How to choose the right hardware for your kitchen

There is an array of hardware to choose from when it comes to cabinets, drawers and doors.



Regardless of a kitchen’s style—whether it is traditional, transitional, contemporary or somewhere in between—the cabinetry hardware has a subtle but definite influence in determining the room’s final feel.

Whether matching old appliances and fixtures in a partial remodel or getting a clean slate with a complete renovation, the kitchen designers we spoke to have great suggestions for how to decide what style of hardware is right for your kitchen. Keep these ideas in mind, but remember, your hardware choices should reflect who you are in the kitchen.   

Janice Page, Designer at PK Surroundings in Exeter

Page looks at kitchen hardware as “the fitting element, almost the accessory or the jewelry of the cabinet,” but still keeps her recommendations functional. “In general, we do a lot of drawer bases for ease of access, so we use a lot of handles that are just easier to hold onto,” she says. 

As for finishes, Page prefers polished nickel for transitional and contemporary kitchens, because of the warm brown undertone it offers over the grays and blacks of polished chrome. It looks especially great with “door panels that could be either painted for a transitional space or horizontal grain slab doors for a contemporary kitchen,” Page says. “Reconstituted woods with the appearance of quarter-sawn oak, cherry or mahogany also look terrific.”

Sometimes, though, as with with jewelry, less is more, and Page creates hardware out of the door itself. “We’ll conceal the hardware and make the upper-cabinet door with no hardware at all,” she says. Cabinetry without any hardware definitely achieves the sleek, clean lines that are popular in kitchens today.

A polished-nickel bar pull combines modern sleekness with ease of use for this traditional painted cabinet drawer.

Alice Williams, Owner of Alice Williams Interiors in Hanover

While Williams is glad that kitchen hardware has moved from the whimsical motifs of years past, she is a firm believer that knobs don’t have to go unadorned. To add style to new kitchens, she suggests using knobs with interesting details. “Shaped rosettes or egg-shaped knobs, for example, can add style without feeling trite or dated,” she says.

While oil-rubbed bronze and stainless steel are excellent finish options for any kitchen, Williams thinks they are particularly great for partial renovations because they offer “a neutrality in tone that leaves open the ability to use other finishes elsewhere in the room.”

So homeowners who don’t plan on replacing existing door and light fixtures don’t have to worry about trying to match new fixtures to the ones already in place.

The warm tone of these oil-rubbed bronze cup pulls and knobs unify the painted and stained cabinetry, by Crown Point Cabinetry in Claremont, for a cohesive aesthetic.

Susan Crupi, Director of Design Services at David R. Crupi, LLC in Hollis

“In New England, where we have a lot of traditional architecture, we are still [designing kitchens] that range from traditional to contemporary to everything in between,” Crupi says. 

Kitchen hardware should be select-ed based on what suits the project and the person, she advises, but overall, the trend is toward something less ornate. “People want a simpler, less-cluttered feel and a cleaner aesthetic,” Crupi says. To achieve this, she suggests using “a combination of knobs and bar pulls, or bar pulls on both doors and drawers.” She says these pulls tend to be “longer, with cleaner lines” than in the past. She also notes that “silver-toned finishes are popular,” whether they are brushed nickel, stainless steel or hand-forged pewter.

For darker cabinetry, Crupi recommends an oil-rubbed bronze finish that gives “a little less contrast and more of a ‘furniture look’ than a ‘kitchen cabinet look.’”

Long bar pulls in stainless steel on Shaker-style cabinetry offer clean lines that keep this contemporary kitchen clutter-free.

Jessica Leventry, Senior Designer at Vermont Custom Cabinetry in Keene

Leventry makes her hardware choices based entirely on the style of the kitchen. “For a more country or farmhouse kitchen, cup pulls—otherwise known as bin pulls—seem to be really popular for drawers,” she says. “And knobs for the [cabinet] doors.” Most popular, Leventry says, are “very simple, round knobs with a slightly tapered post.”  She also suggests handling the hardware before making a final decision to ensure it is comfortable for daily use.

If her client is going for a more contemporary look, Leventry recommends sticking to the traditional bar pull or, at the very least, keeping all the hardware “sleek.” With clean lines, there “aren’t a lot of frills to clean around,” which is definitely a plus for any kitchen upgrade. Another way to achieve sleekness is to choose the right finish, so Leventry suggests using any brushed or satin finish, like brushed nickel or stainless steel. These finishes “reflect the tone around [them], whether it is a warm wood or cool, crisp white paint,” which means they work in most kitchen designs.

Knobs and cup pulls give a farmhouse feel to crisp, white cabinetry while their brushed-nickel finish modernizes the look.

Cheryl Tufts, Owner of 3W Design in Concord

“People are tired of the thick bar pulls that play a very predominant role in the kitchen,” Tufts says right off the bat. Instead, homeowners are choosing sleek, dark hardware for their kitchen builds and remodels, regardless of home style. From traditional styles to more contemporary and upbeat designs, “almost all of [the designs] have black or oil-rubbed bronze hardware because the cabinets have been painted. Painted cabinets seem to be an extremely popular trend, whether it’s an actual paint color or just white.”  

With this high-contrast design strategy, Tufts sticks to the idea that hardware can dress a kitchen up or down. “Hardware can make a very simple, Shaker-Style door look contemporary or very old,” she says.

But regardless, the trending hardware styles are changing. As Tufts says, today’s kitchens are definitely “something different.”

Oil-rubbed bronze hardware complements the spirit of this traditional recessed-panel cabinetry without feeling dated.

 

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