The handles on your kitchen cabinets may not be something you’ve ever given a lot of thought to – after all, they’re just there so that you can open the door easily, aren’t they? Well, yes – but not just for that! Changing your cupboard handles is a quick and relatively inexpensive way of changing the whole look of your kitchen, especially if you can also apply a coat of paint at the same time. Changing from contemporary to traditional or vice versa can have a big effect on the whole look and feel of the room. If you’re thinking of updating your cabinets, here are some things to think about.

Kitchen cupboard handle style

First, think about the effect you’re going for. If you already have ultra-modern, sleek cabinets you’ll need to stick with contemporary handles, or the final effect may be a bit odd! If you have plain, neutral cabinets you can go for either contemporary or traditional. Think about how that will fit in with the rest of your kitchen decor and whether you’ll need to change soft furnishings or colours.


The next thing to think about is whether your chosen new handles will actually do the job! Think about the number of times in a day you open and close your cabinets and drawers, and you may be trying to do so with wet hands or while you’re in a hurry. Handles that don’t give a good grip or require awkward positioning to get hold of them are probably out, no matter how good they may look.

Stylish leather cupboard handles from Dowsing and Reynolds

Thor leather door handles, Dowsing & Reynolds. Made in the UK from leather and brass, these handles come in three different colours and prices start at £16.99.

Cupboard handle size

There’s a huge range of options out there these days, and some manufacturers offer handles in a choice of sizes. While you may have thought of using larger handles for cupboards and smaller handles for drawers, you could also think about matching the size of handle to the size of cupboard. Using the same size of handle throughout can give a neater, less cluttered effect, so if you’re going for ‘sleek’ then think about choosing a mid-size of handle that will work with all the options. Avoid anything that sticks out too proudly, as kitchens are busy places and you don’t want to be catching your legs on things!

Knob style kitchen cupboard handles

Cheap and cheerful are these Gomasio knob handles, made of aluminum with a brushed brass effect. They cost £6 for a pack of two from B&Q.

Kitchen cupboard handle position

The position of your handle can be as important as the other factors. If you’ve chosen a handle rather than a knob, then generally it should be placed horizontally on drawers and vertically on cupboards for ease of use. There are no hard and fast rules, though, as long as you can still use it to open the door easily!

Rustic knob kitchen cupboard handles from Cox & Cox

The rustic finish on this cast iron beehive knob, £7.50 from Cox & Cox, means that no two are exactly the same. The traditional ridged design resembles a beehive and it’s perfect for adding interest and texture to a plain cabinet.

Cupboard handle finishes

These days you can choose from almost anything – brushed steel, chrome, brass and bronze, copper, glass, plastic, ceramics or even concrete! Chrome handles and other very high gloss surfaces may show fingerprints and need more frequent cleaning and anything you choose should be easy to wipe down.

Kepler knurled T-bar brass handle, Plank Hardware.

Kepler knurled T-bar brass handle, Plank Hardware. Made from solid brass, these handles are textured to add interest and catch the light. They are also available in matt black, satin nickel and industrial grey. Prices start at £8.95.

For more kitchen guides, check out our posts on choosing your dream kitchen colour scheme, how to choose kitchen worktops and kitchen hardware trends.

Main image: Pixabay 2021