Knobs vs Pulls: What’s the Right Move?

Designing a new home or rejuvenating an existing space means taking into account many diverse aesthetic choices, from color pallet to symmetry and other design elements.  Despite the many choices you’ll be making on how you want your home to look, it’s equally important to consider how it should feel and, of course, how it should function. Take your kitchen, for example.  It’s a very hands-on space where you’ll be balancing a number of different tasks on a daily basis. Choosing kitchen hardware means considering how you’ll interact with your cabinets and drawers on a regular basis, which brings us to a common dilemma; Knobs or Pulls?


Drawer Functionality

cabinet knobs columbusPulls provide a longer and larger surface to grasp when a door or drawer needs to be opened. Knobs are smaller and require more dexterity to grasp in order to open or close a drawer. Beyond this, there are no other substantive distinctions between knobs and pulls. It’s largely an aesthetic choice.  With a long drawer, people like the look of two small knobs or pulls. This has a nice appeal but issues arise if you have something in your hands and need to pull open a drawer with one hand. You’ll tug on one pull and only that end of the drawer wants to come open.  These are issues that depend on the structure of your drawers and how important this functionality is over pure aesthetic appeal.

We tend to like one single long drawer pull in modern kitchens for practical reasons, but one pull has a nice aesthetic to it as well. It’s very balanced, which is important to most people, with the elongated shape complementing a longer, wider drawer.


Drawer Design

Beyond functionality, the interior design of your house will be a significant factor in your decision. More traditional or Victorian designs will meld better with knobs. More contemporary designs that feature sleek lines and flat faces will be complemented by sleek pulls. Shaker style cabinets, which are both popular and versatile, lend themselves well to both knobs or pulls. If you are looking to modernize a kitchen without replacing existing shaker style cabinets, you can replace existing knobs with tubular pulls to give it nice, refreshed look. Get a few different samples of pulls to see which looks best with your existing cabinets.

columbus ohio cabinet hardware storeOther types of cabinets might push your decision in one direction or the other. Inset cabinets that feature intricate detail and craftsmanship may be overpowered by pulls, and will accordingly look better with smaller knobs. Cabinets with rustic or distressed features can be matched up with either knobs or pulls that are similarly distressed. In this latter case, the overall appearance of the cabinet finish will play a greater role than the actual cabinet design.

Louvered cabinets that include fine details might be overshadowed by large pulls, but will look perfect with knobs or smaller pulls. Focus on what features are most emphasized by the cabinets (i.e. the actual cabinet style, color, finish and appearance, etc.) and consider how those cabinets will fit the greater design of your kitchen and house.

From a more practical perspective, remember that you will probably have more options when you decide on knobs, and that knobs are easier to install. Because they have a single attachment point, knobs never look crooked. Pulls are more of a challenge to install, and your installer will need to exercise extra care to install them on a proper level so they do not appear crooked. Your pull options might be more limited, but pull designs tend to be more innovative as manufacturers design them to match with more contemporary cabinet styles.


It’s Okay to Mix it Up!

Keep in mind that it’s perfectly acceptable to change the sizes of pulls or knobs within the kitchen. We like to find the same proportion for each drawer or door so that it’s aesthetically pleasing, but multiple sizes are just fine so long as you get the proportions correct.

It’s important to make sure that the knob or pull you install has a far enough projection, meaning it comes out far enough for your hand to fit under the counter lip to actually pull it. Some people like a cup pull but you can’t always easily get your fingers under there if the cabinet style has moulding around the outside, forming a frame.  It can change the shape and topography of the door or drawer surface to use the wrong pull. On a long, thin drawer, the surface area for mounting the hardware may be really small and unfit for a cup pull or larger pull.

As always, the hardware choices you make should complement the style of your kitchen or bathroom. If you’re not entirely sure what’s the right move, work with one of our professional design partners here at Premium Hardware and come tour our showroom to sample some of your options with hands-on exploration.  We’re happy to help!


Premium Hardware in Columbus, Ohio, features a large, 3,800 square foot showroom where you can see many different knob and pull options and discuss those options with seasoned designers who can help you to make your move. We are Columbus’ best source for designer home hardware.  Please contact us by email to info@premium-hardware.com, or call us at 644-755-4419 for help in deciding whether to go with knobs or pulls, and for answers to your home hardware questions.