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“The Jewelry on Your Cabinets”: How to Choose Hardware Styles

April 18, 2024

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In our past homes, I’ve always mixed knobs and pulls on hardware whether it comes to a kitchen or a bathroom. But then when we remodeled our kitchen with Jean Stoffer, she used four different types of hardware! It really opened up my mind to the beauty of breaking the mold, giving each cabinet set its own feel.

For every door or drawer, think about the function. Are you opening this space a lot? If not, you can go more decorative on cabinet hardware. There’s a hierarchy to how you choose hardware based on the function of the cabinets and drawers. Here are the types I’ve used in my home and how I decide where to put them.

Knobs

Chris Loves Julia kitchen hardware - antique brass knobs
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This is like the girl next door of hardware. It’s always there, and it always delivers. For cabinet doors, I generally go with a knob or pull. A knob can be used on a small drawer, and I think it looks so classic. Another great look is a wooden knob that’s painted the same color as the door — that leans very traditional English design.

A good rule of thumb that I follow? For any drawer that’s over 30″, I’ll use two knobs on it. My go-to shape for knobs is ball (see my favorites here) — they just have a timeless quality to them that I can’t deny.

One thing to consider with knobs is layout. If you have a wall of cabinets that don’t have a consistent number or pattern of opening, your knobs are going to look all off-centered. One way we handled this in the past is with the next type of hardware on my list.

Bin or Cup Pulls

Chris Loves Julia laundry room cabinet hardware - antique brass bin pulls
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When I want to do something a little more interesting with a drawer, I’ll turn to bin pulls. These have a more stately look to them, and they’re great for using in pairs like the knobs on larger drawers.

In one of our previous homes, we had a laundry room with cabinets in an odd number but all the same size. Some opened like a book next to each other and some were stand-alones that opened one way. We decided to put bin pulls on the center of each cabinet door. It was all uniform and easy to open.

Chris Loves Julia laundry room cabinet hardware - antique brass bin pulls

So think about functionality, but don’t just think about functionality. A knob would have opened them fine. But aesthetically that would have been a miss.

Pulls

Chris Loves Julia kitchen cabinet hardware - antique brass pulls
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For drawers that have a lot of daily use, I like to go with sturdy pulls. I tend to stick with straight lines for a modern look but aged-looking finishes for a hint of the traditional. The ones in our kitchen have a backplate that adds to the gleam.

When we were adding hardware to the lockers in the mud room, I used extra long pulls (a version of the ones in our kitchen). Generally we use knobs for doors because cabinet doors are either up high or down low and it can be awkward to open a cabinet up high with a handle.

Chris Loves Julia mudroom cabinet hardware - antique brass pulls on red lockers

In a locker that’s right in front of you, a handle pull feels natural and you can get extra-long pulls that feel substantial on larger doors. We did 12″ on the smaller and some 15″ on the full-size.

Ring Pulls

Chris Loves Julia kitchen cabinet hardware - antique brass ring pulls
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In a lesser-used cabinet in our kitchen, Jean added a ring pull that looks so antique. I love the vibe it evokes in our traditional house. Ring pulls aren’t quite as mindless to open, so it makes that cabinet feel special.

Just note that you’re not going to want ring pulls on any drawer that is heavy. We had them on my daughter’s antique dresser, and while I love their aesthetic, you really have to rely on finger strength to get the drawer out.

Chris Loves Julia Faye's room dresser hardware - bronze ring pulls

Think about using these on a small vanity drawer or bathroom drawer, something that’s more delicate and easy to roll out. It will instantly give any piece a little more charm.

Latches

Chris Loves Julia pantry cabinet hardware - antique brass latches
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Latches add so much character, and I love them so much. These are great for a cabinet door that you want to keep a little more secure. An under-the-sink cabinet is a great example — latches are a little harder for kids to open! And you can have additional child safety locks if you need to.

Chris Loves Julia kitchen cabinet hardware - antique brass latches

Obviously with that in mind, since they’re more tricky to open and close, these are best used on cabinets that are out of the way or ones you don’t open daily. Trust me, this is one of those times that function needs to take precedent (I wrote about how we made this mistake in this post.)

Edge Pulls

Edge pulls are very minimalistic; they sit flat on top of the door or drawer and create a little lip that you can pull for the door or drawer. It’s a modern look — it looks great when you have interesting wood grain on something and you want to keep it looking clean.

Where usually the hardware is the jewelry of the furniture or cabinetry, an edge pull is for a piece that doesn’t need any additional jewelry.

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Choosing Colors

Once you have your hardware types in mind, go ahead and mix-and-match your metals too. I have a whole post on how I did this in our kitchen.

When it comes to hardware, I would say mix metals in a room — just not on one single type of item. I wouldn’t put some silver and some gold hardware on the same type of cabinets next to each other — I would use a similar one.

Antique brass or unlacquered brass is my go-to finish because I like the idea of weathered things. I don’t want anything to be too precious. Keep in mind that if you’re buying more than one style, it can be really hard to mix hardware from different brands and stay on tone. If I’m working on one area, I generally try to get all my hardware from the same brand.

Thoughts on Costs

Chris Loves Julia office cabinet hardware - antique brass bin pulls

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You can go as cheap or expensive as you want. We’ve gotten Lowe’s hardware for $1 a piece, and we’ve gotten hardware from Stoffer Home for over $100 a piece. To me it really comes down to my budget.

Sometimes if you go cheap on the cabinetry — like we did with Ikea in this post — you can spend Rejuvenation money on hardware to make the cabinets look more expensive. Other times, I’ve painted my cabinets and picked up $2 simple classic knobs from Lowe’s that got the job done. I’ve used a whole range. It’s true that the expensive ones feel more substantial and heavier, and I’m never worried that they are loose. But looks-wise I’ve really liked both!

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What do you think?

  1. JULIE says:

    We just installed a lion ring pull on a little cabinet in our powder room, and it’s *chef’s kiss*!

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