Proper Kitchen Cabinet Knob Placement

Your cabinets are installed. Now you just need the finishing touches. Whether you choose knobs or pulls, the hardware serves both functional and aesthetic purposes. Placement comes down to your personal taste, but there are some standard guidelines that can help you choose where to put the knobs or handles.

Modern Kitchen Counter With Canisters
credit: Thomas Bullock/iStock/GettyImages
Proper Kitchen Cabinet Knob Placement

Upper Cabinet Placement

Before getting into specific placement, it's important to know a little cabinet terminology. The horizontal piece that frames the horizontal edge of your cabinet door is called a rail. The vertical piece along the edge is the stile.

On upper cabinets, handles usually go in the lower corners so they are easy to reach. Most people attach cabinet pulls or handles to the stile. A good rule of thumb is to center the hardware horizontally on the stile. That means it attaches roughly in the middle of the stile. How far up on the stile you place the hardware is a matter of personal preference. Most people place the hardware between 2 and 4 inches from the bottom edge of the door.

A modern approach is to line the bottom edge of the hardware with the top edge of the rail. If you're using knobs, centering them in the corner of the frame gives the cabinets a traditional look. For an extra tall upper cabinet, longer pulls help balance the look. You may decide the longer pulls look better a little higher on the stile. When choosing a position, remember the handles should be easy to reach.

Lower Cabinet Placement

Lower cabinet pull or knob placement is similar to upper cabinet's. The main difference is you'll place them near the top of the door on the stile, so you can reach them without bending over too far. Center the hardware horizontally on the stile between 2 and 4 inches down from the top edge. Line the top edge of the hardware with the bottom edge of the top rail, or center it on the frame.

Drawer Placement

Centering knobs or pulls on the drawer front is usually the best option. For average-sized drawers, most people center the knobs both vertically and horizontally so they sit at the center of the drawer. It's usually a good idea to find the center, then move the knob or pull up slightly so it's a little closer to the top than the bottom. When you look at the drawer from above, it still looks centered. If you put it in the exact center of the drawer front, it may actually look a little lower than the center. If you have large, deep drawers, you'll still want to center the pulls horizontally. But you may want to place the pulls closer to the top. It usually looks better, and it's easier to open a deep drawer when the handle is toward the top.

Tips for Placement

The placement on the door or drawer front is flexible, but once you choose a spot, you want it to remain consistent. Even a slight difference in location from one door to the next can stand out significantly. Using a template to drill holes consistently is key to getting the knobs to all look the same. You can buy templates for the job that have lots of different holes, so you can get the exact placement you want.

Poster putty comes in handy when you're trying to decide where to place the knobs. Use the putty to hold the knob in place where you think you want it. Stand back to see if you like that placement from a distance. You can easily move the knob around to different spots with the putty until you find a position that works best.