Kitchen cabinet handles are an often overlooked yet incredibly important component of any kitchen design. The right handles can elevate the look of your cabinets, add visual interest, and make your kitchen easier to navigate and use. With so many options to choose from, it can be challenging to select the best handles for your kitchen. This comprehensive guide will walk you through everything you need to know – from styles, materials and finishes to sizing and installation. Let’s dive in!
Common Kitchen Cabinet Handle Styles
Kitchen cabinet handles come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some of the most popular styles include:
Bar pulls are long horizontal handles that make opening and closing doors and drawers easy. They work well in contemporary, modern and transitional kitchens. Bar pulls come in a range of lengths, usually between 3-5 inches. Opt for longer bar pulls on wider cabinet doors and drawers.
Bar pulls add a clean, streamlined look to kitchen cabinets.
Arch pulls have a curved, half-circle shape that provides a graceful accent. The arched shape is versatile enough to blend with many kitchen design aesthetics from traditional to contemporary. Arch pulls commonly measure 3-4 inches high but sizes vary.
Arch pulls lend a soft, elegant touch to kitchen cabinets.
Knobs are a basic round handle attached with a single screw through the center. They are simple and affordable. For easy grasping, opt for knobs with a diameter between 1-1.5 inches. Go larger for a dramatic statement.
Round knob hardware offers an affordable and customizable cabinet handle option.
Cup pulls have a partial cup shape. They are a popular choice for Shaker style kitchens and farmhouse décor. Cup pulls range between 2-3 inches wide. Look for recessed pulls to integrate seamlessly with cabinet doors.
Recessed cup pulls complement Shaker style cabinets.
Bow pulls feature a curved center and pointed ends, resembling a bow shape. The unique shape makes them stand out in transitional and contemporary kitchens. Standard bow pull sizes are 3-5 inches wide.
Bow pulls make a modern design statement.
Popular Kitchen Cabinet Handle Materials
From metals to glass, kitchen cabinet handles come in a diverse range of materials. Consider the pros, cons and unique traits of each material:
Stainless steel is one of the most popular choices for its sleek, contemporary look and durability. Brushed and satin stainless finishes resist fingerprints and are easy to clean. Stainless steel handles work well in modern kitchens.
Brass handles showcase a timeless, elegant look. Brass develops a handsome patina over time. Unlacquered brass will change in appearance as it oxidizes, while lacquered brass maintains its original shiny finish. Brass offers a traditional, upscale impression.
Bronze has an antique old-world character that fits nicely with Tuscan, Mediterranean and traditional décor. Oil-rubbed bronze is a living finish that gradually darkens. Bronze with a blackened finish provides extra visual drama.
Nickel has a clean silver-tone sheen similar to stainless but warmer. Brushed and satin nickel resists smudges and water spots. Polished nickel provides more shine. Nickel works well in both modern and traditional kitchen settings.
Glass handles make a gorgeous design statement with their crystalline style. Opt for sturdy tempered glass. Glass may not work well in busy households prone to slamming doors. Use care when cleaning.
Wood handles complement rustic, farmhouse and cottage style kitchens. Wood adds natural warmth. Consider your cabinet door color, as wood handles look best on light cabinetry. Match the wood species to your cabinets for a coordinated look.
Wrought iron has an artisanal, handcrafted look. It works wonders in Old World and Tuscan kitchen designs. Keep in mind wrought iron develops a patina with age. Use a protective sealer if you want to maintain the original black finish.
Popular Kitchen Cabinet Handle Finishes
The finish plays a big role in the overall look of kitchen cabinet hardware. Here are some of the most popular cabinet handle finishes:
Polished finishes have a shiny, reflective surface. Polished chrome and polished nickel give off bold metallic sparkle. Frequently wiping down handles prevents smudging on polished finishes.
Brushed finishes have fine line textures from sanding or brushing. Brushing results in a soft matte surface that camouflages fingerprints. Brushed nickel and brushed stainless steel are common.
Satin finishes land midway between polished and brushed finishes in luster. They have a smooth, velvety sheen. Satin nickel and satin brass resist fingerprints while adding subtle shine.
Oil-rubbed finishes involve rubbing oil into the metal to darken the surface creating an aged, antique look. Oil-rubbed bronze is especially popular for its old-world charm.
Matte black has an ultra-modern vibe. The flat black finish without any shine complements contemporary kitchens. Matte black works with a range of hardware styles from simple bar pulls to decorative wrought iron.
