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Designing a Home Without Handles

Ever wonder why European cabinetry showrooms feature cabinets and drawers without handles and pulls? It’s to show off the craftsmanship in the cabinetry itself. These artisans understand that by not adding handles, the cabinetry itself becomes timeless. You don’t need to be in Europe, however, to achieve a clean, attractive design that endures instead of being relegated to an identifiable 5- to 10-year design cycle.

For many builders and homeowners, knobs and pulls are something they’ve always used. The reality is that not only are they not necessary, but doors and cabinetry can be more appealing without them.

Push to Open Hardware

The alternative is to implement a quality piece of touch hardware that is a satisfying addition for the homeowner from day one, and endures even decades later. Whether your home could be featured in Architectural Digest or is a comfortable haven, a push-latch design should be a consideration for all design styles. Touch hardware drawer, cabinet and door systems allow doors and drawers to pop open from a light push, eliminating the need for handles or knobs that can be all too tempting for children to hang on to and hopelessly difficult for older, arthritic hands to grasp.

When selecting touch hardware, the key is to not fall victim to cheap touchless solutions—in most cases, it is best to select a simple solution that is engineered and tested to continue to function for decades.

Builder and Homeowner Benefits

There are several advantages for a builder to offer handle-free options. Clients that want an elegant, clean look, can easily do so without overly complicated electronic systems. Builders need not drill through the face of cabinets to install this hardware, eliminating the need to damage them. And there are some designs like those developed by Sugatsune that self-adjust eliminating some of the challenges in aligning the strike plate and the latch.

From a homeowner’s perspective, there is no need to tighten handles on an ongoing basis. Best of all there is no need to match the hardware to the décor and the appliances, as it is unseen.

The hardware remains unseen, which allows you to show off the craftsmanship of your cabinets while making it easy to clean them.  

Care should be taken, however, when using cleaning solutions on high-gloss cabinets so that stains from body oils and dirty fingerprints can be easily cleaned. