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Kitchen Cabinet Hardware: Style, Finish and Placement

Any interior designer will confirm that style and intelligent décor is not created by one, single element but is comprised of a multitude of little elements all working together within a confined space. Kitchen cabinet hardware is one of those critical pieces of the decorating puzzle that is taken very seriously by those who desire a balanced theme in their kitchen space. This hardware, as trivial as it may seem, can literally define the detail of a desired kitchen theme or render the entire theme completely out of accord if addressed improperly. Inasmuch as most new kitchen cabinetry will not be fitted with new hardware when it arrives to your home, it will be necessary for you to have made a decision (and purchase) with regards to the style, finish of the hardware you have selected–and have the hardware available to those who are installing the new cabinets as well as having a fairly certain idea about the placement of the new hardware.

Style’s Defining Moment

The visual presentation, style, of your cabinet hardware is important as it transforms the basic theme of your cabinet design and solidifies it into a defined theme. If, for example, you’re cabinetry is a distressed painted concept and you’re going for and early American or Victorian scheme, then consider using cut glass pulls and knobs or white porcelain rather than geometrically cut polished metals. The same practice would apply if you’re entertaining a more contemporary flair—glass and porcelain, although attractive unto themselves, would not be good options. The array of door pulls, knobs and hinge units are virtually endless in varieties of styles, from simple burlap rope pulls for the eclectic taste to ornate, ‘braided’ oiled brass which transcends a host of more traditional cabinet styles. Each style of pull, or knob, will offer selections of hinge units, which are made to compliment the style of the pull or knob. You will likely have to decide if you want a ‘blind’ hinge (which doesn’t show when the doors are closed) or an open hinge system that adds more metal and more texture to the cabinet door’s appearance. Bear in mind that some kitchen themes dictate as to whether, or not, the hinge system is visible and choose accordingly. Remember to choose knobs and pulls that are comfortable in your hand as you’ll be using these items many, many times during the course of a day!

Flexibility in Finish

Kitchen accessories, faucets and lighting fixtures have come a long way as far as diversity of finishes that are available to the consumer. With that enormous change in availability comes a new way of decorating ‘appropriately’ with kitchen hardware. Gone are the days when every metal in the kitchen had to match in finish in order to coordinate an honest, structured theme in the kitchen. The new rule, in basic concepts, is that a change in finish is perfectly fine, but there must be a logical break and that the different finishes must work collectively with other fixtures in the kitchen. Confused? Don’t be, it’s a simple concept that allows more flexibility in your décor. Imagine that the faucet you fell in love with happens to be brushed nickel; and this faucet coordinates nicely with your stainless appliances. However, you also love a collection of bronze lighting fixtures that bring a ‘pop’ to your chosen granite countertops. The solution: maintain the nickel/stainless theme in the base cabinets while converting the uppers to work with the lighting fixtures. The key here is to stay within a particular style and not introduce a clashing element of drastic style change. Many of the more popular styles will come in a range of finishes to accomplish this task. If you should choose to use the same hardware throughout, that’s perfectly fine to do so; and it certainly would be a more traditional means of holding a theme together. The kitchen hardware manufacturers work closely with the manufacturers of appliances, faucets, lighting, and accessories so that visual ‘packages’ are easy to come by–no worries!

Now, where do I mount these things?

The actual mounting location of cabinet hardware really doesn’t vary all that much. Drawers, for example, will always have the appropriate hardware centered in the face of the drawer. Yes, in some eclectic or contemporary ‘statements’, this rule may, and will be, violated without objection as these themes actually encourage a more artistic interpretation. The structural rules that may come into play with regards to hardware placement would be: a minimum of three hinges used if any door is 36” or greater (two will suffice otherwise) and, of course, mounting the pull, handle or knob at the opposing side of where the hinges are to be mounted. Base cabinets will have the pulls mounted on the top rail or upper portion of the stile of the cabinet door and upper cabinets will have the pulls mounted on the lower rail or lower portion of the stile of the cabinet door. The size or expanse of a door pull may dictate its placement but, typically, a knob and lower bolt post of a pull will be positioned within two inches of the cabinet door edge in order to be convenient for the average user.


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