Having a well-designed area to work in the kitchen is essential these days. To that end, new kitchen cabinets are available with built in dividers, sliding trays and organizers and many of these innovations are available as add-ons to older cabinets as well.

But until recently, accessing these drawers filled with gadgets and gizmos was pretty utilitarian. While cabinet manufacturers began to turn out tons of new designs to match nearly any d├ęcor imaginable, hardware manufacturers were lagging a little behind the times, producing lots of lackluster, one-size-fits-all kitchen cabinet handles.

That’s not the case anymore. Today, kitchen cabinet handles have become an extension of a homeowner’s personal tastes and even desire for expression. Not only are new designs arriving daily in home improvement stores across the country, but there has been an explosion of choices online, where display and stocking issues are greatly simplified.

One of the best things about all these new choices is that they not only let you make your kitchen unique to you, but it’s a simple weekend project to do, one that is an instant remodel of sorts.

Not so long ago, you had a very simple choice to make: chrome, brushed metal, shiny metal or satin metal. Today, you can get crazy with kitchen cabinet handles, from ones with suede, leather or jeweled accents to ones that capture the essence of your personal interests or locale – from vegetables and horseshoes to sea horses and lighthouses.

One of the biggest trends is to use handles that utilize reclaimed and recycled materials or have an earthier feel to them. These can be made out of embossed leather, washable suede, or even mixed media, a blend of recycled glass, pewter and rich textures.

Ergonomics are an important consideration these days as well. Kitchen cabinet handles tend to be bigger than they were only a few years ago. Part of this trend is due to the demands of customers, who want to have handles that are more proportional to the cabinets. Gone are the days (at least for now) of Euro-style cabinets with hidden hand grabs – handles and knobs are in and the bigger the better, especially in kitchens with lots of cabinetry or larger than average drawers and doors.

If you don’t want to go bigger, you can always go chic. Polished chrome and even brushed nickel gives the cabinets a sophisticated look. Black is also popular, giving the home an Asian flair. It is a good color for any style of cabinet you own. If you want your handles to be large and a little less heavy in appearance, you can go with an open weave design that instills additional influences of wine country. Think of it as an Asian Wine look for your kitchen cabinet handles.

You definitely want to stick with a single finish throughout, and this includes the other hardware, such as the hinges and drawer slides. If you want to go with color instead of metal, you may want to match a color from your floor or even your appliances, especially if you have a lot of countertop appliances that are in the more trendy colors out there. Just look at Kitchen Aid mixers as an inspiration for colors that are hot right now.

Even though big is in, remember that it’s all about proportion. While older handles erred on the side of being too small, and often even too small to comfortably use with larger hands, you don’t want to go crazy in terms of size. Think scale first, then ergonomics. Larger handles have an added bonus, too. They can make it easier to open drawers, especially those loaded with kitchen gadgets, since they spread the load more evenly than smaller handles.

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