How to Mix Knobs and Pulls on Kitchen Cabinets Like a Designer


Choosing hardware for kitchen cabinets can be an overwhelming process. With so many options for knobs and pulls available, it’s hard to know how to mix and match them to create a cohesive and stylish look. The key is to approach it like an interior designer would.

Designers understand how to blend different finishes, styles, and sizes of hardware to enhance the overall aesthetic of a kitchen. They know which combinations work well together and how to use hardware to elevate a space. With some designer tips and tricks, anyone can learn how to mix and match knobs and pulls like a pro.

Why Hardware Matters

Cabinet hardware is often overlooked, but it has a major visual impact in a kitchen. The right knobs and pulls bring cohesion to your cabinetry, reinforce your design style, and make a statement. Approaching your hardware choices methodically is crucial for achieving your ideal look.

When mixed well, your knobs and pulls should:

  • Complement your cabinet style
  • Enhance your color scheme
  • Establish a clear design aesthetic
  • Provide the right amount of contrast

Hardware selection should never be an afterthought. With some strategic planning and expert tips, you can mix and match knobs and pulls like you’ve done it for years.

Choose a Dominant Finish

Your hardware finishes set the tone for your entire kitchen’s aesthetic. A designer’s first step is choosing a dominant finish that aligns with your style. Opt for one dominant finish to use across 80% of your hardware. The most popular finishes are:

  • Stainless steel
  • Matte black
  • Brushed nickel
  • Brushed brass
  • Oil-rubbed bronze
  • Antique brass
  • Aged bronze
  • Polished chrome
  • Unlacquered brass
  • Flat black

Select a finish that complements your faucet and appliances. For a contemporary kitchen, stick with stainless steel or matte black hardware. In traditional spaces, opt for bronze, nickel, or brass finishes.

The dominant finish should match on most knobs and pulls, creating consistency. Use it on doors, drawers, and any visible hinges or pulls on appliances.

Consider Contrasting Finishes

After selecting a dominant finish, you can include contrasting finishes for visual interest. Limit contrasting finishes to 20% or less of the total hardware. Contrasting finishes work best on interior drawers or a statement piece, like an island.

Popular pairings include:

  • Matte black with a pop of brass
  • Stainless steel with oil-rubbed bronze
  • Brushed nickel with antique brass

Don’t overdo it with too many finishes, which tends to look chaotic. Stick to just one or two statement contrasts.

Coordinate Styles Seamlessly

Beyond the finish, you need to coordinate the actual style of your knobs and pulls. Aim for a cohesive look using the same clean lines and minimalist shapes. Mixing overly ornate hardware with modern, streamlined pieces results in a visually jarring space.

Some pairings to consider:

Matching Knobs and Pulls

Using the same style of knobs and pulls creates a unified look. If your knobs have a rectangular, faceted shape, select pulls in that same angular style. Consistent design enhances the visual flow.

Knobs with Matching Cup Pulls

For a pulled-together look, pair knobs with cup pulls in the same shape and finish. The cup pulls anchor the style, emphasizing the cohesive aesthetic.

Knobs with Contrasting Bar Pulls

For more visual interest, try combining knobs with rectangular bar pulls in a contrasting finish. The knobs maintain consistency while the bar pulls punctuate with contrast.

Mixing Handle Styles

In contemporary kitchens, mixing handle styles has become popular. Combine horizontal handles, vertical handles, and knobs in the same finish. This adds appealing asymmetry.

Pulls with Integrated Knobs

Hardware with knobs integrated into the pull design blends both elements beautifully. Opt for this combo if you want pulls but desire the elevated look knobs provide.

Consistent Sizing

Keep your sizing consistent across all knobs and pulls to continue the cohesive feel. Mismatched sizes look haphazard rather than purposeful.

