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How You Can Choose Cabinet Handles

When it comes to kitchen hardware, there are no rigid rules to follow, but it is worth taking into account that certain shapes, styles, and finishes tend to work better with traditional or modern kitchen ideas.


In traditional kitchens, hardware with intricate details, such as ornate knobs or handles with decorative motifs, is often favored. Curved or rounded shapes are commonly found, reflecting a classic and elegant aesthetic. Warm and rich finishes like brass, bronze, or oil-rubbed bronze complement traditional cabinetry, adding a vintage charm.


On the other hand, modern kitchens embrace sleek and minimalist hardware designs with clean lines. Simple and streamlined knobs or handles with a contemporary look are popular choices. Geometric shapes, such as square or rectangular, are often preferred to enhance the clean and linear design aesthetic. Stainless steel, brushed nickel, or matte black finishes are commonly used in modern kitchens, contributing to a modern, industrial, or minimalist vibe.


It's important to note that kitchen styles can be blended or customized to suit individual preferences. Mixing elements from different styles can create a unique and eclectic look. Ultimately, the choice of kitchen hardware should align with the overall design vision for the space and complement other elements, such as cabinetry, countertops, and backsplash.


There are no strict guidelines when it comes to kitchen hardware, but certain shapes, styles, and finishes do tend to align better with traditional or modern kitchen ideas. Here are some considerations for each style:


Traditional Kitchen Ideas:

  1. Hardware Styles: Traditional kitchens often feature hardware with intricate details, such as ornate knobs or handles with decorative motifs.

  2. Shapes: Curved or rounded shapes are commonly found in traditional kitchen hardware, reflecting a more classic and elegant aesthetic.

  3. Finishes: Traditional kitchens often incorporate warm and rich finishes like brass, bronze, or oil-rubbed bronze. These finishes complement traditional cabinetry and add a touch of vintage charm.

Modern Kitchen Ideas:

  1. Hardware Styles: Modern kitchens typically embrace sleek and minimalist hardware designs with clean lines. Consider simple and streamlined knobs or handles with a contemporary look.

  2. Shapes: Modern kitchen hardware often features geometric shapes, such as square or rectangular knobs and handles, to enhance the clean and linear design aesthetic.

  3. Finishes: For a modern kitchen, popular hardware finishes include stainless steel, brushed nickel, or matte black. These finishes contribute to a modern, industrial, or minimalist vibe.

It's worth noting that kitchen styles can also be blended or customized to suit personal preferences. Mixing elements from different styles can create a unique and eclectic look. Ultimately, the choice of kitchen hardware should align with the overall design vision for the space and complement other elements, such as cabinetry, countertops, and backsplash.



The Traditional


In a traditional kitchen, the choice of hardware often leans towards aged metals and shapely handles. This style embraces a sense of timelessness and elegance, drawing inspiration from classic designs.


Aged metals, such as brass, bronze, or copper, contribute to a vintage and antique feel, adding character to the space. These metals can be finished with patinas or distressed textures to enhance the aged look.


Shapely handles, with intricate details or decorative motifs, complement the overall traditional aesthetic, showcasing craftsmanship and attention to detail. By incorporating these elements, a traditional kitchen can exude a sense of warmth and sophistication.



The Modern


In a modern kitchen design, the possibilities for hardware choices are virtually limitless. The focus is often on achieving a sleek and contemporary look that embodies simplicity and sophistication.


One option is to go for sleek and uniform handles with clean lines. These minimalist designs seamlessly integrate with the overall modern aesthetic, creating a sense of unity and visual harmony.


Alternatively, bold statement handles can be chosen to become key design features in the kitchen. These handles, characterized by unique shapes, sizes, or finishes, serve as focal points, adding personality and visual interest to the space.


The beauty of modern kitchen design lies in its versatility, allowing homeowners to explore various styles and experiment with different hardware options to create a customized and striking look.