Antique finishes are designed to look old and weathered, boasting charm. Common techniques include distressing, adding patinas, and purposefully tarnishing metals to mimic the passage of time. Antique brass conveys historic sophistication.
No matter your kitchen’s style, there is a finish that can enhance your cabinet hardware. Consider the amount of shine you want as well as how prone the finish is to showing fingerprints.
Factors That Impact Kitchen Cabinet Handle Size
Choosing the right size cabinet handle helps create visual balance and proper proportions on your cabinetry. Take the following factors into account when selecting a handle size:
Cabinet Door or Drawer Size
Proportionally, wider cabinet doors and drawers call for longer handles. Standard sized cabinet doors often work well with 3-5 inch long bar pulls and arch pulls. For large drawers, scales up to 8-10 inch pulls. Make sure handles allow a comfortable grip and clearance.
Handle spacing impacts visual appeal and functionality. Allow minimum 2 inches of clearance between handles so fingers don’t knock against the cabinet frame. The standard handle spacing for most cabinets is 4 inches center-to-center. Wider cabinets may accommodate 6-8 inch spacing.
Style of Hardware
Some handle styles naturally tend towards small or large sizes. Delicate glass and ceramic knobs often top out around 1.5 inches diameter. Ornate wrought iron pulls commonly measure 8+ inches long. Choose a size suiting the style. Overly large or small hardware appears out of sync.
Nearby Competing Visual Elements
Nearby design elements like tile backsplashes impact perceived scale. Busy backsplashes with small tiles call for smaller hardware so as not to compete. Simple backsplashes allow you to size up hardware without overwhelming the eye.
There are no universal handle size rules set in stone. If a particular size feels right to you visually and functionally, go for it. Just keep the style harmonious between cabinets and drawers. Mismatched sizes can look disjointed.
Take time to assess the size relationship between your cabinetry, hardware and overall kitchen aesthetic. Thoughtful handle sizing creates a unified, custom look.
How Many Handles Do You Need?
To determine the quantity of handles needed for your kitchen, take inventory of:
- Standard doors – Most cabinets have one handle. Ovens have two handles.
- Drawers – Count handles based on drawer width. Wider drawers may need two handles.
- Appliance garage doors – Used for housing small appliances. Often require handles.
- Sink base doors – The doors flanking the sink cabinet.
- Trash and recycling pull-outs – Some have built-in handles while others need added handles.
- Pantry, oven cabinet or other wide doors – May need two handles.
- Filler panels – The narrow panels covering gaps between cabinets. These occasionally get handles.
- Amount of hardware – Buy 5-10% extra in case of misdrilling or replacements needed down the road.
Take a kitchen tour with your handle picks in mind, picturing where hardware will go. This gives a realistic handle count. Provide your handle quantity totals to cabinet makers or handle retailers when ordering.
How Much Do Kitchen Cabinet Handles Cost?
Kitchen cabinet handle prices vary based on:
- Style – Ornate decorative pulls cost more than simple bar pulls.
- Materials – Pewter and wrought iron often cost more than stainless steel or zinc. Exotic materials like crystal and cloisonné can have high price tags.
- Finish – More labor-intensive finishes like antique and oil-rubbed usually cost extra.
- Brand – Premium designer brands charge more for hardware.
- Order quantity – Buying handles in bulk lowers per-unit pricing.
On average, expect to pay:
- Simple zinc alloy knobs and pulls: $2 – $10 per handle
- Stainless steel bar pulls: $10 – $25 per handle
- Decorative crystal knobs: $25 – $50 per handle
- Antique bronze cup pulls: $20 – $40 per handle
- Pewter wrought iron pulls: $50+ per handle
Compare options across brands for the features you want at the best value. With the wide range of prices, there are affordable handles to meet almost any kitchen budget.
How to Install Kitchen Cabinet Handles
Installing kitchen cabinet hardware is a DIY-friendly project with these steps:
You will need:
- Tape measure
- Handle template
- Cabinet handles
- Screws sized for handles
Use a template aligned with handle spacing to mark holes accurately. Have extra screws available.
Remove Old Hardware
If replacing existing handles, remove old hardware so you have an empty slate for installing new handles. Fill any unused screw holes with wood filler.
Tape the template to each cabinet door and drawer front. Use a pencil to mark the centers of each handle hole through the template. Remove the template.