Mind the Scale

Hardware scale and proportions matter, especially in spacious kitchens. Oversized hardware can look comical or overwhelm delicate cabinets. For standard 24″ cabinets, stick to:

  • Knobs: 1 1/4″ to 2 1/4″ diameter
  • Cup Pulls: 2″ to 3″ diameter
  • Pulls: 4″ to 6″ long

For larger drawers or rollout trays, opt for larger pulls up to 8 or 10 inches long. The hardware should be appropriately scaled for the cabinet or drawer front.

On taller pantry cabinets, choose longer pulls around 8 to 12 inches that draw the eye upwards.

Island Statements

Don’t be afraid to try statement hardware on a kitchen island. The island is the perfect place for eye-catching oversized knobs or dramatic hardware.

Size down your island hardware so it doesn’t overwhelm the rest of the kitchen. Oversized island hardware can anchor the whole room’s aesthetic.

Create Visual Interest

While you want your hardware to match, that doesn’t mean it has to be monotonous. Designers often incorporate visual interest through:

Mixed Orientations

Try installing your pulls in vertical and horizontal orientations. This asymmetry is more dynamic than rows of uniform hardware.

Statement Backsplashes

Incorporate hardware into your backsplash design. Affix knobs or pulls directly into subway tiles or marble backsplashes for three-dimensional appeal.

Range Hood Accents

Select hood vents or range hoods with built-in hardware designs. Stainless range hoods often integrate perpendicular rods or pulls that enhance the focal point.

Mixed Metals

Don’t limit yourself to one metal finish. Mixing metals is encouraged for contemporary kitchens. Try stainless steel knobs with bronze pulls or brass hinges with chrome handles.

Pops of Color

Colorful knobs or pulls add youthful character. Try pale blue, mint, or coral hardware as an accent. Just keep the bright colors to under 20% of the total hardware.

Review Your Floor Plan

Always review your kitchen floor plan prior to purchasing hardware. Calculate:

  • Total number of cabinet doors and drawers
  • Different cabinet and drawer sizes
  • Any unique cabinets like pie cut or angled corners

This allows you to order the proper amount of hardware and foresee any special sizing needs.

It also prevents you from falling in love with a high-priced hardware style you can’t afford to use throughout the kitchen. Know your budget and floor plan before deciding.

Order Extras

Order 5-10% extra knobs, pulls, and hinges so you have backups if any hardware gets damaged or lost. Having extra pieces makes any future kitchen remodels easier too.

Installation Tips

Proper installation is crucial for stylish hardware. Keep these tips in mind:

  • Make sure your knobs and pulls are level and aligned. Use a small level if needed.
  • Position hardware in the same horizontal or vertical orientation across cabinets. Consistency creates cohesion.
  • Only use one knob or pull per drawer front or cabinet door to avoid visual clutter.
  • Install hardware in the same location on all the cabinets, usually centered vertically and horizontally.
  • Ensure the hardware clearance doesn’t interfere with properly opening and closing doors and drawers.
  • Use the correct fasteners and anchors in the pre-drilled pilot holes for a secure, long-lasting hold.

Taking care during the installation process results in designer-level attention to detail.

Pulling It All Together

The key to effectively mixing knobs and pulls lies in balance. Follow the 80/20 rule – use your dominant style across 80% of the cabinets to create harmony, and the secondary style for just 20% as accents.

Ensure your styles, shapes, sizes, and orientations complement each other. Aim for asymmetry over strict uniformity for a livelier look.

And don’t forget about the finishing touches that elevate your hardware from basic to bold. Those artistic details take your kitchen hardware from expected to designer-level.

With the right mix of finishes, styles, scales, visual interest, and expert installation, you can learn how to blend knobs and pulls like an experienced designer. Turn your kitchen into a showplace by using hardware to create a curated, polished look.

