Different Types of Kitchen Handles

From the flooring to the tiles, you’ve studied a multitude of different design elements in the quest to construct your dream kitchen. 

But have you paused to consider the different types of kitchen handles?

While it may sound trivial, the humble handle has a massive impact on a custom kitchen’s overall style. The right option will tie the whole room together, while the wrong choice will look awkward and out of place. 

But with so many handles to choose from, finding the best option for your cabinetry is a challenge. This post will demystify the handle-selection process by discussing the most common types. Next, we’ll look at the aesthetics of each available finish. 

The Different Kitchen Handle Types

From pull handles to cups and knobs, MKN stocks a wide range of kitchen handle styles. Consider the overarching aesthetic, as some handles work better in certain kitchen designs than others.

Pull Handles

The pull handle is, as the name suggests, a practical handle you pull on to open and close your cabinetry. Pull handles range from D handles to T-shaped and bow handles with a smooth curvaceous form. 

Practicality is a significant benefit of the standard pull handle. The simple, easy-to-grip design makes opening your cabinetry a cinch. Plus, the handles last a lifetime and are easy to clean. 

This handle design works well in kitchens of all styles, from traditional to modern. For best results, choose a type to suit the overall aesthetic. For example, use a minimalist pull handle in a contemporary kitchen or a more ornate option with a farmhouse design. 

Lip Handles

Lip handles are a sleek, slimline handle type recessed along the upper edge of your drawers. The design includes a small lip on the drawer edge, which you typically open with a single finger – some folks refer to them as “finger handles” instead. 

As lip handles require minimal space, it’s an enticing option in cramped apartment kitchens. The lack of pointy bits enhances safety for families with young children. On the downside, they’re a bit harder to grasp and use, especially for seniors with limited mobility. 

While lip handles can work on other cabinetry like cupboards, these low-key solutions go best with kitchen drawers. The understated, minimalist aesthetic makes them ideal for contemporary kitchen designs

Cup Handles

This option entails a lovely curved cup-shaped handle attached to the upper edge of the cabinet drawers. 

Thanks to their substantial surface area (typically much bigger than lip handles), these practical handle types are super stable and easy for people of all ages to use. As a result, they’re often installed on heavier cupboards and drawers. But there’s no harm in using them in various other cabinets throughout your kitchen. 

As a timeless classic, this elegant handle type works best with traditional or vintage-style kitchens. A finish like brushed gold or copper can enhance the antique aesthetic. 


There are three types of handleless handles (try saying that ten times)!

Handleless Extrusion:
instead of a handle on the door or drawer, a 45mm L-shape exposed aluminium extrusion runs above the door or drawer, this allows the cabinetry to sit against the lip, the householder then pulls the square-edged cabinetry to open.  The downside is that you lose a little bit of height in the drawers, but this is MKN’s preferred handleless solution because it maintains the soft-close feature, making closing your cabinetry a breeze.  The extrusion comes in three standard colours; black, coated aluminium, or white – but it can also be powder-coated any colour.

Push-to-open isn’t even a handle at all – rather than holding onto a handle, the householder presses on the cabinetry to unlock a push-to-open mechanism. When shutting the handleless drawer, you push it firmly closed to lock the latch again. 

While easy to use, the latch mechanism tends to break more frequently than other handle types. If you’re not handy with the tools, that could mean enlisting professional help. 

As you can imagine, it’s a top design option for modern, minimalist-style kitchens. This handle-free design also enhances the sensation of space in cramped areas and bolsters safety by removing any protruding handles. But perhaps most enticing of all, it gives you one less thing to clean.  

Drop-Lip or Lower-Hung (overhead cabinets only):
For handleless overhead cabinets MKN’s preferred solution is to make the door slightly longer than the bottom shelving (appx 15mm), this allows the householder to pull the door to open and maintains the soft-close feature.

MKN can recommend a plethora of ways to incorporate any of our handleless solutions, for example mixing a handleless overhead cabinet with a pull or lip handle below. 

