£10 Off Orders Over £250 (Inc Vat)
Automatically applied at the checkout
Rated as excellent
Based on 10,005 happy customers
Free Next Day Delivery Over £75 (Inc Vat)*
£10 Off Orders Over £250 (Inc Vat) | Same Day Dispatch

In-Frame Kitchen Design – Choosing the Right Cabinet and Drawer Hardware

Article topics:

  1. Introduction
  2. What is an In-Frame Kitchen?
  3. In-Frame Cabinet Construction
  4. In-Frame, On Trend
  5. In-Frame Kitchen Design Possibilities
  6. In-Frame Kitchen Door and Drawer Front Designs
  7. In-Frame Hardware Inspiration
  8. Different Types of Cabinet Handles
  9. Cabinet Hardware Placement
  10. Different Types of Cabinet Knobs
  11. Mixing Knobs and Pulls on Kitchen Cabinets


In-frame kitchens are a popular choice for many people. The in-frame design provides a traditional and robust template on which countless kitchen designs can be created.

An important factor within this wide scope of kitchen design creativity is cabinet hardware choice. In particular, selecting the right hardware for cabinets and drawers to compliment your in-frame kitchen and to reflect your own sense of interior design style.  

But before we get into handle and knob inspiration, let’s delve a bit deeper into what makes an in-frame kitchen and what in-frame design has to offer.   

What is an In-Frame Kitchen?

In a nutshell, in-frame kitchens feature cabinet doors and drawer fronts that fit into a frame that’s attached as a separate piece to the front of a cabinet carcass. Cabinet doors and drawers open and close within that frame rather than butting up against the carcass itself in a simpler lay-on design, as seen with shaker kitchens for example.  

in frame cabinet doors

In-Frame Cabinet Construction

The visible frame surrounding the cabinet doors and drawer fronts serves both as a structural support for the cabinet and drawer, and as a defining design element. The frame is very often built from solid wood, with the precise joinery and attention to detail in the construction of in-frame kitchens resulting in a sturdy and long-lasting kitchen space.

In-Frame, On Trend

In-frame kitchens never really go out of fashion. They’re rooted in tradition, with a tried and tested construction method that has survived and been refined through the centuries.

The in-frame kitchen as we know it really took off in the early 20th century. But with the development of lighter materials and cheaper construction techniques in-frame popularity faded in favour of less elaborate kitchen designs.

Recent decades have seen a resurgence in demand for in-frame kitchens as trends shift towards a demand for authenticity and permanence in an age of flat-packed, mass produced home furnishings.   

In-Frame Kitchen Design Possibilities

There’s a lot to consider and a lot at stake when creating a kitchen design — after all, the kitchen is the heart of your home. From the broadest features such as materials and colour palette to the smallest details, every element is crucial for design coherence and function, and for the statement you want your kitchen space to make.

in frame cabinet door and drawer front

In-frame kitchen style is very flexible. Its fundamental elements can be used in traditional kitchens, ultra-modern kitchens, and higher concept kitchen designs.

In-Frame Cabinet Door and Drawer Front Designs

One of the most important in-frame kitchen design elements are cabinet door and drawer fronts. There are various types to choose from, for example, simple shaker in-set panels, more elaborate raised panelling, modern slab or mullion glass doors.

In-frame cabinet door fronts also typically feature a longer frame bottom that hangs down in front of the carcass.  

in frame design options

Cabinet door and drawer front design is a major consideration for in-frame kitchens as they have one of the biggest impacts on a kitchen’s look. And an important part of that impact comes from cabinet hardware: handle and knob type, their finish and placement in the kitchen design.

In-Frame Hardware Inspiration   

There are thousands of handles and knobs to choose from in myriad designs and finishes for your in-frame kitchen. But the prospect of finding the perfect cabinet hardware can be daunting.

Understanding what types of handles and knobs are available, what designs work best, and getting a feel for how different materials and finishes work with kitchen colour schemes and style will help you make more informed choices. So let’s explore some popular cabinet and drawer handle types.

Different Types of Cabinet Handles

The many types of handle suited to in-frame kitchens can perhaps be sorted into five broad categories to help you get to know what’s what.

Cup Handles

One of the most popular handle types is the cup pull, sometimes called bin pull, shell pull or half-moon pull. The cup pull is a metal handle with a traditional kitchen aesthetic, especially in old-style finishes, such as antique brass, antique pewter or dark bronze.  

cup handles

Cup handles have a distinctive half-hemisphere shape that allows your fingers to fit comfortably underneath, providing a firm grip for opening and closing kitchen cabinet doors and drawers.