Knob or Pull


When it comes to choosing between a knob or a pull for kitchen hardware, the decision is entirely up to the individual. Both options have their own advantages and can contribute to the overall aesthetic of the kitchen. Knobs are often chosen for their simplicity and versatility. They are easy to grasp and provide a classic and timeless look. Knobs work well on cabinet doors and can add a touch of elegance or charm to the kitchen design.

On the other hand, pulls offer a more contemporary and functional appeal. They are typically longer in size and provide a larger surface area for gripping, making them convenient for drawers or larger cabinets. Pulls can come in various shapes and styles, ranging from sleek and modern to more decorative and ornate, allowing for customization and personalization in the kitchen design.

Ultimately, the choice between a knob or a pull depends on personal preference, the desired style of the kitchen, and the level of functionality required. Some homeowners may even choose to mix and match, using knobs for certain cabinets and pulls for others to create a unique and eclectic look. Whether it's knobs, pulls, or a combination of both, the decision should align with the individual's taste and contribute to the overall vision and functionality of the kitchen space.



The Heavier Door


When it comes to larger and heavier doors in the kitchen, pulls are often a better choice. Their longer length and larger surface area provide a more substantial grip, making it easier to open and close these doors. Pulls offer better leverage and stability when dealing with heavier materials, such as solid wood or thick cabinet doors.

By choosing pulls for larger and heavier doors, homeowners can ensure a comfortable and ergonomic experience while using their kitchen cabinets. The added functionality and practicality of pulls make them a preferred option in such cases. Moreover, pulls can also contribute to the overall aesthetic appeal, serving as statement pieces or design accents on these prominent doors.

It's important to consider the weight and size of the doors when selecting hardware. While knobs can still be used for lighter doors, pulls offer a more practical and reliable solution for larger and heavier ones. By choosing the appropriate hardware, homeowners can ensure smooth and effortless operation while maintaining the desired style and functionality in their kitchen space.


Types of Doors


Determining whether to use knobs or pulls/bars ultimately comes down to the type of door you will be using the hardware on. Different doors have varying requirements in terms of functionality, style, and ergonomics, which can influence the choice of hardware.

For cabinet doors, both knobs and pulls can be suitable options. Knobs are commonly used for cabinet doors as they provide a simple and versatile solution. They are easy to grasp and can add a classic or decorative touch to the cabinets. Pulls or bars, on the other hand, offer a longer grip and are often preferred for larger or heavier cabinet doors. They provide better leverage, making it easier to open and close these doors.

For drawers, pulls or bars tend to be the preferred choice. Their elongated design allows for a comfortable grip and ease of use. Pulls work well with drawers of various sizes, providing a sleek and streamlined look while ensuring functionality.

Considerations such as door size, weight, and personal preference should guide the decision-making process. It's also worth considering the overall aesthetic of the kitchen and how the chosen hardware will complement the other design elements. By carefully assessing the specific requirements of the doors and considering the desired style, homeowners can make an informed decision on whether to use knobs or pulls/bars, creating a cohesive and functional kitchen space.



The Shape of Things to Come


When selecting the shape of your kitchen handles, it can be helpful to consider the kitchen space as a whole. Taking a holistic approach to design allows you to create a cohesive and harmonious look throughout the kitchen.

Start by assessing the overall style and aesthetic of the kitchen. Traditional kitchens often benefit from handles with rounded or curved shapes, as these shapes align with the classic and elegant vibe. On the other hand, modern kitchens tend to favor handles with more angular and geometric shapes, reflecting the clean lines and contemporary design.

Next, consider the other elements present in the kitchen, such as cabinetry, countertops, and backsplash. Look for shapes and forms that will complement and enhance the existing features. For example, if your kitchen has sleek, straight-edged countertops, handles with clean lines and rectangular shapes can create a sense of visual harmony.

