Hickory Hardware Gaslight and Aero Pulls
Whether you're looking for something contemporary or something classic, a splash of white or black on hardware adds a decorative touch to any kitchen cabinet. The Gaslight pull, left, features Victorian inspiration in its rounded edges and scalloped shanks. The aero pull, right, has a sleek and slightly oblong silhouette. $2.99-$6.37; Hickory Hardware
Jewelry for Your Cabinet
Pulls and knobs, also known as decorative hardware, come in tens of thousands of options. (Door hinges and drawer glides also fall into the hardware category, but most often they are functional rather than decorative-and certainly not optional.)
Start by considering which of the main types of cabinet hardware you like most: knobs or pulls. Knobs can be any shape, but attach to the cabinet with one screw. Pulls use two.
There's no secret formula for deciding what's right for you. Many kitchens use both knobs and pulls: one type for the doors and another for the drawers. Just be sure to choose knobs and pulls from the same collection or with complementary stylings to maintain continuity.
Knobs offer a few benefits: With a pull, oils and digging fingernails are more likely to affect the cabinet finish. Also, if you decide to change your cabinet hardware, a knob's one-point suspension is easier to replace. Pulls vary in length, so you have to consider distance between the two holes.
If you'd rather go minimalist and avoid hardware, you can. Select a touch-and-release style or doors that hang slightly below the cabinet so you just pull on the lower edge to open them.
Ease of Use
Make sure that your choice doesn't pinch your finger, attaches firmly to the cabinet and is easy to grasp, especially if located above the refrigerator or vent hood. Knobs and pulls protect your cabinets from food or lotion on your hands. Being comfortable with the way the hardware feels means you won't be tempted to open cabinets another way. Test how complicated the hardware is by trying to operate it with your pinkie.
Make sure your decorative hardware's finish doesn't clash with any exposed functional hardware such as hinges. Also consider the other finishes in your room. Stainless steel pulls in a kitchen with a bronze faucet or appliances with a carbon finish may not blend well.
Comfort and accessibility come first; after that, it's your aesthetic choice.
The distance that the pull extends from the cabinet is known as the projection. Make sure your projection allows for adequate drawer and door clearance. Larger projections can benefit those looking to employ universal design.
Be sure to get the proper length screw. If your cabinet has predrilled holes for pulls, be sure to purchase hardware that fits the length from the center of each screw to screw. If you're having trouble finding the right size, you could also drill new holes and cover the existing ones with a backplate.
Look for hardware in proportion to the size of the cabinet doors. Long pulls are very popular in contemporary looks.
For a universal design-inspired, user-friendly kitchen, choose cabinet and drawer pulls large enough to grip with the entire hand.
Decorative Cabinet Knobs
Knobs tend to be circular in shape, often with faceted edges. Offering a more concentrated surface area, knobs tend to feature slightly more decorative accents than pulls, such as handpainting. Because the center is anchored with a screw, more fragile materials, such as glass, may be used.
Backplates Add Style to Knobs and Pulls
Courtesy of Amerock
Backplates lie between the door and the hardware and can be used with both knobs and pulls. In addition to protecting the cabinet surface, backplates draw the eye to the hardware and cover existing screw holes in cabinets.
Notting Hill, Butcher, Baker, Candlestick Maker
Atlas Homewares Hamptons Collection
These wrapped pulls and knobs cross natural inspiration with modern design. Bound in bamboo, oil-rubbed bronze wire or silver wire, the pulls are available in a standard 5¼-inch length or a mega 10-inch size. Since the collection is handcrafted, variance in the hardware's spread makes this collection best for new applications only. Matching knobs are also available. $11.10 for standard pull; $25.40 for oversize pull; Atlas Homewares
Introduction to Types of Drawer Glides
Full-extension glides attach to the bottom or the sides of the drawer and provide full access to the drawer interior. Their ball-bearing system adds stability and strength. Stronger versions can be used to store heavier items, such as files or cookware.
Ball-bearing glides attach to the bottom of the drawer sides. Usually standard on high-end cabinets, they offer smooth, quiet operation. Their concealed runners mounted to the bottom of the drawer don't get as dirty as those mounted on the side. They allow for a wider drawer box with a more usable interior space.
Track-and-roller glides attach to the drawer sides. Their epoxy-coated steel tracks and nylon rollers offer quiet operation but are less stable than ball-bearing ones.
Wooden glides work as slots in the drawer sides or bottoms and move the drawer along a wood runner. This option has fallen out of favor because the drawers tend to stick as the wood expands and contracts.
Comparing Your Hardware Options
Porcelain knobs aren't the only kids on the block when it comes to kitchen cabinet hardware. You'll find hardware in all different kinds of materials and finishes, from brushed chrome to plastic to ceramic to glass to forged iron, and in all shapes and sizes.
