Taking the Mystery Out of Cabinet Hardware

oil rubbed bronze hardware | brass hardware | leather pulls | outdoor rug | mirror

We’re in the home stretch of our kitchen and mudroom renovation! Over the weekend, we finished up the tile backsplash and our DIY floating shelves (more to come on both of those, but we’ve been sharing sneak peeks on Stories), and the next time we’re at Tree House, we’ll start filling the drawers with plates, glasses, silverware, and pantry essentials! Again, we say, ! As someone who would rather file paperwork than go to the grocery store, I’m actually really, really looking forward to strolling the aisles for cereal, pasta and spices. In a handful of weeks, we’ll have a fully functioning kitchen, and for the first time in 2018(!), we’ll be able to rinse our coffee mugs from the kitchen sink – because right now, the only tap water we have comes from the bath. Oof.

(Excuse us while we fantasize about that running water. Just a moment, please.)

Okay, we may be getting ahead of ourselves, because today, we wanted to share a seemingly quick to-do off of the checklist. On paper, ‘install hardware’ is straightforward enough (then again, so is ‘install baseboards,’ and y’all know how I feel about that), but there’s a lot of thought behind that task, too. From scale to finish to the $9 piece of plastic that makes your life significantly easier, we’re breaking it all down!

Determine Scale

Oversized pulls can make a statement, but that didn’t feel right for Tree House. We used these 6″ brass pulls in the Garden Apartment renovation last summer, and while that worked great there, anything larger than 4″ looked out of place here. Well, with the exception of appliance pulls and an extra large pantry door, but more in that in a second. To determine the proper scale based on our varying cabinet widths, this is a trick we use for just about everything – blue tape! It’s an effective way to visualize the size of hardware when paired with cabinet width. Below, the square-shaped pieces are placeholders for knobs:

The blue tape helped us to confirm our suspicions, and 4″ pulls mixed with knobs felt right in every scenario – except, that is, for our appliances! We’re using a panel-ready refrigerator and dishwasher, and to differentiate those from our cabinets while also providing more leverage, we opted for 6″ and 12″ pulls. In turn, knowing that we’d need pulls for our appliances helped to steer our decision for style of pull. Although you’ll notice throughout this post that we have two hardware finishes in the kitchen, we still needed a unifying factor. For us, that was the hardware style. Below, you’ll see how we paired a 12″ pull for the fridge and a 6″ pull for the freezer. Just beyond that, there’s a 4″ pull on a cabinet slide-out. Despite the three sizes, the continuity of the finish and style keeps things uniform and intentional:

Pulls vs. Knobs

How do you know when to use a pull or a knob? Typically, doors will have knobs and drawers will have pulls, although that’s not always the case! In our Chicago kitchen, we nixed knobs altogether and used these vintage-inspired pulls for everything (and in varying sizes). Tree House feels more traditional, and because there are so few cabinets, we felt good about keeping a mix. And in keeping with the Michigan-dinavian theme (a phrase lovingly coined by Scott), we chose leather pulls for the mudroom. Although we want the kitchen and mudroom to feel connected, we’ve done that by staying consistent with our cabinet choice and the addition of the maple accent wall. The leather pulls tie back to the sofa in the living room while adding warmth upon entering our Tree House! From left to right: West Slope 6″, West Slope 4″, Beckett 4″ and West Slope knob. 

Decide on Placement

Depending on your style of cabinet, you might find online inspiration that showcases pulls on the top of drawers, the top third or even the middle! Play with this. Move that blue tape around. Look at photos. Physically hold your hardware up to the cabinets. Slide that hardware all around. Because we had a mix of finishes and two-tone cabinets, we played it safe and opted to install our pulls in the middle of the top rail:

At the same time, we went somewhat rogue in the mudroom! The top row of upper cabinets is a mix of lift-up and regular (side hinge) doors, and we also have two pull out drawers underneath the bench. To keep everything tidy, we installed almost all the pulls in the middle of the rail on each cabinet door and drawer, giving the illusion that everything opens the same way. The only exception was our extra tall pantry door. This decision felt more consistent and less chaotic in such a small room:

Take the Guesswork Out of Installation

If you’re installing hardware on anything more than 2-3 doors and drawers, you need these templates. They’re well worth the less-than-$10 investment, and they’ll do everything from saving your sanity to your marriage, all while taking the guesswork out of where you should drill your holes – you know, the important stuff! The only catch is that they’re only helpful for hardware up to 4″; I know. But! If you’ve chosen oversized hardware, take 10 minutes to make a repeatable jig that you can use over the course of the install. It’s 100% worth it to do so. Here’s how!

