Article Line Long1

The Easiest Renter Hack: 60 (Budget-Friendly) Cabinet Hardware Picks to Instantly Refresh a Room

photo by sara ligorria-tramp for ehd | from: velinda’s tiny kitchen reveal

Every article I’ve probably ever read or written about rental hacks to “level up” your home style—and there have been A LOT—involves swapping out hardware in one form or another. Whether that means changing all the knobs in your kitchen, your bathroom vanity or just some DIY furniture rehab you’re working on, evidently, the key to all sad rental woes lies in a roughly 1-inch piece of metal. Ha. But for real, the difference new cabinet knobs and pulls can make in a kitchen or bath is MONUMENTAL and oftentimes, it’s one of the only things you have any control over when you’re beholden to an uptight lease agreement.

Let’s take Brady’s kitchen MOTO for instance (below). Yes, there were a ton of other night-and-day swaps (those floors, the paint, the light fixtures) but the brass knobs he added nearly instantaneously transformed his galley kitchen cabinetry in particular.

Emily Henderson Affordable Cabinet Hardware 2
after photo by tessa neustadt | from: brady’s kitchen makeover reveal

Jess also did a switcheroo in her rental kitchen and the matte black knobs serve to add a cool punch and edginess to an otherwise casual Cali vibe. She sourced hers from Etsy vendor Forge Hardware Studio for $8 a pop, so for under $50, her cabinetry got a totally reversible makeover. The best course of action if you’re a renter is to stick to using the same holes you’ve been endowed, that way when you’re moving out, you just need to screw back on the original handles (be sure to keep them safe and sound…I keep mine in a ziplock bag with the screws in a drawer either right in the same spot or wherever I store all my utility items). Granted, if you’re an owner, you have a blank check to do whatever you want (but you already know that).

Emily Henderson Affordable Cabinet Hardware 3
photo by sara ligorria-tramp for ehd | from: jess’ genius rental kitchen hack

The “jewelry” of the kitchen and bathroom feels like it can end up being a huge expense, and look, it can be. Once upon a time, I bought two $40 IKEA Rast chests to use as nightstands and proceeded to spend an additional $300 on brass campaign-style handles for a hack I had up my sleeve…it was like wearing Old Navy ballet flats with a Carolina Herrera gown. If the final look makes you happy (it did) then who cares, but it still feels a little…wrong. Anyhow, I don’t regret the decision, and still have those nightstands in my guest bedroom but the point is, you don’t HAVE to spend a ton of money on awesome hardware. There are so many great options in-store and online now, especially at very reasonable price points (there’s a set of 10 for under $20 in our roundups, for instance).

For the three roundups that follow (knobs, bars and pulls), we stuck to a $10 budget and many ended up coming in way under, plus all of these can work equally well in a kitchen, bathroom or on furniture. Let’s take a look.

Knobs Under $10

Emily Henderson Affordable Cabinet Hardware 4
photo by sara ligorria-tramp for ehd | from: how I transformed a dark basement bathroom into a bright modern space

Knobs are awesome for one main reason: there’s no measuring center to center or making sure whatever holes you might need to drill are level. One hole and done, people. Knobs tend to come off a little more traditional in style, but Jess dug up a 30 that are a great mix of aesthetics no matter what you’re looking for. For instance, the knurled knobs from #1 are the cool kids in school right now…matte black, textural, diminutive (all of which are very “in” right now in hardware). Wood will always lend a warm mid-century style to your space/piece, so if you’re into that, check out #3, #13 and #20. #14 is very similar to what Emily used on her powder bath vanity (a set of 2 is $9!) and I’m pretty obsessed in general with the wood-and-brass mix of #27.

