Organize & Clean

How To Upgrade Drawer Knobs, Pulls, and Handles

updated Nov 4, 2022
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(Image credit: Ashley Poskin)

If you find you’re becoming restless with your furniture, consider updating the hardware. This simple fix can majorly transform dressers and cabinets, taking them from blah to mwah! New hardware can make inexpensive pieces look luxe and bring vintage pieces closer to the modern realm. Mismatched furniture? Bring the look together with coordinating hardware in hardly any time at all.

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(Image credit: Ashley Poskin)

Knobs and drawer pulls range dramatically in price, you can find them from as little as .99 each, up to hundreds of dollars for one-of-a-kind handmade works. They are readily available online, and at most home decor shops, as well as hardware stores where you’ll often find a surprisingly wide variety of options.

Before you head to the store:

  • Count the number of drawer pulls/knobs you need to replace
  • Snap a closeup of the existing knobs on the piece of furniture or door on which you plan to replace the hardware.
  • Take an overall photo of the room for inspiration and color matching when you’re out shopping.
  • Measure the distance between the attachment points on pulls. The hardware will list this as the “Center to Center” dimension, or “CC”, or “drill centers”. You’ll save yourself time and trouble by buying new pulls with the same CC, otherwise you’re looking at filling the existing holes and drilling new ones.
(Image credit: Ashley Poskin)

A few things to keep in mind when shopping:

Usability/Function: How frequently will you be using the hardware? If you access the drawer/door multiple times each day, be sure to select something easy and comfortable to grip that will hold up to a little bit of abuse. Where are the knobs or pulls being used? If you’re going to be installing them in the kitchen, be sure to choose something that can be easily cleaned, and avoid intricate knobs with carvings that dirt and grime can get stuck in.

Size: Is the height or length of the knob or drawer pull you’re considering larger or smaller than the previous one? If so, take time to make sure it won’t catch clothing, or damage another piece of furniture when the door/drawer swings open.

Price point: How many pulls or knobs do you need? If you are replacing the knobs on your kitchen cabinets, you could be looking at spending a lot of dough, decide on a budget before falling in love with something you can’t afford.

Replacement: Buy a few extra knobs. It’s annoying, especially if you are buying expensive hardware, but it’s good to have a backup just in case something breaks. And it’ll be much cheaper down the road than having to buy all new hardware if that particular knob/pull is out of production.

Timeline: Special orders may take a significantly longer time to process; nail down a timeline and wait until the new knobs/pulls come in before removing your existing ones.

How I chose my hardware

We didn’t really have an idea what direction to head in with our side tables but knew we wanted to try to balance out the bright white side tables with the neutral walls and eventual linen headboard. The room is painted beige, and the bed linens are white, cobalt, and light blue, so we wandered off in that general direction.

I purchased a set of burlap knobs I knew would work perfectly and a “wild card” set of red knobs. I wasn’t sure about the red, but I needed to see it as an option -and at $2 a pop, I figured I could use them down the line on another piece of furniture.

The new knobs were slightly larger than the old ones, which meant I didn’t have to worry about repainting the area behind the old (we painted the side tables white, they were originally green, so when the original knobs were removed, there was a small bit of green paint showing through).

It’s extremely easy to change out your old hardware. Simply grab a screwdriver (don’t use an electric drill) and carefully remove the screw from the backside of the drawer or cabinet.

(Image credit: Ashley Poskin)

If your knob or pull doesn’t have a screw, look for a nut and washer; unscrew the nut and slide off the washer, and pull the knob out from the front of the drawer.

(Image credit: Ashley Poskin)

Remove the nut and washer from your new knob and slide the knob through the existing hole in the drawer.

(Image credit: Ashley Poskin)

Place the washer on the bolt and hold it in place with the nut. Be sure to twist it so that it sits flush with the backside of your drawer or door.

(Image credit: Ashley Poskin)

Twist the nut as tightly as you can. It’s possible that you’ll have to tighten the nut from time to time if you feel the knob getting wiggly.

Original knobs

(Image credit: Ashley Poskin)

Wild card knobs

(Image credit: Ashley Poskin)

Burlap knobs

(Image credit: Ashley Poskin)

The room will soon have an addition of a linen headboard with bronze nail heads, so we thought the neutral tone burlap with bronze nail detail would really make the pieces cohesive.

(Image credit: Ashley Poskin)

Changing a knob from a handle to a pull

(Image credit: Ashley Poskin)

Measure the spread (distance between the two screws) and position them over the original hole so that they are equally spaced on each side.

(Image credit: Ashley Poskin)

Fill the original hole (and any uneven surrounding areas) with wood putty.

(Image credit: Ashley Poskin)

After the wood putty has dried completely, sand smooth with medium to fine grit sandpaper, removing all excess filler, paint or stain the filled area, then drill holes to fit the new screws for your pulls in the area previously marked. Touch up any remaining marked areas with paint or stain, and enjoy your upgrade!

(Image credit: Ashley Poskin)