Let’s be frank—pictures of kitchen renovations are socially sanctioned porn during these weird times. We pour over glossy images online and in magazines (the one you’re reading right now a useful study) salivating over cabinet colours (greige! putty!) and rhapsodizing about counters (quartz to Corian and those seductive 1/8” porcelain slabs). Sexy appliances can undo the most stolid of homeowners—or renter, in my case. But the one thing that gets short shrift? Cabinet hardware. 

ashmore kitchen
Credit: Janis Nicolay

How much do we love staring at gorgeous kitchens, like this one from Denise Ashmore of Project 22 Design? So. Much.

Where are the centrefolds and double-page spreads devoted to these tiny, integral adornments? Why are they often an afterthought when it comes time to plan your space yet in their absence your kitchen physically couldn’t function? Think of them like Viagra for cabinets—without them, doors don’t work. With them, they spring to life and are fully operational. 

That said, these little pieces of underserved implements are more than just utilitarian necessity—they're the jewellery of the kitchen. And just like how a pair of diamond studs can add infinite class or a chunky necklace reveals style and personality, so, too, can your door and drawer handles. Who are you and what do they say about you?

The rabbit hole of cabinet hardware is as vast and as it is wide and you could be holed up for hours just trying to get your basic fix. However, the Canadian company Richelieu is a good place to start. Founded in 1968, this Montreal-based company (now listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange) offers an absurd amount of specialty handles, knobs, levers, latches, edge pulls and just generally any kind of decorative hardware. There’s something for every kind of taste—weird or plain vanilla.  

Recently, I was helping a friend shop for kitchen cabinet hardware and so we set out for Richlieu’s showroom in Richmond (it’s to-the-trade so you’ll need to get your contractor or designer on board). The utilitarian space aside, the multitude of handles was enough to make us giddy with excitement.

richelieu gold

Richelieu's Eclectic Ceramic knob with 24 kt gold (P02050C)

Would something daring like the 24-karat gold Eclectic Ceramic knob from the Autore collection work? At over $900 a pop, these gems, while stunning, are probably better left to the sizzling kitchens of Christian Grey. 

Richelieu porcelain

The Contemporary Porcelain pull from Richelieu (2183)

Meanwhile, the Contemporary Porcelain pulls had an elegant mid-century vibe to them with their modern oblong shape, but at $105, we needed to find a better fit with the budget (sexy appliances were still part of the picture, after all). Eventually we settled on an elegant modern edge pull in matte black. Subtle and sensuous without being aggressive.

Richelieu black

The winner! Richelieu's Contemporary Aluminum Edge in black (9696)

But there was one that caught my eye—a devilishly handsome one with a sweater on that was unlike any of its brethren. Its kaleidoscopic colours would immediately imbue your kitchen with a singularity and self-confidence that no basic metal handle ever could. But surely, I thought, such a high-maintenance piece would hinder functionality and get down and dirty in no time—a love affair that would fizzle after the first batch of buttery biscuits I bake. But, as it turns out, this hot little number has a zipper at the back to help you get it undressed and washed. And just like that, I took a quick picture—Peeping Tom-like.  

Richelieu knit

Contemporary Metal with Fabric and Leather Pulls from Richelieu (943 and 947)