Is a Handleless Kitchen Right for You?
If minimalism is your thing, then a sleek and streamlined handleless kitchen may well suit your style.
As Kitchen Designers, handleless kitchens are one of the most popular requests we get from clients right now. There’s something about the clean and streamlined look of a handleless kitchen that homeowners seem to love, particularly in contemporary kitchens. Some may not know, but it was a very popular choice for homeowners in the 1970s too; and now it’s gained popularity again, particularly over the last few years.
If you’re keen to do away with handles, then consider how you might achieve a handleless kitchen design without compromising on practicality. After all, you don’t want to be bothered by having no handles to grab and open drawers and cabinets quickly when you’re running around the kitchen in a cooking frenzy!
To help you to decide whether or not a handleless kitchen is for you, check out these pros and cons to consider, along with various methods of creating a handleless kitchen design.
One of the biggest concerns our clients have when choosing their new kitchen cabinets is whether or not the look will date.
We tell our clients to rest assured. As a handleless kitchen has an elegant, timeless look, you needn’t to worry about having a dated look in the years to come. The sleek unfussy profile, characteristic of a handleless kitchen, ensures the style will always be a ‘less-is-more’ design classic.
Having no handles is a no-fuss, sophisticated option that has the added bonus of safety. The absence of handles means that there’s nothing for you to accidentally catch your clothes on, and one less thing for young children to walk into and bang their heads on.
The absence of handles protruding from the front of cabinets, which leaves a flat smooth surface, is what makes people love the look of a handleless kitchen.
Regardless of whether your new handleless kitchen has a moulded finger pull, a continuous rail (I’ll explain these options under Types of Handleless Kitchens), or has touch to open mechanisms, cleaning and maintenance is a significant issue.
The finger pull rail or shadowline channel can become a bit of a dust and crumb collector, and will require regular cleaning. It’s something to take into consideration if you prefer to keep your home as low maintenance as possible.
Additionally, touching the cabinetry fascia to open the doors or drawers creates the possibility of finger printing, so considering a hardy and easy to clean surface is very important.
You might think that a handleless kitchen would cost less because you don’t have the expense of handles, but it’s actually the opposite.
Handleless kitchens, depending on the option you choose, generally cost about 20-50 per cent more than a kitchen with conventional handles.
The reason for this is the additional labour involved in the manufacturing process of handleless cabinetry, as well as the cost of specialist hardware required, such as finger pulls or electric mechanisms.
Consider your appliances
This is neither a pro or con, but something to keep in mind when choosing your kitchen cabinetry.
If you plan to have integrated appliances, such as a fridge or dishwasher, there are certain types of handleless kitchens that will work better with your design.
First select the ideal appliances you would like to have in your new kitchen, then make sure to discuss them with your kitchen designer. This is so that we can provide the best type of handleless kitchen for you.
TYPES OF HANDLESS KITCHENS
Now that we’ve explored some of the pros and cons of handleless kitchens in general, let’s take a look at some of the different styles of handleless kitchens. We’ll also look at the methods of cabinetry construction used in each – one of which your designer will be able to get made for you.
Overhead cabinet doors can hang down further than the carcass of the cabinet, to create a finger pull lip at the bottom – you just hook your fingers under the door and pull it open this is a simple and low cost option. Overhead cabinetry can also be fitted with a push-to-open mechanism attached to the cabinet.
As it’s so easy to have overhead cabinets open without handles, the following methods only apply to under-bench cabinet drawers and tall pantry cabinet doors.
A true handleless kitchen features a continuous rail that is built into the cabinet. The rail sits behind each door and drawer front, and creates a space for you to grip so you can open them easily. This continuous rail can either be the same colour as the cabinet fronts or a contrasting finish to create an additional point of interest.
PRO: The main advantage to this method is that no alterations are required for the doors or drawer fronts.
CON: Additional costs are a disadvantage to this method, due to the specialised labour required for the installation of the continuous rail. This can only be done on-site once all the cabinets have been put into position. No everyone realizes that this method of construction can cost as much as 25% of the available storage space due to the clearance required within the draw for the finger rail.
Moulded finger pulls
A moulded finger pull style is where a channel is routed into the top edge of the door or drawer front, creating a small lip for you to grip in order to pull it open.
PROS: The advantage of this option is that there is no additional hardware required, making this style one of the more cost-effective types of handleless kitchen cabinetry. Also, there are no changes required to the cabinet itself.
CONS: One disadvantage of this method is that the channel that’s cut into the top of the door can be shallow, leaving you with only a small lip to hold onto. This can be a bit annoying, especially if you have big fingers or long nails.
Another disadvantage is that the thin piece of timber or other material left at the back of the routed channel can be more susceptible to cracking or chipping. Ensure that you choose a reputable supplier who uses quality materials to avoid this problem.
Aluminium finger pull
This method of handleless kitchen ironically involves a handle! A J-shape handle in the form of a piece of moulded aluminium is attached to the top of each door and drawer front. These handles are generally sold in long lengths so they can be cut to size, allowing them to suit each individual door and drawer front. Although finger pulls are handles of sorts, they give a streamlined look and create a handleless appearance.
PROS: This method has the same advantage as a moulded finger pull in the sense that it gives you full access to the inside of the cabinet. Using an aluminium finger pull is also a way of adding an element of interest to your kitchen without having protruding handles.
CONS: One disadvantage of these handles is that they usually need to have a narrow channel routed into the top of each door for the handle to sit in. This may not be possible with some door materials, such as those with a vinyl-wrap finish, since it may cause the vinyl to start to peel away,
This is our favourite method of creating a handleless kitchen.
Blum have just released TIP-ON BLUMOTION that combines the advantages of the TIP-ON (Touch to Open) mechanical opening support system with reliable BLUMOTION (Soft Close) dampening. The opening sequence is activated by pressing on the front. Closure with a slight force activated the BLUMOTION silent and effortless closing. This sophisticated motion technology can be used with box system LEGRABOX and also the concealed runner system MOVENTO. The best part: the motion is assisted 100% mechanically.
Electric push-to-open doors and drawer fronts are such a pleasure to use. The lift-up overhead cabinet doors pictured here are also opened using an electric push-to-open mechanism. Closing the doors is made easy by pressing a button on the side of the cabinet, which triggers the mechanism to lower the doors back to a closed position.
PRO: The great advantage of cabinetry that has this mechanism in-built into it is that there are no gaps between the drawers, no finger pulls and no crumb-catching channels; just a smooth, flat front that’s incredibly easy to clean.
CON: One disadvantage of these electric push-to-open doors and drawer fronts is that they can be accidentally opened by simply leaning against them. This can be a real nuisance, especially if you have curious children.
If you’re not completely sold on the idea of a completely handleless kitchen, but quite like the streamlined look, then using a finger pull with a U-shape profile handle that sits over the top of each door and drawer front may be the answer for you.
Do you have a handleless kitchen? How does it work for you? We would love to see some photos uploaded into the Comments.