2018 Trends in Kitchen Design, Part 4: Handles

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The handles of your kitchen cabinets and drawers create an important contrast with the colors of your walls, cabinets, and floor. They accentuate specific points to change the way the whole scene rests on the eye. And of course, they are there for a practical purpose. Conscientious selection of handles is something that sets the most discerning designers apart from others.


In recent years, a common trend among kitchen designers has been the clean and minimalist look of pure white. That trend is receding now, but the preference for brightness and light colors is still there. Instead of white, designers are opting for gray and dull pastels.

To contrast against the light colors of the cabinets and walls, designers are showing a preference for black or dark brown colors for their handles. This applies whether we are talking about knobs or full handles.


A current trend that is less influential but still noticeable is the use of “silver” handles and knobs on dark cabinets and drawers. This gives your kitchen a very modern and sleek look. For such kitchens, it is best to reinforce the metallic look by installing stainless steel appliances that match your handles and knobs.

Rustic Modern

While it seems like a contradiction, rustic modern is a thing, and it has become very popular. It is characterized by a room design that is modernist overall while incorporating specific aspects of past periods in certain items.

Wrought Iron

Nothing says “rustic” more plainly than the plain, dark strength of wrought iron. Designers now use large black handles reminiscent of something one would have on a barn door to put on cabinets and drawers. These come in all shapes and sizes, often with the characteristic twisted look.

Another aesthetic of wrought iron that has become popular is the “mission” look. Reminiscent of hardware used in Spanish Catholic missions in the New World during the colonial era, this aesthetic uses a lot of rings that dangle from ornate settings.

Oil-Rubbed Bronze

For those who want something dark but not too dark, oil-rubbed bronze is a great option. With its dark color on top of a hint of bright sheen underneath, oil-rubbed bronze gives a nice balance of sharp refinement and rustic charm. It is also a durable metal that is easy to clean and maintain.

Sisal Rope

To add another level of rustic charm to your bronze, iron, or steel handles, try using handles that are wrapped in sisal rope. This contributes not only to the visual aesthetic of your room, but to the tactile aesthetic too. When you grab onto a sisal-wrapped handle, the prickly and coarse sensation takes you to a place of simplicity and honesty.

Instead of wrapping metal handles with sisal rope, another option is to just make your handles out of the rope itself. This certainly adds to the rustic and simple charm that you are probably going for. However, note that such handles tend to be less sturdy than metal handles. You may not want to place them on drawers or cabinets that get a lot of use.

Oxidized Copper

With its distinct green patina, oxidized copper can give your handles a look unlike any other. This particular aesthetic goes well with wood that you have given the old and weathered look. It is great for giving your kitchen an aged look that speaks of deep character.

Polished Copper

The sleekly warm look of polished copper delivers a completely different kind of aesthetic from that of oxidized copper. Polished copper handles are nevertheless a common aspect of rustic modern design. While oxidized copper conveys a sense of age, polished copper creates an environment of old newness, almost akin to a steampunk aesthetic.


Another common trend of kitchen design that we can expect to continue into 2018 is minimalism. This is characterized by cabinets with solid neutral colors. Minimalist handles complement this design aesthetic by being small and simple in design and either black, white, or sliver/chrome in color.

In many cases, though, minimalist cabinets do not actually have any protruding handles at all. Instead, they have less obtrusive finger holds built into the wood that do not interrupt the solid color design.

Some say that minimalism is on its way out, but that is not exactly true. It is just undergoing some changes. Instead of the stark minimalism that has prevailed in the past, today’s minimalism tends to be a little more eclectic and not so severe. For handles, this means simplicity and functionality without creating something like what you would expect from a robot designer.

Mixing Styles

In recent years, color blocking has been all the rage among interior designers. This is apparent in kitchens that have separate “blocks” of colors, with one set of cabinets being one color, another set of cabinets being another color, the island being another color, etc. Of course, color blocking means different sets of handles to match those colors.

The color blocking trend is continuing into 2018, but it is changing direction a bit. Designers are not just blocking different colors, but entire styles. In the same room, a designer may have blocks assigned to both minimalist and rustic modern styles, with handles to match. This may mean handles with two different types of finishes in the same room.

For example, you may have one block of your kitchen fitted with polished copper handles and another fitted with black mission-style wrought iron handles.

As you mix and match handles with different metal finishes, though, make sure to stick to a maximum of two kinds of finishes per room. Putting too many different metal finishes in your kitchen will just become cacophonous.

Another thing to remember in matching your handles to your different color blocks or styles is to pick finishes that go with the color. Generally, metallic finishes fall under two categories: cool and warm. Cool finishes like chrome, stainless steel, or aluminum match with cool colors like blue, green, and violet. Warm finishes like polished copper, brass, and bronze match with warm colors like red, yellow, and brown.

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