Kitchen Cabinet Knobs

Give your kitchen an affordable facelift with the latest in fun, stylish cabinet pulls.

Forget about the "vertical metal handles vs. wooden knobs" decision of decades past. Designers today are vying to create innovative kitchen drawer and cabinet pulls, and consumers looking for an affordable kitchen update are the beneficiaries.

Adrienne Morea, for example, translated America's fascination with leather furnishings into Paradigm pulls in black leather, black crocodile leather and cocoa brown washable suede with polished chrome and brushed nickel accents.

"My inspiration for the collection came from the leathers and washable suede so hot in modern furniture right now," says Morea, who owns Atlas Homewares, a company that markets decorative hardware based in Glendale, Calif.

Leilani Norman-Young, a former metalsmith and jewelry designer who now owns SpectraDecor in Seattle, is also creating trendy "mixed media" pulls like the Luminous bar and knob pulls that pair 100 percent recycled glass in 18 colors with crisp, finished pewter.

Her Beach Pebble pulls point to another trend in cabinet pulls: texture. In their case, the texture consists of grainy buttons of recycled green glasses peppered with flecks of hues in the same palette.

Larger pulls are "in" these days, too, particularly among urban kitchen owners who follow the latest trends. "Those customers are gravitating towards larger drawers and horizontal cabinets and so we're designing oversize pulls that look good in proportion," says Atlas Homewares' Morea. "One of my favorites is the more modern matte black pulls that give that Asian feel and make a simple, stylish statement."

The black matte finish is available in more modest sizes, too, from 1.25"-diameter Luminous round knobs from SpectraDecor to Atlas Homewares' 5-5/8" Primitive Pull and Du Verre Hardware's Marcel single-post pull, an aluminum piece with asymmetrical geometric cutouts designed by hipsters Jeffrey Goodman and Steven Charlton. Like all Du Verre pulls, these are hand-poured in small batches using the sand-cast method.

Regardless of the proportions, Morea recommends a single finish for those opting to update with a metallic look. "I like polished chrome the best," says Morea. "It's clean and has that fresh feeling and it's what they're using in Europe — they're over the brushed nickel trend there."

But before investing in any of these designs for your own kitchen, remember that a coordinated kitchen look is stylish beyond compare, says Morea: "The single most important element to consider is what you decided to do with your plumbing fixtures. If they're pewter, stainless or brushed nickel, your new pulls should have the same finish. You might also want to consider colors that coordinate or complement your tile and floor or the color or finish on your appliances, particularly if you're using the trendy stainless fridges and dishwashers."

Give a nod to functionality, too. "I recommend the new oversized appliance pulls on cabinetry; they're simple, elegant and modern," says Morea. "But the pull should be in proportion to the cabinet or drawer; if it's too big it will put too much pressure on the drawer and it will break."

Morea's company and others like CKP (Cool Knobs and Pulls) thrive on sales of what she calls "whimsical" pulls in shapes of most anything imaginable, including dragon flies, antique cars, teddy bears and sea horses. While these are not as dominantly popular as they were five years ago, they still have a nice niche in kitchen design.

"I like the whimsical pulls used as a detail, put here and there to personalize the kitchen. They say, 'I like grapes' or 'I love antique cars,' and they'll always have a place," says Morea. "That kind of whimsy works really well at a second home or a vacation home. I have one client in Florida, for example, who used 125 hardware pieces in one beach house kitchen, all starfish, and it looked great. Pulls shaped like twigs and leaves work in a mountain retreat kitchen."

In an ordinary kitchen, pulls in fun shapes and colors strike a nice note when used sparingly. "For a personal touch I might use a few on a wine drawer or the doors of a wet bar, or maybe one or two on overhead cabinets that aren't real close to the main cabinets."

You don't see many whimsical pulls on the cabinets of people Morea calls "metro urban trendsetters."

"But of course these are the same people — and yes, I am one of them — who are going to take all these handles off and change them altogether in a year or two, the same people who have to change their wardrobe every four months," she says.

And that's entirely appropriate, says Morea. "These designer cabinet pulls are for forward-thinking people looking for innovation in style — they're design of the times."

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