Additionally, think about the size and proportions of the handles in relation to the cabinets and drawers. Oversized handles may overpower smaller cabinets, while tiny handles can get lost on larger doors. Strive for a balanced look that is visually appealing and functional.

By looking at the kitchen space as a whole and considering the style, existing elements, and proportions, you can make a more informed decision about the shape of your kitchen handles. This thoughtful approach will ensure that your chosen handles contribute to the overall aesthetic and functionality of the kitchen, creating a cohesive and inviting space.


Color and Finish


When it comes to choosing kitchen cabinet handles, one of the most impactful and personal decisions you will make is selecting the color and finish. The color and finish of the handles can greatly influence the overall look and feel of your kitchen, as well as reflect your personal style and preferences.

The color of the handles should harmonize with the overall color scheme of the kitchen. You can opt for handles that blend seamlessly with the cabinetry, creating a cohesive and unified appearance. For example, if you have white cabinets, choosing handles in a similar shade or a subtle metallic finish can create a clean and seamless look. On the other hand, selecting handles in a contrasting color can add visual interest and create a focal point in the kitchen.

The finish of the handles also plays a significant role in the overall aesthetic. Matte finishes offer a more understated and contemporary look, while polished or glossy finishes can bring a touch of elegance and sophistication. Additionally, there are a variety of specialty finishes available, such as brushed nickel, antique brass, or oil-rubbed bronze, which can add character and depth to the handles.

It's important to consider the durability and maintenance of the chosen finish as well. Some finishes may be more resistant to fingerprints, smudges, and scratches, making them more suitable for high-traffic areas like the kitchen.

Ultimately, the color and finish of your kitchen cabinet handles should reflect your personal style and complement the overall design of the kitchen. Taking the time to explore different options and envision how they will integrate with the existing elements will help you make a decision that enhances the beauty and functionality of your kitchen space.


The Metallics


When choosing metallic finishes for your kitchen cabinet handles, it is crucial to opt for high-quality materials such as solid brass or stainless steel. These materials offer durability and longevity, making them ideal choices for a high-touch point space like the kitchen.

Solid brass handles provide a timeless and luxurious aesthetic. They are known for their durability and resistance to corrosion, ensuring that they will withstand the demands of daily use in the kitchen. Additionally, solid brass handles can develop a beautiful patina over time, adding character and charm to your cabinets.

Stainless steel handles are another excellent option for their strength and durability. They are highly resistant to rust, tarnish, and staining, making them suitable for the kitchen environment. Stainless steel handles also offer a sleek and modern look that complements a variety of kitchen styles.

By opting for high-quality metallic materials like solid brass or stainless steel, you can ensure that your cabinet handles will withstand the rigors of everyday use while maintaining their visual appeal. Investing in durable materials is a smart choice for a space as frequently utilized as the kitchen, where handles are repeatedly touched and exposed to moisture, oils, and cleaning agents.

Remember to prioritize quality when selecting metallic finishes for your kitchen cabinet handles to achieve a combination of style, durability, and longevity. This will ensure that your handles not only look great but also function reliably over time, enhancing both the aesthetics and functionality of your kitchen space.


The Living Finish


If you prefer a softer and more aged look for your kitchen cabinet handles, you can consider choosing products with a "living finish." A living finish refers to a deliberate design choice where the finish is intended to change and develop a patina over time with use.

Living finishes offer a unique and organic appeal, as they evolve and develop character over the years. This natural aging process can add warmth and depth to the handles, giving them a distinct personality and enhancing the overall ambiance of the kitchen.

Common examples of living finishes include unlacquered brass, oil-rubbed bronze, or certain types of copper finishes. These finishes are designed to react to environmental factors, such as exposure to air, moisture, and oils from hands, allowing them to develop a natural patina and unique color variations.

It's important to note that living finishes require ongoing maintenance to ensure their longevity and desired appearance. Regular cleaning and occasional polishing might be necessary to maintain the desired patina and prevent tarnishing or corrosion. However, many homeowners appreciate the evolving nature of living finishes, as they create a sense of character and history in the kitchen space.

