Vancouver Interior Designer: Which Pulls/Knobs Should You Choose for Your White Cabinets?

I have been wanting to write this post for a while. I get asked this question a lot, so here is my take on which hardware you should choose for your white kitchen:

Black

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I would only recommend black if you have black countertops (above).

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Personally, I would not want the hardware in my kitchen to be the first thing I notice when I walk in. If you love yours and want them to be visually more important than anything else? Go for it.

Oil-rubbed Bronze

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Use brown with brown countertops. These don't stick out visually as much as the black ones do but there are less of them here.

Chrome

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Chrome became the finish of choice in one job a few years ago when I was specifying faucets and pulls for a builder, and it was always the one in stock and the least expensive.

I prefer chrome over brushed nickel because they look the most like jewelry for the kitchen. Obviously this will not work for every kitchen though. If your kitchen is more cottage or countrified (for example) chrome might be too blingy looking.

Brushed/Satin Nickel

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I think this category is safe. Not to shiny, not too dark, goes with all your stainless appliances. Can't go wrong really.

Brass

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Although this kitchen is just pretty, pretty, pretty, I personally think brass is typically too warm to install in a white kitchen. Just like in this post when I said brown goes with cream and black goes with white, leave that tone to a stained wood cabinet. And you'd definitely have to repeat it somewhere as they've done here in the light fixtures.

Make sure you choose a combination of pulls and knobs, knobs for the doors and pulls for the drawers. If you have some skinny drawers at the top, install two knobs instead of a pull which sometimes looks too tight depending on which one you use. Check out my pinterest boards for pulls and knobs I like.

It's basic advice, but I think so many of us agonize over every little detail and I hope this helps you with yours!

Which colour is your kitchen hardware?

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Related posts:

5 Steps to a Kitchen You'll Love

Can you have a White Kitchen in a Dark Room?

The Dangerous Side to Creativity

52 Responses to Vancouver Interior Designer: Which Pulls/Knobs Should You Choose for Your White Cabinets?

  1. indetailsays says:

    I think you should make the cabinetry work with the pulls…and agree white white kitchens need chrome, sat nickel or you can use pewter tones too depending on style. The brass kitchen you showed is scary. The 6 flush mount fixtures are just sooo wrong. And the pix with the sea of black handles is a mistake as well. YOu are right, that is all you see! But is a function of the way the cabinets are laid out, not just the plethora of pulls!

  2. When we renovated our kitchen I seriously looked for sequentially numbered cabinet knobs. Imagine being able to tell your husband, "It's in cabinet 5, middle shelf, left side." without having to get up from the recliner!

  3. Cheryl says:

    We are in the process of a kitchen/bath renovation (that's how I stumbled on your wonderful site).
    The color cabinets I chose have a slight brown tinge over soft white: "toasted almond".
    I picked an oil rubbed bronze birdcage style knobs/pulls. As you mentioned it gives a "warmer" feel than the stark white cabinets and black knobs/pulls. I thought of that style as well, but thought I would be happier with a warmer look.
    Kitchen gets torn out next week. Will be eating out 'till it's done. :)
    (Leslie, love the # cabinet idea!)

  4. Mary Anne O'Keefe Burton says:

    I just wanted to mention another style of knob I added to my white cabinets…glass knobs! I did my kitchen re-do in September 2011 with New Venetian Gold Light granite and white subway tile back splash. Looks" tres chic!!"

  5. Elizabeth says:

    What about white knobs/pulls? (I think they can look cheap and nasty but I'm not a designer so would be interested to know your view.)

  6. Jennifer Denny says:

    Thank you! I am new to your blog and just before I subscribed I was thinking of painting my kitchen white. 3-4 posts in and I read about painting kitchens white and then the knobs for them! I love it :)
    Thanks for the great advice.

  7. Peggy says:

    Just changed out our kitchen cabinet doors to antique white with oil bronzed pulls and knobs. I have tropico granite countertops. It really warms up the kitchen but still looks bright.

  8. Jen says:

    I have antique/black vibed nickel knobs and pulls, and they pick up the black in my countertop and silver of the stainless appliances and fixtures. Nothing else really seemed to tie everything together.

    If I ever do the white kitchen and soapstone counters of my dreams, I hope to include some crystal knobs in the mix.

  9. Kelly says:

    Beautiful, beautiful photos! I agree that in the second picture all you can notice are the black knobs. Great post!

  10. I am presently renovating my own kitchen and have chosen great hardware in Nickel with my White Wisp (BM) cabinets and white glass countertops.

  11. Patty Bruni says:

    Thank you Maria, I am buying the pulls for the kitchen
    today so this will help to keep me focused.

