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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 like jewelry for cabinets. The right kitchen cabinet hardware can complement and accentuate the lines, colors, and textures of your space. The placement and positioning of cabinet hardware also makes a kitchen more functional.

Is there a correct placement for cabinet handles? While hardware placement does affect the functionality of the space, it is a matter of personal taste.

Looking at different arrangements of cabinet hardware will help you decide which styles and placements are right for you.

Cabinet Knobs

A knob is your most basic cabinet handle, suitable for doors and drawers alike. Knobs use a single screw and are traditionally round or circular. However, you can find them in shapes ranging from square to T-shape. 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

Cabinet knobs are placed opposite of door hinges. On wall cabinets, knobs are usually placed 2-1/2” to 3” from the bottom corner of the door. On base cabinets, they are 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. If you prefer, you can set your knobs on the upper part of the drawer front, as shown 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 in varying forms. They are easy to grasp and work well in modern and contemporary kitchens.

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. Then center it 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. The distance from the drawer's top edge to the handlebar is equal for all drawers.

For pull-out storage such as this wastebasket cabinet, handles are often placed horizontally. They commonly 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’. Cup pulls have a wide appeal across a range of kitchen styles. They have a clean and classic look that works with farmhouse, vintage, traditional, and transitional styles.

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

Edge pulls (also known as tab pulls or finger pulls) are a more contemporary style. They have a minimalist look that pairs excellently with slab-door cabinet styles. These pulls go on the top and bottom edges of your door or drawer.

Place edge pulls in the opposite corner of the hinge on cabinet doors. It is often best to center pulls on drawers.

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
Placing a finger pull vertically can provide an easier grip. This can be especially helpful for corner cabinets like a Lazy Susan.

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 make cabinets childproof. Place cabinet latches 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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Showing 16 comments

  1. Abhinav Iyer Reply

    Thank you so much for this informative blog. Firstly, I would like to congratulate you on the amazing work that you are doing. I have also been purchasing a few hardware equipment from Decodeal. I have learned a lot about door pull handles, and their types and also where and how can they be used. I am glad that you guys are keeping people informed about your service.

  2. Barb Terrell Reply

    Site information and pictures were very helpful. Thank you for including options. Not everyone wants their knobs in the same location, your site clearly explains numerous options.

  3. Kathy Dean Reply

    Your thoughts on replacing 1 1/4 inch knobs with 2 1/2 inch knobs. The increase in size would bring the hardware to the edge of the cabinet door. What are your thoughts with that kind of upgrade? Thank You

  4. Angel Reply

    I do not see any where the base cabinet pulls are across the top, horizontal, rather than vertical, for ease of use due to location of doors, is this uncommon? This also makes it easy to hang a towel on depending on the width of the pull.

  5. Susannah A. Reply

    Your site is really informational. Great photographs and ideas.

  6. Pip Reply

    Im using pulls on draws and knobs on doors, shaker style. I have 1 taller single pantry type door. Would it look odd or inappropriate to use a pull placed vertically on that door? If not, how far from the top should it be placed?

  7. Micky Belsheim Reply

    Thank you for your article. As someone else said other articles are vague and not helpful. I do have a question for you. I’m installing new cabinets and trying to figure out how many pulls I need for the drawers. They are 22” and 25”. The pulls are cups. The cabinets have recessed panels. How do I decide how many per door I need? 1 or 2? Thanks for your help.
    Micky

    • CliqStudios Digital Marketing Reply

      Hi Micky! We’re happy to help. For drawers 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 the two-thirds point.

  8. Carl Reply

    Nancy, I would say it could be a Sub-Zero brand fridge. You might want to start there.

  9. Brian Johnston Reply

    Should you place handles or knobs on the fake panels like under the sink

    • CliqStudios Social Media Reply

      Some homeowners choose to add handles and knobs to under sink areas for consistency. Though some choose not to so that they don’t get confused with what doors and drawers are accessible.

  10. Nancy Reply

    Very helpful, thanks. I would love to know the brand of the refrigerator in the photo directly above “Tips for Placing Cabinet Hardware.”

    • CliqStudios Social Media Reply

      Unfortunately, we do not have that information as the refrigerator was sourced by the homeowners.

  11. Tricia Wright Reply

    Thank you for this comprehensive explanation AND images about drawer and door hardware placement. I’ve wondered about knob and pull location for years and most of the information I’ve found seems either wishy washy or leans to current trends; your site provides all the options and answers. Thank you!

    • CliqStudios Social Media Reply

      Happy to help! Let us know if you have further questions or need assistance from our design team.

  12. Sue T Reply

    Your site has been very helpful. Really appreciated the images!

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