Emily Henderson Affordable Cabinet Hardware 5

1. 3/4 in. Knurled Knob in Gloss Black | 2. Successi Round Knob in Satin Brass | 3. Mid-Century Modern Cabinet Wood Knob | 4. Cosmas Bar Knob in Brushed Brass (Set of 10) | 5. Cone Novelty Knob in Black | 6. Small Oval Cabinet Knob in Polished Nickel | 7. Gathered Knob in Black (set of 2) | 8. Hex Bar Kob in Shiny Copper | 9. Large Black and Brass Drawer Knob | 10. Quincy Concave Knob in Brass | 11. Faux Marble Knob (set of 2) | 12. Black Cabinet Knob 1.2 in. dia (set of 10) | 13. Wood Handle Dresser | 14. Mossaryd Drop Pull in Black | 15. Knurled Texture Bar Knob in Brass | 16. 30mm Knob in Gloss Black (set of 10) | 17. Domestic Bliss Circle Novelty Knob in Modern Bronze | 18. Jessina Knob in Copper (set of 2) | 19. Cosmas Hardware Finger Knob 3/4 in. in Brushed Brass (Set of 10) | 20. Walnut Wood Cabinet Knob | 21. Bagganas Knob in Black | 22. Constance Knob in Blackened Iron | 23. Solid Brass Slim Cone Knobs | 24. Classic Hardware Knob in Antique Brass | 25. Southern Hills Cabinet Knobs in Satin Brass (Set of 5) | 26. Tall Mushroom Cabinet Knob in Oil-Rubbed Bronze | 27. Wood Brass Door Knob | 28. Round Aerin Knob in Blackened Iron | 29. Saturn Cabinet Knob in Aged Brass | 30. Top Knobs Nouveau III Collection 1-3/16 in. Essex Knob in Flat Black

Cabinet Handles $10 & Under

Emily Henderson Affordable Cabinet Hardware 6
photo by sara ligorria-tramp for ehd | from: portland master bathroom reveal

Handles and bars tend to be a little pricier than knobs, but they’re larger so…makes sense. Note that most of the measurements you’ll see are center to center of where the screws go (not the total length of the piece of hardware. Of course, we love us some brushed/satin brass or matte black, but polished nickel is quickly becoming one of our favorite finishes for more traditional spaces. Emily used it in the Portland Project and every time I saw it, it made me question my dedication to brass. It’s warmer than chrome and has more depth then brushed nickel (you can witness that in #1). The simplicity of #2 and #15 are really nice while #10 seems so special. I think these would be particularly beautiful on a dresser or cabinet you’re re-doing. I have something similar to #11 on a console I painted a soft Swedish blue and the rose gold against the pale cool tone is pretty nice (IMHO).

Emily Henderson Affordable Cabinet Hardware 7

1. 3-1/2 in. Bar Sash Lift in Polished Nickel | 2. Borghamn Handle (set of 2) | 3. Atlas Homewares Bradbury 3 in. Center to Center Handle in Warm Brass | 4. Knurled Steel Bar Pull in Amber Gold (varied sizes) | 5. Symm Etry 3-1/2 in. Center to Center Octagon Pull in Satin Nickel | 6. Bagganas Handle in Black | 7. Hickory Hardware Natural Woodcraft 3-3/4 in. Center to Center Cup Cabinet Pull | 8. 4″ & 5″ Center to Center Iron Cabinet Pull | 9. Cosmas 2-1/2″ Center to Center Contemporary Bar Handle in Brushed Brass (set of 10) | 10. Modern Square Drawer Pulls (varied sizes) | 11. Brainerd 3 in. Center to Center Rectangular Bar Pull in Brushed Copper | 12. Richelieu 3-3/4 in. Center to Center Handle in Matte Black | 13. Viborg Zinc Alloy Modern Cabinet Handle in Black (set of 10) | 14. Hickory Hardware Carbonite 4 in. Center to Center Handle | 15. Peggy Drawer Pull in Satin Brass (varied sizes)

Cabinet Pulls $10 & Under

Emily Henderson Affordable Cabinet Hardware 8
photo by sara ligorria-tramp for ehd | from: mountain house kitchen renovation reveal

While knobs and pulls dominate the hardware category, one of our favorite dark horses is actually finger pulls and ledges. Traditional cup pulls like #5, #10, #12 and #14 have long been a staple of the classic kitchen and bath, but more subtle and delicate flush pulls like #1, #9 (the price on these is SO GOOD) and #13 are becoming fast favorites in spaces of all styles. For instance, Emily’s rustic-yet-modern mountain house kitchen used a combination of black metal Schoolhouse bars and ledge pulls which have just enough visual presence without taking away the focus of those insane Ross Alan Reclaimed Lumber cabinet fronts. Something leather like #11 might be best left to furniture for longevity, and these come in a few different colors, FYI.

