Kitchen cabinet knobs and pulls may seem like a small detail, but they can have a big impact on the look and feel of your kitchen. The right hardware can take your cabinetry from boring to beautiful, while the wrong style can make even the most expensive cabinets look cheap. When selecting knobs and pulls, you’ll want to consider factors like finish, shape, size and spacing. Read on for tips to help you get a grip on choosing the perfect knobs and pulls for your kitchen cabinets.

Choosing the Right Finish

The finish of your cabinet hardware plays a large role in the overall look of your kitchen. Consider the following finishes and how they could complement your decor:

Brushed Nickel

Brushed nickel is a versatile metal finish that has a soft, brushed texture. It has a sheen that is understated yet still catches the light beautifully. Brushed nickel pairs well with stainless steel appliances and can give a kitchen a contemporary vibe.

Matte Black

Matte black hardware is having a major moment right now. The rich, dark finish looks sophisticated against both light and dark cabinet colors. Matte black is an especially good choice for modern, industrial or farmhouse style kitchens.

Oil-Rubbed Bronze

With an antique-like brownish hue, oil-rubbed bronze knobs and pulls can give your kitchen a lovely rustic or vintage feel. This living finish develops its patina over time for even more character.

Satin Brass

For a touch of shine with subtle warmth, satin brass is an excellent choice. It has an elegant gold tone without being too bold or flashy. Satin brass works with traditional, transitional and contemporary spaces.

Polished Chrome

Polished chrome has a mirror-like shine that screams modern style. It pops against darker cabinets but can also provide nice contrast on light cabinets. Just note that fingerprints show up easily on polished chrome.

Consider the overall style you want for your kitchen, and choose a finish that enhances that aesthetic. Your cabinet knobs and pulls finish should tie into other metallic finishes like lighting fixtures and appliances.

Get a Grip – Choosing the Right Shape

Beyond the finish, the shape of your knobs and pulls is critical for both form and function. Here are some of the most common options:

Round Knobs

A classic choice, round knobs have a timeless appeal and are easy to grip from any angle. They come in a wide variety of sizes, from dainty to dramatic. Larger round knobs can make a statement on plain cabinet fronts.

Square Knobs

Square or rectangular knobs have a more structured, geometric look. They work well in contemporary kitchens, especially with flat-front cabinets. The straight edges give them a clean-lined style.

Bar Pulls

Long rectangular pulls are commonly called bar pulls. Their elongated shape gives rows of kitchen cabinets a seamless, consistent look. Bar pulls work on both doors and drawers.

Cup Pulls

Cup pulls are rounded or curved at the ends but have an open center. They are a happy medium between knobs and bar pulls. The partial hand grip of cup pulls adds nice detail.

Bow Pulls

For a soft, delicate look, bow pulls have a lovely curved shape. They typically have an elegant satin finish and are a bit daintier than other options. Bow pulls pair nicely with shaker style cabinet doors.

Consider the existing lines and geometry in your kitchen when selecting knob and pull shapes. For example, square knobs would suit a kitchen with straight, right-angled elements while rounded pulls complement curved features.

Get the Right Size

Cabinet knobs and pulls come in a range of sizes from tiny 1-inch knobs to pulls over 12 inches long. Follow these guidelines for sizing:

  • Knobs should be at least 1.5 inches in diameter to get a good grip to open doors and drawers. Very small knobs can be frustrating!
  • Pulls should be 3-6 inches long for full extension drawers and 4-8 inches for doors. Oversized pulls can look awkward.
  • For base cabinets, larger pulls around 6 inches long work well. Larger scales here balance out the taller cabinets.
  • Near a cooktop or sink, opt for larger knobs and pulls that are easy to grasp when your hands are wet or messy.
  • For glass-front cabinet doors, choose small knobs to avoid obstructing views inside the cabinets.
  • Weight and visual balance are considerations. Heavier pulls shouldn’t be used on unframed cabinet doors or thin drawers.

Hold some sample knobs and pulls to help gauge the right size. Consider the scale in relation to your cabinet sizes, kitchen traffic patterns and visual style.

Get the Right Spacing and Placement

Proper spacing and placement of your knobs and pulls ensures your kitchen cabinets function as smoothly as they look. Follow these guidelines:

Knob Placement

  • Place knobs about one-third of the way down from the top of the cabinet door. Centering knobs looks awkward.
  • Align knobs vertically in a column on doors and horizontally in a row on drawers for consistency.
  • Position knobs equidistant from both outer edges and adjacent knobs for symmetry.
  • Make sure knobs don’t collide with each other when opening adjacent doors and drawers.

