5 Steps For Picking Kitchen Cabinet Hardware (The Right Way)

Kitchen redesigns and renovations often start from a place of big plans. But here’s the secret… the details are just as important. Picking kitchen cabinet hardware could be the jumpstart you need.

You think of the swooping, epic changes like a new island, space for preparing grand meals, and the latest appliances. Then there are the important details that your kitchen is built around, like the countertops, the cabinets, and the sink. These big decisions are the ones you’ll undoubtedly spend a lot of time debating. 

Still, there are some small features awaiting you at the finish line of your kitchen sprint that deserve just as much attention. The decorative hardware for your cabinets may seem tiny in comparison with all the rest. When thought of in terms of both practicality and aesthetics, they end up being more important than most people think. 

As we’re fond of saying, what separates the fabulous kitchens from the merely fine ones is the attention to detail with kitchen cabinet hardware. After all, you may not prepare a grand meal on your new island every day, you will use your cabinets. 

This guide is here to help you get your kitchen looking just right with your next redesign or renovation.

1. How To Choose The Right Type Of Decorative Hardware

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The kitchen cabinet hardware you choose needs to serve two functions: it should fit with the style of your kitchen and it should be comfortable to use.

The first step, then, is understanding what kinds of options you have for this kind of hardware. Let’s take one of our favorite suppliers, Berenson Hardware, as an example. 

You can choose between knobs, pulls, appliance pulls, bail pulls, cup pulls, edge pulls, recess pulls, and latches. 

It’s one thing to imagine how these will look in your kitchen and another to actually feel them yourself. Visit the supplier, or ask your contractor to bring a few samples so you can see how they feel in your hand.

Then once you’ve found a style that suits your kitchen and feels comfortable, consider how you can create a nice visual interest.

As seen in the example above, mixing and matching styles can work quite nicely, especially depending on the size of the cabinet. In this example, pull handles are used on the drawers and the upper cabinets. Then, knobs are used on the doors that swing open below the sink and the smaller drawers.

For a style that will work in most homes, you can choose one type of hardware. That creates a clean, uniform aesthetic. For a more sophisticated style, try a pull handle and knob with complementary styles, then apply that throughout the kitchen.

Be careful about going too far beyond two styles, though, as you’ll risk your kitchen feeling unfinished or thrown together. 

Once you’ve made up your mind, check with your supplier about delivery times for the hardware. Specialty pieces can take longer, so you’ll want to make sure that timeline fits in with the redesign or renovation timeline.

2. Why The Size And Positioning Of Your Kitchen Cabinet Handles Are Important

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Once you’ve decided on the style of your hardware, it’s time to consider its placement. Given the size of the cabinet, its function, and its place in the kitchen, different variables come into play. 

As seen in the example above from Top Knobs, the size of the knob or pull is often related to the size of the cabinetry. A larger door needs a larger piece of hardware to work well. A smaller drawer, though, works fine with a smaller knob or pull.

What is seen above is typical for traditional pull and knob placement. Most often, you’ll find pulls positioned horizontally on drawers and then vertically on doors. In some settings, horizontal pulls on kitchen cabinets can work, especially at chest or eye level. This can create a nice line across the cabinets for a captivating look.

As a convenient shorthand, pulls should be about ⅓ of the length of the drawer they’re being used for. Variations include longer drawers, which could use multiple knobs or pulls, or a pull that extends about ⅔ of the length.

Having samples will help make this process simpler and more efficient. Feeling the weight and size in your hand will give you an idea of how comfortable they are. Then you can decide whether they’d be better positioned horizontally or vertically. Planning ahead of time will ensure you make the right decision before the hardware is permanently installed.

Given that the installation of knobs and pulls requires drilling holes and installing screws, be sure to communicate with your builder or remodeler first. Being specific about the sizes, the styles, and the orientations will ensure your kitchen renovation stays on schedule and on budget.

3. What Styles of Hardware Are Available for Your Kitchen Cabinets 

When selecting hardware for your kitchen cabinetry, be sure to keep in mind the style of your kitchen. Generally speaking, this style can be broken into the following categories: rustic, transitional, traditional, contemporary, and eclectic.


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Designed to feel warm and inviting, a rustic-style kitchen’s hardware should have that same feel. That can be accomplished with simple knobs or pulls in bronze, copper, or black. Nothing too flashy is needed to pull off a downhome, farmhouse-style look.


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This in-between style is a blend of a traditional style with a more modern one. This can include combining the clean lines of a pull handle with inset-door cabinetry, for example. This is a style where paying attention to the finish of the hardware can really pay off.


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The kitchens we may have grown up in, the traditional style is recognizable for its details. Whether it’s embellishments, moldings, or carved cabinets, you’ll want hardware that is equally ornate. Consider fancier knobs or sculpted drop-handles to complete this style.


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Contemporary or modern kitchen trends are more minimal. This includes refined hardware, neutral colors, and plenty of lines. To facilitate this design, look for similarly minimal hardware. This could be pull handles that are perfectly straight or stainless steel knobs to go match with your appliances.


Your house should be a reflection of you. If you want to commit to that aesthetic, kitchen cabinetry hardware can be a great place to experiment. With pulls made of leather, seashells, or even hand painted, you can add a layer of creativity and visual interest that integrates your kitchen even more into your home.

4. Choosing The Hardware Material For Your Kitchen Cabinet

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There are many options you can choose for the material. You’ll find that most are metal alloys of some sort, which makes applying certain finishes simpler. This includes aluminum, stainless steel, and zinc, as well as bronze and brass. 

Bronze and brass are particularly durable, as well as antimicrobial, a real advantage in an environment with plenty of activity.

For non-metal options, your kitchen cabinetry supplier may also have glass, crystal, and even ceramic knobs.

5. The Right Finish For Your Kitchen

To finish off the planning, it’s time to talk finishes. In the beginning stages this can feel harder to nail down, given how many finishes there are.

Just imagine: Antique Silver, Black, Black Nickel, Brushed Antique Brass, Brushed Antique Copper, Brushed Black Nickel, Brushed Bronze, Brushed Copper, Brushed Nickel. And that’s just from one of our suppliers!

There’s also satin, matte, oil-rubbed, antique, weathered, painted, polished, and more. 

But once you have the understanding of the rest of the details of your kitchen cabinets, the finish is simpler.

For modern, contemporary kitchens, stainless steel handles look great with a polished finish.

For those more traditional homes, you’ll feel cozy with pewter and brass selections.

For that rustic farmhouse ambiance, bronze will patina and mature, looking better with age.

And for your transitional kitchen, black finishes help make a solid statement in the midst of multiple styles. 

Designing Your New Kitchen with Johnson Lumber

Though there may seem like a lot of steps to get to the finish, each one pays off as they lead you toward the home of your dreams. 

At Johnson Lumber, our experienced team would be thrilled to help you with your kitchen redesign or renovation. When you’re ready to take the next steps, contact our team today.

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