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A reader asks: can i vary the sizes of cabinet handles in my kitchen?

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I am in the process of re-doing my kitchen and it's a new experience for me:

I've been making decisions pretty quickly and easily after reading about whatever it is that is the current decision.  I've stumbled now toward the end on something I thought would be easy – cabinet hardware.: Anyway, I ordered an assortment of them and they should arrive any day.  My cabinets were custom made, cherry wood, Sherwood cherry stain with chocolate glaze.  I love them.

kitchen door pulls


Here's my dilemma – I bought four different sized drawer pulls to accommodate the different height of cabinets and varying widths of drawers.  I have 3″ pulls on the short drawers, 7″ pulls on the long drawers and pantry doors, 4″ and 5″ on drawers and cabinets in between, etc.  Then I threw in a few coordinating knobs for a few upper cabinets that are really high and I probably won't use much.  I ordered six 3″, twelve 4″, fourteen 5″, and five of the 7″ drawer pulls and 6 knobs .  Can you tell I put a lot of thought into this?

pulls for kitchen cabinets


My contractor said that they need to all be the same size.  Is this true?  It seems like some of them will look out of proportion with all the different sized drawers and cabinets : he said that it's probably trendy right now then, but will look dated in five years.

kitchen pull knobs


True or false?  I like the look of different sizes (I think) but don't want to do anything that I will regret once those holes are all drilled in……he said I'll be sorry and it has scared me.  Is he right?  Of course I have to decide this right away! 

drawer pulls for kitchen cabinets


  • Susan  
  • Hi Susan, Your kitchen sounds lovely. My mother and I always tell our clients to expect most decisions to happen fairly quickly but to expect at least one item that will stump us all – it's a natural part of the process. Looks like you found yours!

    Your contractor's advice has some validity but I'm guessing he's skipped over that extra bit of information you need to make your decision.

    First of all, sizing the handles to the cabinets is done all the time – some recessed small drawers are too small for anything wider than a 3″ handle – otherwise they won't fit in the space.

    Where your contractor is correct (and what he isn't saying) is that we have to carefully balance these number of sizes and shapes or the handles will distract from the overall picture. And one of the challenges that we all forget is that while the handles will look great on one cabinet, having different sizes side-by-side along the same wall can distract the eyes in a way we don't really want.

       A combination of knobs and bin pulls. The bin pulls (the half circle handles) can be a challenge to place on a door as you can see on the door to the left of the sink

    As a rule of thumb, I always draw elevations for this reason- to see how the handles balance beside one another.  (Think pantry with an overly large handle next to a small drawer with tiny handles next to a large drawer with mid-sized handles.) The most sizes I've ever used have been 4 – and the 4th were the large-scale appliance handles. I kept all the uppers the same size and only altered the base handles.

    Of course, this is relative. A larger-scale kitchen “gets away” with more than a small kitchen does.

    The addition of the knobs with so many handle sizes might be too much of a good thing but it's hard to know without seeing the design. I might suggest drawing an elevation and replacing the knobs with equal  handle sizes on the upper cabinets and see if you like the look.

    Hopefully that’ll help. Good luck!

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