As a kitchen designer for more than 12 years in the cabinet industry, I’ve seen it all. And I’ve become one heck of a problem solver because of it! Creating and executing a kitchen renovation is a momentous task. There are so many decisions that can weigh on a homeowner, like how to correctly place decorative hardware. If you like to DIY certain aspects of your project, this minimal but impactful step might have you stumped.
Picture this: Your beautiful kitchen has been installed and you can hardly contain your excitement to start using it! But don’t forget one of the last items to check off your list…decorative hardware installation! But where do you place it? It seems like common sense once you’ve seen it installed, but when it comes down to making the decision – is it an easy one?
Did you know that cabinet manufacturers typically do not pre-drill your cabinets for hardware? This is because hardware is an essential style component for functionality purposes and aesthetic reasons. Because all hardware styles range so drastically from sizes to finishes and style, the manufacturer doesn’t want to limit a homeowner from choosing their perfect match.
It’s important to understand that once your decorative hardware is in place, it most likely cannot be moved. Don’t find yourself having to reorder cabinet doors because the hardware placement isn’t what you had in mind. Follow these simple recommendations and tips and tricks when determining where and how to place decorative hardware.
Decorative Hardware Placement on Base Cabinet Doors
To find the correct placement for hardware on a standard base door, follow this simple process:
If your doorstyle has a profile, locate where the rail and stile meet in the inside top corner of the door.
Then, after deciding placement on the left or right side, place painter’s tape along the stile to allow for pencil marks. Do not mark on the finished cabinet. Starting from the inside profile, draw a straight line to the outer edge of the door as a guide. Typically, it would look best not to install your hardware above that area.
Next, find the center of the flattest space on the stile and mark with your pencil. You will then measure the distance from the center of one of the drill holes to the center of the other hole (this measurement is commonly called center-to-center or c/c) of the drawer pull you want to install.
Finally, mark your c/c on the tape and lay the decorative hardware over on its side. Line up the screw holes with the pencil marks for a final check before drilling. If you are installing knobs, you’ll find the center of the straight line and drill your hardware in that location.
This is a great general guide for knobs and pulls as this allows for plenty of clearance around the decorative hardware and is both functional and aesthetically pleasing.
When installing on slab doors, a general rule to follow is to place knobs and pulls 1 inch over and 3 inches down from the top of your base cabinet door.
DESIGNER TIP: Typically, a hardware template works well for cabinet doors if you are wanting to place all pulls or knobs in the same location throughout the kitchen. But placing hardware on drawers can have challenges from a consistency standpoint. Typically, not all drawers are equally sized. This requires hardware placement to vary throughout the kitchen. A template might become more of a frustration than helpful in this case.
DESIGNER TIP: When placing hardware on wall cabinets, follow the general guide for base doors, but reverse the rules. You’ll find where the stile and rail meet in the bottom left or right corner as the decorative hardware will be towards the bottom of the door for functionality purposes.
Hardware Placement on Drawers
Drawers come in all different shapes and sizes, so it’s important to keep that in mind when determining the best hardware placement. Before you start, the most crucial detail is adjusting all your drawer guides throughout the kitchen. Ensure that each drawer is perfectly plum and all are aligned to fit your needs. If this step is missed, you risk the misalignment of your hardware once installed. Check out this quick video tutorial to learn how to properly align your cabinets.
The most appealing place to install hardware on drawers is in the center, but ensure that any interior storage won’t interfere with that placement.
To start, remove the drawer box from the cabinet and stand upright on a flat surface. Place painter’s tape in the approximate center of the drawer and then use a tape measure and pencil to mark the center. If you are installing a single knob, that is the drill location. If you are installing a pull, you will measure the hardware’s center-to-center. Once that measurement is determined, divide that number by two. Find the center mark again and measure out to the right and then to the left to mark the screw holes.
Don’t forget to then check if your hardware is straight by either measuring from the top of the drawer down to your pencil mark or by using a small level.
Keep in mind that the screw length needed when installing hardware on drawers is typically longer as it needs to go through the drawer front and drawer box. Typically, the screws included with the hardware will have multiple locations to snap off excess length as needed.
DESIGNER TIP: If your drawer is 12″ to 30″ across, typically one decorative pull will suffice. If your drawer width exceeds 30″, place two pulls or one longer pull on that drawer to allow for proper weight distribution when opening. Plan ahead to determine how many pieces of hardware each cabinet needs before ordering. You can also add painter’s tape to each cabinet where the hardware will be placed to visualize whether a pull or a knob is needed, especially if you are mixing hardware in the space.
Wall and Base Pullout Cabinets
The popularity of base and wall pullout storage is growing rapidly and because these function differently than regular base cabinets, the guideline differs on hardware placement.
Waste and recycle bins are in the top five of cabinet must-haves. When installing decorative hardware, it’s always best to consider using a drawer pull on the top rail of the door. A knob is more difficult to use as it’s a heavier cabinet door, so a pull makes it easier and more efficient.
This is also the case with most other base pull-out cabinets. Since the components on the interior add extra weight, always consider a reasonably sized pull placed horizontally in the center like the images below. The same rule applies to wall cabinet pullouts. Be extra cautious that you don’t interfere with any of the interior components before you choose the location and start drilling.
Hardware, in most circumstances, is a functional piece of your cabinets. It adds character and can be a great design element to any space. Our Masterbrand website has plenty of inspiration to get you started and our designers are ready to help! Click here to find a designer near you today!