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Knobs & Pulls – How to Choose

Knobs and pulls in your bathroom and kitchen can make or break their functionality, look, and feel despite their small role overall. When entering the decision-making process regarding this feature, be sure not to skimp. Remember, knobs and pulls give you the ability to open drawers, cabinets, doors, and many other storage areas!

Styles and Collections

Every bathroom and kitchen will have a style and you have many choices of knob and/or pull styles to choose from to match. In addition to matching the cabinets or drawers, make sure they match the original hinges. If not, you might want to rethink your decision or replace the hinges as well. Once a style is settled on, there are collections to consider. Collections have 45-65 pieces that match a particular style and come in a variety of finishes.

Traditional knobs and pulls are the most popular. They are often the most ornate knobs and pulls out of the other styles and may have textured surfaces, intricate designs, or be composed of multiple materials. Since traditional styles are pulled from specific times and locations, collections of knobs and pulls may match certain eras or countries or they may simply be a collection of pieces with the same finish.

Contemporary or modern knobs and pulls have clean lines and minimal design. Finishes available are typically polished bronze, silver, gold, stainless steel, or chrome to match the “new” material look in kitchens and bathrooms with this style. Contemporary knob and pull collections will have pieces with similar shapes and designs, but all with a modern finish.

Another style of knobs and pulls is transitional. These can be for a bathroom or kitchen that does not fit in to either traditional or contemporary styles, but somewhere in between. Transitional knobs and pulls may have a traditional design with a contemporary finish or vice versa. Collections will be pieces that all share the same design with varying finishes. This style of knob or pull goes great in bathrooms or kitchens featuring a granite countertop, as the smooth lines or modern finish compliment the more detailed look of granite.

Finish

Many different finishes give you great control over the look of your kitchen or bathroom. After choosing a style and collection you like, the finish is the next decision to make. While the style of knobs and pulls will likely match the overall feel of the room, the finish will match the colors of the room. As mentioned above, traditional knobs and pulls will have a look inspired by certain eras or locations. Thus, old-world materials like bronze, copper, nickel, brass, and pewter are common finishes. Modern finishes will use new-age materials like stainless steel, polished chrome, polished brass, and polished nickel.

Quality

The quality of knobs and pulls will greatly affect your experience in the kitchen or bathroom. Remember that these pieces are used to open and close drawers and cabinets, so they will be handled daily hopefully for years to come. While you will want them to look good, feel and functionality is just as, or more important than, look. Low quality knobs are cheaper because they are not manufactured the same as high quality knobs. In order to produce cheaper pieces, manufacturers make them hollow, reduce the amount of finish, and use thinner materials (base and plating). As such, these low quality knobs and pulls may not feel right and/or scratch your hand due to imperfections. High quality knobs may be more expensive, but they are worth it in the long run. These knobs and pulls are made of solid materials, so last longer and are less likely to bend or dent. Higher quality knobs will feel better during use and look better due to more detail and a consistent finish.

Besides the price, telling a low quality piece from a high quality one is usually easy. The best giveaway is its weight. Since low quality knobs and pulls are hollow and made with thinner materials, they will be lighter than their high quality, solid counterparts. Low quality materials are also contained without being individually wrapped and may be dented or scratched. Handle pulls especially may be different lengths between the screw holes, so holding a few next to each other will reveal any inconsistencies.

Making a Decision

Making a final decision can be difficult, especially with a purchase that will last a long time. Luckily, many knob and pull retailers, even those online, provide free samples that you may take and test on your cabinets and drawers at home. If you have many styles or finishes in mind, it might be best to unhinge a cabinet and/or pull out a drawer and take it into the store with you. In this way, you can see how each knob and pull sold by the retailer compares to the style and finish of your kitchen or bathroom. When doing a final check, also make sure that the knob or pull will be correctly spaced after installation; two that are touching or too close to each other may not be the look you are going for.