Adding or replacing your cabinet hardware is one of the best (and most affordable) kitchen updates you can make.
Some kitchens have all knobs. Some have all pulls. But sticking to just one type isn’t the most functional. I think it’s better to mix and match for utility and design.
The Basics of Mixing Cabinet Hardware
The easiest way to get started is to mix and match knobs with pulls. See below for where to use each.
Find a knob or pull you love, then match it with the coordinating knob or pull. Just be aware that sometimes what makes a gorgeous knob doesn’t translate well to a pull design or vice versa.
If the style you like doesn’t have coordinating hardware or you don’t like the matching options, the next best thing is to match the finish. You can coordinate knobs and pulls from different collections by choosing the same finish. But make sure the finish matches perfectly. Even slight variations will be noticeable.
When trying to match finishes it’s easiest to buy from the same brand or retailer because the way they label their finishes will be consistent. If you’re buying from different brands or retailers, then you need to order samples and compare finishes to find two that match.
When planning our kitchen, I ordered samples (a single knob) from a few different brands. None of them matched each other, even though they were all polished nickel. In the end, I decided to order all my hardware from CB2 so the finishes would match.
The other option is to use contrasting finishes. For this type of mix to work, you need to use opposites.
- Use a warm metal (gold, brass, copper) with a cool metal (chrome, nickel, pewter).
- Never use two warm metals or two cool metals together because it will look mismatched.
- A trendy mix right now is matte black with brass or gold.
Studio McGee has some great tips on mixing metal finishes on hardware and other fixtures, like lights and faucets.
Deciding Where to Put Knobs vs Pulls
Let’s talk about the budget first. Knobs are usually less expensive than pulls, especially longer designer pulls. If you’re on a tight budget, plan to use mostly knobs.
Splurge on pulls only where they are more functional than knobs. For example, a long drawer pull on the extra-wide drawers in my kitchen works better than two knobs or two smaller handles.
In my kitchen, I needed 49 hardware pieces. I was afraid it was going to cost a fortune. There are 18 drawers in our kitchen. I couldn’t stomach buying 18 drawer pulls.
I love how Melissa from The Inspired Room made up hardware rules for her kitchen. The rules helped her decide where to use each type of hardware and created a consistent look that makes sense.
So, I made up hardware rules for my kitchen to simplify the hardware decision process and to save money.
I’m sharing my rules here as an example. You should also check out Melissa’s hardware tips. Then, create some rules that make sense for your kitchen.
Rule #1: All cabinet doors get knobs
Big money saver, and easier to install.
Rule #2: Knobs only on sidewalls
This rule alone saved my budget. For all the doors and drawers on the fridge wall and oven wall, I used knobs. My reasoning is that those spaces aren’t part of the kitchen work triangle. They’re part of the walkways to the kitchen, so knobs feel less obtrusive. Plus, this rule cut the number of drawer pulls I needed down to seven.
Rule #3: Knobs on the island, except the trash pullout
Unless you’re behind the island, you don’t really see the hardware. I couldn’t justify splurging on pretty drawer pulls to hide behind the island. The exception is the trash pullout. A drawer pull is more functional for the most used “drawer” in our kitchen.
Rule #4: Splurge on long pulls for the extra-wide drawers on the main wall
All the drawers around the range are 30″ or 36″ wide. For functional reasons, they need to have long pulls. But pretty pulls also make sense here for aesthetic reasons because it’s the main view of the kitchen. You see the long pulls here and don’t even notice the side drawers all have knobs.
Our Cabinet Hardware Selections and Total Cost
By following the rules above, I was able to outfit our kitchen with polished nickel cabinet hardware for $318. And I’m certain I needed more hardware than the average kitchen.
If you’re looking for modern nickel hardware, check out my cabinet hardware roundup for beautiful, affordable options.
I’m off to install sprocket knobs in our master bathroom. I originally chose them for the bathroom and loved them so much, I decided to use them in the kitchen too.