Tips for Choosing Decorative Cabinet Hardware

Tips for Choosing Decorative Cabinet Hardware
Beau Ueland
Tips for Choosing Decorative Cabinet Hardware

Often an afterthought for a novice, a professional home designer knows that one of the most important aspects of a successful kitchen cabinet renovation is the hardware used to accent the cabinetry. Don’t be fooled by the relatively small size of the handles, as they have the power to make your cabinets shine or sizzle. Here are some of our best tips for choosing decorative cabinet hardware.

Types of Decorative Hardware

The first thing that you will need to decide when picking out the hardware is what type of handle you want your cabinets to have. When deciding, check potential options by putting them against your cabinetry to see how they feel when you pull open the drawer. Remember, function is just as important as form. Here is more information regarding knobs and pulls, the two main types of decorative hardware.


In cabinetry work, a knob is a type of handle for opening your cabinets in which you use two fingers to pull open. This type of handle is best used for doors and small drawers that do not require much force to open. Knobs are usually installed using a single screw through a specific entry point.

One of the reasons why some people prefer knobs is because there are many more options available. They also typically cost less than pulls, but they are harder to grasp and pull. This can be especially troublesome when your hands are full and you need to put something away.


The other most common type of decorative hardware is pulls. These tend to be larger handles that you grasp with your entire hand to open. This type of handle can be used throughout the kitchen because it can go on doors and large drawers that take more force to open.

An important benefit of pulls is that they can offer a modern design for new kitchens. They have more flare than knobs and are much easier to grasp. Pulls are installed using two screws through multiple points of contact on the cabinet.

Style of Hardware

The next thing that you will want to decide after selecting a handle type is the style of hardware. Just like the decision between pulls and knobs, there is a decision that needs to be made between classic and modern when selecting a style. Here is how to choose the style that will best suit your kitchen


The biggest thing separating a more traditional design from a contemporary one is the intricate detailing and molding used to give the handle its form. If the cabinetry in your kitchen has a more traditional look, it is best to keep everything consistent by selecting this style of handles.


In stark contrast to the ornate decorations of the classical style is the sleek, seamless look of contemporary knobs and pulls. This style also uses less color, preferring instead to blend into your cabinetry. Like with classic hardware, you will want to keep your style of handles consistent if your cabinetry has a modern style.

Finish of the Hardware

After selecting a type and style for the handles, you will need to select the finish for your decorative cabinet hardware. The choices that you make should successfully complement the rest of the room. Keeping a consistent theme throughout the kitchen is the key to a success project.


Offering a touch of elegance, decorative cabinet hardware with a brass finish is typically the best choice for cabinetry that is lighter in color. The two most popular brass finishes are antique and polished. Antique brass is not as bright as polished, making it a good choice for kitchens that are already well lit. Polished brass goes well with many cabinetry styles as long as it compliments the other metallic options in your kitchen.


Installing decorative hardware with a chrome finish can look great with traditional or modern style cabinetry. Polished chrome is a popular finish that, like polished brass, can be used to brighten the room due to its reflective properties. A major benefit to using chrome handles is that many appliances in the home and kitchen already incorporate metal, so you can be sure that it won’t stick out from the other items in the room.

Silver Satin

Often considered an understated alternative to chrome, cabinet hardware with a silver satin finish is not as reflective as chrome. But it makes up for it by going well with nearly every style and type of cabinetry. Because of the color, it will match with any chrome that your appliances have, but will also fit in with other metals and finishes. Silver satin looks the best on cabinets that have a darker color.


Though not a finish material, black decorative cabinetry hardware is a very popular option in many kitchens. Designed to make a bold statement, black cabinetry hardware is eye-catching, but not so flashy as to be distracting. The hardware goes well with many different styles and types of cabinetry.

Decorating Advice

The rest of the tips for choosing decorative cabinet hardware are in the form of decorating advice for your hardware. For one, you should keep in mind the size of your drawers when deciding between handle types. For your smaller drawers, knobs will typically look the best, while pulls have a more natural home on your larger drawers and doors.

You should also consider your home’s occupants when picking out your finish. Some do not hide smudges or splatter very well, so be prepared to spend more time cleaning them. Also having to do with finishes, do not be afraid to mix and match the materials to reflect your personal style. Part of the joy of having a home comes from being able to decorate it in a way that will make you most comfortable.

Finally, consider where you want to place the hardware on the drawers and doors. For knobs, you generally want to keep them near the side of the door opposite the hinges, typically at the top. For handles, keeping them in the center of the drawer can offer a more uniform, put-together look.

Tips for Choosing Decorative Cabinet Hardware

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