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Five Things to Think About Before Choosing Cabinet Hardware

Five Things to Think About Before Choosing Cabinet Hardware

When it comes to cabinet hardware, the choices are almost endless. How do you decide? Are there rules about where to use knobs and where to use pulls? What about finishes? Can you mix and match, or does everything need to be the same?

Before you start looking at knobs and pulls, figure out what style appeals to you. Do you like sleek, modern spaces? Does the coziness of a farmhouse kitchen give you a warm, fuzzy feeling? Do you wish your house was a time capsule from the Mad Men era? Knowing your own personal tastes will get you off to a good start. If you aren’t sure what you like, spend some time on websites like Houzz. Create an ideabook of your favorite spaces, and soon, you’ll start to see a pattern.

The image compares two kitchen cabinets: one with modern maple cabinets and satin nickel bar pulls, and one with traditional golden oak cabinets and vintage bronze pulls.

Along with style, location is another thing to consider. Are you looking for pulls for a guest bathroom? Polished finishes may show more water spots and fingerprints, so keep that in mind or keep a microfiber cloth handy for easy cleaning. Do you need knobs for an entire kitchen? If you’re a messy cook, you may want to avoid hardware with a lot of ornate designs, which could be difficult to clean if pancake batter spills on them.

If you’re replacing existing hardware, make sure your new hardware lines up with the holes in your cabinet. For pulls, measure the distance between the two holes. 3” spacing is the most common, but many modern styles are measured in millimeters, so it’s good to know what you’re dealing with before heading to the store. If you’re replacing knobs, you have a little more flexibility, as you can always add a second hole to the cabinet to accommodate a new pull. Finally, you can always choose to fill in the holes and start with a blank slate. (Here’s a handy tutorial on how to fill the holes.) If you’re starting from scratch, you don’t need to worry about matching existing holes.

Many people wonder about using knobs versus pulls, or mixing them. While everyone has an opinion on this, at the end of the day, it all comes down to your preference. It’s perfectly acceptable to use knobs on doors and pulls on drawers, or vice versa. If you have a wider drawer, you may want to use two pulls for visual balance. Cup pulls (also known as bin pulls) are best suited for drawers rather than doors.

Estate Cup Pull with Matching Knob in matte black


Once you’ve picked a design, you can choose the finish for your hardware. Most cabinet hardware comes in multiple finishes, so you’re sure to find something that suits your tastes. While some people like the cohesive look of using one finish, it’s okay to mix a couple of finishes in the same room. For example, you could use vintage bronze knobs on your island cupboards and satin nickel knobs on your perimeter cabinets. If you do mix finishes, it’s best to stick with one or two finishes for a room and coordinate your hardware with things like your appliances, light fixtures and faucets.

Don’t get overwhelmed by the process. Instead, choose hardware that you really like. After all, you’re the one who will use it every day!

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Malia Davis - September 24, 2018

I agree that it comes down to your personal preference when choosing pulls or knobs for your cabinets. I like pulls, but I think my husband likes knobs better. We’ll have to go in to a bathroom cabinet store and check out some of the options together so that we can find something we agree on. Maybe we could do a mix so that we’re both happy.

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