Pull Placement

  • Pulls should be placed horizontally in the center of drawers for an even look.
  • For full overlay doors, align pulls in the exact vertical center of the cabinet door.
  • On inset cabinetry, position pulls slightly above center so your hand avoids hitting the bottom of the cabinet frame.
  • Allow at least 3 inches of clearance between pulls on adjacent doors so hands don’t bump knuckles.
  • Place longer pulls on wider drawers and doors to maintain visual balance.

Following proper spacing guidelines creates a cohesive, easy-to-use kitchen. Take exact measurements to position your knobs and pulls perfectly.

Choose Complementary Styles

Most kitchens use knobs on doors and pulls on drawers for differentiation. While mixing and matching can work in some cases, using complementary styles creates a sense of unity. Here are pairings that work well together:

  • Round knobs with bar pulls
  • Square knobs with rectangular pulls
  • Cup pulls with bow pulls
  • Graphic knobs with industrial pipe pulls
  • Crystal knobs with delicate wire pulls
  • Rustic twig knobs with strap pulls

Don’t be afraid to integrate two sizes of the same style, like a longer bar pull on lower cabinets and shorter ones above. Just be sure the finishes match. Using a collection of coordinating knobs and pulls will give your kitchen cabinets polish.

FAQs About Choosing Kitchen Cabinet Knobs and Pulls

Still have questions about selecting the perfect cabinet hardware? Here are answers to some frequently asked questions:

How much do cabinet knobs and pulls cost?

Knobs and pulls range in price from about $2 – $10 per piece for simple plastic and metal options up to $50 per piece for premium materials and detailed styles. So for a typical 30-inch kitchen cabinet with two knobs or pulls, expect to spend $4 – $100 per cabinet.

Should all the hardware match?

Consistency is key, so all the knobs and pulls in a kitchen should coordinate in terms of finish, style and size. Don’t mix satin nickel and brass finishes or combine round knobs with rectangular pulls.

Matching hardware ties everything together.

Should I choose knobs or pulls?

Many kitchens use knobs on doors for easy gripping and pulls on drawers to differentiate. But you can choose all knobs, all pulls or a combination if you prefer. Just be sure drawers have enough space to open smoothly. Consider your kitchen’s traffic flow.

How do you clean knobs and pulls?

Use a microfiber cloth with an all-purpose cleaner and rub gently to remove dirt and fingerprints from metal finishes. For vintage hardware, use mild soap and water only. For crystal knobs, use glass cleaner. Don’t use anything abrasive or harsh cleaners which could damage the finish.

Can I spray paint existing knobs and pulls?

Yes, you can spray paint hardware to refresh the look or change the finish. Lightly sand, then clean thoroughly before spraying with thin coats of spray primer and paint, allowing drying time between coats. Add a protective clear top coat for durability.

When should I change my knobs and pulls?

Replacing knobs and pulls is an easy update to make when your cabinets start to look dated or worn. Updating hardware can give you an entirely new look for a fraction of the cost of new cabinets. Change your knobs and pulls to match if you update other kitchen finishes like faucets, lighting and appliances.

Get the Perfect Grip for Your Kitchen

Installing new knobs and pulls is one of the simplest ways to update your kitchen’s style. But with so many options for finish, shape, size and placement, choosing the perfect hardware can be tricky. Keep the tips in this article in mind as you shop for knobs and pulls.

The right choices can add polish to your kitchen and give you a better grip on your cabinet doors and drawers. So take your time, have fun shopping and you’ll be thrilled with how just the right knobs and pulls bring your whole kitchen together!


Choosing new knobs and pulls for your kitchen cabinets is an exciting project that can completely transform the look of your space. With the right hardware you can upgrade your kitchen’s style, change the tone from traditional to modern, or give antique cabinets a fresh new feeling.

Keep scale, finish, and style in mind as you evaluate your options—oversized hardware on petite cabinets can look overwhelming, just as tiny knobs on expansive cabinets can get visually lost. Make selections that complement your existing decor and appliances for a cohesive, polished aesthetic.

Installing your new knobs and pulls is a quick DIY project that will have you eager to show off your updated kitchen. With your freshly outfitted cabinets adorned with striking new hardware, you can finally get a grip on your dream kitchen style.