The Art of Placing Cabinet Hardware

Cabinet hardware is the jewelry of the kitchen. It’s the finishing touch for cabinetry and can make a unique design statement. Hardware placement should not be an afterthought. We always review the placement with the client and with the installer to assure that the finished product makes our client smile every time they enter the room.

The most common hardware configuration we see these days in transitional kitchens is a handle on the drawers and a knob on the doors. In the more modern kitchens typically we see all handles.


We generally feel that centering handles on the drawers provides the beautiful symmetry that most of our client’s love. We start with the length of the chosen handle and then consider the width of each drawer. As a rule of thumb, if the drawer is 30” wide or more we look at whether two handles is the best option. Sometimes we need to use a mix of handle sizes if there are smaller drawers. For example, if the handle is 8” long and there is a 12” wide cabinet the handle will overwhelm the cabinet and look unattractive. If that’s the case hopefully the handle is offered in a smaller length. If the drawer is 9” wide (typically the smallest standard cabinet width) we usually place the coordinating knob on the drawer instead of the handle.

When our clients prefer only handles and no knobs there is a choice between placing the handles horizontally, vertically or a mix of both can look more interesting.



When placing knobs on the upper cabinet doors we like them about two inches up from the bottom edge of the door. It all depends on the design detail of the door and how the knob lines up with the lines in the door. On taller doors we might center the knob.


We always put a handle on the waste basket cabinet because it gets so much use and needs something sturdy. Typically, the door on this cabinet is attached to the basket and is pulled in and out many times a day.

The same goes for a dishwasher with a cabinet panel on the front. A handle is always the better choice for functionality.

Refrigerators with a cabinet panel front need a special appliance handle. Most hardware companies offer coordinating appliance handles which are heavier and will make it easier to open a fridge with a strong gasket seal.

Posted by Marlene MacDonald Ketchen