How to Choose Knobs vs. Pulls

Selecting knobs or pulls may seem strictly aesthetic, but there are functional considerations as well. Follow these tips on when to use knobs or pulls:

When to Use Knobs

  • On smaller drawers and doors
  • If you need a minimalist style
  • For a lighter, streamlined look
  • On framed cabinetry styles like Shaker
  • For accessibility since they are easy to grip

When to Use Pulls

  • On larger drawers and doors
  • For a more contemporary, sleek style
  • If you need more grip and leverage to open doors and drawers
  • On slab cabinet doors for a clean, modern aesthetic
  • To make a design statement with larger-scale hardware

Evaluate the size and weight of your cabinet doors and drawers when deciding. Typically knobs work well on most standard cabinets since they have a lighter, versatile look. But opt for pulls on heavier doors and larger drawers where the extra grip is beneficial.

You can also mix knobs and pulls – just be sure the styles complement each other. Look for integrated knobs and pulls to get the best of both elements.

Hardware Styles to Try

Beyond just knobs or pulls, the specific style makes a statement. Here are some top hardware styles to inspire you:

1. Square Knobs and Pulls

From faceted to tapered, square hardware styles have clean, defined lines. They work with both traditional and contemporary aesthetics.

2. Arched Pulls

Arched pulls have a subtle curve that provides a softer, more approachable aesthetic.

3. Crystal Knobs

For glamorous contrast, crystal glass knobs catch the light beautifully. Pair them with metal finishes.

4. Wire Pulls

Wire kitchen pulls have an industrial edge, perfect for modern spaces. They integrate well into contemporary bar pulls too.

5. Knobs with Wood Accents

Wood accents on knobs bring warmth. Look for wood inlays within metal knob designs.

6. Graphic Knobs

Make a personalized statement with knobs that spell out words or feature graphic fonts.

7. Bamboo Knobs and Pulls

Bamboo handles provide a natural accent. They pair well with eclectic or cottage style kitchens.

8. Ring Pulls

Ring pulls offer a modern twist to hardware. Look for flat-bar ring pulls in matte finishes.

9. Leather Pull Straps

For something truly unique, leather pull straps add unexpected texture. They work with rustic, farmhouse, or traditional spaces.

10. Vintage Crystal Knobs

Antique clear or iridescent crystal knobs magnify traditional charm. Mix them into contemporary kitchens to contrast the sleek cabinets.

Browse for hardware shapes and materials that speak to your personality and design vision. The options are endless!

Finish Combinations to Try

Not sure where to start mixing metal finishes? Here are 10 stylish combinations to inspire your hardware pairings:

1. Matte Black with Unlacquered Brass

This bold but balanced pairing suits contemporary to modern styles beautifully.

2. Polished Chrome with Satin Brass

For a powerful punch, blend the shine of chrome with subdued brass.

3. Oil-Rubbed Bronze with Pewter

Earthy, organic bronze with silvery pewter emanates rustic elegance.

4. Satin Nickel with Antique Brass

Nickel’s cool tones need brass’s warmth for a seductive blend.

5. Aged Bronze and Blackened Bronze

The richness of layered, darkened bronze is perfect for traditional rooms.

6. Copper with Stainless Steel

If you love color, blend glimmering copper with sleek steel.

7. Flat Black with Rose Gold

For contemporary impact, combine jet black with romantic rose gold.

8. Stainless Steel with Smoked Chrome

This modern mix pairs stainless’ sheen with darkened chrome.

9. Weathered Nickel with Oil-Rubbed Bronze

Subtle weathered nickel allows bronze’s patina to shine.

10. Unlacquered Brass with Black

Bold unlacquered brass pops against black’s severity.

The design options are limitless. Balance modern and traditional elements for an eclectic statement. Dare to juxtapose different textures and tones. Most importantly, choose finishes you simply adore looking at each day.

