Where to Place Cabinet Hardware

It’s a big week for our kitchen renovation. The herringbone floor tile was finished, our appliances arrived, countertops are about to be delivered, and our tiny closet of a powder room was wallpapered. Soon our plumbing and light fixtures will be installed. Everything’s coming together.

But there’s one thing that’s keeping me up at night (meaning I’ve conducted furious midnight image searches on Houzz to ease my mind): Where to place the cabinet hardware.

This might seem strange to other people. I assume that choosing a style is the hardest part for most folks. But I quickly zeroed in on a combination of knobs and bar pulls in a dreamy rose-gold satin finish. After falling for all of the copper and rose gold I had seen at recent home-decor markets, I wanted to incorporate the warm-metal trend in a way that felt fresh, yet stayed true to the traditional styling of the home. 

I think these babies feel spot-on for the space:

Once you’ve picked your pieces, all you have to do is attach them, right?

Ha. Ha. Haaaaaaa.

While it’s true that there’s no RIGHT way to install hardware, there are GOOD ways to install hardware and a lot of NOT AS GOOD ways. Hence the midnight Googling: When you've just spent an arm and three legs on great cabinetry, the last thing you want to do is to muck it all up with a poorly placed knob.

Take, for instance, the time my husband put cup pulls on our kitchen drawers, and spaced them like this:

 Source:  Domino

Source: Domino

“What?” he shrugged when he heard me groan. “Each bin pull is equidistant from the top of each drawer.”

“They look like file cabinets!” I shouted. “I’m putting Tupperware in there, not my tax returns!”

That was in our old condo. I’ll be calling the hardware shots this time around.

I started with the knobs. Our cabinet installer, Pat, told me that most people just center the knob between the rail and the stile of the cabinet door. Like this:

Cabinet knob placement

But the more pictures I looked at, the funnier that looked to me. The knob just looks like a postage stamp on the corner of the cabinet door--a functional afterthought, not a part of the design. 

Installed much farther down, on the other hand, the wee knobs remind me of tiny doorknobs. Personally, I'd get tired of bending this far down to open the lower cabinets:

After a day of dithering, I settled on a knob placement like this, centered on the top line of the inset panel:

Cabinet knob placement

So much better, right? This shot from Traditional Home sealed the deal. The knobs on the sink cabinet just look natural. 

On the cabinets with drawers, I’ve chosen to use a single 3 ¾ inch pull rather than mixing up a bunch of different sizes. I like the consistency of a uniform size, and it feels pleasantly old-fashioned to me. It reminds me of how people used to buy house parts out of the Sears, Roebuck & Co. catalog, when they didn't have a million custom options from which to choose. (Did you know people did that? You could order anything, from newel posts and stair rails to windows and lights. A lot of the “unique” and “historic” details people swoon over in late-1800s houses were purchased via mail-order.)  

The pulls will be centered on the drawer faces. A few of our cabinets have a combination of wide and narrow drawers, so I’m doing two pulls on the wide drawers, stacked directly below the pulls above, like this:

Stacked drawer pulls
 Our kitchen island cabinets. 

Our kitchen island cabinets. 

It looks like a dresser, right? Which leads me to a rule of thumb for cabinet hardware on drawers, whether you're choosing knobs, cups, or bar pulls: Put the hardware where it'd be if it were on a piece of furniture. It will always look more natural and feel more intuitive. You won't need to train your brain to open and close the drawers--your hands will know where to go.

Here's a sneak peek at what we're calling the "appliance wall," since we will be hiding our coffee machines and microwave in those garage-style cabinets. (They're protruding because they can't be installed until the interior countertops go in.) 

Kitchen appliance cabinet wall

You won't believe what we're packing into this single wall: a pantry, beverage fridge, broom closet, and more. Lots of cabinets. Lots of knobs and pulls. I can't wait.