Should I Use Knobs Or Pulls On Kitchen Cabinets? (Tips)

Knobs or pulls? If someone said that to you in a bar you’d probably slap them, but in the context of kitchen cabinets, it makes lots of sense. So which is it?

Traditionally, pulls go on drawers while knobs are for cupboard doors. You can mix knobs and pulls in a kitchen, but it looks better if they all have the same finish. Pulls tend to be viewed as more modern in terms of styling than knobs.

Let’s dig down into the subject of knobs or pulls in more detail, and discover what looks good on what, where they should be placed, and whether they can be mixed or not (plus many other related questions)…

Should I Use Knobs Or Pulls On Kitchen Cabinets?

How Do You Decide on Pulls or Knobs?

Traditionally, pulls go on drawers while knobs are for cupboard doors. However, this isn’t a hard-and-fast rule, and each type will work on drawers and doors. Just bear in mind that you’ll probably need two knobs for a kitchen drawer, whereas a single, longer pull would suffice.

When it comes down to it, the biggest deciding factor is the look you’re going for. Knobs tend to work better for classic or vintage looks, and pulls have a more contemporary feel. Again, this isn’t a definite rule, as you can get really modern-looking chrome knobs and classic-looking pulls (in materials such as brushed pewter or brass).

Another note: if you’re replacing old knobs or pulls, you may want to stick with the size and style you had before, otherwise you may find yourself filling in old screw holes. This turns a quick style fix into a bigger project.

Can You Mix Knobs and Handles on Kitchen Cabinets?

You certainly can mix knobs and pulls, and many kitchens have a combination (yep, pulls for drawers and knobs for doors). If you want a coherent finish, choose knobs and pulls in the same material. However, if you’re going for a more eclectic, maximalist look, choose knobs and pulls that aren’t designed to go together.

Are Knobs or Pulls More Modern?

The sleek, understated look of many pulls tends to give them a more modern look than knobs. To achieve a more minimalist look, some kitchens use vertical pulls on their cabinets too, in materials such as brushed stainless steel or polished chrome.

However, you can choose pulls with a more traditional finish, such as brass or pewter. If you prefer using a pull to a knob and have a classic-style kitchen, go for one of these.

You can also find contemporary-looking knobs, for example in chrome or nickel. Look out for square or disc-shaped knobs for an on-trend accent.

Do Cabinets Look Better With Hardware?

We’ve heard cabinet hardware described as “the jewelry of the kitchen”, and we like this idea. Knobs and pulls give you the chance to add a stylish accessory to your cabinets and drawers, and you can easily change the feel of your kitchen simply by swapping out the hardware.

However, occasionally, a kitchen will look better with hardware-free, touch-opening doors. Something like a white gloss kitchen or an industrial-looking stainless steel row of cabinets looks sleekly elegant with no knobs and pulls (or just very discreet ones).

Where Should Pulls Be Placed on Cabinets?

Many kitchen cabinets have frame and panel designs. You can picture what we mean: the main door or drawer panel surrounded by a frame-like structure. The general rule here is that the knob or pull goes on the frame if it’s a door and on the panel if it’s a drawer.

This useful short film about kitchen cabinets shows you how to measure the right position for your knobs and pulls, and how to install them.

What Hardware Looks Good on White Cabinets?

Again, this depends on your personal tastes. Sleek, simple designs in metallic finishes look good against white gloss cabinets, while something more old-fashioned like a nice brass will look perfect with your Shaker-style cabinets.

If you want a dramatic look, black pulls are a bold choice. Prefer to be minimalist? Do away with the hardware completely, and opt for push latches that don’t need any form of exterior handle. (Word of warning: this understated style is super-chic, but you will have to wipe away a lot of fingerprints, pretty much every day.)

Do you currently have natural wood-style doors and want to switch up to a stylish white kitchen? Don’t abandon your current kitchen and start again – here’s how to paint your kitchen cabinets white.

Where Do Knobs Go on Shaker Style Cabinets?

Shaker style cabinets have a frame and panel construction. The doorknobs go on the frame section, while the drawer knobs go in the center of the panel.

