Knobs, Pulls and Handles, Oh My!

You know what I can’t handle? Not having handles.

As I mentioned in my previous post about buying new construction, there were not a lot of modern options to choose from, but we did our best with what was available. However, we knew right away that we wanted to customize our cabinets with different handles. The builder offered us a few options: one was a standard knob in various styles and finishes, and another was a simple modern bar handle. However, we weren’t keen on either choice, so we cleverly convinced them not to drill any cabinet holes at all. This was not an easy task and we had to remind each and every person we spoke to every time we talked to anyone, from the designer to the general contractor. They even spray-painted it on the floor and left notes everywhere – “NO KNOBS. DO NOT DRILL.”


Even though we knew this was the right decision, as soon as we moved in, we quickly realized how necessary door hardware can be, especially on cabinets with full overlay doors. Oops. We had to make a decision—and fast.

Let's not talk about that molding on the upper cabinets. It's dead to me.

Let’s not talk about that molding on the upper cabinets. It’s dead to me.

Because we had over 80 cabinet doors in the house (I know – crazy, right?), we knew that we had to figure out a budget right away. We didn’t want to spend more than a few dollars per handle, so our first stop was IKEA.

We bought about six different styles and brought them all home to test them out. We instantly gravitated toward the squared off METRIK style. Nothing else seemed to fit just right.

We also went to a local specialty hardware store, but still felt like we liked the METRIK handles the best. The number of handles we needed was kind of ridiculous and we couldn’t help but laugh at the giant bagful we brought home:


It took a lot of discussion to figure out how to mount and install the handles onto the cabinets. We talked about mounting them horizontally at the bottom, using only small handles on drawers, and whether we should put the handles in the middle or at the top of the drawers. With the odd, small recession in our Shaker drawer fronts (there was no flat drawer option), deciding on where to place the handle proved more difficult. Ultimately, we decided that we’d put the handles in the center of all top drawers and at the top of all bigger, lower drawers. To me, this was the most aesthetically pleasing, but probably more challenging to install (or so I believe based on Mr. Design Milk’s subsequent groans).

The entire installation took two days—a true weekend project. A huge time-saver was buying this FIXA drill template. It was expected that after installing 86 handles, drilling 172 holes, there was bound to be an “oops” moment. Luckily, it came in the form of a bottom drawer in a dark corner of our master bathroom.

Before and after drawer drill hole repair

Before and after drawer drill hole repair

We filled it with some wood putty and colored it in with a wood marker. Good as new!


We love their industrial look and are pleased with how they turned out. We can’t wait to move on to more exciting projects.

Jaime Derringer, Founder + Executive Editor of Design Milk, is a Jersey girl living in SoCal. She dreams about funky, artistic jewelry + having enough free time to enjoy some of her favorite things—running, reading, making music, and drawing.