Bar Handles

t bar handle

Choosing the right T bar pull handles can elevate your in-frame design. Their straight, clean lines compliment in-frame construction elements such as pelmet and cornice. There are many types and styles of T bar pull handle, in different lengths, designs, materials and finishes.  

Pewter or matt nickel will accentuate an old world style. Opting for stainless steel or satin nickel finishes will help achieve a more contemporary kitchen look. Or choose matte black for a striking contrast against white or brightly coloured cabinet doors and drawers.

Knurled in-frame T bar handles offer a more unexpected look. Knurling is a raised finish of tiny, embossed diamond shapes creating a textured feel on the handle. The knurled surface can improve grip when your hands are wet or greasy. And, serving as a design focal point, knurled bar handles can also create added interest as a featured accent for your kitchen.

Bow and D Handles

bow handle

There are a wide variety of bow and D pull handle styles available, from minimalist to more elaborate designs. Bow and D handles can work well in traditional in-frame kitchens, in modern designs and in a blend of classic and contemporary kitchen styles.

Bow pull handles are arched, semi-circular in shape, while D pulls are similar but straight and more angular — they’re particularly suited to modern in-frame kitchens. Bow and D handles are typically made of aluminium, zinc, brass or steel, offering a range of finishes including polished, brushed, satin and antique.

Ring Handles

ring handle

Also known as drop handles or pendant pulls, ring pull handles consist of a loop attached to a backplate, allowing easy grip and operation of in-frame cabinet doors and drawers. Ring handles contribute to a vintage-inspired theme that complements traditional in-frame kitchens as well as working well in modern kitchen designs.   

Ring handle types vary, ranging from circular pendent-style and shaped rings with plain or ornate backplates, to flush ring pulls in circular and D designs for a cleaner, more even look. Ring handles often provide an eye-catching design accent, commonly available in brass, as well as cast iron and steel, in brushed and antique finishes.

Cabinet Hardware Placement

Where handles are placed on kitchen cabinet doors and drawers is an important design consideration. For example, bar, bow and D handles can be fixed either horizontally or vertically — often cabinets will have vertical handles, with drawers being horizontal.

In the same vein, you will see combinations of cup pulls on drawers, with knobs on cabinet doors, and vice versa.  

Different Types of Cabinet Knobs

In-frame cabinet and drawer knobs come in a staggering choice of types and designs. There’s a knob style to fit every in-frame design. Let’s explore what to look out for.

Knob Design

For more traditional in-frame kitchens, round or oval cabinet knobs with a rose-style back plate work well. You can get them in a variety of design styles, such as Georgian rope, flower or lattice. Or for a more subtle effect there’s small ringed and mushroom cabinet knobs. For a contemporary look try cylindrical knobs or mini T-bars.

traditional georgian cabinet knob

Knob Materials

Cabinet knob materials and finishes are an integral part of your in-frame kitchen design. The main materials to consider are metals such as aluminium, polished brass, cast iron and zinc. There are also a variety of woods including pine, beech and oak. And for a different approach try ceramic or glass.

knob materials

Knob Finishes

The knob finish you choose will depend heavily on your in-frame design. For modern kitchens, brushed and satin finishes work well, including nickel, brass, aluminium, steel and chrome. Also consider cabinet knobs with textured finishes such as knurling or reeding

For a more traditional feel there are plain metals like polished brass or cast iron. Look out for antique metal and aged ceramic finishes too, including antique brass or antique pewter, crackled and painted ceramic, and not forgetting traditional woods.   

different finishes

Mixing Knobs and Pulls on Kitchen Cabinets

When choosing handles and knobs keep in mind the style and finish of other kitchen elements. These include unit colour palette, worktop material, other metalwork finishes such as sinks and taps, and fixtures and fittings like appliances, rails, hooks etc.  You could choose to accent those other kitchen elements or contrast with them for a bolder look.

This same idea applies to your in-frame cabinet hardware. You could choose handles and knobs that work together in the same style, have a combination of handles and knobs, or for a more unconventional look try mixing modern and traditional.

cabinet knob and handle in a kitchen

Find Your In-Frame Kitchen Hardware Inspiration

Hopefully you are feeling inspired with cabinet and drawer hardware ideas to help you visualise your perfect kitchen style, whether you go the traditional route or choose a bolder take on the in-frame kitchen aesthetic.

Also remember, upgrading handles and knobs is a straightforward and relatively cheap way to breathe new life into your old kitchen’s look. Swapping handles and knobs is an easy DIY job that could give your kitchen a much needed refresh. Find more inspiration at the Hiatt online store.