Sebastian Nagpal | Design Team | Dean Cabinetry
By Sebastian Nagpal

Choosing your kitchen cabinet hardware is an important part of the kitchen design process. Because there are so many options, knowing where to start can be a little confusing. This is why we decided to write a blog on how to help you answer the first decision you have to make when it comes to kitchen cabinet hardware: Do I go with knobs, pulls, or both? 

pulls and knobs
Dean Cabinetry Showroom Display Pulls and Knobs

What is a knob?

A classic cabinet knob is usually characterized by its smaller size, spherical shape, and singular mounting point on the cabinet. If we consider some basic design theory, knobs primarily focus on improving function, making it possible for you to open and close your cabinetry with ease.

Today, though the general size of knobs hasn’t varied too much, you can find a wide array of knobs of varying shapes and finishes. The most common knob shapes tend to be circular or squared but don’t let that stop you from choosing something contemporary like a novelty knob if that’s more your style! Knob finishes that have gained popularity over recent years include polished chrome, matte black, verona bronze, and aged brass.  

What is a pull?

Pulls tend to be pieces of cabinet hardware that are mounted on the cabinetry at two points. Pulls are much wider than knobs and are designed more with form in mind, allowing the user to wrap their fingers comfortably around the piece of  hardware. Most modern pulls are cylinders or rectangular prisms. Just like knobs, however, there are a multitude of design options that stray away from these two forms. Traditional pulls can be incredibly ornate, and elegant.

knobs for your cabinets
Cook top over Custom Cabinetry with Cabinet Pulls

A common traditional pull you may be familiar with is called a cup pull. Contemporary pulls, on the other hand, challenge standard design practices by creating an illusion of movement through shape in something as rigid as a piece of hardware. Popular pull finishes today are also polished chrome, matte black, verona bronze, and aged brass. 

 Where should I use knobs?

Today, knobs are more commonly found on cabinet doors. Just as you might flip the page of a book, so would you likely open a cabinet; by its corner. The necessity then becomes about finding a piece of hardware that serves this particular function best.

Knobs are wonderful for this reason because they do not take up a lot of space on the cabinetry. It can fit perfectly on the corner of a cabinet door. They are just enough hardware to serve their purpose without possibly overwhelming your design aesthetic. Knobs on drawer fronts are no longer as common as they used to be. This particular look can create a drawer bureau, more furniture like feel which is great for a traditional estate or country French-Style kitchen. 

Where should I use pulls?

Pulls are incredible pieces of hardware for opening and closing drawers. The ergonomic form of this piece of hardware works in synchrony with the forward and backward motion involved with using a drawer. Unlike opening a cabinet where you are only moving the weight of the cabinet door, opening drawers requires more force. This is because it involves pulling out an entire drawer box most likely filled with kitchen supplies.

Drawer function is  improved with the use of a larger piece of cabinet hardware that can more efficiently distribute the force required to open it. This is all not to say that pulls cannot be used on cabinet doors. In fact, only using pulls as your kitchen hardware tends towards a more contemporary design, which might be exactly what you are going for! 

handle pulls for cabinets
Cook top over Custom Cabinetry with Drawer Pulls

Can I mix and match knobs and pulls?

Of course! When doing so, most people install knobs on doors and pulls on drawer fronts. 

Mixing knobs and pulls is a great way to add another layer of detail to your kitchen. 

Using both types of hardware is also streamline with a transitional design by combining both the curvature shape of knobs with the clean lines from the pulls.

Can I use just knobs or just pulls?

Yes! Everything you have read so far in this blog is simply recommendation or based on generalities. If you have fallen in love with one type of hardware, go for it! The right hardware for your kitchen will depend on your design goals. What you choose will ultimately elevate the cabinets to the aesthetic you seek.  

How much do knobs and pulls cost?

The cost of knobs and pulls varies dramatically based on material type and design intricacy. Reasonably priced hardware ranges from $6 to $10 a knob and from $7 to $12 for pulls.  Although we have one hardware tower here in our showroom, we recommend looking online and visiting big-box and cabinet hardware specialty stores. We do, however, include hardware installation in our install cost. We highly recommend having your hardware onsite at the time of your cabinet installation.

If you are planning on purchasing your hardware online, we recommend that you purchase one piece of the hardware first to inspect its quality and finish in person. It is also a good idea to purchase extra pieces of hardware just in case some ship scratched or damaged.