Styling Tips for Specific Cabinet Styles

Certain cabinet doors and kitchen styles call for tailored hardware choices. Keep these tips in mind:

Shaker Cabinets

  • Stick to simple, clean-lined knobs like square, oval, or rectangular
  • Unlacquered brass, matte black, or oil-rubbed bronze finishes work well
  • Contrasting finishes help Shaker cabinets stand out

Slab Cabinets

  • Slab cabinets suit bold bar pulls, architectural pulls, or industrial wire pulls
  • Minimalist hardware enhances the slab door’s simple style
  • Matte black, stainless steel, or chrome finishes keep it contemporary

Flat Panel Cabinets

  • Thin rectangular pulls follow the lines of flat panel doors
  • Ornate antique crystal or ceramic knobs provide contrast
  • Match the finish to other traditional kitchen elements

Inset Cabinets

  • Use small, delicate knobs that don’t obstruct the inset cabinet frames
  • Angled knobs or canted pulls complement inset angles
  • Brushed metal finishes like nickel and brass suit the traditional vibe

Beaded Cabinets

  • Play up the ornate style with faceted or rounded crystal knobs
  • Try longer hammered iron pulls for rustic beaded cabinets
  • Keep the finish consistent with the cabinet stain or glaze

Distressed Cabinets

  • Rustic wire pulls or industrial pipe pulls add to the distressed aesthetic
  • Vintage-style porcelain knobs with metal crackle detailing
  • Weathered iron finishes like rust, aged bronze, or antiqued nickel

Match hardware styles and finishes to your cabinet door design for that polished, custom look.

How to Mix Knobs and Pulls on Kitchen Cabinets Like a Designer

Now that you know how designers approach kitchen hardware, it’s time to implement those tips yourself. Follow this process when planning your kitchen cabinet knobs and pulls:

1. Select Your Dominant Finish

Choose the finish that aligns with your overall kitchen style. Use it on approximately 80% of all knobs, pulls, and handles for consistency.

2. Choose Contrasting Finishes

Pick an accent finish that works with your dominant choice. Use it sparingly on just 20% or less of hardware. Often reserved for an island statement piece.

3. Coordinate Styles

Opt for simple, matching hardware shapes and lines. Avoid overly ornate accents that clash with modern pieces.

4. Mind the Scale

Make sure your knobs and pulls are proportionate to your cabinet and drawer sizes. Oversized hardware looks awkward.

5. Incorporate Visual Interest

Add elements like mixed orientations, hardware backsplashes, or pops of color for personality.

6. Review Your Floor Plan

Audit total hardware needed for cabinets, drawers, and unique spaces. Calculate quantities and budget.

7. Follow Installation Best Practices

Pre-drill holes, use correct fasteners, have proper clearance, keep everything aligned.

8. Step Back and Evaluate

After installing your hardware, step back and look at the overall big picture. Make sure different elements work in harmony before finalizing your choices.

With this comprehensive approach, you can learn how to successfully mix metal finishes, knob and pull styles, and sizes like an expert. Curate your kitchen hardware to elevate your entire space.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the most popular kitchen cabinet hardware finishes?

The top finishes currently are stainless steel, matte black, brushed nickel, oil-rubbed bronze, brushed brass, and unlacquered brass.

Should my knobs match my pulls?

Yes, matching knobs and pulls creates consistency. Use the same finish, style, and size for a cohesive look.

What is the best way to mix knobs and pulls?

Use one dominant finish across approximately 80% of all hardware for harmony. Add a secondary finish for about 20% of hardware as accents.

How do I choose hardware for Shaker cabinets?

Stick to simple, clean-lined rectangular, square or oval knobs. Unlacquered brass and black finishes suit Shaker style well.

What size hardware should I use on standard 24” cabinets?

Good sizes for 24” cabinets are:

  • Knobs: 1 1/4” to 2 1/4” diameter
  • Cup Pulls: 2” to 3” diameter
  • Pulls: 4” to 6” long

Should cabinet hardware match the faucet finish?

Yes, matching your cabinet hardware finish to the faucet finish helps create a unified look.

How many knobs or pulls do I need for my kitchen?

Review your floor plan and count total cabinet doors and drawers to calculate quantities. Order 5-10% extra hardware.

Can I mix stainless steel and brass finishes?

Absolutely. Mixing metal finishes is on-trend, just be sure the combinations complement each other.






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