drawers on kitchen island

Decorative Hardware: Cabinet Jewelry

The decorative hardware you choose for the cabinets in your new kitchen can make a big impact. When the hardware finish and style is coordinated with appliances, cabinets, countertops, lighting and faucets, they create a unified look. Decorative hardware brings your design together by adding the finishing touch to a newly remodeled kitchen.

The cabinet hardware may seem like a minor detail when compared to say countertop material, but it can make a big difference in achieving the look or style you want.

Look at the decorative hardware as the jewelry that completes your kitchen.

Decorative Hardware is Not Only for Looking Good

Of course, decorative hardware must be pleasing to touch, as well as pleasing to look at. However, cabinet hardware isn’t just for looks. It plays an important role in reducing cabinet wear-and-tear by preventing finger smudges and general grime from accumulating when dirty hands touch cabinet door surfaces every day.

Mix ‘n Match

Mixing and matching different styles of cabinet handles, knobs and pulls is a way to add visual interest to your kitchen. You can use one style of hardware for upper wall cabinets and another for lower base cabinets. You can even use a third, different style for drawers to really mix and match.

If you want a farmhouse or cottage look in your kitchen, you may want to consider doing all wooden knobs. If the modern or contemporary style is for you, using all bar pulls can achieve that look. Mixing knobs and pulls in a kitchen can achieve a more traditional look. 

The usual preference is to use knobs for all doors and pulls for all drawers. However, there aren’t any rules that say you can’t use knobs on drawers. When using knobs instead of pulls on drawers, the rule of thumb is one knob for drawers that are smaller than 20 inches, and for larger drawers, they two knobs works best. For heavier drawers, one large, centered bin pull works well.

What About Decorative Hardware Bar Pulls?

Long, slim decorative bar pulls – either horizontal or vertical — work in any style of kitchen. These pulls are a current favorite because they allow for easy grasping while still being pleasing to look at. Since wide, deep drawers in base cabinets are replacing wall cabinets in many newly remodeled kitchens, longer handles are necessary to efficiently open the drawers. Plus, the longer pulls add an appropriate sense of proportion. 

Homeowners have reported that it’s much more comfortable to open a drawer using one or two pulls, depending on the width of the drawer. This allows the whole hand to grab instead of fingertips only. Drawers can get really heavy and hard to open when loaded with all your pots, pans, dishes, etc. Keep in mind, one Le Creuset Dutch oven weighs up to 17 pounds! And it would not be the only thing in your deep drawer.

its ok to mix different types of decorative hardware

Since there are no rules that tell you how to choose hardware, you can stay with only knobs or only pulls. The use of all knobs can be seen in older kitchens before there was much of a variety of hardware to select from. The use of all bar pulls looks more contemporary.  

This photo shows a combination of hardware styles on the base cabinets. The horizontal bar pull on the far left cabinet is probably a trash pull-out, or it could be the dishwasher since it’s next to the sink. Whatever it is, it needs additional force to open it, thus the horizontal bar pull.

Cabinet Door and Drawer Hardware Shape / Style

If the farmhouse or transitional style is for you, you’ll want hardware that can enhance the design. The photo below illustrates three popular options for farmhouse or transitional style kitchens: with knobs and bar pulls, with knobs and cup pulls and knobs only. Which one do you like?

Decorative Hardware Finishes for Cabinet Doors and Drawers

Gold Tones

The recent popularity of gold tones for cabinet decorative hardware is proof that the old saying is true: what’s old is new again.

Gold tones used to be the go-to choice for hardware, but they fell out of favor. Now they’re back.

Today’s brass isn’t the bright yellow brass of years past. These days, brass and gold tone finishes are soft and warm.

Gold hardware works nicely with all cabinet finishes and with any kitchen design without being flashy.

Silver Tones

Decorative hardware in silver tones is also a great choice and has been since our grandmothers were remodeling their kitchens. It’s easy to find the perfect shade for your new kitchen.

  • Satin chrome is kind of “edgy”
  • Polished nickel will go with just about any style
  • Antique pewter will create a charming feel
  • Stainless steel finishes are ideal if your look is contemporary

Bronze-to-Black Tones

oil rubbed bronze decorative hardware

Whether your new kitchen is timeless or elegant, you can’t go wrong with decorative hardware in bronze-to-black tones.

Aged bronze, oil-rubbed bronze and matte black are just some of the options you can choose from. Matte black is especially versatile and will go well with any style from penthouse to farmhouse.