If you appreciate a softer and more natural aesthetic and enjoy the idea of your handles aging gracefully over time, selecting products with a living finish can be a wonderful choice. It adds a touch of uniqueness and charm to your kitchen, creating an inviting and lived-in atmosphere.


Modern Spaces


When it comes to selecting metallic finishes for your kitchen handles, certain options work exceptionally well in specific design contexts. For fresh and modern spaces, black, chrome, and brightly colored metals are fantastic choices. These finishes bring a contemporary design edge to your kitchen, enhancing its overall modern aesthetic. Black finishes, in particular, can create a sleek and sophisticated look, adding a touch of elegance and contrast to the cabinetry.

On the other hand, if you're aiming to infuse warmth and a premium feel into your kitchen, brass handles are an excellent option. Brass offers a timeless appeal and can instantly elevate the visual appeal of your space. It exudes a sense of luxury and sophistication, making it a popular choice for traditional as well as modern kitchen designs. Brass handles can be polished to a high shine for a glamorous look or left with a patina for a more aged and vintage feel.

It's important to consider the overall style and color scheme of your kitchen when selecting metallic finishes. Harmonizing the finishes with other design elements, such as countertops, backsplash, and lighting fixtures, creates a cohesive and visually pleasing space.

Whether you opt for black, chrome, brightly colored metals, or the warmth of brass, each choice brings its own unique charm to your kitchen. By carefully considering the desired style and atmosphere you want to achieve, you can select metallic finishes that perfectly complement your kitchen design and create a visually stunning and inviting space.


The Functionality


When choosing kitchen handles, it's crucial to prioritize accessibility and comfort, considering how frequently you will be touching them throughout the day. As one of the most frequently used elements in the kitchen, handles should be easy to grasp and provide a comfortable grip.

Accessibility is essential, particularly for individuals with mobility limitations or those who require easy access to cabinets and drawers. Opt for handles that are ergonomically designed and provide a good grip, allowing for smooth and effortless operation. Handles with rounded edges or a contoured shape can enhance comfort and reduce strain on the hands.

Consider the size and shape of the handles in relation to your hand size and strength. Handles that are too small or narrow may be difficult to grip, while oversized handles can be awkward and uncomfortable. Strike a balance that ensures a comfortable and secure hold, allowing for easy opening and closing of cabinets and drawers.

Additionally, think about the placement of the handles in terms of accessibility. Handles should be positioned at a suitable height and within reach for all users. This consideration is particularly important for lower cabinets or drawers that may require bending or reaching.

By prioritizing accessibility and comfort in your handle selection, you can create a user-friendly kitchen environment. Handles that are easy to grip and operate will enhance the overall functionality and convenience of your kitchen, making everyday tasks more enjoyable and efficient.


The Four Finger Test


When choosing handles over knobs for your kitchen cabinets, it's important to consider the size and grip comfort. A handle should allow you to fit four fingers comfortably around it and provide an easy grip. This ensures that you can securely grasp and operate the handle without any discomfort or strain.

The size of the handle plays a crucial role in achieving a comfortable grip. Handles that are too small may make it challenging to fit all four fingers, resulting in a less secure grip. On the other hand, handles that are too large may feel bulky and awkward to hold.

Consider the dimensions of the handle, including its length, width, and depth, to determine if it will provide the desired grip comfort. Test the handle by placing your hand around it, ensuring that you can comfortably wrap your fingers around it without any crowding or stretching.

Ergonomic considerations are also essential. Look for handles with rounded edges or a contoured shape that naturally fits the curve of your hand. This design feature enhances grip comfort and reduces the likelihood of slipping or straining while using the handles.

By selecting handles that allow for a comfortable and secure grip, you can ensure a pleasurable and hassle-free experience when opening and closing your kitchen cabinets. Taking the time to test the handles and consider their ergonomic features will contribute to the overall functionality and user-friendliness of your kitchen space.


