A Guide to Cabinet Handles & Knobs

Whether your next project is in the kitchen, an office space, or your front room, you’ll need handles for your cabinets. In this buyer’s guide, we’re looking at every type of cabinet handle and cabinet knob, from Art Deco handles to crystal glass knobs, and everything in between. We’ll talk about some of the considerations you should take and the options you’ll have to solve those issues as they arise.

What options do you have for cabinet handles?

We can widely split cabinet handles and cabinet knobs into two categories, modern and traditional. Cabinet furniture comes in two styles: handles and knobs. Let’s go through each category so that we know what we’re dealing with.

Traditional Cabinet Handles

Traditional cabinet handles are quite varied, contrary to what you might imagine. A cabinet handle is also known as a cabinet pull. These handles can range in style from Art Deco to rustically Victorian. We can easily group them by the materials and overall historical use they were put to.

Traditional cabinet handles can work in a variety of situations and environments.

Modern Cabinet Handles

A modern cabinet handle is usually distinguished by its sleek, contemporary look that would do well in any modern kitchen or office. Making use of modern metals and materials, a modern cabinet handle often will look out of place in a period property or traditionally-styled room.

Traditional Cabinet Knobs

Traditional cabinet knobs are made from similar materials that their traditional handle counterparts were made from, too. Traditional knobs can also feature designs that have fallen out of popular usage, though they still look fantastic in the right application.

Modern Cabinet Knobs

A modern cabinet knob can be made from a range of contemporary materials and finishes, but will often feature a slick design that was difficult to produce traditionally. These knobs can be perfect for the office of today, for example.

Cabinet Handle materials

The materials that cabinet furniture is made from can vary a great deal. There are the traditional metals of brass, nickel, porcelain, and iron, to the more modern chrome, satin-finished metals, and stainless steel.

Because manufacturing has changed over time, it’s now much easier to get the same finish and quality from every cabinet handle and knob produced. Traditional cabinet furniture materials will attempt to copy some of the older methods that would have produced either patinated metals or uneven shapes to the designs. 

Things to consider when purchasing new cabinet handles

New cabinet handles or knobs will bring your new cabinets to life, no matter where in the house or office they are. There are some considerations to take into account when purchasing your new cabinet furniture, however, so we’ll go through those now.

Considering your style

It’s not always as simple as picking the cheapest or first handle you see. The cabinet furniture, the handle or knob you choose, will greatly affect the overall tone or feeling that the cabinets add to the room they’re installed in.

If you’re in a modern office, then choosing some antique brass, Victorian-style filigree handles wouldn’t sit well, but a sleek, rounded chrome handle might very well.

Style isn’t just thinking about what the handles look like, but how they fit into the overall feeling of your room/house.

Material choices

The choice of material can sometimes be simple, if you’re picking a material that you are already using in the room, for example, that’s generally an easy choice. However, take into account whether you need to think about many hands touching the handles, where a finish or material that holds up well over time is more ideal.

If you’re in a commercial office, something hard wearing is usually better as it will last longer than something made from softer materials that can easily be damaged around a lot of people.

Material choice comes into the aesthetic choice, too, as much as style does. If you want to go for something modern and neutral, then silvers and greys are good, neutral choices. A yellow gold, brass, or copper colour can sometimes be too out of place, depending on decor.

Accessibility

Another important aspect to think about when choosing a new cabinet handle or knob is whether you should take people’s accessibility into mind. If you have family members who cannot easily grip things, then a handle or pull is a better choice than a knob as you can slip fingers behind a handle to pull, rather than the grip that a cabinet knob needs.

Thinking about size and placement

Some handles will have lower clearance than others, so take their size into account as well. A small, thin handle on a large door won’t be as comfortable as a wide, tall handle. A cabinet that is already at floor height shouldn’t have a handle or knob that’s low on the door, either, as this will be harder to reach. Conversely, when considering wheelchair accessibility, handles and knobs should not be placed too high, either.

The Different Types of Cabinet Handle

Bar Handles

Bar handles are some of the simplest cabinet handles you can find; they’re often used and can look clean and modern, or stylistic and traditional. Bar handles can come in a variety of styles, but they’re all made in a similar manner.

Bar handles can vary greatly in overall size, from thin and minimal, to thicker and more obvious. There are benefits to both designs, and at the end of the day, it’s down to which you prefer.

Square bar cabinet handle

Square T-bar handles use straight edges, flat sides, and stick out enough to get a hand or at least fingers underneath comfortably. These are modern and no-nonsense handles for your cabinets.

Round t-bar cabinet handle

A round T-bar handle uses a cylindrical handle, which can be more comfortable on the hand in some cases. These rounded handles also come in various sizes, just like the square and flat T-bars.

Knobs

Cabinet knobs are generally smaller, more discrete and somewhat easier to install than bar handles due to their smaller area footprint. A cabinet knob can vary greatly in size and shape, depending on the style and time period you’re thinking about.

Particularly well-suited to classic designs, cabinet knobs, nevertheless are equally suited to traditional and contemporary room designs. For those who like to switch up their style regularly, cabinet knobs are a great choice because they’re actually rather easily swapped out for something different.

Cabinet knobs run the gamut from rustic farmhouse to chic and elegant, straight from the blacksmith or right out of a jeweller’s hands.

Rustic cabinet knobs

Bow handles

Bow handles are similar to bar handles, but their soft curves and gentle lines give a softer overall feel to the cabinets and room that you’re adding them to. These handles can work in classic or contemporary designs, and come in a variety of metals.

Bow cabinet handles

If you’re aiming for an elegant look, then a polished chrome, polished nickel, or polished brass bow handle on top of sleek contemporary cabinet doors will stand out well. If you’re after a more farmhouse rustic look, then something with some character, like a pewter, is a great choice.

Cup handles

Cup handles benefit from looking especially fantastic in traditional kitchens. Cup handles look best with a metal material; go for an antique-patina effect for a ready-to-go rustic farmhouse style, or vintage pewter as a popular choice.

Cup handles

For industrial-style kitchens, something in copper or a mixed metal design will work exceptionally well; they’ll add a touch of traditional decor to your modern industrial kitchen.

Mixing and Matching your Cabinet Handles

When thinking about adding handles to your cabinets, you could always consider mixing handles and knobs, but be sure that when you do, you do so with purpose. Unless you’re aiming for a totally hectic, eclectic mix, you should choose two handle types to use at most. More than that will look messy and unintentional.

Mixing straight bar handles with rounded cabinet knobs in the same metal, for example, can provide a nice distinction between cabinet doors and drawers.

If you do attempt multiple types of handles, we’d recommend going with the same material for all of them, or using a consistent material for part of the handles if you are choosing handles made from multiple materials.

Cabinet Handles and More at Handles4Homes

We stock almost every type of cabinet handle and cabinet knob you can think of, here at Handles4Homes. Take a look at our entire cabinet handle collection for more options.


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