Home & Garden

Upgrade your living space with new cabinet pulls and knobs

A small project with a huge décor payoff

Silver metal knob on red drawer Credit: Getty Images / Shedu

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It can seem like home trends change as rapidly as fashion trends do—only, switching up the style of your living space or overhauling an entire room can be much more costly in both time and effort than buying a couple of new outfits each season. And, it isn’t always necessary.

Still, it’s only natural to want to polish your house or apartment with a refreshed look every now and then.

Don’t fret—rehauls, renovations, and costly furniture shopping doesn’t have to be in the cards. Enter: cabinet knobs and drawer pulls.

These small but mighty accents on kitchen cabinets, armoires, and other pieces of furniture can completely determine an item’s personality and style. Replacing old ones with new ones can transform dated and drab into modern and chic.

Plus, to install new cabinet knobs or drawer pulls, you just need a few supplies and a couple of spare minutes.

The latest trend: matte finishes

Matte1
Credit: Getty Images / Zephyr18

Oil rubbed, polished, or brushed metals, along with matte metals, create an updated look on armoire and cabinets.

Feel like your living space is stuck in the 20th century? Try swapping your old chrome or wooden knobs out for matte finish knobs for a modern vibe.

Colin Haentjens, interior designer at The Knobs, says homeowners are gravitating towards matte finishes now more than ever. “Chrome finishes, which have been extremely popular in the past, are losing ground to matte finishes, like polished or brushed nickel, stainless steel, and aluminum,” Haentjens says.

Tamara Day, interior designer and host of HGTV’s Bargain Mansions, says she’s using more of these matte finishes, too. “I’m seeing a lot of brass and black—that’s what I use a ton of in nearly every project.”

Brushed brass cabinet knobs, like these oil rubbed bronze sold at Wayfair, offer a modern twist to a rustic style.

Another benefit to matte finishes is that they’re “more forgiving for fingerprints and other dirt,” says Haentjens. Materials like chrome are more likely to show everyday grease and grime, while matte does a better job keeping it discreet.

Mixing and matching could change the game for your home

Mix and match
Credit: Getty Images / RomanDemtsiu

Go bold and mix it up when it comes to—this creates more of an eclectic feel to the space.

If you’re debating whether or not to stick with uniform knobs in certain rooms of your home, you’ll want to consider the look you’re trying to achieve. Are you going for a contemporary space, a vintage-inspired look, or a mixture of both?

For a modern, sleek interior, Haentjens says coordinating cabinet hardware can be a great addition. “Matching hardware will provide a cohesive surrounding that feels very thought-out and coordinated.” Buying a matching set all in one go is an easy, cost-effective way to achieve the look.

If you can’t choose one style, finish, or shape of a knob, or you don’t have all matching knobs on hand, don’t fret. Some experts say that mismatching knobs are what really adds dimension and personality to your home. Day says, “I think a big mistake people make is thinking every detail needs to match.”

For the ultimate mismatched look, try scouring local or online thrift stores, vintage shops, or local hardware makers for a wide range of unique knobs for your cabinet door or dresser drawer.

Etsy has a massive collection of thrifted and handmade knobs, some in curated sets you can buy together. This set of upcycled animal cabinet pulls are sure to bring character to your home.

Etsy
Credit: LobsterBisqueVintage

Try mixing and matching within the same color family or finish for a more subtle combination.


For something especially unique, this collection of raw sodalite stone knobs are loved by reviewers for taking their furniture, such as accent tables, to the next level.

That being said, when mixing and matching, don’t think you have to go off the deep end and add in tons of colors, shapes, and sizes. For a more subtle mismatch, try using the same color or finish in different shapes, like this brass collection from Etsy, to add a layer of texture. You can also try using different metals, such as bronze with gold, that has the same kind of brushed finish.

At the end of the day, every space is unique, and deciding whether or not using mismatched knobs is the best option depends on your taste and preference.

How to swap out drawer pulls and knobs

Install
Credit: Getty Images / Photovs

You won't necessarily need a drill, unless you're making a new placement for your cabinet pull or knob.

Swapping out drawer knobs can be done by nearly anyone, as long as you have the right tools on hand. Here’s what you’ll need:

The process is simple: Begin by reverse screwing your preexisting knobs with your hands, or use a screwdriver to unscrew from the back, if it’s too tough to unwind.

Your new hardware should have a screw that matches the knob—if the screw is too tight, loose, short, or long for the hole you already have in your cabinet or drawer, you can measure the width of the hole and purchase a replacement screw that fits within the correct dimensions.

For a similar effect, Day recommends using a washer to get a better fit on the screw you already have and to keep the knob from loosening up over time.

Once your screw is snug onto the cabinet, screw clockwise to secure it in place.

Try an unexpected placement

Move placement1
Credit: Getty Images / cerro_photography

Before you move the placement of your knob, make sure you'll still be able to properly open and close the drawer or cabinet in that position.

When it comes to knob swaps, another option that many homeowners don’t typically think of is switching up the knob placement itself. But Day says this kind of update can truly refresh the item or space you’re working with.

“You can take a super basic shape or style cabinet or furniture door and make it elegant just by the placement of your knob,” Day says. “If you get an oversized knob and place it in the center of the door, you’ve completely changed the entire look and elevated it.”

With this kind of knob replacement, you’ll need to drill new holes into the center of the cabinet, and consequently, need to fill or cover the hole from the previous knob. Make sure to take careful measurements to determine the center of the cabinet and apply those measurements to all cabinets receiving this update.

This five-inch champagne bronze drawer pull can be installed in the center of the cabinet, making a bold and sophisticated statement.

Using your own items as knobs

Use your item
Credit: Getty Images / C.I.I.O

If you don't want to drill it your precious item, you could try supergluing or using a removable adhesive—it may not be as sturdy as drilling, though.

For a truly unique accent, making your own knob or pull is most definitely an option. Haentjens says, “Turning an existing object into a knob is certainly possible and is dependent on the material and its size.”

Essentially, you should ensure that the depth and length of the object will make for a well-fitted knob or pull, as well—something too shallow or short will not fit properly.

If you want to take a sentimental or vintage item, Haentjens says to prepare for the fact that you will most likely have to alter the piece by drilling it in order to attach a screw. “You will need a drill to create holes for screws—the power of the drill and the type of drill bit will determine what materials you can use.”


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