Strength and Dexterity


Pulls are an excellent option for individuals with weak or arthritic hands, as they tend to be easier to grab onto compared to knobs. The elongated design of pulls provides a larger surface area to grip, offering better leverage and making it more accessible for those with limited hand strength or dexterity.

Additionally, using pulls can help keep your surfaces cleaner. When using knobs, your hand comes into direct contact with the cabinet surface, which can lead to smudges, fingerprints, and potential buildup of dirt and grime over time. With pulls, your hands have less contact with the cabinets, reducing the chances of leaving marks and making it easier to maintain a clean and tidy kitchen environment.

Pulls also offer the advantage of being able to use different hand positions for opening and closing cabinets. You can choose to grasp the pull from the top, bottom, or sides, depending on what feels most comfortable and convenient for you. This versatility allows for a more ergonomic and personalized experience when interacting with your kitchen cabinets.


By opting for pulls, individuals with weak or arthritic hands can enjoy improved accessibility and functionality in the kitchen. Moreover, the reduced contact with cabinet surfaces promotes cleanliness and hygiene. When selecting pulls, consider their size, shape, and ergonomic features to ensure a comfortable and secure grip that suits your specific needs and preferences.


The Positioning


In the realm of kitchen design, there is an unwritten rule that suggests handles are typically placed vertically on doors and horizontally on pull-out drawers. This guideline helps create a sense of visual balance and consistency within the overall aesthetic of the kitchen.

Placing handles vertically on doors aligns with the natural movement of opening and closing them. It allows for a seamless and intuitive grasp, with the handle extending upward or downward, depending on the door's orientation. This vertical placement helps maintain a cohesive look throughout the kitchen, promoting a sense of order and harmony.

On the other hand, pull-out drawers often feature handles placed horizontally. This positioning facilitates easy access and a comfortable grip when pulling the drawer outward. Horizontally positioned handles also visually differentiate drawers from doors, allowing for clear visual cues and enhancing the overall functionality of the kitchen.

While this guideline is widely followed, it's important to note that there are no strict rules when it comes to handle placement. Ultimately, the decision on handle orientation should consider the overall design goals and functionality of the kitchen. Some individuals may choose to deviate from the traditional approach to achieve a specific look or accommodate unique design preferences.

When deciding on handle placement, it's essential to consider factors such as the size and style of the handles, the layout of the kitchen, and the individual's ergonomic needs. By carefully assessing these aspects, you can determine the most suitable handle orientation for your kitchen cabinets and drawers, creating a cohesive and functional space that meets your specific requirements.



Exploring Creative Options


While there are general guidelines for handle placement in kitchens, it's important to remember that there are no strict rules. If you're aiming to achieve a more contemporary look and want to explore creative options, consider positioning the handles horizontally on your cabinet doors.

Horizontal handle placement can add a touch of modernity and visual interest to your kitchen design. It breaks away from traditional vertical placement, creating a unique and distinctive aesthetic. This unconventional positioning can serve as a design statement, elevating the overall style and adding an element of surprise to your kitchen.

By opting for irregular and unusual handle placement, you can further enhance the uniqueness of your kitchen design. For example, you might experiment with asymmetrical placement, staggering the handles at different heights or angles. This playful arrangement can make your handles a captivating focal point and contribute to a more dynamic and contemporary atmosphere.

When exploring alternative handle positioning, it's important to consider the practicality and functionality of the handles. Ensure that the placement allows for a comfortable grip and easy access to the cabinets. Testing the arrangement beforehand can help you determine if it aligns with your ergonomic needs.

Ultimately, positioning the handles horizontally and embracing unconventional placement is an opportunity to infuse your personal style into your kitchen. It can create a bold and contemporary statement, making your handles a unique design feature that sets your kitchen apart. Embrace your creativity and consider the overall aesthetic you wish to achieve when deciding on handle placement in your kitchen space.