Select cabinet hardware whose material gels with the theme of your kitchen. Copper and ivory ceramic add a dose of authenticity to French country and farmhouse-style kitchens. While stainless steel is an obvious choice for contemporary spaces, look to modern alternatives like brightly-colored resin and brushed nickel. From glass to hand-cast metals, your cabinet hardware material options include:
Acrylic and Nylon
Though they're synthetic like plastic, acrylic and nylon are much more durable, resisting much of the wear that plastic succumbs to. The man-made material can be tinted an endless array of colors. They are generally a less expensive choice.
A yellow-colored alloy of zinc and copper, brass works well for both casting and machine fabrications. Increased amounts of zinc produce a more yellow metal. Unprotected brass will tarnish, even with constant polishing; many manufacturers offer protection options. Solid brass offers a heavier feel, an authentic choice for Old World kitchens, and shows sharper details. Other varieties include brass finished and brass coated.
Ceramic and Porcelain
This natural clay product, fired for a hard and durable finish, is generally glazed in a shade of white and often later painted. Porcelain has a slightly more transparent finish, like that of fine china. Ceramic is more common among decorative hardware options. Both generally use and inbedded brass insert to enable installation.
Chrome tends to plate brass hardware, imparting a look that easily swings from 1930s retro to thoroughly modern and sophisticated. Chrome requires frequent polishing to stay fingerprint-free.
The fragile and faceted material provides beautiful results, so long as great care is taken with installation; they can be broken by dropping or over-tightening the installation screw.
This jewelry-quality material, available in brushed and polished finishes, exudes a beautiful patina that makes it well suited for traditional designs. Antique pewter, an alloy of lead and tin, darkens to its characteristic shade because of the lead. Modern lead-free pewter hardware is more durable than pure varieties and will not darken.
This solid polymer material casts well and is primarily used for artisan items.
Able to fit with a wide variety of styles, wood hardware is available both finished and unfinished in soft and hardwood varieties. It's also used as a base for hand-painted knobs and as a decorative accents on metals.
A good base for a variety of decorative finishes, this softer material generally has threaded brass inserts for installation of screws.
Find the Right Look for Your Hardware
It's referred to as jewelry for a reason; when you're dressing your home with cabinets, decorative hardware truly makes the "outfit" sparkle. Now that you're comfortable with the basics of form and function, it's time to let your tastes run wild.
From frosted turquoise resin pulls to antique knobs painted with farm animals to elegant leather-bound cup pulls, it's safe to say that your options are, quite literally, limitless:
Arts & Crafts-The hardware finishes in this time period were generally very dark and had hammered faces. Metal is a must: consider aged iron, silver or bronze hammered knobs and pulls or backplates with geometric cutouts.
Contemporary (Cool): Unsurprisingly, stainless steel reigns supreme, though primary colors and plastics make solid choices and well. Opt for elongated angled pulls and geometric knobs.
Contemporary (Warm): To project a softer, warmer look, opt for material that's a little less harsh, such as brushed and satin nickel, bright colors in resin or artisan glass, or materials with matte finishes. Opt for elongated pulls that are curved and free of sharp angles or T-knobs.
Cottage: Knobs are the dominant hardware of choice for cottage-style kitchens. Porcelain and embossed stoneware are authentic choices; semi-glossy periwinkle blues, creams and whites work well. Also check for woven designs using wire or bamboo.
Country/Farmhouse: Think simple. Wooden knobs or rustic brass cup pulls are as complicated as you need to get. Glazed porcelain and faceted glass knobs add fun without being too fussy. If you're leaning more toward kitschy than period-style, consider decorative country symbols like farm animals and vegetables.
Georgian/Traditional: Select hardware with classic turnings in brass or weathered copper or nickel. Look for stylings reminiscent of fine furniture.
Old World: To mimic old European chateaus, search out hefty hardware with an aged patina. Consider wire frame knobs in cast iron with rust finish, distressed ceramics or ivory polyresin knobs with an oil-rubbed bronze shaft, hardware featuring bas relief accents, and fluted cup pulls.
Rustic Retreat: Earthy is best. Consider wood and natural stone products in aged and weathered finishes or hammered designs. To really play on your theme, choose twig pulls or leaf knobs.
Tuscan: Bring the Mediterranean to life with hand painted ceramic knobs in warm limes, blues and rust colors, and jeweled-tone glass with silver overlay.
Victorian: Faceted clear glass knobs impart elegance while maintaining an heirloom feel. Check to see if area antique shops sell them.
In the end, however, it's best to pick what you like; even if it doesn't exactly fit in with the descriptions above. Glass knobs acquired during a trip to South Africa, playful asparagus-shaped pulls and retro red lacquer knobs can truly make your kitchen yours.
Notting Hill Prairie Tulip Hardware
The fresh colors and clean lines of this cabinet pull will complement any Prairie-style kitchen. And with four choices of antique metals or four colorful enameled options available, these pulls come in a nice variety of choices to fit your kitchen. Matching knobs are also available. $25; Notting Hill Hardware