Guide to Cabinet Door and Drawer Hardware

It is ok to mix different cabinet door and drawer hardware types

Guide to Cabinet Door and Drawer Hardware

The decorative cabinet door and drawer 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, together they create a unified look. Decorative hardware brings your design together by adding the finishing touch to a newly remodeled kitchen.

The details in a new kitchen, such as cabinet hardware, make a huge difference in achieving a certain look or style. To understand the effect that hardware can have, look at it as an accessory, like a piece of jewelry that completes an outfit. Just as you can change the look of your outfit, you can do the same with the hardware for your drawers and doors.

What’s Required in Decorative Door and Drawer Hardware?

Decorative hardware for your new kitchen, where you and your family prepare and eat meals, must meet several requirements. It needs to be

  • Intuitive
  • Ergonomic
  • Hygienic
  • Durable
  • Universal in design
  • Pleasing to touch
  • Pleasing to look at

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.

Cabinet Door and Drawer Hardware Shape / Style

Hardware that coordinates with other aspects of the kitchen design can make a big difference in the overall vibe of the room.

Homeowners who choose transitional or modern styling with sleek, un-fussy lines for their new kitchen will want decorative hardware that continues the design throughout the room. Spare, ergonomic shapes that don’t distract or overwhelm are favored over heavy traditional ornate designs.

If the farmhouse or transitional style is for you, you’ll want hardware that can become part of the design. It can also fit in with various textures and finishes. 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?

Cabinet Door and Drawer Hardware Finishes

Gold Tones

The resurgence of gold tones in 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.

Here are a few of the many gold tones you can consider when you’re choosing new hardware for your cabinet drawers and doors:

  • Bright brass
  • Satin brass
  • Antique brass
  • Satin gold
  • Rose gold

Gold hardware and faucets are very popular in contemporary kitchens. They work nicely with both dark and white cabinetry go with any kitchen design. Using today’s softer brass in your new kitchen is a way to make a design statement without being too flashy.

Silver Tones

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 will create an “edgy” look.
  • Polished nickel hardware will go with just about any style
  • Antique pewter will lend a charming feel
  • Stainless steel finishes are for you if your look is more contemporary

Bronze-to-Black Tones

Whether you want your new kitchen to have a timeless look or simply add an elegant touch, you can’t go wrong with drawer and door hardware in bronze-to-black tones.

Aged bronze, smoked bronze and matte black are just some of the options you’ll be able to choose from. Matte black is especially versatile and will go well with any style from penthouse to farmhouse.

Many new kitchens today have cabinets finished in black, white or grey paint.  Matte black, flat black or bronze-on-black hardware can either complement or beautifully contrast with these colors.

How To Find The Right Door and Drawer Hardware Finish For Your Cabinet Color

If your cabinets are finished in a dark stain or paint

Lighter colored hardware, such as chrome or brushed nickel or warmer tones of gold will stand out. In contrast, a sleek matte black edge pull complements matte black cabinetry. It will blend in and make the overall look seamless.

If your cabinets are finished in a light paint or stain

Dark cabinet hardware finishes will stand out. Hardware with a bronze-on-black finish placed on cabinets painted white, cream or gray makes a style statement!

Note: Gold, copper and bronze can look just as good on light or dark cabinet finishes.

Out of the Ordinary Choices for Cabinet Door and Drawer Hardware

Shape and finish choices aren’t limited to gold, silver and bronze-to-black. There is a whole wide world of choices out there, and you’re not limited to anything more than what you like. Oh, and what you can afford because some of these are pretty pricey. But most are quite affordable.

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.

The selection shown here 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.

Mix-and-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 cabinets and another for lower cabinets, and you can use a third, different style for drawers.

A traditional preference is to use knobs for all doors and pulls for all drawers. For any large door such as a pantry and any other pull-out door, use a pull.

Decorative Pulls

Long, slim decorative pulls 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 wider 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 a pull. 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.

No Rules When It Comes to Cabinet Door and Drawer Hardware

Since there are no hard-and-fast rules, 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 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.

Don’t be afraid to mix and match different 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.

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.

What?!? How do you open cabinets and drawers without hardware?

Edge Pulls & Tab Pulls

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.

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 just 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.

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

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 below 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.

Overwhelming Door and Drawer Hardware 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.