Clean and Minimal


If you desire a clean and minimalistic aesthetic in your kitchen but still prefer to have handles rather than going for a handleless design, there are options that can help you achieve this desired look. Consider choosing small, discreet knobs or slimline handles to maintain a sleek and uncluttered appearance in your kitchen space.

Small knobs can provide a subtle touch while maintaining functionality. Look for minimalist designs with clean lines and a compact size that seamlessly blend into the overall design of your cabinets. These discreet knobs can offer a subtle accent without overpowering the visual appeal of your kitchen.

Slimline handles are another excellent choice for achieving a neat and minimal feel. These handles feature a slender profile, allowing them to blend effortlessly with the cabinetry. Opt for handles with a sleek and understated design, avoiding excessive ornamentation or bulkiness. The slimline handles create a streamlined look, providing a modern and sophisticated touch to your kitchen.

By selecting small, discreet knobs or slimline handles, you can strike a balance between functionality and maintaining a minimalist aesthetic. These understated options allow your cabinetry to take center stage while providing a subtle accent that complements the overall design of your kitchen.

Remember to consider the size and scale of your cabinets when choosing small knobs or slimline handles. It's important to maintain a sense of proportion and ensure that the handles align harmoniously with the size and style of your cabinetry.

Embracing these subtle and refined hardware choices will help you achieve a neat and minimalist feel in your kitchen, enhancing the overall visual appeal and creating a cohesive and sophisticated space.


Large and Oversize


If you have a penchant for making a bold statement in your kitchen, the size of your handles presents an excellent opportunity to infuse personality into the space. Choosing large and oversized handles can create an instant wow factor and become a striking design feature in your kitchen.

Large handles draw attention and demand a presence, adding a sense of drama and visual impact to your cabinets. They can become the focal point of your kitchen, capturing the attention of anyone who enters the space. Whether you opt for long and elongated handles or chunky and substantial ones, their size will command attention and make a strong design statement.

By selecting oversized handles, you have the chance to showcase your unique style and express your personality. These handles can become a reflection of your design sensibilities, whether you prefer a contemporary, industrial, or eclectic aesthetic. They provide an opportunity to inject character into the kitchen, transforming it into a space that truly reflects your individuality.

It's important to consider the overall scale and proportion of your kitchen when opting for large handles. They should harmonize with the size of your cabinets and the layout of the space. Additionally, ensure that the handles are functional and comfortable to grip despite their size, ensuring a seamless user experience.

Choosing large and oversized handles allows you to make a bold design statement and create a kitchen that stands out from the crowd. Embrace the opportunity to showcase your personality and style by selecting handles that captivate attention and add a touch of drama to your kitchen design.


The End Result


When it comes to selecting cabinet handles for your kitchen, there is no definitive right or wrong choice. Ultimately, the decision should be driven by your personal preferences and what resonates with your unique style and taste. After all, you are the one who will be living with the handles day in and day out.

Consider exploring various options, from different shapes and sizes to a wide range of finishes and materials. Take your time to browse through catalogs, visit showrooms, and gather inspiration to discover the handles that truly speak to you. Trust your instincts and choose handles that bring you joy and enhance your overall kitchen experience.

Remember that the handles you select can significantly impact the look and feel of your kitchen. They can serve as a finishing touch, adding a touch of elegance, character, or even playfulness to the space. By selecting handles that you genuinely love, you can create a kitchen that reflects your personal style and makes you feel at home.

While it's helpful to consider design principles, guidelines, and the advice of experts, ultimately, the decision rests with you. Trust your intuition and let your personal taste guide you. After all, your kitchen should be a space that brings you happiness and comfort. So, choose the cabinet handles that resonate with you and enjoy the process of creating a kitchen that truly feels like yours.


Visit our showroom at Architectural Design Hardware for cabinet handle inspiration.





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