Emily Henderson Affordable Cabinet Hardware 9

1. Richelieu Hardware 3-5/32 in. Center to Center Pull in Satin Gold | 2. Borghamn Handle (set of 2) | 3. Wood Drawer Pull Set | 4. 1-3/4 in. Rustic Rivet Knob in Matte Black (set of 2) | 5. Atlas Homewares Successi 2-1/2 in. Center to Center Cup Pull in Polished Nickel | 6. Luna Cabinet Knob in Polished Brass (varied sizes) | 7. Bail Pull in Brass (set of 2) | 8. 2-1/2 in. Half Moon Handles Set in Brushed Gold | 9. Concealed Cabinet Pull 13.86 in. Center to Center in Matte Black (set of 5) | 10. Tinksky Drawer Pull in Black (set of 4) | 11. Leather Cabinet Pulls in Orange (set of 2) | 12. Boulevard 4 in Pull in Brass | 13. Richelieu 3-1/8 in. Center to Center Finger Pull | 14. Eneryda Cup Cabinet Pull in Chrome Plated | 15. Larkin Finger Pull in Oil-Rubbed Bronze

Alright, thus concludes our roundup of some of our favorite budget hardware pieces out there right now. We hope this comes at a good time for any refresh/renovation projects you might have up your sleeves this summer, and again, if you’re a renter, DO NOT be afraid or shy in terms of swapping out hardware in some of your spaces. It’ll make your kitchen or bathroom feel so much more personal to you and your design tastes, promise (said from experience here). Good luck and as always, let us know what other roundups you need in your lives.

Want more budget roundups? Check these out: The Ultimate Budget Living Room Furniture Roundup | The Ultimate Budget Dining Room Furniture Roundup | The Ulimate Budget Home: Rugs, Lighting & Decor


Never miss a single post and get a little something extra on Saturdays.

36 thoughts on “The Easiest Renter Hack: 60 (Budget-Friendly) Cabinet Hardware Picks to Instantly Refresh a Room

  1. If only they had bothered to install ANY hardware on our cabinets in our apartment, this would be a wonderful round up (can you tell I’m bitter?!?). Instead, we have to pry them open from the bottom. Is this a thing others have seen, where landlords just don’t install hardware on cabinets??

    1. We have 1990’s cabinets original to our house. They have beveled edges and no hardware. I like the nice, clean look and would replicate that choice again. If not no pulls, I’d go for finger pulls attached to top of door or drawer.

    2. Yes – but they hadn’t installed the cabinet doors either… And once they did, weeks after move in, they left a huge mess! It was a nightmare

    3. Yes. In many rental kitchens and bathrooms. I don’t bat an eye at installing hardware in those cases and leaving it behind. Generally, those types of landlords don’t give a crap about it and it’s an upgrade for them. Seriously, I’ve done it in my last two rentals and switched hardware in the other two. There’s nothing worse than grabbing particle board cabinets to open them. The hardware will improve your experience there for sure and is totally worth the $40-$50.

    4. Same here, Lauren. However, I’ve lived here a long time and, after this post, may finally install the hardware myself!

  2. Awesome roundup! Selecting cabinet hardware was one of the most enjoyable parts of our remodel. So many choices! In an effort to stay on budget I ended up purchasing the Cosma brushed brass handles (#9) in a longer size, and the matching pulls (not in roundup) from Amazon for my kitchen cabinets. Very reasonable price. The hardware has really great reviews and when I received them I was impressed at the quality and weight. I showed them to the installer and he was equally impressed. We expect to install them next week and I am so excited!

    1. I’d recommend going the professional route. Hire a company that will take out the doors, strip and spray paint them in the workshop, paint the other parts of the cabinets on site. That way, the finish will look perfect. It will never be nice when you just paint them yourself unless you are willing to spend the time and money on proper equipment.

    2. I have very similar cabinets in my house. I’ve painted them twice. The first time I used a semi-gloss, but I was never really happy with them. The second time I used homemade chalk paint. I love them and they’ve held up fairly well. Both times I removed all of the doors and hardware before painting. I also painted two of the bathroom vanities with semi-gloss paint and they look good. It updates the rooms right away. You may want to start in one of the bathrooms as practice.

