose the farmhouse style. Many of these pulls are raised because they are designed more for function and less for appearance. It brings in the feeling of being home and adds layers of warmth to the kitchen. When it comes to rustic cabinet hardware, there is a deeper appreciation for brushed finishes. It embraces that look of old and vintage, giving your home a deep level of charm that is appreciated. While these pieces can come in gold or brass, you will often find these hardware options to be more rustic options, like brushed nickel or bronze that is less shiny. The sizes are also more traditional and smaller than some of the large contemporary pieces. 

Hardware Finish

One of the first things your eyes will gravitate to when you are looking at hundreds of hardware is the finish of the knobs or pull handles. Some of the most common finishes include:

Kitchen hardware finishes

  1. Brushed Nickel
  2. Bronze
  3. Brass
  4. Chrome
  5. Black
  6. White
  7. Gold
  8. Stainless Steel

These different finishes have the ability to pair better with some kitchen colors and themes than others, so it is important to know which one will match your kitchen and give you the aesthetic features that you are currently looking for in kitchen hardware. 

Hardware Size

Hardware size can be a tricky thing. Size can once again impact the style of your kitchen, with larger pull handles that appear oversized being a more contemporary look. Those pulls that are smaller are a bit more traditional and classic in style. There are some size guidelines for your drawers that you might want to keep in mind. If your drawers are smaller and have an average size, you do not want too long of a pull handle. You want something around 4 inches maximum, or a knob that is no more than an inch in diameter. As the drawer size grows to medium or large, add two inches maximum to your pull handle and no more than an extra half-inch on the knob diameter with each size upgrade.

The reverse is also true. If you have oversized cabinets and drawers, you want hardware that is large enough to be seen and stand out against either the cabinet or in the drawer that it is in. If you choose hardware that is too small for your kitchen, it will stand out and will look as though it does not fit. Because all kitchens are not designed the same, the hardware is not either, so make sure you have the right size for your kitchen. 

Cabinet Materials

What type of materials are you using for the cabinets in your kitchen? Your kitchen cabinets could be made from the following materials:

  • Plywood
  • Furniture Board
  • Standard Wood (Oak, Pine, etc.)

Some hardware pairs better with different cabinet materials in terms of looks and how well they hold up when they are screwed into the cabinet. For example, furniture board panels in your cabinet have a tendency to hold knobs better than pull handles. If you want to use pull handles, you want ones that are light and not heavy like some full metal options, as they may strip out of the cabinets over time. 

Is It Functional?

Not only does your hardware need to look good, but it also needs to be able to work and function appropriately within your kitchen. Can you easily grab the pull handles and knobs? Some hardware pieces are cut really thin, so trying to get your fingers behind the pull or the knob to open the cabinet could prove to be troublesome. When you are looking at the knobs and holding them in your hand, it is important to know if they will fit properly or if you are having a difficult time trying to use the knobs. 

As your family starts to grow, you want them to be able to use the knobs or pull handles too. The hardware needs to be functional for everyone who is living in the home and will be using the cabinet regularly. Unfortunately, cabinet and drawer hardware that is not functional will often get broken because someone was trying to open the drawer, and it would not pull. Also, any hardware that has sharp edges or rough ridges throughout the design can be uncomfortable and even hurt small hands. While it may be aesthetically pleasing in your kitchen, if it is not functional, you should move on to the next option. 

Cost Is a Factor

While the individual price of a knob or pull handle may not be very frightening, it is important to keep in mind that that cost will be multiplied based on how many you need for your kitchen. Many people buy hardware in large numbers, like 20 to 40 pieces, because of the individual cabinets and drawers that they have in their kitchen. If you are doing a kitchen remodel, the chances of you adding in additional storage than before is very high, which increases your hardware. Spending five dollars on one piece of hardware may not sound too bad, but then when you multiply that by the 20 pieces you need, you have $100 in hardware in a matter of seconds. 

Many folks who are looking for hardware to replace because of a remodel or just because they want new hardware may be on a budget and need to stick with hardware that falls into a certain price range. Before you look for your hardware, know how many pieces you need for your kitchen and how much you are willing to spend. By dividing your budget by the hardware number, you know exactly how much money you need to spend on each piece, so you can start choosing hardware from that particular price point. 

How Many Pieces of Hardware Do You Need?

This comes back to the question of how many hardware pieces are needed. Well, the answer to this one is quite simple. You need a piece for each cabinet and each drawer within your kitchen. When you purchase hardware in batches, you should also purchase a few extra pieces of hardware in case one breaks at some point, and you can easily replace the hardware. 

Get A Few Samples of Your Preferred Pieces

When you are looking at hardware, the most important thing you can do is bring a few samples home first before making a final decision. You do not want to make a decision in the store when you are away from your kitchen and unable to see the hardware in your cabinets. When you take them home, try the samples out in the kitchen in cabinets, both high and low first. Then, make sure there is a good look on the drawers, as well. 

Hardware FAQs

1. Can I mix pull handles and knobs in my kitchen?

One of the growing trends in contemporary-themed kitchens is mixing both knobs and pull handles. In many cases, the pulls are placed on the cabinets up high and even below because of their size and symmetry with the cabinet. When it comes to the drawers, however, you may find knobs in the place of pull handles, which make it easier to grab and pull out the drawer. This has been a growing trend because pull handles on cabinets are often turned horizontal and are not as easy to use. 

2. What if I want different sizes of pull handles in my kitchen?

If you have decided to go with all the pulls for your kitchen, but want different sizes, that is okay, too. Not all cabinets are the same size in many kitchens, and this is true for many drawers. The size of the hardware can easily be adjusted to match the kitchen. 

3. Is it okay to mix metal hardware?

This is something that is very rare, the mixing of finished hardware. If you decide to mix the metals, if you are mixing your knobs and pulls, you want to make sure they are similar metals, like brushed nickel and chrome.