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28 Jul 2014

Designing Our Kitchen: Going Hardware-less

A couple of weeks ago I shared with you the progress of our kitchen renovation.  Currently, we're still waiting on the finishing touches for our kitchen (e.g., door fronts, fillers, countertops, etc.) to be made.  Our CNC/cabinet maker was on holidays and this has put us a little further behind.  While I (and maybe you too if you've been following this never ending renovation) impatiently wait for this kitchen renovation to be over, I thought I'd begin to share how we chose/designed some of the details.  

By the title of this post, you've probably guessed that I'm going to talk about hardware or rather how our kitchen cabinets are not going to have traditional handles or hardware.  Going into the kitchen renovation I knew that I wanted very simple cabinets and wanted to go hardware-less.  What I didn't realize was that there are a lot of options for this:  finger pulls, recessed pulls, routed handles, etc. Below are a few examples of some of the recessed handle options I considered:

This kitchen is so cute with the small circles cutouts for cabinet handles:

This kitchen has a mix of cutout and recessed handles with a round radius.

I also considered the option of placing the recessed handle right at the top edge of the cabinet as in this kitchen:

We ended up going with a routered recessed handle for our kitchen cabinets.
Because we are designing every detail of our completely custom kitchen, we even had to design our handles.  Because Tech Guy, is well… a "tech guy"  he suggested we use an iPhone as our template for the handles.  We ended up going with a slightly tighter radius than the phone and quite a bit shorter.  Below you can see the little template our cabinet maker made from our handle design.
There were four options that we tried out.  The options we were testing was the depth of the routing and the height of the handle (the larger sizes are on the bottom).  The shallower handle is on the left and the deeper handle is on the right.  We clamped our template onto our cupboards to try them out.  We (Tech Guy and I) both ended up liking the larger and deeper version.  We found that with the large drawers (37" wide) this gave us the best leverage.

There are a couple of reasons why I love the idea of forgoing cabinet hardware for our kitchen.  Firstly, I want to have my countertops sit as flush as possible with the cabinets.  If you use hardware you have to take the hardware into account when you install your countertop.  Generally, the overhang of the countertop should cover your handles to prevent one from getting caught on a handle or pull.  The second reason I had was the simple fact that our kitchen is small and I needed to preserve all the real estate I could.  Going without handles meant that I gained a few extra inches in my workspace between the stove and the island.

Now I'll return to my waiting and hopefully, sooner rather than later, be able to share with you the cabinet doors and handles that I designed.  In the meantime, here are a couple more examples of kitchens sans hardware.


  1. The recessed handles are going to be amazing. I love the design. I am (impatiently) waiting for your doors to come as well. I'm so curious!

    1. it's the never ending kitchen reno, isn't it! I hope it all turns out the way I'm envisioning it.

  2. I can't wait to see your new kitchen. I love your other rooms. You have an amazing style. Blessings.

  3. I never would have thought of doing recessed handles, but I like them! Can't wait to see the doors!

    1. I haven't seen them in too many (if any) homes around here, but I'm really excited to try this handle idea out.

  4. Really love the look of your recessed handles.
    How do you think the paint will hold up to repeated uses on a drawer you pull open often?
    I've worn the finish off cabinets with no pulls, on the edges I pull open. Still LOVE this look and think it is worth touch ups later on.
    AND no hardware to buy!
    Thanks for sharing this, gives me ideas!

    1. We have just been discussing that with our cabinet maker and painter. It looks like we'll use an insert behind the actual handle cut out which will help with getting a really good paint finish on there. I am expecting that it will wear over time, but hopefully the way we are planning it all out we'll be able to get the most durable finish we can.


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