4 Tips for Choosing Cabinet Hardware

Sometimes in a renovation, there are key items and tasks you look forward to checking off the list—not only because you get to scratch through one line of many but also just because you enjoy it. Cabinet hardware is one of those items for me.

by Stephanie Staton

Sometimes in a renovation, there are key items and tasks you look forward to checking off the list—not only because you get to scratch through one line of many but also just because you enjoy it. Cabinet hardware is one of those items for me.

I was so excited when I started the search for cabinet hardware—this was an excellent opportunity to bring a little color and playfulness to the kitchen. After all, they can easily be swapped out if done properly, and there are countless styles, colors and fits to choose from.

It might sound a little absurd, but the ultra-sleek, modern pulls in our previous home turned into a complete obstacle in the kitchen. The ends of the metal bars constant caught on my pant loops and pockets—don’t ask me how, I’m still scratching my head over it—as well as my husband’s cargo-pant accessories. (Turns out those baggy pockets and extra loops are quite adept at snagging and ensnaring an adult male.) There were even times, with the help of a rambunctious toddler, that I caught my hair on the not-so-cool-anymore bars. Needless to say, they aren’t going to make an appearance in the new house.

With lessons learned, I set out to find the perfect cabinet hardware. One would think this would be a no-brainer with so many options both online and in stores, but alas, nothing is as easy as it seems, at least not with this remodel. Here are the specs that I set about fulfilling:

  • Handles must be flush to cabinet on each end.
  • Knobs must be less-apt to catch passersby.
  • Hardware must match kitchen color scheme.
  • Hardware must coordinate with bronze fixtures.
  • Everything must be standard size for easy replacement in the future. (Filling holes and finding paint matches is not something I want to think about—go figure!)

Most of these requirements are pretty self-explanatory, but to explain one of them, I must digress (apologies): Picking a color scheme for the kitchen is pretty big, in my opinion, and I knew I wanted to create a vintage feel that would hopefully transcend time again and again. I often like to find a piece that I love for a room and build upon it, and the kitchen was no exception. I found a rolling pin that I loved and splurged on it—a utilitarian object that is also a beautiful jumping off point for the room was worth the extra few dollars. (Don’t read this wrong—we’re talking maybe $10 extra dollars. I’m not about to blow the budget on kitchen utensil, no matter how cool and sassy it might be.)

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With my orange-and-teal rolling pin stowed safely away and its colors committed to memory, I began my search for the perfect hardware. Some were too plain; some were too busy; and others just didn’t quite fit my or my husband’s ideal. Oh yes, the hubby had an opinion on this, sending me on more than one recon-and-return mission. While several of the pulls and knobs we tried out flat out failed, some actually found homes in other rooms, such as the bathroom, making it the expeditions slightly less disheartening. When we finally settled on a knob style—teal with a teardrop handle that attached with a smooth mount (read: no snag-ability)—I could almost taste victory. Almost. It would take three more trips to different stores to find a handle that my husband and I could not only agree coordinated with the knobs but that also suited our grip comfort and style. (Sounds crazy ’cause it is.)

4 Tips for Choosing Cabinet Hardware - Photo by Stephanie Staton (HobbyFarms.com)
Photo by Stephanie Staton

I’m delighted with how the cabinet hardware turned out, but there are a few things from this experience and those that came before that had provided some insight. Keep these things in mind when on the search for cabinet hardware of your own.

1. Get the right hardware for the job.
In other words, consider how it will be used and how it will work in the space. The modern handlebars from our previous abode might have been fine for uppers with something else on the lower cabinets to save me getting stuck to a cabinet while bent over retrieving pans.

2. Try before you drill.
Don’t drill holes and install knobs or pulls before you test them in the space: Hold them up to see how they’ll look on the cabinets, as well as near your other fixtures and furnishings.

3.  Test them out.
Stores often have displays set up so you can get an idea of how the cabinet hardware looks installed, but this is also an opportunity to see how they feel in use. Make sure your hand fits comfortably in the pulls and that you can securely grip knobs.

4. Have a plan.
Research finish options before you go shopping to help narrow your choices. There can be too much of good thing when navigating row upon row of hardware options.

Don’t let these little details get you down. Have fun adding personality to your cabinets or furniture pieces and find humor in the experience—even if the store clerks know you by name and know that you’re returning yet another set of knobs and pulls.


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