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  • Writer's pictureHeather Holcombe

My ABCs for Cabinet Hardware Selection
Hardware by Modern Matter Hardware

The importance of cabinet hardware should never be minimized. Beautiful hardware can enhance, update, or even completely transform your cabinets and, in many cases, the room itself. It can add significant visual impact. I began my interior design career specializing in kitchen and bathroom design. I learned early on the role high-quality cabinet hardware can play in the overall design aesthetic, so I'd like to share a few hardware essentials with you. I could write a book on this topic, so I'll stick to some valuable basics.

A) The role of cabinet hardware:

Pulls, knobs, and even hinges provide a way to open, close, or attach doors and drawers. But they play more than just a functional role. Most designers consider them a key cabinet design element. I certainly do! Their role is similar to jewelry - it's an enhancing touch. Without the jewelry, your outfit just wouldn't look the same!

  • Cabinet hardware can add interest and enhance the overall look of the cabinetry.

  • It can update the look or influence the style of the cabinet and even the room.

  • There are literally countless colors, finishes, styles, and prices from which to choose.

  • When selecting cabinet hardware, consider it like jewelry.

B) Materials and types of hardware:

Materials: Quality cabinet hardware is typically made of stainless steel or brass. Hardware is often coated with a rust-resistant finish since most cabinets are in the moist conditions typical of bathrooms and kitchens. Other hardware materials include cast iron, ceramic, acrylic, glass, crystal, and wood.

Types: Knobs and pulls serve the same function, facilitating the opening and closing of drawers and doors. However, knobs and pulls can differ significantly in shape and how they feel in your hand (and material can affect the feel). I recommend you try both pulls and knobs in your hand before selecting. How does it feel?

Also, consider ease and frequency of use, whether the hardware will be on a cabinet drawer or door, and how much space there is for mounting.

Three types of hardware:

  • Knobs can be hollow or solid. Their shapes can be round, square, oval, and other geometric shapes.

  • Backplates are like the piece de resistance. It's the added final touch and can elevate the overall look of a knob. They can elevate the appearance of a beautiful knob (such as the one in the picture) by making it more prominent.

  • Pulls also come in a vast array of styles and types. Types can include handle, bar, cup, and finger pulls. Each type can feel very different from others, which is why you must try them in your hand.

C) Selecting hardware:

Whether working on a remodel, changing out your existing hardware, or building a new kitchen or bathroom (or both), it's vital to select carefully.

Cabinet hardware should be:

  • Ergonomic (and feel good)

  • Intuitive

  • Durable

  • Beautiful

I always recommend using high-quality hardware for high-use cabinets or public spaces in your home. They make a big difference, both in appearance and lifespan.

Here are the essential elements to consider for cabinet hardware selection. (If you need assistance selecting, an interior designer or showroom expert can help.)

  • Style: Is the room or are the cabinets modern, transitional, traditional, etc. Do you want to carry that style through to your hardware? Do you want knobs or pulls? Backplates?

  • Ergonomic and intuitive: As I've said, hardware should feel good in your hand, which means it should be ergonomic. Using it should also be intuitive and easy.

  • Finish: The countless finishes to select include brass, nickel, bronze, glass, ceramic, and chrome. The finish usually, but not always, coordinates with your faucets and, often, your appliances. That said, you can mix metals!

  • New or existing cabinets: Are the cabinets new, or are you working with existing cabinets? Working with existing cabinets means you'll need to consider any mounting holes already made.

  • Durable: I think it's worth investing in high-quality hardware, especially for hardware that will have high-use are in public spaces like a kitchen. Plus, high-quality hardware will last longer and look better.


Selecting proper, quality hardware for your cabinets will create a functional and appealing look that enhances the space. While it's one of the last steps in the design process, it is by no means one of the least important. If done correctly, it's a blending of form and function that you will appreciate.


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