Matte black, flat black or bronze-on-black hardware can either complement or beautifully contrast with black, white or grey paint finishes.

Show No Fear

Don’t be afraid to mix and match different decorative hardware finishes and styles. If you have chosen different finish colors for your base and wall cabinets or you’re using your island as an accent piece, go ahead and complement the cabinets with either the same or different cabinet hardware.

The decision to match your cabinet pulls to other metal finishes in your kitchen comes down to personal preference. Mixing metals can be quite pretty in a kitchen, but if you’re not comfortable mixing the metals from your hardware and faucets, then you can mix metals in other places, like in your lighting.

Unusual Choices

Shape and finish choices for decorative hardware aren’t limited to gold, silver and bronze-to-black. There is a whole wide world of choices out there, and the only rule is pick anything you like. Oh, and what you can afford because some of these are pretty pricey. But most are quite affordable.

The acrylic pulls shown in the photo at left are quite pretty.

In the photo below, starting in the top row at left, there’s square blue “gem” that would certainly be a stand out. The center rectangle is pieces of stained glass assembled in a mosaic. The blue and white hearts knob looks like it would fit well in a country kitchen.

The center row shows some leather loop pulls that were suggested as a choice for Shaker kitchens if you want to stay true to what the Shakers might have used. (Not shown: the other choice for a Shaker kitchen is wood knobs they would have turned themselves.)

And in the bottom row starting at left is a whimsical jolly fat butcher knob. Center is a knob with a turquoise and black design that gives a Southwestern flair. The knob on the far right in the bottom row is a “jewel” inserted into a brushed silver knob.

This selection is totally random. Find any website that sells decorative hardware, and you can spend lots and lots of time scrolling through the seemingly endless choices. We’ve included some sites for you to peruse at the end of this article.

What About the Move to No-Hardware?

The desire for minimalism means less hardware on the outside of cabinets and drawers. People remodeling their kitchens are gravitating toward a seamless look and want cabinets and drawers that don’t include any handles or pulls. They want their cabinets to be the center of their new kitchen with no hardware to distract from the design.

How do you open cabinets and drawers without hardware? You use what are called edge pulls or tab pulls that get installed to the top edge of the cabinet for easy grasping. This photo shows edge pulls installed both horizontally and vertically.

Edge Pulls

We’ve said previously that hardware is used to enhance the overall design of a new kitchen. It must also create a kitchen that works the way you want it to. And that means being able to customize. We know you get inspiration from Instagram, Houzz and Pinterest, and you want to create a kitchen that conveys your personal style. How about the way the hardware is installed in the photo? That’s been customized for sure, and it certainly demonstrates a certain sense of style. There are no hard-and-fast rules.

When the edge pull is installed, it leaves a slight gap between the underside of the countertop and the top of the cabinet. This provides just enough space for fingers to get through to open cabinet doors.

Edge pulls come in many different colors and finishes, as well as different sizes, so you won’t have trouble finding ones that will blend in well in your kitchen. Use black edges pulls, or another dark color to contrast with a light cabinet finish, or vice versa. 

Edge pulls can be continuous or grip rail style.

Tab Pulls

decorative hardware edge pulls

Like edge pulls, tab pulls mount at the top of the door or drawer on a base cabinet and at the bottom edge of doors on wall cabinets.

They also come in different sizes and finishes.

The photo at left shows cabinets with tab pulls installed.

Another option for the no-visible-hardware-look is push latches. They get installed on the inside of your cabinets and to open, you simply press on the cabinet door. No hardware is visible at all, and it will work with any most any cabinets.

Quality Matters When Choosing Decorative Hardware

At the end of the day, the decision between knobs and pulls isn’t the only choice that will impact your overall satisfaction with your selections.

You should prioritize hardware made from high-quality materials because you won’t regret the choice of going with a real material for your knobs and pulls, even if it’s more expensive. For example, real brass is going to stand the test of time, wear with you, and every time you touch it, you’ll notice a difference.

Overwhelming Choices

Getting a new kitchen requires many decisions, and selecting cabinet hardware is no less overwhelming than any of the other decisions you’ll have to make.

The following are links to some of the largest hardware manufacturers. Scroll through and see what you like.

Home decorating websites like Wayfair and Pottery Barn sell cabinet hardware. You can check out their offerings, too.

KDP exists to offer insight and advice about all things related to kitchen remodeling. Our goal is to connect homeowners with talented, experienced kitchen designers who live and work in their communities. We are a serious resource for anyone preparing to remodel their kitchen so they can make the best possible choices about designers, contractors and products.