  12. diane says:

    so agree with all those black knobs. For obvious reasons, I also like to add a little surprise with a unique knob that adds some personality to just one area i.e. the bar, pantry etc.

  13. Mary says:

    Right now I have chrome pulls & knobs. I will be painting my cabinets soon & want to change them but I don't know what yet. This is good information to mull over. Thanks.

  14. I love the numbered knobs idea! My early 90's kitchen is long overdue for an overhaul, you don't want to know what we have.

  15. Maria Killam says:

    I forgot about the glass knobs when I wrote this post, love the look of them with a white kitchen!

    I do NOT like white ones. Maria

  16. I like the brass pulls with the white. Especially because they also used it on the light fixtures. The only problem I see is that it will probably look dated sooner rather than later. I don't even have pulls in my kitchen because I can't ever decide!

  17. Brenda Thomson says:

    I want something soft and subtle for my pulls and knobs so I am going with prushed nickel on my Classis Gray (BM) cabinets. My countertops will be cearsarstone Quartz almost white with white subway title backsplash. Is it important to match lighting in the same metal as knobs?

  18. Mary Marts says:

    My cabinets are Linen White (BM) with medium brown counters so I used antiqued copper for the pulls and kitchen faucet.

  19. Paulette says:

    We kept it simple with our very detailed white cabinets and went with no handles in the kitchen and clear crystal knobs in the baths!!!!LOVE IT!!

  20. Anne B Wright says:

    I recently had my cabinets painted white and they look great! I reused the same plain brushed nickel knobs and pulls and can't believe how much better they look against the white (over the old color of butter yellow).

  21. Jen says:

    Not sure if it's your posts influencing me, but the chilly white backplash in that first picture next to the creamy cabinetry is driving me batty,

  22. Ally Bean says:

    White kitchen cabinets. Giallo granite countertops. Stainless steel appliances. Pewter handles and knobs. They're stylish and practical– not glaring and bold like those black ones. We like this look a lot.

  23. Victoria says:

    We are planning for white cabinetry in our kitchen remodel. Our countertops on the wall cabinets will be honed granite but I am considering the island with the carrera or quartz look alike and possibly painting the island a different color. So I was also considering using another type of pulls/knobs on the island as well. Thanks for all the great visuals and what I don't want to do — make them all stand out too much.

    • kristin says:

      Our island is a different color than our cabinets, but I used the same handles throughout the entire kitchen for consistency. I wanted the varying wood colors of the cabinets to be the focal point rather than the handles. :)

  24. Kimby says:

    I love the second kitchen. I think black pulls look great with those windows but I would have not used black hinges, it makes it look too busy. The brass are nice in the other kitchen but those lights are too much. With the pendant and undercounter lighting, that space did not need 6.

  25. kristin says:

    My kitchen cabinets are an off-white, cream color with black granite, so my handles are a flat black color which is repeated in the black iron for my kitchen chandelier.

  26. A-L says:

    I recently had my kitchen cabinets painted 118 Snowfall White, and I have polished chrome pulls that are traditional in style, and they look great. I had debated about using black, but as Maria said, they stood out too much for me when I brought samples home.

    My one caution for people with no pulls. My old house had white cabinets (cheap white cabinets, but not mellarmine, just cheap builder's grade wood painted white) and it didn't have handles. The part where one would pull to open a drawer/door was always grimy looking and couldn't be cleaned away. I painted them green (and added knobs) and they looked infinitely better. So something to think about!

  27. Del says:

    Maria,
    How about off white cabinets with light creme astoria granite but the island will be a so brown it is almost black? What about different color knobs for both?

  28. Excellent and informative post Maria! Thank you.

    Re the 2nd photo, perhaps a mix of knobs and pulls would have been better? Absolutely love the steel windows though. :)
    -Brenda-

  29. Kellie says:

    How about this: tumbled gunmetal! We found tumbled gunmetal knobs and pulls that are super dark pewter with shiny gray flecks and hopefully will look superb on our white cabinets. Ties in with iron and brushed nickel we have going on elsewhere. Best of both worlds.

  30. Oh my goodness! That one photo with the black handles was just awful! It certainly illustrates your point. LOL!

    I like the idea of some kind of silver/chrome/ or pewter. We are using pewter in the kitchen because it feels a little more 'antique' which is good for our more traditional style home, but like you said it goes well with white and any replacement of fixtures. That's another project on our list.

    Great advice as usual. :o)

  31. jill alde says:

    Hi Maria,
    Love your blog! Do you happen to know the creamy cabinet paint color in the kitchen pic, (3rd pic down)?