    3. We have 1980 ‘s solid wood honey oak kitchen cabinets that started to look really bad with scratches and lacquer chipping off at edges. My husband stripped the lacquer by sandblasting with baking soda . I then sanded the doors down to the raw wood, first with coarse then fine grit sand paper. It was a very time- consuming and tedious process because of the varying depths of the grooves. My husband then applied two coats of stain and three coats of lacquer on the doors. The end result was superb because the cabinets look brand-new and will last us another 20 years. We have a medium-sized kitchen and the process took us three weeks of vacation time, 10 hours each day to get it done. It was time well spent because the materials cost us about $500, whereas to get it professionally done it would have cost about 8,000 – 10,000 dollars. We’re in our fifties and if we can do it, you can, too!

      1. Wow Ienne–I would love to see that transformation! Sounds like you did an awesome job. At 10 hours a day/3 weeks, sounds like a project I would start and never finish ?but nonetheless it’s good to know it can be done!

  3. Thank you for this!
    I would love a round up of affordable vanities ( both 24″ and 72″) and mirrors for above them!

  4. Having never done this before, I take it the screw diameters, and distances between screws for most pulls and handles, are of a standard size? I’m curious how often holes need to be filled, sanded, painted, or created.

    1. Any hardware I’ve ever bought has come with the appreciate screws, so I never had to worry about figuring out screw diameters. Also, since I’m a renter, I just stick with the holes that already exist and find something I like that fits the dimensions. I avoid making holes as much as possible in places I don’t own!

    2. Screws are typically the same size, or at least close enough that it makes no difference. The screws slide right through the hole on your cabinet and just thread into the knob/handle, so when you tighten the screw, it sandwiches the cabinet. The hole could be a size or two too big without causing any issues. I think most cabinets would be about the same thickness, so that the length of your screws would work in most cases, but if for some reason yours were extra thin and your screws ended up being too long, you could add a few washers between the head of the screw and the back of the cabinet to fill the gap.

      Now the distance between screws on a handle is a whole different story. There are a few standard sizes, but especially when replacing old hardware you may have trouble finding a replacement that matches your existing holes. Your best bet is measuring the holes you currently have and then searching for options that match that, and you should figure out pretty quickly whether what you currently have is a standard size.

  5. … but make sure the handles you buy have the “female” part in the knob with a separate bolt. I bought a beautiful set of knobs from anthropology that had the “male” part sticking off the knob with a separate nut. The “male” part stuck out 1.5” into my drawer and kept snagging my sweaters. I had to return them because ,while they were pretty, they just weren’t functional.

    1. I had the same problem years ago with anthropologie knobs! Pain in the you-know-what!

  6. ah man! these look amazing! too bad my apartment doesn’t have any knobs on the cabinetry. 🙁 we have to open them from the sides/bottoms/tops – damaging my nails in the process of course. i doubt they’d approve of the additions because, well, apartment life. i’ll just dream about these gorgeous pulls for the future!

  7. FYI – in the handles roundup, the links for numbers 5 and 8 go to the same product. The link for number 8 appears to be incorrect. Thanks!

  8. Hi – love this post. Can you please provide sourcing for the bathroom vanities pictured?

    Thanks so much,

  9. Stop spending money to make your rental move and save for a house. This is why millennials have no credit.

    1. Jennifer, no need to be judgmental. Think about the many reasons why people may want to rent instead of buying: they are in the military or other career where they are transferred every two years. In this case, the closing costs to buy and sell so frequently negate any possible increase in value. There are many other reasons but the purpose of this post is ideas for easy rental upgrades, not to criticize their decision to rent.

    2. lol
      talk about hyperbole and sweeping generalization all rolled into one comment

  10. Thoughts on mixing metals? I’m tempted to do simple brushed brass pulls with our white modern shaker cabinets. Problem is we have stainless appliances/sink, matte black faucet, and matte black with white milk glass shade light above sink. Should I go black knobs or can I go wild? Thoughts?

  11. If you live somewhere without existing hardware and want to add some to your cabinets, it is a good idea to create a template before you start drilling into drawers and cabinet doors. This way there will be uniform placement and you only drill once.

  12. Hi,
    Thank you for sharing these awesomely cute knobs and pulls.
    Now I’m gonna try out the stuff that you suggested and make my dull home cabinets more lively. Again, Thanks for sharing this information, It really helped enhance my drawers. 🙂
    I got most of my home designing idea from: check it out too.

  13. Thanks for the roundup. It could not be more timely. Would a concealed cabinet pull work with shaker style cabinets? Also, if I have white cabinets and black stainless steel appliances, what color hardware should I go for in a contemporary kitchen?

Comments are closed.