How to Choose Kitchen & Bath Hardware

What to Consider When Shopping for Knobs & Pulls

By Sunshine Menefee
Staff Writer


Cabinet knobs are said to be the jewelry of the kitchen. They add the finishing touch and a little bling to a room. Some are politely functional while others are over the top glitzy. The style should enhance the design of the room while also standing on its own.

Choosing the right hardware for your kitchen cabinets is difficult. You want something that’s quality, looks great, but stays within budget. Then it has to match the finish of the other fixtures in the room. Looking at all the choices can be overwhelming so I’ve rounded up a few great options. From budget to over the top bling and in between, there’s something for everyone. 



When searching for kitchen or bath hardware, it’s important to know your budget. Are you willing to spend $50 a knob or $5?  There’s a big difference in style and quality at those prices. Some of my clients have hard times discussing budget, but when you have a clear idea, you can start your search on the right foot. There’s no sense in wasting your time looking at an expensive brand if you’re going to get sticker shock at the final estimate. So start by counting how many knobs and pulls you need and then do the math. If you only need 2 pieces, you can afford to splurge, but an entire kitchen to replace is another story.



There are 3 mainstream finishes; satin nickel, oil-rubbed bronze and chrome. Satin nickel, or stainless steel,  is the new brass and it’s here to stay. The muted, light metal finish is easy to keep clean and looks great in almost any design style. Water spots don’t show up as easily on this surface, but dirt does. A quick wipe down is all that’s needed to keep it clean.

Oil-rubbed bronze is a classic look. It goes well in kitchens that want a more dramatic feel. This versatile finish is found in modern and traditional rooms alike. Water spots and dirt aren’t seen as easily, but neither is mold because of the dark surface. Make sure to clean these fixtures even if they don’t look grimy.

Chrome is ultra-trendy and old-fashioned at the same time. Dating back to the modern fixtures of the 1930’s, it’s the most high maintenance finish. Water spots and finger prints show up immediately, requiring a wipe down after each use to keep the shine going.



This topic might not rate high on the scale or even come to mind when choosing hardware, but it should. Keeping your hardware clean is a must in any kitchen. You don’t want to harbor germs. Intricate details and carvings are prime spots for germs to hang out.  A good scrub with a toothbrush is required in order for the knobs to be cleaned properly. If you aren’t willing to invest that amount of time, save the fancy braided rope pulls for spaces that aren’t frequently used.


Knobs vs. pulls

A knob is usually round and uses only one screw to install. A pull is elongated and requires two or more screws. Choosing either personal decision. Some people prefer all the cabinets to have the same hardware. Most kitchens and baths have a mixture of both knobs and pulls. Typically, knobs are for door and pulls are for drawers. Whatever you decide is ok.  If you are designing your kitchen, make sure your selected pulls will fit on each cabinet. Some small cabinets are not big enough for pulls and require a knob.

Take stock of your current kitchen. How does each knob feel? What about the handles? Are they easy to grasp? Do your fingers get caught behind them? When selecting kitchen hardware, look at each fixture closely. Touch it and pull on it from every direction to ensure it has a good feel.



Standard pulls are 3″-5″  (64mm-128 mm) from center to center, or hole to hole, and are the easiest to find. But there are lots of other sizes available. You can now buy appliance handles to match your cabinet hardware.



The style, or shape, depends on the design of the kitchen and your desired effect. Sleek, modern cabinets require crisp and clean-lined pulls. A traditional kitchen will need more ornate ones in a dark finish while transitional cabinets look good in a variety of hardware options. If quirky is more your style, try shaped knobs. Love wine? There’s a knob for that!

Check out these cabinet pulls and knobs and let us know what you think!




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Richelieu Contemporary Recessed Leather Pull – 9501


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Signature Hardware, Hepplewhite Brass Drop Pull



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Schaub and Company, Kingsway, Knob, Glacier Blue Glass


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Signature Hardware, Beaded Center Drop Cabinet Pull


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Schaub and Company, Symphony, Neptune Designs, Turtle Pendant Pull


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Emtek, Brass Finger Pull

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Emtek, Tuscany Bronze Fluted Bin Pull



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Stone Mill, Satin Nickel Weave Cabinet Pulls


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Top Knobs, Sanctuary II, 7″ Centers Modern Metro Pull

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Amerock, French Country, 2 5/8″ Knob in Oil Rubbed Bronze

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Candler, 1 1/4″ Rectangular Knob in Satin Nickel









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