Handleless, or slab, kitchen cabinets are an increasingly popular design trend that offers a sleek, modern aesthetic. Going handleless can totally transform the look of your kitchen. But before taking the plunge, it’s important to consider the pros and cons of handleless cabinets. Here is an in-depth look at whether handleless kitchen cabinets are right for you.

What Are Handleless Kitchen Cabinets?

Handleless kitchen cabinets, also called slab cabinets, have drawer fronts and doors that lack knobs or handles. Instead, there is a groove cut into the cabinet door that allows you to open it by grasping the front edge of the door and pulling it open.

The handleless look provides a very streamlined, contemporary style. Without visible hardware, the cabinetry has a very cohesive, unbroken appearance that looks crisp and clean. This can help smaller kitchens appear more spacious.

Benefits of Handleless Kitchen Cabinets

Here are some of the advantages that handleless kitchen cabinets offer:


The main appeal of handleless cabinets is aesthetic. Eliminating handles and knobs creates an ultra-modern, seamless look. The lack of hardware draws attention to the beauty of the cabinetry and materials.

This minimalist look also helps kitchens appear more spacious and less cluttered. The smooth, handle-free surfaces are easier to wipe down and keep clean as well.


Handleless cabinets come in a wide array of styles, from sleek lacquered finishes to elegant wood stain colors. Materials like glass, metal, and high-gloss laminates can be used to create contemporary handleless designs.

There are many ways to customize the look, whether you prefer a subtle style or something more daring and dramatic. Mixing and matching colors and finishes allows for creativity.


Proponents argue that handleless cabinets are more functional in some ways. For example, there are no knobs and handles sticking out that you can bump into or catch clothing on while moving about the kitchen.

Some people find handleless cabinets easier and more comfortable to open, especially those with arthritis or dexterity issues. You can just push them open with your forearm or elbow when your hands are full.

The interiors of handleless cabinets tend to have excellent organization features as well, like pull-out shelves, racks, and trays.

Drawbacks of Handleless Cabinets

However, going handleless also has some downsides to think about:


Lacking handles makes cabinets more challenging to open for some, including children, elderly individuals, and people with disabilities. Handles provide leverage to pull the doors open. Without them the doors can be stiff and difficult to grasp.

Visibility is also an issue. From a distance, handleless cabinets don’t make it apparent where to grasp the door to open it. Up close, the groove cut into the door may be hard to see.

Fingerprints and Smudges

Without hardware to grab, you have to grip the cabinet doors along the edges to open them. This invariably leads to more fingerprints and smudges on the doors, which can detract from the clean, minimalist look. More frequent wiping down is required to keep handleless cabinets looking pristine.


Removing handles necessitates specialty hardware and precision when installing cabinets, along with high-quality finishes. As a result, handleless cabinetry tends to cost more than cabinets with traditional knobs and handles.

Lack of Contrast

Without contrasting hardware, handleless cabinets can start to blend together into a monotonous look. If you have an all-white kitchen, for example, the cabinets may end up looking flat and lifeless. Strategic use of materials, colors, lighting and accents helps add visual interest.

Key Considerations for Handleless Cabinets

There are a few things to keep in mind if you decide to go with handleless kitchen cabinets:

  • Make sure to see and touch samples before committing. Get a feel for how the doors operate and how prone they are to showing fingerprints.
  • Consider combinating handleless cabinets with some that have hardware for contrast and accessibility. For example, base cabinets can be handleless while uppers have handles.
  • Look for cabinets with soft-closing hinges and doors to prevent slamming. Motion-activated lighting inside the cabinets is also helpful.
  • Choose cabinet surfaces that are durable and easy to clean like lacquer, laminate, or thermofoil.
  • Opt for a door style with a wide, easy-to-grasp groove or channel rather than just an edge. Recessed, push-to-open systems are another option.

The Bottom Line

Ultimately, the choice comes down to your personal taste and lifestyle. If you love the contemporary look and don’t mind the downsides, handleless cabinets can be a stylish statement. But if accessibility and heavy use are concerns, traditional cabinets with hardware may be the wiser option.

There are many ways to work around the potential pitfalls of handleless cabinets through strategic design. Consulting a kitchen designer can help you determine the best solutions for your space. With careful selection and planning, you can enjoy all the aesthetic benefits of handleless cabinets.

Frequently Asked Questions About Handleless Kitchen Cabinets

Are handleless kitchen cabinets hard to open?

Handleless cabinets can be harder to open, especially for children and the elderly, since there is no hardware to grasp. Choosing doors with wide, easy-to-access grooves can mitigate this. Soft-close hinges and doors, as well as push-to-open mechanisms, also help.

Do handleless cabinets get dirty or show fingerprints?

Handleless cabinets do tend to show more fingerprints and smudges since you have to grip the doors directly instead of hardware. Choosing fingerprint-resistant finishes like lacquer and routinely cleaning the doors helps minimize this issue.

Are there any safety issues with handleless cabinets?

The main safety concern is accessibility for those who struggle to open the cabinets without handles. Adding at least some cabinets with handles, installing soft-close features, and opting for easy-grip door designs helps prevent injuries from doors slamming on fingers.

How much more do handleless kitchen cabinets cost?

On average, handleless cabinets cost 15-20% more than traditional cabinets with hardware. The specialized equipment and precision required to manufacture and install handleless cabinets drives up the price. High-end finishes also add cost.

Should all the cabinets go handleless or just some?

Mixing handleless and hardware cabinets is a smart way to get the best of both worlds. For example, lower cabinets can be handleless for an unbroken aesthetic, while upper cabinets have handles for easy access. Another idea is drawers without handles and door cabinets with.

Can you add handles later if I don’t like the handleless style?

It is possible to drill new holes and add knobs or handles later. But this will leave behind unused holes in the doors. Filling and refinishing them can be challenging to make them look seamless. It’s best to decide early and stick with that cabinet hardware style.


Handleless kitchen cabinets offer an ultra-modern, minimalist look that can totally transform a kitchen’s aesthetic. Eliminating knobs and handles creates a very sleek, contemporary style. But the lack of hardware can potentially impact accessibility and ease of use, while also showing more fingerprints.

Carefully weighing the pros and cons of both handleless and hardware cabinet designs is important. There are ways to enjoy the aesthetic benefits of a handleless look while minimizing downsides through smart design choices. Customizing your cabinet mix and choosing fingerprint-resistant finishes and easy-access doors allows you to have the best of both worlds.

With some thoughtful planning and expert help, handleless kitchen cabinets can provide a stylishly seamless look that makes a dramatic statement. Just be sure to thoroughly consider how they will perform in your unique space.