Updating Your Cabinet Hardware: What to Look for

Updating Your Cabinet Hardware: What to Look for

Updating Your Cabinet Hardware: What to Look for


Looking for unique cabinet hardware perfect for your kitchen cabinets? Homepolish explains the ins and outs of finding the right hardware for your space.

Choosing hardware can be…hard.

When it comes to designing a kitchen inevitably you have to pick out hardware, and these seemingly small details can literally keep you up at night, going back and forth between brass knobs or stainless steel bars. But thankfully, we’re here to help you get a “handle” on the process. Here are the factors you should consider when choosing kitchen cabinet hardware.

Formerly, the number one rule was match your hardware with your appliances’ finish.

These are more progressive times.

Now matte black hardware fits in effortlessly with stainless steel appliances. Gold hardware paired with white appliances is one of the hottest trends right now. Think outside of the basics, too—leather pulls, crystal knobs, and more ornate accents can add a personalized touch to your kitchen.

Before you get to hardware, it’s crucial to select your cabinet doors. The type of door you select will influence the style tremendously. The most popular styles of cabinet doors at the moment are Shaker, traditional, and modern. A Shaker-style cabinet front is a utilitarian design, with four rails and one middle, slightly recessed, center panel. It’s clean and simple design that can work well with most kitchen styles.

Traditional cabinet fronts have some personality—you’ll find details like raised panels, archways, and intricate inlays. Traditional style cabinets convey a sophisticated look in a kitchen, think Architectural Digest.

Modern cabinets are devoid of any design details and are typically one solid panel. Clients often seek this style yearning for a more minimalistic approach to their kitchen design. They desire a visually uncluttered space—and might opt to have no hardware at all.

So the next thought in your head is probably “How in the world do I know what knob or handle goes with a modern cabinet vs. traditional?” Don’t stress.

For Shaker-style cabinets, look for hardware like small round knobs or hardware that feels organic to the craftsman style. I like the idea of brushed nickel or brass for this style of cabinetry. With modern fronts, choose hardware with a sleek and simple design, think matte black or stainless steel, or don’t be afraid to ignore hardware all together and have a custom groove built-in. When planning for a more traditional approach, push the boundaries in your hardware and look for more ornate knobs.

The size of your cabinets will influence the size of your knobs. If your cabinets are smaller in scale you’ll want to opt for hardware that is likewise, such as minimal-scale circular knobs. Longer hardware is necessary when you have extra long cabinet doors—or can be used if you want to make a more of dramatic statement. Most cabinet doors are 24”, so you want a knob about 2”-3” size knob. For a larger cabinet door you can size up to 3½” or 4”. For a cabinet door under 20”, source hardware that’s closer to 1” to 2” size in diameter or length.

Standard hardware is a breeze to install. All you need is a Phillips-Head screwdriver. Simply replace standard screws into the pre-cut holes.If the holes are pre-drilled on your cabinet drawers and you now want to place a single hole, measure the distance between the two holes and center. If your cabinet doesn’t currently have holes or hardware, knowing where to place the different size knobs on each cabinet can be tricky. If there are no holes, and you’re on your own when drilling into the corner of the cabinet door give yourself 2 1/2 to 3″ of space in the corner before you drill in a hole.

Aesthetically when do you choose to a long handle or a cabinet door vs. a button size knob. This does require some finesse and doing some drawings to get it just right, but here are few tips to take into consideration. You may want to lean more towards small knobs and handles if you are going for a more contemporary style in your kitchen space. Often mixing and matching round knobs with drawer pulls work well in these style of kitchens. A longer handle may be used in a more modern kitchen for a more polished look in a space, while having too many small knobs would feel cluttered for this type of kitchen. In a transitional space, you may want to select one style of hardware and then make that one particular style of hardware larger or smaller depending on where it’s going in the kitchen. For example you would have larger handles for your refrigerator and pantry doors, but a smaller version of the same knob for the upper cabinets in your kitchen area above the refrigerator.

The biggest advice we can give: always order samples before you make your final decision. You don’t want to get a suite of handles home and realize you hate them.

When selecting hardware you have to first focus on function, and then aesthetics. Although it’s very tempting to buy hardware based on looks alone, take your hardware on a test drive before you decide to buy 20 of them.

Order samples, and get a few different types of styles and sizes to decide what will work best for your cabinet doors. It’s helpful to shop with a sample of your cabinet door. Ask yourself: Does my hand keeps sliding on the grip? Is it difficult to pull or get a grasp on it? Does it get greasy from my fingertips? Would I rather have a pull near the fridge but a knob near the stove? You will use this item a ton of times everyday, and you want to feel comfortable with your choice. There’s nothing worse than a cute knob that’s hard to pull open everyday.

And then there’s appliance hardware. Appliance pulls are not just hardware pulls that have a higher price point. It is a more durable hardware that look identical in style to your standard pulls, but are designed for the larger items in your kitchen like refrigerators, dishwashers, pantries, and oversized drawers. They come in a range of sizes from 6” to 36” and are constructed to hold a heavier weight, typically necessitating longer screws and a backplate for installation. The screws can be shortened to the needed size, but its best to follow the instructions and have these pieces installed by a professional to avoid hiccups.

Sometimes I talk with clients and they ask me how important is it really to upgrade and get the appliance hardware for the kitchens. When you are doing a gut renovation and you’re rebuilding your kitchen from the bottom up, appliance hardware gives your kitchen a refined look by matching all of your hardware in your space.

It’s a lot to take in for what seems like such a small detail in the kitchen, but it can be a big deal if you buy the wrong one. This shouldn’t be an impulse buy, so make sure that you select hardware you feel comfortable using every day. No one wants a cute pull that can’t open a drawer.