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