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Unlocking Style and Function: The Ultimate Cabinet Hardware Buying Guide

Everything you need to know, including the science behind mixing knobs and pulls on kitchen cabinets and the art behind mixing & matching finishes

Published on
June 1, 2023 at 3:43:55 PM PDT June 1, 2023 at 3:43:55 PM PDTst, June 1, 2023 at 3:43:55 PM PDT

When it comes to home improvement projects, one of the easiest and most impactful upgrades you can make to your kitchen or bathroom is changing the cabinet hardware. Cabinet hardware, including knobs, pulls, and handles, not only adds a decorative touch but also enhances the functionality of your cabinets. If you're ready to embark on a cabinet hardware makeover, this comprehensive buying guide will help you make informed choices. We tackle common questions about mixing knobs and pulls on kitchen cabinets, mixing and matching hardware finishes, and correct hardware placement.

Consider Your Style 

Start by determining the style you want to achieve. Do you prefer a traditional, modern, farmhouse, or eclectic look? The hardware you choose should align with the overall style and aesthetic of your space. Explore design magazines, online inspiration boards, and home improvement stores to gather ideas and find the perfect match. 


Modern & Contemporary: 


Farmhouse & Rustic: 



Knobs or Pulls 

Decide whether you want to use knobs, pulls, or a combination of both. Knobs are single, small attachments that are easy to grip and work well for both drawers and cabinets. Pulls are typically longer and slimmer, offering a more modern, sleek look while providing a larger surface area for grabbing, making them ideal for heavy drawers or larger cabinets. 

While there are general guidelines to keep in mind when choosing between cabinet knobs and pulls, feel free to do whatever looks best to you. The guidelines are there as a jumping off point. You can take it from there. 


Material and Finish 

Cabinet hardware comes in a variety of materials, including metal, glass, ceramic, wood, and plastic. Each material brings its unique charm and durability to the equation. Consider the durability, maintenance requirements, and visual appeal of different materials. Decide whether you want to choose a finish that matches your current finishes or complements them. Don't be afraid to mix finishes to add a unique and layered look to your space.  

Should I use hardware with gold tone finishes? 

Brass and gold-toned finishes have long been a popular choice for home hardware, particularly for door handles and cabinet pulls.

Polished Brass is one of the most common gold tone finishes available in the industry and provides a classic, traditional look. Polished Brass is an excellent fit for traditional homes, warm-toned doors, a vintage look, or Art Deco style.

Satin Gold, a newer finish in the market, offers a modern twist on the classic Polished Brass. Satin Gold adds a sleek touch to modern homes, especially when combined with dark colors, though it looks good with both light and dark aesthetics. This finish is excellent for modern homes and contemporary décor styles. It's also a great way to update a traditional décor style while maintaining the warm tones of older polished brass hardware. 

With our selection of gold-toned finishes, you can effortlessly enhance your home's aesthetic and match your design choices. 


Should I use hardware with silver tone finishes? 

The two main silver-toned finishes are Polished Chrome and Satin Nickel. Either of these finishes can be easily mixed with other finishes, but should not be mixed with each other. 

Polished Chrome is a classic finish that works well with traditional and minimalist styles. Its sleek, mirror-like appearance complements most color schemes and blends well with both light and dark aesthetics. 

Satin Nickel offers a more modern look than Polished Chrome, and works well with Mid-Century Modern settings and contemporary styles. Because of its subtle nature and versatile appearance, Satin Nickel can work well in traditional and modern homes. 

Should I use hardware with dark tone finishes? 

Dark tone finishes generally include both black and bronze hardware options. The most common ones are Matte Black and Oil Rubbed Bronze.

Matte Black is a modern finish that works great for homes with a streamlined and straightforward interior design. It's often paired with Satin Nickel or Satin Gold to balance out the stark contrast that Matte Black often creates.  

Oil Rubbed Bronze pairs well with more classic design settings. It works particularly well with Mediterranean and Tuscan styles. Because Oil Rubbed Bronze has a more complex appearance than other finishes, it often goes well with most décor styles and provides a unique but updated look. 


Should I mix and match finishes throughout my home? 

Mixing and matching hardware finishes in your home can add visual interest and create a unique design aesthetic. However, it's important to do so thoughtfully and intentionally. Here are a few guidelines to consider: 

Maintain Consistency 

While mixing finishes can be creative, it's generally recommended to maintain some level of consistency throughout your home. Choose a dominant finish that will be used in the majority of your spaces and then selectively introduce other finishes as accents. 

Consider the Overall Style 

Take into account the overall style and theme of your home when selecting different finishes. Ensure that the finishes you choose complement each other and contribute to the desired aesthetic. For example, combining modern and traditional finishes may create a clash, while pairing complementary finishes can enhance the overall design. 

Experiment with Samples 

Before committing to mixing and matching finishes, it's helpful to test out different combinations using samples. Place samples of different finishes together in the intended space to see how they interact and whether they achieve the desired effect. 

Consider Dual-Tone Hardware 

Dual tone hardware is an easy way to add a touch of sophistication and visual interest to your space by combining two complementary finishes. The hardware pieces are thoughtfully designed to utilize finishes that complement each other, eliminating any uncertainty on your part. This allows you to incorporate contrasting elements that can elevate the overall design and make a statement in your home. 


Size and Proportion 

Pay attention to the size and proportion of the hardware in relation to your cabinets. Oversized hardware on small cabinets can overwhelm the space, while small hardware may get lost on larger cabinets. Ensure the size of your chosen hardware fits comfortably within the scale of your cabinets for a balanced and visually appealing result. 

Comfort and Functionality 

Test the hardware's functionality and ergonomics before making a purchase. Open and close cabinets and drawers with different types of hardware to ensure a comfortable grip and smooth operation. Consider the needs of everyone who will be using the cabinets, including children or those with mobility issues. 


Quality and Durability 

Invest in high-quality hardware that can withstand daily use. Look for solid construction, sturdy materials, and reliable mechanisms. High-quality hardware not only lasts longer but also adds value to your cabinets and enhances the overall functionality of your space. 


Budget Considerations 

Determine your budget and explore options within that range. Remember that while it's tempting to go for the cheapest hardware, compromising on quality may lead to premature wear and tear. Strike a balance between affordability and durability. 

Installation and Compatibility 

Before purchasing, ensure that the hardware is compatible with your existing cabinets. Measure the hole spacing to match the hardware's requirements. Consider whether you want hardware with adjustable hole spacing for more flexibility during installation. DIY enthusiasts can easily install hardware with basic tools, but if you're uncertain or prefer a professional touch, consult a handyman or cabinet installer. 

By following these guidelines, you'll be equipped to choose the perfect cabinet hardware that reflects your personal style, enhances functionality, and complements your overall design scheme. Take your time, explore different options, and remember that even the smallest details can make a significant difference in transforming your cabinets from ordinary to extraordinary. 

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