Updated: May 3
I’m in the process of updating my existing kitchen in the beach house I just moved into. It’s a simple cosmetic renovation with a slight reconfiguration of doors to drawers, replacing all the doors to new colours, and improving the pantry space.
Working out the functionality and selecting the finishes and colours came very easy to me, I knew exactly what I was after. But the one element that got me overthinking and caused me the greatest designer anxiety was, wait for it, the handles! Does anyone else get caught up in the minor detail! Yes, I know I could go for shark nose (handleless) cabinets given I’m replacing the facing doors/drawers, but I wanted to do something different because let’s face it, everyone does that now. But handles also cause me the greatest anxiety. Whilst I want them, I don’t really want to see them. The idea of round knobs dotted around my kitchen makes me feel uneasy. I feel like I’d be in a polka dot palace! So finger pulls or ledge handles were the perfect fit for me. But just making that decision doesn’t finish the decision. What size should I go, should I go full width of the drawers or a perfect third, or the smallest size. And where should I locate them, in the centre of everything. Arrgggh. My poor husband was having to get the tape measure out and show me on the cabinetry how it would all look, laughing at my anxiety and perfection with symmetry.
I don’t know about you, but I have serious OCD when it comes to symmetry. Put something off-centre for me and I feel like I’m going to fall sideways. When I take myself out of my comfort zone and do something not perfectly symmetrical, my husband laughs at me, says how proud he is and gives me a high-five. Thanks babe!
Getting out of my comfort zone is a normal day-to-day exercise for designers, and I’m totally fine with it when coming up with best solutions for a client. But when it comes to doing my own personal projects, my OCD takes over. So after much deliberation, and getting myself out of my comfort zone for my own home, I found that two things that will appear in my head to be asymmetrical will actually be symmetrical when they come together, so best of both worlds (although I think I’ll feel like falling over sideways until I see it actually together)!
So what to do when you start finding yourself overwhelmed with one element in your interior design? Get back to the fundamentals of design. To help you do this, I’ve listed my top tips below on selecting handles to suit you in your kitchen:
Think about the cabinets you are putting handles on and what those cabinets are going to hold. Traditionally knobs are used on cupboard doors and handles used on drawers bec
ause the weight of those drawers needs more stability for you when you are opening them. But there are enough products out there to avoid having to mix them up (particularly if you are like me and the idea of having a mix sends your head in a spin!). Ledge handles are great because they come in different lengths, so for those heavier drawers you may go for a full length handle to cope with the weight when pulling out the drawer, and they’ll still look amazing on your cupboard doors.
When you design your kitchen, you design with a certain style in mind - think Hamptons, Traditional, Minimalist and Modern. The handles you select will have a great impact on the overall design, so be sure to put a lot of thought into something that appears to be a small detail during the design process. Don’t leave it to the end! For example, Hamptons style uses beautiful knobs and clam style handles, whilst a minimalist kitchen may have shark nose (handleless) cabinets or very sleek ledge pulls. Half moon knobs suit a modern style kitchen, particlarly if you can incorporate the colour into other finishes in the kitchen, such as a brass kitchen tap matched with brass half moon or knob handles.
Consider other features in your kitchen
If you have a lot of detail going on with your kitchen cabinets and other feature finishes in your kitchen, you don’t want to detract from those hero features with yet more features. Your kitchen will start to look over the top and messy. Consider shark nose cabinets, small finger pulls or ledge handles that blend with your cabinets.
But what colour handles should I use?
If you are using handles, you want them to complement your kitchen cabinets, and you can go a couple of ways about this. If you want a minimalist look, choose handles that match the colour of your cabinets (some companies will powder coat your handles to the same colour as your cabinets). If you’d like your handles to complement a specific feature (remember not too many features), then choose a colour that matches such as black knobs, ledge or finger pulls to match your black taps. With my kitchen design, I have chosen white ledge handles to blend with the cabinets, but then oak handles on my pantry cabinets to bring through the oak open shelves and make the pantry cabinets a feature.
Image: Linear Standard
We could go down a rabbit hole about kitchen handles, but these four tips should help you to bring yourself back on track with what you are trying to achieve.
I can’t wait to share with you the cosmetic renovation of my kitchen, I’m super excited to see it come together and I’ll post some updates on Insta as it happens. Hopefully I haven’t fallen on the ground sideways!
P.S - renovating or building a new kitchen and confused about all the detail? Download my free e-book on the 5 Elements of Kitchen Design.