When it comes to kitchen design, not everything goes in harmony,
Should you install handles on (dummy) fake cabinets and drawers? Generally speaking, the answer is yes. Fake knobs can be useful in contributing to the overall aesthetic of the kitchen, adding visual symmetry which is pleasant to the eye. They should be installed on non-functional door or drawer fronts where not having them will look like a knob is missing (an example would be a row of four drawer and the bottom one is a dummy). However, depending on the hardware design (knobs that stick out too much or have sharp edges) I advise against putting them in high functioning spots like under the sink or in front of a stove-top where getting caught on the knobs is more likely to occur. Another scenario where not to install hardware on dummy doors is when, to save money, the doors are used instead of a custom panel like on island or peninsula side or face.
Let’s review the pros and cons of dummy doors and knobs in depth.
Reasons to put fake handles on dummy doors
As I mentioned before the fake handles and doors are sometimes necessary for creating the right look
Creating a harmonious look
Sometimes faking it in the kitchen is unavoidable and even necessary in order to get the look right. Kitchen hardware such as knobs and handles are both functional and aesthetic accessories that can cost a pretty penny, and so the thought of spending the extra money on non-functional ones may seem unnecessary to some. This isn’t really the case. Let me argue that beauty and aesthetics are a function that serves a greater purpose.
When symmetry and balance would be compromised – if the dummy cabinet front is not in the center, or if it is for some reason on a random drawer or cabinet front, then by all means install the hardware. Not having the decorative hardware on these will make for an incomplete looking space and will have you and everyone that visits your kitchen question the decision.
Sometimes doors are less expensive than a custom panel
Dummy doors on the sides of an island or peninsula- Sometimes doors are less expensive then a custom panel, or perhaps this was the original kitchen design, either way if this is the case at hand don’t be tempted to drill and install knobs on them just because they are doors. Treat them as the panels that they were meant for.
Optional Places to install knobs and pulls
Under the counter in an island or a peninsula where you have stools or an overhanging counter- if you opted for dummy doors or drawers under your breakfast counter for a finished look you don’t necessarily have to install decorative hardware there for the simple reason that they will be mostly hidden. The look will be complete with the decorative hardware but if it is not in your budget or you simply don’t want it there you don’t have to.
When not to install hardware on dummy doors: avoide putting them in high functioning area
If the hardware will be more of a nuisance then it’s weight in aesthetic pleasure.
One place where this may be the case is a spot such as in front of the sink. If you have chosen knobs or pulls that have a high projection (stick out a lot) they may get in your way while standing at the sink. Also, depending on the knob or pull design, it may catch on your clothing. If you read our articles on either kitchen functionality or “should I put my garbage pull out under the sink” you will know that the sink is the hardest working kitchen appliance and a crucial part of the prep zone where most prep time is spent. This means that it also needs to be a highly functional spot. When working at the sink leaning in is inevitable and so having something in the way may be annoying.
Another spot where knobs and pulls can be in the way is in front of a stove-top. The reason is that getting caught on the knobs is more likely to occur. I don’t know if this ever happened to you- trying to quickly walk away only to get startled and quickly come back to the same spot because your top or belt loop got caught on a knob. Not so much fun, however, can be avoided either by wearing an apron (tied tightly) or by choosing a long pull along the cooktop cabinet. Using a long pull can also serve as a towel rack. I personally prefer not to have dish towels hanging out in the open but it may be what you require to make your kitchen function more efficiently, so if this is the case may I suggest getting a few pretty dish towels. Having a number at hand means you can constantly rotate them, having a clean one handy to display and use at all times.
Generally speaking, you should install knobs and pull on all your functional and non-functional doors and drawer fronts. Installing dummy hardware allows for a complete and cohesive-looking kitchen. There is value in aesthetically pleasing spaces. You may not realize or give it much thought but being in a well-balanced and organized space has a positive effect on our minds. Our brain recognizes when things are out of places, such as a missing knob, or unbalanced asymmetry – so adding the few extra knobs will be doing a bit more than just filling an empty space. There are a couple of scenarios where you can get away without the extra knobs such as under the counter on an island or peninsula if the doors are hidden and the hardware would be less visible or at all. As always, think about how you use your kitchen and what you need- looks, function, or both, then decide what works best for you.