For a kitchen with a very modern, sleek look; you need unit doors with no handles. Handleless kitchens have very clean lines, without the distraction of knobs or metal bar handles, especially on sets of drawers. I can see the attraction … but I’m still not a big fan. Knobs or bar handles are much more practical. If you do want the look, though, there are several different ways of achieving it.
CAD illustration of a handleless kitchen
The simplest style, is to have doors with an integral handle along one edge – a groove or finger pull – which can be in the same finish as the doors or in metal (usually aluminium these days). These will be the least expensive handleless doors available. I had a kitchen in this style when I first left home (ahem – a few decades ago) in tomato red with metal strip handles and I still remember how good the metal handle grooves in those base units were ... at collecting crumbs and dirt and every greasy spill going.
They look lovely - but how practical are grooved handles?
There are some modern versions of this style, where the doors are shaped (or placed) so that there’s a recess along one edge for your fingers but the edge of the door itself isn’t grooved. The recess is lined on the carcasse side with a metal strip or has the same finish as the doors. The lack of the door groove means that the doors don’t collect gunge in the same way and these kitchens can look very sleek indeed – but they will be more expensive.
These units from ABK Manufacturing have a continuous matching strip along the recess behind the drawers
If there is no recess anywhere around handleless doors, then they’re using a push-to-open (or tip-on) system; or they’re fitted with some sort of remote or servo-drive mechanism. Servo-drive mechanisms are the best option, if you have large pan drawers but they can be very expensive … and I’d be wary of them breaking down. Don’t go for any that aren’t expensive! Fingerprints can be a problem for push-to-open doors (and for handleless doors in general) and some people complain that the doors open accidentally when you bump against them. Also, some integrated appliances, like a dishwasher or fridge, won’t work with push-to-open doors, although some appliance manufacturers are beginning to bring out their own push to open door mechanisms.
From a purely practical point of view, I’d prefer to go with discreet handles for the whole kitchen, even with a modern sleek style. You can get several that fit along the top edge of the base doors and drawers with just a small (often curved) projection at the front. Or you can get handles that are almost completely concealed (fitted within the door edge) - as shown above. These are good for integrated appliances but you do need to use them in conjunction with a recess, in order to get your fingers into the handle.
The wall units on this Nolte kitchen are handleless (not shown) but the base units have sleek, practical handles
Go for the handleless look if you really love it, especially if you can afford the modern styles with no door groove (or if you have a cleaner!) … but just check that there aren’t any simple, sleek handles (like the Nolte ones shown above) that you could fall for, first.
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