Making a decision about the size of pulls for your kitchen cabinets can be tough.
It is the finishing touch to your kitchen and the wrong size can totally impact how the space feels. It’s such a small decision but it can either make the kitchen feel balanced or look like something’s missing.
You’ve done the hard bit already, choosing pulls is the fun part. Let me show you how we chose our kitchen cabinet hardware when we renovated our new kitchen.
Cabinet Hardware Size Guide
I’ll preface this by saying, there is no perfect choice. It all depends on your taste and personal preference. However if you are feeling a little bit overwhelmed by the information that’s out there and need to make a quick decision, here’s a good rule of thumb.
Kitchen cabinet pulls needs to be about 1/3 the width of the drawer or cabinet door. More modern designs use 1/2 or 3/4 the width of the drawer or cabinet door. If installing the pull vertically, the same rule still applies.
Also keep in mind the design of your drawers or cabinets. If you have a shaker style cabinets for instance, don’t choose pulls that are larger than the framework. You want something that will be comfortable relative to the inner framework of the door or drawer.
If that went over your head, or the maths feels confusing, let me break it down visually for you.
If you took the width of a drawer and sliced it in three ways. One of those parts would give you the overall length of the drawer pull handles that would fit that drawer or cabinet door. This is how you get a kitchen that feels more balanced.
So the right size of pull for a 24 inch drawer is an 8 inch pull. A great choice for large 39 inch cabinets will be 13 inch length pulls. However, a similar 24 inch shaker style drawer might work better with 6.6 or 7 inch drawer pulls.
Remember these are estimates, you can go bigger or longer if it works visually.
To get an expert opinion, I spoke with David, the kitchen fitter behind Olivia Jacobs Kitchen and Bathroom and here’s what he said:
“The size of bar pull you choose depends on the style of kitchen you are going for. On a drawer make sure the handles are bigger because they act as a feature. If you have a 5.9inch on a 35 inch door front going horizontal, it looks small. I would use a 19 inch pull instead.”David, Olivia Jacobs Kitchen and Bathroom
David’s design choice for cabinet fronts slightly differs from my choice. This is why design in general is very subjective. There are guiding rules and principles and rules are often made to be broken.
Here are some more tips for choosing the right drawer pulls for your kitchen cabinetry.
Tip #1 Use Vertical Drawer Pulls
Depending on the configuration of your kitchen, you can either use your pulls vertically or horizontally. Base cabinets can have slightly larger bar pull sizes if they are fixed vertically.
This gives not just a modern look but is configured in the natural way you would open your cabinets.
The same rule applies to cabinets that are higher up. Single pulls hung in a vertical way will feel more natural for cabinets that open left or right. An exception to this rule are cabinets that open upwards. It will make more sense to have large pulls that are fixed horizontally.
Tip #2 Use Vertical Appliance Pulls
The same rule goes for appliance pulls, like an integrated fridge and freezer. You want longer pulls that are hung vertically to match the natural way you would use the appliance.
An exception to this would be integrated microwave drawers. Remember, design rules are made to be broken. A general rule is to use your drawer pulls in the way you would naturally open the cabinet or drawer.
Tip #3 Use Multiple Pulls On One Cabinet
If you have very wide drawers or cabinet doors, finding a pull that is long or wide enough can pose a bit of a challenge. This is where it’s okay to use different size pulls in your kitchen.
If you have gone with 8 inch pulls for most of your kitchen and have a very wide drawer somewhere in the middle, 8 inch pulls can look very tiny. Instead, you can use two shorter 3 inch pulls on either end of the drawer.
Using multiple pulls on one drawer front doesn’t even have to be due to a lack of availability, it is a design choice that gives a very contemporary look to your kitchen.
Tip #4 Choose Different Lengths
If you decide not to use knobs for your cabinet drawers, you can try different sizes or lengths of pulls. Remember I said there is no fast rule to design. A lot of guidance around design can be overridden by intuition.
A kitchen with a mix of long bar pulls for appliances, multiple smaller pulls for drawers and medium size pulls for upper cabinets will create a cohesive look.
Tip #5 Mixing Pulls and Knobs
You may love the look of bar pulls in the kitchen but most designers have since broken that rule. Many of them are mixing knobs and pulls in one kitchen design and this adds so much variety and texture to the kitchen design.
You can mix knobs, cup pulls, latches and even long pulls if you wish. However, this has to be done carefully so it doesn’t look out of place.
As a general rule, make sure the pulls and knobs have a similar style finish. You can use pulls on large drawers and knobs on lower cabinets. I broke this rule in my own kitchen and used a mix of pulls and knobs on the centre drawers. Our designer kicked against it but I stuck to my feeling and I couldn’t have made a better choice.
Tip #6 Mixing finishes
As a rather strict rule, you shouldn’t use different hardware finishes on kitchen cabinets because they might clash. However you can choose cabinet pulls or knobs that compliment or even contract other finishes in your kitchen like the tap or light fixtures.
Regardless, it’s still important to pay attention to undertones of each finish. This article shows why similar colours can have different undertones and how to use that concept when mixing and matching.
A polished nickel tap might pair well with brass hardware because polished nickel has a warm tone. You can mix metals or choose something complimentary or even contrast entirely. It’s up to you!
Final thoughts on choosing bar pulls
It’s important not to get too hung up on precise measurements, the 1/3 rule is merely a guide. The most important decision is what feels right to you. So order a few samples and check it out in the space. If you want a modern kitchen, order a few hardware samples with modern finishes and textures, same if you are going for a more traditional kitchen.
Related Articles on Home & Decor:
✔ Where To Start When Decorating A Room
✔ This IKEA Pantry Hack Will Give You The Most Spacious Pantry Ever!
✔ 6 Ideas You Can Steal From These Exquisite Kitchen Designs