  32. Brenda Adams says:

    I used glass nobs,I love the look with my white cupboards,it seems everyone has the same silver or black nobs,I can't wait to see your finale product here,
    Brenda

  33. Jeanne Sidney says:

    I am in need of some advice…I am having my cabinets painted Cream with a brown glaze and a dark brown quartz countertops. The hinges won't match that I have and I need to get new hinges. I now have copper knobs that I replaced a few years ago, but can't get copper hinges to match, so am thinking of starting all over again. Would oil rubbed bronze hinges work with my cream cabinets and copper knobs. I have a black refrigerator and black stove and microwave, but also have some Stainless in the kitchen. Would the satin nickle work better. I am needing help on this…

    • Maria Killam says:

      I think it would bother me if my hinges did not match the knobs. Maria

    • Evelyn Nguyen says:

      special order the hinges. Color of the hinges could be matched with the knobs/pulls. A little pricey; but worth it. I remodel my kitchen right now. White, with nature wood showing around the corner of the the cabinet doors for effect and to add more dimension. I want to show hinges, but could not find a good looking hinges that would fit our original cabinet doors. My attitude is that, if you show hinges, make sure the hinges are spectacular. I could not find ready make hinges that are worth showing. So I found a company that make European hinges that have so many styles and options. Since the hinge colors are customize , they agree to match the color to my new top knobs handles. I agree that the dark handles and hinges on the first pictures is a little much. I think that is because there is wall to wall cabinets. I do have dark hinges and handles; but I do not have wall to wall of cabinets and my kitchen have more space. Hopefully, the dark hinges and handles will not be too overwhelming.

  34. Farha Syed says:

    I had the brass knobs for my white cabinets and even door knobs. For the kitchen cabinets I have satin nickel pulls for all my cabinets. For the doors though, I need to replace the hinges and knobs to an a satin nickel finish, which would match my pendant lights over the island and the chandelier over the table.

  35. Stephanie says:

    Oh…I need some advice! I have antique white cabinets with grey/brown quartz countertops. I am picking oil-rubbed bronze handles, but I need to know if there is a general rule when placing the type of knob. Knobs on upper or straight handles? I like knobs, handles and the semi-circle pulls but I am not sure what goes where. (P.S. I LOVE your site. I screamed victory when I finally convinced hubby that we do NOT NEED accent tile in our backsplash with one of your posts)

  36. Diane says:

    I am in love with the first kitchen but more importantly the lights! Where can I find those black pendant lights??

  37. Donna says:

    We are renovating a beach house kitchen and are going with white cabinets and a verde butterfly granite. Stainless appliances…yellow walls… Am debating on satin nickel and glass knobs. I want the kitchen to be fun and happy (thus the yellow walls), but don't know what kind of pulls to coordinate with them. If I do glass knobs, can I use satin nickel pulls? (I don't like the glass pulls)>>>Thanks for any advise!

  38. Emily says:

    The kitchen with the black hardware and the one with the brass were ahead of their time in 2011, that look is very chic and hip now. Mixing metals is cool, and so is non-shiny brass and black.

  39. Victoria Voelkel says:

    We have medium dark oak kitchen cabinets with brass handles. I want to change the handles. I got bronze colored ones but they seem to just sit there. Got another handle in black with more substance….not sure now which way to go.

  40. Victoria Voelkel says:

    Actually the bronze is more brown with copper highlights.

  41. Vicki says:

    I've been reading your blog for the past three days and I'm loving it. So inspiring! I'm right in the middle of a total renovation/addition and have been making all the decisions myself…so far! It might be time for a colour consultation!!!!! I've fallen in love with the richness of polished nickel for my kitchen hardware, faucets, bath fixtures, hinges and door handles throughout the house. I haven't read any comments on this metal finish and would love to hear any thoughts on it. I'm doing an all white kitchen with the hopes of finding a medium gray wide plank oak hardwood floor. (Not so easy to find) Also, simple crystal chandeliers will be in almost every room as I love the sparkle!

    • Maria Killam says:

      I would go with medium brown which would be more classic than a floor that says "I was installed in the grey trend". Nothing wrong with polished nickel it just doesn't look that different from satin which might be why there isn't a big conversation out there about it. Maria

      • Vicki says:

        Thanks for your advice Maria! I'll be going out to look for a medium brown hardwood now and maybe it will even have a little grey undertone to it as I love decorating with black, white and grey. As for the polished nickel fixtures, I've been researching all day along with reading your blogs and apparently it requires daily cleaning to keep it from permanently staining with water spots as apposed to polished chrome. So maybe there is my answer!

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