Choosing Decorative Cabinet Hardware

Wedgewood Cabinetry
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Decorative cabinet hardware plays a critical role with cabinets. Often, they are the unsung hero providing both style and protection for your cabinetry. Choosing your cabinet hardware can be daunting, as most homeowners are afraid of making a mistake. Here are some tips to consider. 

Blog – Choosing Decorative Hardware by Superior Cabinets. Author- Shahan Fancy.


Decorative cabinet hardware is more than just looks or style. Your decorative kitchen cabinet hardware is the only thing that protects your cabinetry finish. Minimizing contact from your hands will ensure your cabinet finish is protected and lasts for many years. The common culprits that can prematurely damage cabinets include hand oils, fingernails, water/moisture, cooking grease, etc.


It’s good to have an idea of what better defines your design style, handles, knobs or both. Knobs are great, as they are subtle and provide a great user experience for opening and closing cabinets. As a bonus, they are extremely easy to swap out later if you ever want to change them. There are many styles including round, square and obscure. See our decorative knob collection.  


Choosing a directional knob that is designed to go one way can be a real bother if you like things to be perfect and aligned. If you think you might be bothered by a knob being slightly offset and not perfectly squared, you may want to consider a round knob to avoid the stress. Directional knobs can turn with usage and will require the screw to be tightened from time to time, as part of your required cabinet maintenance.  

White raised panel cabinets with square knobs in a brushed nickel finish.

Hand dexterity should also be considered, as sometimes knobs may either be harder or easier to open. Of course, this is dependent on the user and their individual hand dexterity, but don’t overlook this important detail.  


Right now, handles/pulls are the popular choice. Our trend experts say this is because homeowners typically want to make a bold statement and handles are a great way to achieve this. Handles come in so many shapes, sizes, and styles. See our decorative handle collection.

Style:  The important thing is to select a handle that is complementary to the overall style/look you are going for. Decorative hardware styles are often categorized by Modern, Traditional/Old World, Transitional or Eclectic styles. The Transitional style is the most popular, as this is one of the most selected cabinet style categories. 

Modern transitional handles in brushed nickel finish on white shaker cabinets.

Size:  It is recommended that you select a handle size that is proportional to your cabinet front sizes and one that does not dominate, unless that is the look you are going for. Your professional kitchen designer can help you ensure this does not happen. They can also confirm that the handles you have chosen will physically fit on your cabinets, which can be an easy oversight for those trying to do a project on their own.   

Long brushed nickel handles/pulls on warm stained shaker maple cabinets.

Shape:  It is important to select a handle that is not only optically pleasing to you, but also fits the overall style of your kitchen. Like a sculpture or a car, there are so many shapes, so choose one that makes you happy.    

Traditional decorative handle in brushed nickel on traditional white raised panel cabinets.

Feel:   Your sense of touch is powerful. Some handles have different coatings or textures on them, depending on the finish you select. Feeling the handle and experiencing it “firsthand” will help you ensure you do not choose a finish that is off-putting, as some have higher tactile sensitivity than others.      


A common oversight is not considering the amount of space for your hand clearance. All handles have a different amount of clearance, therefore it is recommended to take the time to see which one best fits your hand for a comfortable user experience.  

Another common oversight is when a handle has an open end. These can sometime hook or catch clothing and get caught on pants or beltloops as you walk away. This may not seem like a big deal but can sometimes rip handles right off your cabinets and cause serious physical damage.

Open end handles in a brushed nickel finish on white shaker cabinets.


Gone are the days of one or two finish options to choose from. Nowadays, there are many cabinet hardware finishes available, which can be overwhelming. Popular finishes/colors today are: Brushed Nickel, Matte Black, Graphite, Satin Brass and Champaign Bronze. See our complete Decorative Hardware Selection.  

Modern square matte black handles on chocolate brown wood finished cabinets.

There are no set rules on what to choose, but our cabinet experts are finding that it is less critical to match all metal elements such as lighting, faucets, passage door hardware to the cabinet hardware finish. When in doubt, be sure to consult with your Professional Kitchen Designer or Interior Designer when mixing finishes to ensure you have a cohesive look.   


Don’t let choosing your decorative kitchen cabinet hardware stress you out. When you focus on your true needs, it can be a very rewarding experience to know you have selected the perfect option. For some it is the finish, for others it’s the shape. If you are more tactile, it is choosing one that is a pleasure to touch and use everyday. Above all, decorative cabinet hardware is designed to protect your cabinets, so choose wisely.  

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