Where is the best place to position kitchen cabinet handles? Follow these measurements from the experts

These exact measurements from design and DIY experts will make your cabinets aesthetically pleasing and practical

Sage green kitchen with drawers and cupboards
(Image credit: Future)

Sometimes the smallest design features have the biggest impact, which is why paying attention to the best places to position knobs and handles on kitchen cabinets is crucial. 

It's something that you won't realise is wrong until you go to open a cupboard or drawer and find that it's a slightly awkward movement and not as natural as you'd have hoped. Deciding between knobs vs handles is the first of these tiny decisions to make, but positioning them correctly will ensure you make your kitchen ideas as functional as possible. 

There are some technical rules to follow for positioning handles, so you'll want to pay close attention. You won't need to call in the professionals for this job, but following the expert's advice for what goes where will save you a headache when adding the finishing touches.

Where is the best place to position kitchen cabinet handles?

Before we get into the exact measurements for positioning handles, you'll want to take stock of whether you have drawers or cabinets, and whether you want knobs or bar handles - this will impact where they go. 

Tom Revill, co-founder of Plank Hardware, says 'You can get the best of both worlds in your kitchen by using a mixture of both knobs and pulls. They can be perfectly teamed together to achieve a sophisticated cooking space, and one you’ll be operating with ease.' 

Plan out which handles are going to go on each cabinet before you start, so you can visually assess the look and how many you might need to buy. 

Where to position handles on wall cabinets

Cream shaker kitchen with traditional bar handles

(Image credit: Future)

With wall cabinets being so high up, you'll want to position a handle in the bottom corner so that they're easy to reach for people of all heights. 

'To avoid having to get a stool out or reaching up high, wall handle units are fixed towards the bottom of the door,' echoes Tom. 'For wall-mounted cupboards or units, position roughly 50mm in from the edge opposite the hinges, only this time positioned near the bottom of the door.' 

If you're opting for a knob handle, this is easy to place neatly in the corner, but if a bar or cup handle is more your style then these should be positioned vertically on doors that open out. 

Where to position handles on base cabinets

Black shaker kitchen with gold bar handles

(Image credit: Future)

'As a general rule of thumb, base unit handles tend to go at the top of the door so you don’t need to reach too far down for them,' Tom adds. No one wants to run the risk of getting a bad back, so placing it at the top will limit the need to bend down. 

When it comes to the exact measurements, Tim Warren, DIY expert at Adkwik recommends that 'the ideal position for the handle is towards the top of the door, with the door panel's top edge or corner working the best. Aim for the handle to be around 2.5 to 5 centimetres (or 1 to 2 inches) down from the top of the cabinet door so that it can be easily used without reaching down too much.'

Tom adds that 'roughly 50mm in from the edge of the top side opposite the hinges' will give you the best placement.

Where to position handles on drawers

Sage green kitchen with gold handles and fluted wall cabinet

(Image credit: Future/Caroline Mardon)

When it comes to positioning handles on a drawer, this will be your simplest job. Drawers are often used for cutlery and small kitchen essentials such as tin foil, so you want it to be easily accessible when your hands are full and your dinner is plated up.  

If you're deciding between kitchen drawers vs cabinets, think about how you use your layout - do you want a catch-all for things like stamps and sellotape on an island? Or would you benefit from utensil storage close to the hob? 

Back to the handles - Tim advises that 'The centre of the drawer is often the preferred placement' for ease of access. 'Additionally, you should try to ensure that the size of the handle you will be using is appropriate for the size of the cabinet, as smaller cabinets and drawers will look much better with smaller handles,' he adds. 


Should you choose knobs or handles?

Unless you have a strong aesthetic preference, choosing between knobs, bar and cup handles can be tricky. What's the benefit of each style? And do you just have to stick to one? 

According to Tim, 'You can get the best of both worlds in your kitchen by using a mixture of both knobs and pulls. They can be perfectly teamed together to achieve a sophisticated cooking space and one you’ll be operating with ease.' 

'One option is to put knobs on all your upper cabinets and pulls on all lower cabinets. As you tend to put heavier, clunkier kitchen utensils within easy reach and closer to the ground, it makes sense to have more grip on those drawers by using pulls. Alternatively, you could put knobs on all doors and pulls on all drawers, regardless of how high or low they are – there’s no right or wrong way to do it.'

Sage green kitchen with drawers and cupboards

(Image credit: Future)

How to install kitchen cabinet handles

If you're undergoing a kitchen renovation which involves hiring tradespeople, it's likely that they'll be able to do this job for you. But if you're not shy of a bit of DIY and you want to revamp your kitchen cabinets yourself, then knowing how to install kitchen cabinet handles will ensure you don't make a mess of it. 

'When installing cabinet handles, you should try to measure out the placement a few times and check it with a spirit level until you are satisfied before actually drilling holes,' says Tim.

'If you are struggling with measuring, using a cabinet jig can make it much easier to find the correct and level placement. It may also be beneficial to experiment with the handle placements by using blu-tack or putty, as this will let you visualise the positioning without needing to install anything.'

Which style takes your fancy? Regardless of what you go for, putting them in their prime position will be simple. 

Holly Cockburn
Content Editor

After starting out her journey at Future as a Features Editor on Top Ten Reviews, Holly is now a Content Editor at Ideal Home, writing about the best interior ideas and news. At Top Ten Reviews, she focussed on TikTok viral cleaning hacks as well as how to take care of investment purchases such as lawn mowers, washing machines and vacuum cleaners. Prior to this, Holly was apart of the editorial team at Howdens which sparked her interest in interior design, and more specifically, kitchens (Shaker is her favourite!).