When it comes to revamping cabinets and furniture, just swapping out a few accessories — like decorative pulls and knobs — can go a long way

I’ve talked before about the cheapest, most obvious way to update a space — simply by painting it. There is a more subtle way, however, that’s even quicker and can be achieved with just a screwdriver and a little bit of patience: updating cabinets and furniture with new pulls and knobs.


If you’re lucky enough to have very basic drawers and door fronts, your new hardware can go in almost any direction — traditional, modern, cottage, mid-century and even coastal. There’s an endless selection of metals, tile, glass and porcelain, and hardware nowadays comes in every potential shape and size.

The key to this simple yet highly effective update is to make sure you’re not turning your cabinets or furniture into something they’re not. Consider the style of the piece. Adding a sleek, elongated cabinet pull to a very traditional raised-panel door front is not going to make it feel modern — just weird. However, painting that door white and adding a satin-nickel pull will make it feel more modern when mixed with modern counters, a backsplash and accessories.

And don’t be afraid to mix and match. Just as with paint, it’s not a good idea to go 50-50 with two different looks. Instead, pick a dominant finish — maybe brushed nickel pulls for all the kitchen cabinets — and bring in a different look like rubbed bronze for the island to make it feel like a furniture piece.

Often your new pulls will give the cabinets or furniture an overall facelift. But sometimes the pull itself can become the star, which is exactly what we did with starfish drawer pulls in a beachy bathroom.


In another case, we brought a tired, whitewashed cabinet to life with an interesting restoration hardware-style pull.

And I’m not the only one who loves glamorous finishes. Glass and crystal sparkle in the decor of many homes. Mercury glass, antique glass and crystal knobs are great ways to update and add luxury.

The easiest transformation is to swap out pulls or knobs for updated versions that can go into the existing holes. But it’s also not hard to go from a single knob to a pull that needs two holes, or vice versa. All you need is a drill, some wood filler and paint, or stain.


So get that screwdriver ready! With hardware averaging anywhere from $2 to $22, it makes that update so much more affordable than a whole new set of cabinets.

Cathy Lee is a home style expert, speaker, president and designer of Cathy Lee Style. Her redesigns of residential and business spaces have been featured in local and national publications and on HGTV. reStyle Hawaii, her new-concept furniture and home accents store, is open daily at 420 Keawe St. in Kakaako. For more info and inspiring photos of design projects, visit the website www.cathyleestyle.com.