Vintage style

Vintage handles can span a selection of shapes and types, from knobs to T-shaped pulls and the classic cup handle.

What differentiates them is style. Vintage handles encapsulate a charming, old-timey kind of vibe. Also known as antique handles, these elegant designs often boast an intricate, ornate finish. While some designers source recycled vintage handles from old kitchens, plenty of manufacturers make new replicas for a reasonable price. 

Naturally, a vintage handle won’t blend well in a minimalist Scandinavian-inspired kitchen. These elegant old-timers work best in classic kitchen designs like Hampton or farmhouse. 


A single screw attaches a small, circular, or square-shaped knob to a cabinetry drawer or door. For ease of use, position these in the centre of a drawer or the opening corner of a cupboard. Increasing the size of the knob makes the handle easier to grasp for frail hands. For wider drawers two knobs are used to maintain stability.

As there’s only one screw, the knob tends to come loose a tad more often than other handle types. That said, you don’t have to be a DIY guru to rectify the issue.  

From smooth and curvaceous to shaped or ornate, the knob has various finishes and styles. Overall, they look best in timeless kitchen designs, such as the classic Hampton. MKN has had success using knobs in the upper cabinets and pull handles in the lower doors. 

Different types of finishes

You know your cups from your knobs. Now, let’s briefly examine the different types of handle finishes. 


The classic chrome finish offers a conventional look. Choose from plated, satin, or a polished finish on a thin chromium veneer. Be aware chrome requires a bit more effort to clean than other finishes.  

Stainless steel

It’s hard to beat the stock-standard stainless steel finish for durability. Resistant to rust, scratches, and stains, this long-lasting finish may remain untarnished for decades. For best results, use stainless steel in a modern or transitional kitchen. 


A knockout option for farmhouse or traditional kitchens, the nickel handle enchants homeowners with its rustic charm. Choose from an array of finishes like dull brushed, brushed, satin, vintage, and aluminium. 


Brass is a lovely antique-style finish that looks dapper on handles in a traditional or farmhouse kitchen. There’s a solid selection of brass finishes, including matt, brushed, dark brushed, aged, and satin. 


Matt black or white handles create a striking contrast on a drawer or cabinet. The minimalist look is especially effective when adopting a low-key monochrome palette. A black matt finish is a popular option on timeless designs like the Hampton or farmhouse kitchen. 

Pewter and Iron

Pewter and iron handles offer a unique rustic aesthetic that works brilliantly in traditional and farmhouse-style kitchens. Both sturdy materials are famed for their longevity and are easy to clean. 


MKN offers a solid selection of antique finishes, including bronze, aqua, cream, silver, and aged brass. These timeless tones best complement vintage kitchen styles, such as a farmhouse or traditional design. 


Whether brushed, champagne, or polished, a shiny gold finish exudes an air of wealth and luxury into your kitchen design. The colour tone works best on modern kitchens by accentuating their sleek lines and clean design.  


Timber handles add warmth and natural beauty to an otherwise drab kitchen space. An array of different woodgrains (and stains) let you fine-tune the effect, such as ash, walnut, beech, and oak. We typically recommend timber handles for farmhouse and traditional kitchen designs. 


Like gold, leather handles add a distinct luxury aesthetic to a sleek modern-style kitchen. Leather is available in various finishes to suit numerous colour palettes, such as tan, black, or brown. While it’s lovely and soft to the touch, leather tends to degrade faster than other materials so are not recommended for everyday use, but works great in bars, or less heavy duty areas. We often recommend adding leather accents to a metallic button. 

Pinpoint the ultimate kitchen handle types with MKN

Based in Brisbane, Modern Kitchens Northside (MKN) has been designing fully customised kitchens for over 20 years. 

Whether you need a kitchen renovation or you’re building one from scratch, we’re the go-to kitchen design experts in South East Queensland. Come see us at our Lawnton showroom today. One of our friendly staff will explain the different handle types in-person to help you find the perfect style for your kitchen.  

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