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Cabinet Hardware: The Look is in the Details

by Marc Dickinson

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So you've recently remodeled and now have new cabinetry in your kitchen. Take a deep breath because the hard part is over. But even though the big project is done, it doesn't mean that you can skimp on the finishing details. In fact, usually it's these finer points that make the remodel feel complete. Installing cabinet hardware is the final task, but these tiny decorative elements can radically revitalize a room and make it come to life.

They're Everywhere
Kitchen cabinet hardware is all the accoutrement attached to your cabinetry system: the hinges, pulls, knobs or handles that make it possible to open and close these units. However, they are not only functional; they can also dramatically alter the look of your kitchen by adding that extra elegant punch. And since they're fastened to every door, they can easily become the focus of your cabinetry. So when shopping for cabinet hardware, it may be best to get hands-on and actually buy several samples. You can't appreciate their full appearance from a catalog or magazine, so pick up some actual items to better visual the look against your own cabinetry. If you're simply replacing these items, it's still best to actually have the products in hand so you can accurately compare the old with the new.

How Many Hinges
Most doors (under 50" high) will probably only need two hinges, but if the door is bigger it'll need additional hinges to support its weight. Since this practical element of kitchen cabinet hardware is most crucial, it may be best to consult with a professional beforehand for proper installation. And because hinges also come in many different forms, you may need some additional advice about what type works best since it all depends on the framing of your doors.

First, ask yourself: Are your doors inset inside the unit or overlayed to cover the entire frame? Then, do you want to spotlight the hinges or do you want them hidden away? In other words, do you want them to be a decorative element or would you prefer them to be partially obscured inside the unit? Each of these answers will help direct you to the proper hinge, which then comes with its own specific installation method.

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Knobs or Pulls?
First of all, make sure you always choose the material that fits your home décor. Do you have a traditional kitchen? Then copper, brass, pewter, or antique glass may be best. Do you have a modern design? Then enamel or silver cabinet hardware may add a clean, sleek enhancement. Because there are infinite options out there, make sure to take your time in selecting the proper kitchen cabinet hardware.

Knobs: Knobs are easy to install with a single screw and add a tiny but distinctive highlight to your cabinetry. They can vary in size and material though, so even if they seem like the simpler choice, make sure they match your kitchen's design.
Pulls: Of course pulls serve the same exact function as knobs but they are often more dramatic. Keep in mind that since they are bigger, pulls often take on more visual significance. This can help to improve your remodel, but it may take away the focus from the cabinetry itself. So make sure you choose a style that is in direct proportion to the size of your doors.
Backplates: These small plates are installed between the pull/knob and the door itself in order to help protect the wood and to add a decorative flourish to the cabinet hardware. They are optional, but can help to attract one's eye to a new remodel.

Marc Dickinson has worked in both the general contracting and landscaping trades and is currently a home improvement freelance writer with over 300 articles published.