Yes, Mix + Match!

We’ve already touched on mixing and matching, but friends, we can’t say it enough: We are big fans of the mix + match! As previously mentioned, keeping one unifying factor will keep the design from feeling chaotic, so bear that in mind. We have three finishes between two rooms, but the hardware in the kitchen, despite being brass and oil-rubbed bronze, is in the same style family. The brass detailing on the leather pulls in the mudroom are a nod to the brass in the kitchen, while also tying into the sofa around the corner. The matte black finish of the oil-rubbed bronze plays nicely with the black windows and the black faucet we chose. Having fun with finishes – whether that’s with hardware, lighting or accent elements – is an awesome way to add personality and life to the room.

We’re working on putting together videos for tile and shelving, and in the meantime, we’re crossing every ‘t‘ and dotting every last ‘i‘ on our list! It’s hard to believe we’re thisclose to making toast for breakfast – wait, let’s dream big; homemade pancakes! – in our kitchen. So, so close.

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  • Carol7.3.18 - 7:57 AM

    Perfect timing! I’m working up the nerve to drill into our freshly painted cabinet doors to install cabinets…if they ever dry in this humid weather :)ReplyCancel

    • Kim7.3.18 - 8:57 AM

      That first drill is so nerve wracking, eek! Good luck, you got this!ReplyCancel

  • Paige Cassandra Flamm7.3.18 - 9:41 AM

    We’re building right now, but our kitchen won’t have hardware when we move in, so this post is good timing for us, definitely saving for later!


  • Shauna | MyPineconeHome7.3.18 - 10:17 AM

    I’m loving all the pulls—especially those leather ones! I noticed that you’ve done a light installed on the underside of a cabinet a few times and I was wondering if that’s usually a project you take on yourself or hire out? I’d love to do something similar in my kitchen but I’m completely unaware of how much it could cost or if it’s difficult to DIY. Would love your insight!ReplyCancel

    • Kim7.3.18 - 11:17 AM

      We love a light under a cabinet! You’re right, we’ve done it 3x now – twice in our Chicago home, and now here. We have our contractor install the electrical, and then we use a pancake junction box to install the fixture ourselves. It’s maybe $200-ish (more or less) to have that electrical done, but we’ve also had a bunch of other electrical happening at the same time, so the cost gets lumped in. It’s definitely worth getting a quote or two, since it will be different in every scenario, depending on where they’ll need to pull the electrical from! In our opinion, 100% worth the cost – not only is it adorable, but it adds great ambient lighting in the evenings.ReplyCancel

      • Shauna | MyPineconeHome7.3.18 - 11:43 AM

        Thanks for the feedback! Definitely something I’ll be pursuing so it’s nice to have a little perspective in order to manage expectations. We’re all about good lighting and a light over the kitchen sink might be my husbands biggest want. :-)ReplyCancel

  • Sally7.3.18 - 10:59 AM

    I love all of your choices and the way that they mix together is very pleasing indeed! I think the only thing that I would have done differently is your choice of a knob for the cabinet over the fridge/freezer – I would have gone for one of the 4” pulls that is on the freezer for the sake of vertical matching. Could you let us know why you chose not to in this instance?ReplyCancel

    • Kim7.3.18 - 11:14 AM

      In the kitchen, we really stuck with the more traditional route overall, and anything with a door got a knob. We realize it’s all personal preference though! There are so many ways to personalize a space with hardware alone. The options feel endless, don’t they? :)ReplyCancel

  • AmandaKB7.3.18 - 12:05 PM

    This looks awesome! I love the variety in finishes, yet it all looks so cohesive and fresh.ReplyCancel

  • Breanna7.9.18 - 10:55 AM

    This might be a super naive question but I have never changed out knobs before and am looking to redo on each of my dressers. Is it normal for the screws to stick out into the drawer? All the dressers I own doesn’t have that but all of the knobs I have tried to purchase just have a long screw on the back… an I missing something? I’d rather not scrape my hand on a screw back while pulling my clothes out of the drawer.ReplyCancel

    • Kim7.9.18 - 12:31 PM

      I’m not sure I understand, but let me try to help: The knob will have a thread on the back that receives the screw. So when you purchase a knob, you’ll put the knob up to the hole in your dresser, and then from inside the dresser, you’ll push the screw through until it meets the knob, and then you’ll tighten the screw! Maybe the online photos are what’s confusing, which I can understand. Once you receive the knobs in the mail, you’ll see that it will all make perfect sense, promise. :DReplyCancel


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