Episode 55: Kitchen Design Essentials- Handles and Hardware

In this episode of the Kitchen Design Essentials Season, Frances discusses handles, and the options available (including having no handles), along with cabinetry hardware and internals, and what options are available to improve design and functionality in your kitchen.


Handles and hardware add the perfect finishing touch to your kitchen. They can absolutely make your kitchen, or they can let it down. Good news is, they are easy to replace to create a whole new look.


  • They add to overall finish of kitchen and to the overall design.
  • They complete the aesthetic on the style of your kitchen
    • Hamptons or shaker style kitchens needs handles to complete the look/aesthetic
    • Contemporary style may mean handles intrude on aesthetic
  • They add personality to an ordinary kitchen.
  • A quick fix for make overs too – replacing handles can really update a kitchen.
  • Functionality- allow for easy opening of cupboards and drawers
  • Personal preference – some prefer to have handles and some don’t.

Handle Types

  • Fingerpull – A simple solution for opening your cupboards or drawers. It has a rebate that is either built into the top of drawer or underneath overhead cupboards that allows your fingers to pull open.
    • Streamlined and clean finish
    • Can affect depth of drawer (storage) depending on finger pull type being used.
  • Push to close – We don’t normally suggest this type of mechanism to clients.
    • As you work at the bench, legs can push open cupboards/drawers too easily
    • If opting for handle-less finish – prefer finger pull
  • Handles
    • Generally easier to use across the board especially for kids and elderly. Handles are much easier to use than a knob for opening heavy drawers
    • They can be placed vertically or horizontally on overhead cabinetry.
    • For pull-out pantries or fridge doors, a vertical handle is preferrable
    • Drawers commonly use horizontal handles
      • Better to have one longer handle than two smaller for ease of opening
      • Ensure the handle is long enough for the drawer
    • Be mindful of T-bar handles because it can get caught on clothing
    • Make sure that the style of your handle is in line with the complete aesthetic of your kitchen. Not something that conflicts or clashes with overall look. Needs to complement.


  • It is better for overhead cabinetry than under bench cabinetry.
  • Knobs overhead handle underneath
  • Can be a lot smaller compared to handles so can be more discreet
  • Can be difficult to open drawers and heavier cabinetry such as  fridge fronts
  • Need to coordinate with handles

Finishes – There’s an incredible selection of knobs and handles. Anything that you can think of.

  • Metal- a very popular choice
  • Living Metals- naturally tarnish over time – organic feel
  • Burnished- It is not shiny and has more organic feel to it as well
  • Matte
  • Polished
  • Satin finishes
  • Solid Metal- i.e stainless steel, chrome or solid brass
  • Timber: knobs and handles
  • Different profiles- Round, concave, semi-circle
  • Can soften the look.
  • Leather –handles, straps, knobs
  • Can also patina over time, with the oils from your finger.
  • Combination of materials eg. Timber and metal, leather and metal.

Colours – Your handles do not have to match your tap. However, be mindful of the continuity that is going through the rest of the space/ home. Eg, light fittings, other door hardware.

Size or the Proportion of the handle

  • Position on doors, centred or left/right aligned

If you can, visit showroom with handles to test for the feel and grip, and if you like it.

Hardware & Internal

  • Hardware improve the functionality of the internals of your cabinetry.
  • It improves the design, and worsk particularly well in smaller kitchens where space is tight and sophisticated design required.
  • Cheap runners and cheap hinges are not going to last, so invest in a good quality ones.

Types of hardware & internals

  • Lift up cupboard fronts
  • Oopens upwards so you have got a complete visibility of contents.
  • Not restricted leaving cupboards open and seeing contents – won’t knock your head.
  • Manual or electronic (push button)– Electronic comes at a cost
  • Pull out shelves
  • Have a shelf with appliances that allows you to pull it out.
  • Ideal for tight kitchen
  • Bifold doors
  • It can be useful if you have an appliance cupboard.
  • Retractable doors
  • It opens like a hinge door, but it retracts back into the cavity.
  • Space saving
  • However, a space for cavity should be consider when getting a retractable doors.
  • Electric mechanism
  • For cabinetry fronts to auto close. Excellent for fridges & pantry doors.
  • Pullout Pantry systems
  • Old Pantry pull out Systems- You can’t see all the items, and things fall over.
  • New Pantry System- Items are completely visible and you can customise how things stand up in each of the drawers.
  • Ideal for small kitchen because of the storage it provides
  • Oil and spice drawers
  • Bins – bin drawers 1, 2, 3, 4 types of bins – think recycling, compost, soft plastics and waste
  • Dedicated pull out drawers with full bins or double bins in each drawer, normally about 15 litresfor smaller bins.
  • Under sink – custom made or system from eg. Blum – good for space saving
  • Size depends on space available
  • Drawer runners and hinges
  • Hettich & Blum – lifetime guarantee. Have their own individual hardware systems and offer excellent hinge and drawer solutions.
  • Cheaper versions it wears out easily, drag, or don’t slide well.
  • Every drawer in your kitchen should be fully extendable and soft close
  • Touch to close/soft close overhead

Visit showrooms to see the different types of mechanism that are available and to see the difference between cutlery drawers set up or drawers heights.

Available Services;

Beautiful Kitchen Design Made Easy Online Course

Ready to design and create your own beautiful kitchen? Get all the interior designer insider knowledge in this online course to create your dream kitchen. Find out more and join here.

Book A Chat

Ready to renovate or create your kitchen but not sure where to start?

Get the help of a property expert and save yourself from making costly mistakes with a free Forever Home chat. Click here to get access to Frances’ calendar;

Your Forever Home Book – FREE Access 

Access the first three chapters of the ‘Your Forever Home’ book, a practical and helpful guide to gain insights on how to create a home that will suit your needs for the long term. Get FREE instant access here 

Kitchen Bliss Package

Overwhelmed by the amount of decisions that need to be made when creating a stylish, functional and durable kitchen? What materials to select, what colours will co-ordinate together, what design is going to best suit the space, and your requirements.

We offer kitchen design packages that include joinery design and material selections for a complete kitchen design. Click the link here to find more.


Related Resources:

Episode 54: Kitchen Design Essentials- Appliances Part 2

Episode 53: Kitchen Design Essentials – Appliances – Part 1

Episode 51: Kitchen Design Essentials- Kitchen Taps and Sinks

Episode 50: Kitchen Design Essentials- Kitchen Taps and Sinks

Episode 49: Kitchen Design Essentials – Butler’s Pantries and Pantries

Episode 47: Kitchen Design Essentials – Key Kitchen Measurements

Episode 45: Kitchen Design Essentials – Internal Elevations & Joinery Design

Read our latest blog on Internal Elevations and Joinery Design here; 

Episode 43: Kitchen Design Essentials – Flatpack Vs Custom Designed Kitchens

Episode 41: Kitchen Design Essentials – Cabinetry Materials-

Episode 39: Kitchen Design Essentials – Splashbacks 

Episode 38: Kitchen Design Essentials-Benchtop Criteria and Materials – Part 2-

Episode 36: Kitchen Design Essentials – Benchtops part 1 

Episode 14: Forever Home LIVE- Joinery Drawings and Why Do Them Early On-

Episode 30: Kitchen Design Essentials -Kitchen Design Layouts and Location- 

Episode 32: Kitchen Design Essentials – The Builder’s Insight 

How to Choose the Right Bench Top-

Top 5 tips for selecting benchtops-

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