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How to Place Kitchen Cabinet Knobs and Pulls

CliqStudios Cambridge cabinets in Painted White finish

Cabinet Hardware: Placement and Positioning

Knobs, pulls, and other handles are regarded as the jewelry for cabinets. Besides being essential to a well-functioning kitchen, the right kitchen cabinet hardware can complement and accentuate the lines, colors, and textures your space.

Is there a “correct” placement for cabinet handles? Whereas some design decisions strongly impact your functionality in the kitchen (e.g. having adequate aisle clearance; landing areas for hot items), hardware placement by contrast is much more a subjective matter of personal taste.

Looking for some ideas about different ways to arrange your cabinet knobs, pulls, latches, and other handles? Take a look at different arrangements of cabinet hardware below.

Cabinet Knobs

A knob is your most basic cabinet handle, suitable for doors and drawers alike. Knobs are installed with a single screw. The traditional knob is circle or rounded in shape, but a variety of shapes including square and T-shaped knobs are also available. When it comes to materials and finishes, there are a great deal of choices ranging from wood to ceramic to crystal.

aged brass knobs on light gray shaker cabinets

On wall cabinets, knobs are usually placed 2-1/2” to 3” from the bottom corner of the door, on the side opposite of the hinge. On base cabinets, it’s placed 2-1/2” to 3” from the upper corner of the door.

inside corner of kitchen has painted white cabinets in a shaker style with oiled brass pulls and knobs, granite countertop and built in microwave
Knobs centered in the corner of the door frame make for a classic look.
crystal novelty accent knobs gold flower backplate
Beautiful crystal accent knobs placed in the door frame corners.
black cabinet knobs on contemporary slab door cabinets
Knobs are commonly centered in the middle of the drawer front. But it’s not uncommon to see them placed toward the top of the drawer.

On drawers and pull-out cabinets, knobs are typically centered on the drawer front. But you can also set your knobs toward the upper part of the drawer front, as shown in the image above. A knob in this position can provide additional leverage when opening a sink tilt-out tray. When installing knobs for pull-out cabinets such as a waste

If your drawer is 24” or wider, you may choose to place a second knob. Divide the drawer into thirds and place the two knobs at the one-third point and two-thirds point.

black knobs and cup pulls white shaker kitchen brick backsplash
Use the door frame as a guide. Line up the knob with the horizontal rail where the door frame meets the center panel for a classic look.

Bar and Wire Pulls

Bar pulls (also known as European pulls) and wire pulls have similar functionality with slightly varying forms. Often used in modern and contemporary kitchen styles, they both provide a length of a (typically metal) material that’s easy to grasp.

The difference between a bar pull and a wire pull is that wire pulls are screwed into the cabinet at its two ends, while bar pulls are screwed in by two feet-like projections.

cooktop wall in modern kitchen has recessed panel white painted cabinets, stainless and glass range hood, large white subway tile backsplash, black granite countertop and glass cooktop with symmetrical drawer bases and pot and pan storage drawers
Steel Euro-style bar pulls on a row of white Shaker-styled cabinetry.

On doors, these pulls are typically installed with an upright, vertical orientation.

Place the bottom hardware hole 2 1/2” to 3” from the bottom of the door front and center horizontally on the door frame. You can use the horizontal rail of the door frame to either place your screw hole or orient the bottom end of the handle.

wire pulls placed on cherry russet deep drawer cabinets
Wire pulls centered on deep pot & pan drawers. 

On cabinet drawers, these pulls lay in a flat, horizontal orientation.

Off-center the handlebars for more of a contemporary feel for 3-drawer base cabinets. This makes for a graceful and proportioned look:

wire bar pulls contemporary slab door cabinets floating shelves hexagon tile backsplash
Here, the top drawer pulls are centered while the bottom pulls are raised off-center, though for all three drawers the measurement from the drawer's top edge to the handlebar is equal.

For pull-out storage such as this wastebasket cabinet, handles are often oriented horizontally, centered on the top rail of the door frame.

If the pull-out is especially narrow, e.g. a 3″ pull-out spice rack, you can also choose to orient handlebars vertically.

Cup Pulls

Cup pulls (also known as bin pulls) are an upside-down cup shaped pull popularized by Victorian-era kitchens. Instead of gripping a protruding knob, you slip your fingers underneath the ‘cup’. Today, these cabinet pulls have a wide appeal across a range of kitchen styles (farmhouse, vintage, traditional, and transitional) for their clean and classic look.

close up of painted white shaker cabinets with brushed nickel cup pulls and round knobs
Cup pulls are often combined with a coordinating knob. The cup pull is used on the drawer, and the knob is used on all doors and upper cabinets.
navy base cabinetry cup pulls and knobs with cambria countertops minifridge and wine cubbies
Matching cup pulls and knobs on navy cabinet.
New home kitchen design features black inset cabinets in the center island, white shaker inset cabinets on the perimeter and a butlers pantry

A two-toned kitchen is ideal for trying contrasting hardware finishes and styles.

Edge Pulls

Found in contemporary styled kitchens, edge pulls (also known as tab pulls or finger pulls) provide a minimalist look that pairs excellently with slab-door cabinet styles. These pulls are installed on the top and bottom edges of your door or drawer.

Edge pulls are placed in the opposite corner of the hinge on cabinet doors. On drawers, the pulls are typically centered.

tab pulls on contemporary styled gray slab door cabinets
Edge pulls installed in gray slab-door cabinetry.
edge pulls installed on cherry cider slab door contemporary kitchen range
For corner cabinets like a lazy susan, the finger pull can be placed vertically to provide an easier grip for opening the door sideways.

Cabinet Latches

A cabinet latch is a two-piece hardware installed on the outside of a cabinet. One side has a “lever,” which is inserted and locked into the other side’s “catch.” Latches are often chosen for their aesthetic quality. They’re also chosen to childproof cabinets. Cabinet latches are placed between adjacent doors, or for inset cabinetry, between the door and the face frame.

In this laundry room, the top of the latch is flush with the edge of the door frame.
black cabinet latches in white inset farmhouse traditional kitchen refrigerator
Compared to knobs and pulls, it's more common to center cabinet latches along the vertical edge of the door frame. A wall of centered latches can create a unique look in any kitchen.

Tips for Placing Cabinet Hardware

  • Level and adjust your doors and drawers before drilling holes for hardware.
  • A template or “jig” makes it easy to mark the same measurement holes on each cabinet. Alternatively, you can build yourself a template using scrap wood.
  • Gripping and opening the cabinet should feel good in your hand. It’s not worth installing a handlebar that’s awkward or causes strain.
  • Re-use old screw holes if you’re replacing handles.

Looking for more information? Find great advice based on your kitchen style in this hardware placement guide by Studio McGee:

cabinet hardware placement guide from studio mcgee
3d rendering of cliqstudios kitchen design with white shaker style doors and green tea leaf kitchen island with seating

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