By Jessica Earley
April 29, 2022
Whether you’re looking for a quick kitchen refresh or you’re putting the final touches on a kitchen renovation, adding new cabinet hardware is an excellent way to elevate your kitchen’s style.
A well-placed cabinet handle is equal parts practical and aesthetically pleasing. On the other hand, poor cabinet hardware placement can leave your kitchen less functional and slightly off-kilter.
Using infographics and pictures of kitchen cabinet knob placement, we’ve outlined everything you need to know about where to put knobs and handles on your kitchen cabinets. You’ll never have to worry about cabinet handle placement again!
Types of Cabinet Handles & Hardware
There are two basic types of hardware you can install to help you open your kitchen cabinets and drawers–knobs and pulls.
Knobs are one of the oldest, most popular, and widespread kitchen cabinet hardware options available. Traditionally, they were made of metal and were round. But today you can find them in a variety of shapes and materials to match nearly any style or design.
One of the best things about using knobs is that you only have to drill one hole to install them. This is great if you’re not ready to commit to drilling multiple holes in your beautiful cabinets to install a pull.
If you’re looking for hardware that is a little more modern and is extremely easy to grasp, pulls may be the best option for you! Pulls offer more leverage for opening heavy kitchen drawers and require less dexterity to use them (which is helpful if your family members are older or have a disability.)
Using pulls requires a little bit more planning than installing knobs. Pulls need more than one hole and you have to pay more attention to the size of your drawers and cabinets to make sure the pulls you choose won’t be too big.
Standard pulls are the most common type of pull and have the same basic construction. These pulls can be completely straight or have embellished curves or angles for decoration.
These kinds of pulls are shaped like cups. You use them by sliding your fingers up and underneath the cup to grasp it and pull. Cup pulls are timeless and match a variety of interior design styles.
While both knobs and other types of pulls are installed by drilling holes all the way through the cabinet or drawer, finger pulls are mounted to the top or bottom of the drawer with only the front lip exposed as the pull.
Smaller drawers that are less than 24 inches wide should only have one knob, which is usually centered both horizontally and vertically on the face of the drawer.
For drawers that are larger than 24 inches, you likely will need two knobs to get the right leverage to pull it open. To place two knobs on a drawer, simply divide your drawer into thirds and place your knobs in the vertical center of the left and right thirds.
Have a deep, lower drawer for storing pots and pans? A knob right in the center of the lower drawer might make it harder to pull open and require you to bend over more. Instead, you can install knobs centered in the top third of the drawer.
Small drawers that are less than 12 inches wide should have a pull that is between 3 and 4 inches long.
Medium drawers that are 12 to 24 inches wide work best with a pull that is 4 to 8 inches long.
Large drawers that are more than 24 inches wide should have pull that’s at least 8 inches long or longer. Alternatively, you may opt to install two smaller pulls on a drawer wider than 24 inches using the same rules as installing two knobs.
Pro-tip: Generally, you will want to place all your knobs or pulls in the middle of each drawer. But when you step back, the change in perspective may cause the hardware to actually look uneven.
For a more balanced look, start with the bottom drawer and move your knob or pull up half an inch from the center. On the next drawer, place it ¼ inch higher. And finally, on the third drawer and most top drawer, place it exactly in the center.
Since finger pulls are always installed on the edges of cabinets or drawers, you have a little less variation in placement to play with. They are easiest to use when placed in the center of the top edge of your drawer.
On drawers wider than 24 inches, you may want to use two finger pulls instead. Place them on the right and left thirds at the top of the drawer.
On both base and wall cabinets, knobs and pulls should be installed opposite the hinges to allow you to swing the doors open.
In general, knobs should be placed 2 ½ to 3 inches from the edge of the upper right corner of base cabinets. It’s important to keep base cabinet knobs on the upper corner or style of base cabinet so you don’t have to bend down much to open your cabinets.
Traditional pulls are installed vertically and typically follow the same 2 ½ to 3 inch installation rule as knobs. For base cabinets, the top screw of your pull will be placed between 2 ½ and 3 inches from the top corner of the cabinet (opposite the hinges) and the bottom screw will be placed at the other end of the pull.
Pro-Tip: Pulls should be installed on the stiles of the doors. If your pull starts to fall on the rails or panel, you may need to adjust your placement before installing. Make sure to measure for both holes before you start drilling into your cabinets. This applies to wall cabinets too.
The placement of finger pulls on base cabinets is all about the corner! They should be flush with the upper corner on base cabinets opposite the hinges. Make sure that only the front edge of the pull is visible. From a distance, the pulls on doors next to each other that open opposite directors will look like one clean line, establishing a more streamlined look.
Similar to base cabinets, knobs are best installed 2 ½ to 3 inches from the corner of the door but on the bottom of the door instead of the top. This ensures that you don’t have to don’t have to reach too high to open your cabinet doors.
Pro-Tip: Your placement of knobs on both base and wall cabinets may differ slightly based on whether your cabinet is constructed with the cope and stick method (Shaker style) or the mitered method (traditional recessed door). Cope and stick cabinets have stiles and rails that meet at 90-degree angle while mitered stiles and rails meet at a 45-degree angle, creating a diagonal seam all the way to the edge of the corner. Learn more about the differences in our cabinet door style guide.
On your cope and stick cabinets, the 2 ½ to 3-inch rule works well because you can unusually still install the knob on a single stile. (Unless you have skinny Shaker cabinets, which will likely require that the knob be installed on the recessed panel instead.)
With mitered cabinets, you will need to be careful not to drill a hole on the diagonal seam of your cabinets, which could cause them to splinter or separate.
Finger pulls should sit flush with the bottom corner of your cabinet at the opposite the hinges. Just the front edge should be visible.
Other cabinet questions? Hire a Vevano Home Designer!
Whether you’re looking for simple hardware upgrades to your kitchen cabinets or are looking to do a complete cabinet overhaul, our Vevano Home designers can help. Schedule a free consultation today!