5/06/2023  •  ,

Horizontal vs. Vertical Kitchen Cabinet Handles

Estimated Read Time: 5 Minutes

When it comes to designing your kitchen, even the smallest details can make a significant impact on its overall aesthetic and functionality.


One such detail that can often go overlooked is the cabinet hardware. 


With so many styles, sizes, and materials out there, choosing kitchen cabinet hardware can be a difficult task. You must also determine whether you want to incorporate handles, knobs, or both. 


While it may sound like a minor detail, the placement of your cabinet hardware – such as vertical or horizontal handles – can also make a big impact! 


At Deslaurier Custom Cabinets, we specialize in providing our clients with high-quality, functional dream kitchens. We know how important selecting the right cabinet hardware can be during the kitchen design process. 


In this article, we'll explore the world of kitchen cabinet hardware, taking a look at vertical and horizontal cabinet handle placement.


Let’s get started!

Table of Contents

Kitchen Cabinet Hardware

Kitchen Cabinet Handles

Horizontal Placement

Cup and Tab Pulls

Top-Hinged Doors

The Cost

What’s Right for Your Kitchen?

Design with Deslaurier Custom Cabinets


Kitchen Cabinet Hardware 


When it comes to kitchen cabinet hardware, the options seem endless. 


Among the many decisions you'll need to make, one important choice is whether to go with horizontal or vertical. 


Both options offer unique stylistic, practical, and material choices that can significantly impact the overall look and functionality of your kitchen. 


While some homeowners mix-and-match hardware such as knobs and handles for their kitchen cabinets, it’s also quite popular to utilize just handles


Kitchen Cabinet Handles


Cabinet handles – also referred to as pulls – provide a more substantial grip than knobs and can add a touch of sophistication to any kitchen design. 


Handles come in various styles, sizes, lengths, and materials, allowing you to create a customized look for your cabinetry no matter your hardware selection. 


You can choose between straight or curved; cup pulls or sleek bar handles; or even integrated handles and recessed tab pulls. 


There are plenty of different materials and finishes, as well. From stainless steel, chrome, or matte black, to classic choices like gold, brass, and brushed nickel. 


The possibilities are endless for the style and design you’re trying to achieve for your kitchen. 

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Kitchen Cabinet Handle Placement


The "standard" way to install cabinet handles has always been horizontally on drawers and vertically on cabinet doors. 


Traditional and transitional design principles are almost exclusively done in that manner. Mounting pulls in this traditional way is an exceptional design aesthetic and optimal for function.

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The kitchen above shows the "standard" pull mounting with all upper and lower cabinet doors with vertical pulls, while the drawers have horizontal pulls.


Horizontal Door Handle Considerations


Now, just because something is considered “standard” doesn’t mean you can’t deviate from the norm. 


When it comes to upper cabinetry, horizontal handles are definitely a modern-style visual. 


However, there are several things to be aware of when installing horizontal handles on your cabinet doors.


Firstly, it feels different swinging the door open with a horizontal handle. 


For instance, when it comes to the functionality of your kitchen, the placement of cabinet hardware can greatly impact the ease of use. 


Opening a base cabinet drawer with a horizontal handle is often more comfortable as it aligns with the natural motion of how a drawer opens. On the other hand, using a horizontal handle to open a door to the left or right can feel physically awkward and less intuitive.


Secondly, you also need to think about clearance. The handle is usually in the middle of the door and that takes up more space when you open the door. 


Since cabinet doors open to the left or right, things like refrigerators, panels, or walls can become obstacles that prevent the door from opening. Otherwise, you need to think about having pieces of filler in place so you can clear those obstacles.


Cup and Tab Pulls


Cup handles, also known as bin pulls, have a curved shape that accommodates the hand. Their unique aesthetic instantly adds a vintage or rustic touch to your kitchen cabinets, making them perfect for traditional or farmhouse-style kitchens.


Cup pulls are installed almost exclusively horizontally. They also pair beautifully with conventional handles. It’s not unusual to see handles for upper cabinets and cup pulls for base drawers, like in the kitchen shown above. 


On the opposite end of the design spectrum is the tab pull. 


Tab pulls are the perfect cabinet hardware for modern-style kitchens. They’re thin and short, providing the perfect complement to modern slab-door cabinets. 


Similarly to cup pulls, they’re almost always installed horizontally at the top (or bottom for upper cabinets) of the door. 


Top-Hinged Doors


There are also top-hinged cabinets, where the hinges of the door are – you guessed it – installed on the top of the cabinet instead of on the side.


Particularly for upper cabinetry, these negate the issue of side clearance on walls, appliances, or panels, and lift up – envision the trunk on your car – to maximize available space. 


That’s not to say you can’t incorporate one or two into your base cabinetry design. These compact cabinets are a great way to make use of every storage nook possible!


For these top-hinged cabinets, it is almost guaranteed that you’ll mount the pull horizontally along the bottom of the cabinet door. 


Handles mounted horizontally suit this style of cabinet's function of lifting from the bottom up, allowing you not only easy access to open the door but also the closest proximity when closing it as well.  

Light and open

The Cost


Of course, you can’t forget to factor your budget into your decision-making process.  


The cost of kitchen cabinet hardware ranges greatly. With so many styles, sizes and materials to choose from, there’s something out there for everyone and every budget.


A single unit can cost $5 and another selection can cost as much as $50 per handle. It will all depend on the size, style and material you choose. 


If you have an above-average kitchen size with 30+ cabinet doors and make high-end handle selections, you can spend thousands of dollars on hardware alone.


Keep in mind that your kitchen cabinet quote may already include a hardware allowance. Cabinet manufacturers operate differently, but it's common to have hardware built into the pricing. 


You’ll want to chat with your designer or contractor to learn whether you have a hardware allowance or not.


What’s Right for Your Kitchen? 


In the end, the choice between horizontal and vertical kitchen cabinet handles depends on your personal preference, kitchen style, and functional needs. 


Consider the overall aesthetics, ergonomics, and the types of handles you prefer, ensuring that they complement the rest of your kitchen design. 


By carefully selecting the orientation and handle type, you can enhance both the visual appeal and functionality of your kitchen cabinets, creating a space that reflects your style and meets your everyday needs.


Design with Deslaurier Custom Cabinets 


Wondering how the perfect cabinet handles will mesh with your dream kitchen design? You’ve come to the right place!


Deslaurier has everything you need if you have your eye on custom cabinetry. With over 40 years of experience to our name, we provide our clients with a fully customized design process with our talented team of designers


We partner with world-class hardware suppliers like Emtek, Berenson, and Richelieu to offer our clients thousands of hardware design options in type, feel, function, style, finish, and size.

Want to view our hardware selection? Book a free consultation with a Deslaurier kitchen expert at our Ottawa showroom!

Live outside the area? Find a Dealer to connect with a Deslaurier dealer near you! Interested in becoming an authorized Deslaurier dealer? Visit our Become a Dealer page to learn more! 

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