When it comes to doors, the knob generally goes in the top corner of the frame. However, if we’re talking overhead cabinets, it goes on the bottom corner.

Most kitchen drawers will need two knobs, which takes a bit of measuring. Hopefully, your cabinets will come with pre-drilled holes or at least a template! 

If not, find the center point of the panel and make a light pencil mark. If you want a symmetrical look, find the center point between this and the inner edge of the panel, on both sides of the center point. Mark these, and these are the points where your knobs will be fixed.

With wider drawers, the knobs may need to go closer to the frame edges for better pulling-strength. If this is the case, use a one-third to two-thirds ratio between the frame edge and the center point. 

Really narrow drawers? The knob simply goes in the center of the panel. 

What Type of Cabinet Knobs Are in Style?

There’s a great choice of cabinet knobs out there at the moment. If you want one of the latest looks, matte black finishes and oil-rubbed bronze are really on-trend. Brushed chrome is also still in fashion.

What Size Pulls to Use on Kitchen Cabinets?

There’s no real rule about what size pulls to use on your cabinets. However, a pull that’s around a third of the width of your drawer panel will give you a pleasing effect. 

Should Cabinet Pulls Be Vertical or Horizontal?

Generally, pulls go on drawers rather than cabinet doors; however, there’s no reason at all why you can’t use pulls for both. In fact, many people find pulls easier to use than knobs when it comes to doors as well as drawers. 

They can be installed horizontally or vertically. Pulls need two screws, one at either end, so if you’re replacing doorknobs with pulls, you’ll probably need to fill in the old screw hole and start again with two new ones.

Do You Put Handles on Fake Drawers?

The whole point of a fake drawer, like the ones you get under the basin, is that it mimics the look of a real one. So yes, you should really fix knobs or a pull on the fake drawer, otherwise, it’s simply a bare panel.

Are Zinc Cabinet Pulls Good?

Zinc alloy is an excellent material for your cabinet pulls. It’s durable and long-lasting and resistant to corrosion: ideal for the humid atmosphere of the kitchen. Zinc alloy is also malleable, which means there’s always a good selection of designs available.

Kitchen knobs or pulls?

Can You Mix Cabinet Hardware Finishes?

What look are you going for in your kitchen? If you like a smart and streamlined look, where everything matches and you have a defined decor scheme, then you need your hardware to match. This could mean using identical handles on all the units or making sure that your knobs and pulls have the same finish.

However recently, we’ve seen new trends becoming popular, which advocate complementary finishes rather than identical ones. A vintage-style kitchen, for example, may have several different types of cabinets, dressers, and other furnishings, which don’t match and certainly aren’t fitted.

Likewise, a bohemian maximalist design will have a range of patterns, textures, and colors. A country-style kitchen could also have a range of different knobs for a rustic, mix-and-match feel.

Should Kitchen and Bathroom Hardware Match?

One rule for both kitchens and bathrooms (if you’re going for a coordinated finish) is that you match your hardware with your faucets. This creates a pleasingly neat effect. 

So, if your bath faucets and other bathroom fittings are in chrome, choose cabinet pulls in chrome, too. In the kitchen, a vintage brass-effect faucet should be teamed with knobs in a similar finish. Starting from the beginning? You can choose matching faucets, plugs, knobs, pulls, door handles, and light switches all in one go.

Should your kitchen and bathroom match each other? Not necessarily. If you’re going for a coordinated look across your house or apartment, having a coordinated kitchen and bathroom will certainly create a seamless feel. You might even save a few dollars by buying large multi-packs of knobs and pulls! 

However, in most cases, a lot of the joy of decorating your home comes in creating a fresh new look for every room. Give your kitchen and bathroom different finishes if you want to play with a range of styles and colors.

Final Thoughts

None of this is set in stone, but here at Castle of Mine, we think that sticking with pulls on drawers and knobs on cupboards is the right way to go in the kitchen.

And if you want to mix them up, keep them all the same finish so you create a coherent style across all your kitchen cabinets and drawers.

Of course, this all depends upon your personal taste – and ultimately it’s your kitchen so just go with what you like and what makes you happy. 🙂