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How To Choose the Best Size Knobs and Pulls for Cabinets

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Selecting paint colors, floor tiles, and cabinet stains is hard enough, but once you’re closing in on the end of the job, the last thing you want is to have to make more decisions. Still, the pulls and knobs for your cabinets will be as much of a feature as the color, so it’s important to pick something you like and feel you can live with for years.

White Dove Sherwin Williams paint color on kitchen cabinets with chrome knobs.

Get more furniture makeover ideas and decor tips here.

Here are 6 tips on how to choose the best size pulls and knobs for cabinets.

  1. Test different styles for comfort.
  2. Explore costs for decorating the entire room.
  3. Choose an appropriately sized handle.
  4. Practice systematic placement.
  5. Find a look that fits your style.
  6. Pick a durable and aesthetically pleasing material.

After reading this article, you’ll know the best ways to choose a pull or knob that works for your home, kitchen style, and comfort.

1. Test Different Styles for Comfort

Most likely, you’ll use your cabinetry every day, multiple times a day. Since you’re using it so much, it’s essential to make sure your handles on each cabinet door are comfortable and accessible for you and everyone in your home.

For example, certain cabinet pull styles, like flat bar pulls, larger pulls, and other easily graspable handles, can avoid escalating arthritis pain and keep your home accessible to all. 

Bar pulls for kitchen cabinets are an especially comfortable option and a pretty popular choice. On the other hand, styles like small glass knobs, latch pulls, and even single screw pulls are hard for people with mobility issues to grip.

Keep that in mind when shopping for handles, and always make sure to test out the pull or knob to ensure there are no rough or sharp edges when you use them.

2. Explore Costs for Decorating the Entire Room

Unless you’re just looking for a replacement knob for a cabinet or two, you’ll probably need to buy a set that contains enough handles for a whole room. That might include kitchen drawers, cupboards, and even built-in dishwasher and refrigerator doors or other appliances.

The most basic pulls and handles are relatively cheap, going as low as $1 for each. For example, this 30 Pack | 5” Cabinet Pulls Matte Black from Amazon.com costs just over $25 for 30 pulls, making them under $1 apiece.

From there, higher-end pulls and knobs are around $15-$20, but the majority of the handles you’ll find range from $4-$7. Of course, depending on what you’re decorating, you’ll need a different number of handles. 

For example, the average kitchen cabinet hardware needs 20-30 handles, along with a $100-$200 installation fee.

If you’re working on finding the perfect hardware for a bathroom or bedroom, you’ll need far fewer, but you must count the cabinets in the room to ensure you get the correct amount.

Still, as you won’t need as many, it might be worth splurging on something special. 

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3. Choose an Appropriately Sized Handle

Whether you’re working with wide drawers, door stiles, or standard-sized cabinetry, what length pulls or knob and the type of pull should aesthetically fit the front of the cabinet. 

Too long a pull or oversized knobs can overwhelm a small door, while smaller sizes can look misplaced on the wrong sized cabinet.

Finding the right size can be crucial to ensure the base cabinets and upper cabinets both look great in your new kitchen or updated space.

Whether you have standard size cabinetry or something more custom, the geometry of furniture design makes it so that most cabinetry is easy to shop for if you follow a few general rules to select the best size cabinet pulls and knobs:

  • Small drawers: (12 in/30.48 cm or less) should have a pull with an overall length of 3-4 in (7.62-10.16 cm) or a knob around 1 in (2.54 cm) across.
  • Medium drawers: (12-30 in or 30.48-76.2 cm ) should have pulls of around 4-8 in (10.16-20.32 cm) or a knob between 1-1.5 in (2.54-3.81 cm).
  • Large drawers: (30-48 in or 76.2-121.92 cm) are best with pulls around 8 in (20.32 cm) or above or a knob at least 1 in  (2.54 cm) across.
  • Small doors: (less than 34 in or 86.36 cm tall) need pulls about 3-5 in (7.62-12.7 cm) long or knobs 1-1.5 in (2.54-3.81 cm) across.
  • Large doors: (above 34 in or 86.36 cm) can use long pulls of 5-12 in (12.7-30.48 cm) in length.

Because there are a variety of sizes to choose from, a great way to test out the standard pull sizes at home is to bring a tape measure and some tape.

Then, add a piece of tape the length of the pull to the front of your door or cabinet, and see if the diameter of the pulls look appropriately sized.

Verde Peacock granite with White Dove cabinets and chrome pulls and knobs.

4. Practice Systematic Placement

The placement of your cabinet pulls and knobs is almost as important as the size of the hardware itself, and you can either use single pulls or doubles. 

Single pulls rest in the center of the drawer, while doubles will go on either side.

A good rule of thumb is to use the rule of thirds. For example, if you divide the drawer into three sections, the pull should sit in one of the thirds.

However, a cabinet knob can be placed at the bottom corner, upper corner of the door, or middle of the bottom of the door. With that, your placement will give you a perfect cabinet hardware look.

If you are replacing an old handle pull for one cabinet or several, ensure you account for the screw holes when selecting new hardware. 

If you intend for the hardware placement to be the same, check the exact dimensions to ensure your new pulls will not require adjustments during installation. Avoiding new screw holes will save a lot of time!

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5. Find a Look That Fits Your Style

The hardest part of choosing cabinet pulls and knobs is deciding between the different top hardware styles.

You can go with a vintage look, a modern look, or something all your own – but it should be a similar style to the room and the cabinetry itself. 

Then you must choose between bronze, brass, nickel, chrome, a farmhouse look, etc.

Here are some top choices for pulls and knobs, all from Amazon.com:

Some of the top common hardware styles nowadays are slab drawers and shaker cabinet drawers with a flat panel that adds a bit of edge to the classic look. 

Though these retro styles are simplistic, the clean lines of shaker cabinets look great with stainless steel bar pulls, giving it a modern twist. Additionally, bar pulls for kitchen cabinets are universally attractive in most kitchens.

If your wall cabinets fall into another category, go for a cohesive look that will pull together the color and shape of your cabinetry with the other elements of the room, like light fixtures and countertops.

6. Pick a Durable and Cohesive Material

For material, the perfect choice for any home will combine the clean lines of the cabinetry with the comfort and function of a well-made handle.

Because you need a complete set for the kitchen, make sure you consider different size pulls and knobs, all of the same material. They should seamlessly blend with your cabinetry hardware. 

In other words, if you have gold cabinet latches, you should stick to simple gold pulls or knobs, not silver.

As great as those leather pulls may look in your bedroom, they would be ineffective in the kitchen, where your hands may be dirty and wet.

The material needs to be durable enough to handle multiple uses every day, so choose something solid yet comfortable. And don’t forget to find a material that looks great with the exterior of your cabinetry.

Key Takeaways

Choosing handles for your kitchen hardware can be a stressful but exciting job. You want to find pulls or knobs that look beautifully cohesive with your style yet offer comfort and function.

If you’re wondering where to start, these tips are a great jumping-off point:

  • Stick with pulls for the most comfortable option.
  • Bring a tape measure and tape when testing different sizes.
  • Use the rule of thirds when placing handles.
  • Find a style that matches your aesthetic.

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