Using a drill bit slightly smaller than your handle screws, carefully drill pilot holes where marked. Drilling into cabinet doors can cause splintering, so go slow.
Place handles over each set of holes. Insert screws through the handles into the pilot holes. Tighten screws with a screwdriver until snug. Be careful not to overtighten.
And that’s it! Installing cabinet hardware is a quick way to upgrade your kitchen’s style.
5 Tips for Choosing the Best Kitchen Cabinet Handles
Selecting the perfect cabinet handles may seem tricky, but keep these five tips in mind:
1. Consider your kitchen’s overall style
Choose a handle shape and design consistent with your kitchen’s aesthetic – traditional, contemporary, transitional, etc.
2. Mind the size
Make sure the scale of the handles fits the cabinet door or drawer front size.
3. Coordinate metals
Match finishes on appliances, faucets, lighting and hardware for harmony.
4. Assess ease of use
Opt for styles that are easy to grasp and won’t snag hands.
5. Check handle spacing
Allow proper clearance between handles for accessibility.
Bonus Tip: Gather multiple opinions
Get input from family or friends to help weigh options. Extra perspectives provide valuable insight!
Selecting cohesive, functional and beautiful hardware elevates your whole kitchen’s design. With so many fantastic handle choices available, you’re sure to find the perfect fit.
Kitchen Cabinet Handles: FAQ
Still have some lingering questions when it comes to selecting kitchen cabinet handles? Here are answers to some frequently asked questions:
How do you choose cabinet hardware?
Consider the style of your kitchen cabinets and overall décor. Pick a handle shape and finish that complements the design aesthetic. Make sure the size works ergonomically for easy usage. Allow for proper spacing between handles.
Should all cabinet handles match?
For a cohesive look, it’s best to match handles throughout the kitchen. Use the same style, finish, and metal on drawers, doors and pull-outs. Consistent hardware ties everything together.
Where should handles be placed on cabinets?
Typically, place handles horizontally centered vertically on doors and drawers. Allow a minimum 2 inches of clearance from the cabinet edge to prevent banging knuckles. Standard handle spacing is 4 inches center-to-center.
How far apart should kitchen cabinet handles be?
The recommended handle spacing is 4 inches from the center of one handle to the center of the next handle. Wider drawers and cabinets may need 6-8 inches spacing for comfortable hand clearance.
Should cabinet hardware match faucet?
Matching kitchen hardware finishes creates a unified decorative scheme. If your faucet is stainless, brushed nickel or matte black, choose handles with a similar polished, brushed or matte look.
What is the most popular color for cabinet hardware?
Currently, matte black and brushed nickel handles rank among the top choices for contemporary kitchens. Bronze and antique brass handles remain popular for traditional designs. Stainless steel works universally.
How much does it cost to change kitchen cabinet hardware?
For DIY installation, expect to spend $10-$50 per handle, depending on the material and style, plus any tools needed. Hiring a handyman averages $200-$500. Whole kitchen hardware makeovers typically total $500-$2000.
Should I change my silver hardware to bronze?
Swapping silver finishes like brushed nickel for bronze can give your kitchen an instant vintage flair. Oil-rubbed bronze has rich brown undertones that pair nicely with both light and dark cabinet colors.
What finish hardware goes with white cabinets?
For white cabinetry, classic choices like stainless steel, brushed nickel, chrome and polished nickel look sharp. You can also opt for an eye-catching contrast with matte black or bronze handles. Avoid matching white hardware, which tends to disappear visually.
I hope these answers help clarify any questions you had about selecting the perfect cabinet handles. Let me know if you need any other hardware or kitchen design advice!
The importance of cabinet hardware is evident once you realize how much it impacts your kitchen’s functionality and appearance. Kitchen cabinet handles deserve careful consideration, as they accentuate your style, aid usage and impress guests.
Hopefully this guide provided you with actionable advice to narrow down your myriad options to the best cabinet handles for your unique kitchen. From assessing your cabinet door sizes, to coordinating finishes with other kitchen details, to DIY installation, you now have the information needed to make a handle choice you’ll enjoy for years to come.
The right handles can elevate your whole kitchen’s aesthetic and create a more inviting, organized space. Give your cabinets the handles they deserve! Start a project you’ll be proud to show off to family and friends. Down the road, you’ll be thrilled you took the time to choose handles with both style and purpose in mind.