6 Cabinet Hardware Tips from the Experts

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Pulls and knobs are a great way to update your kitchen cabinets if you want to make an impact without getting too spendy (or without making permanent changes in a rental). But choose carefully, as new hardware multiplied by several doors and drawers can mean a change for the better but it can also mean magnified mistakes.

If you're switching hardware (or putting in completely new cabinets), consider these tips:

  • Look for knobs with a diameter somewhere between 1" and 1 1/2". If you will have knobs on doors and drawers, stick to the same size or larger on drawers.
  • Wood knobs can go slightly larger than metal knobs, as they are intended to be more robust and are visually lighter than shiny metal.
  • Drawers wider than 18" need two knobs/pulls, whereas drawer narrower need only one.
  • If a drawer is wide enough to need two knobs, they should be set about 1/6th of the drawer length from each end (roughly).
  • Single pulls or knobs on drawers should be laterally centered and slightly higher than vertical center. (If they're exactly centered, they will appear lower than center when viewed from standing height).
  • Never place a knob in the corner of a door, imagine the door length divided into four quarters and try to keep the knob in the middle two quarters.

This advice comes from White Chapel Ltd., a supplier of brass and iron hardware. They're a terrific resource not only for shopping but for information on cabinet and furniture hardware. Check out their printed catalog if you haven't before: every piece of hardware is displayed on a gridded background at full scale, making it easy to grasp the sizes of everything. The advice above is expanded upon in White Chapel's guides on historical usage and how-tos.

Do you have any advice for switching out hardware?

(Image credits: Leela Cyd)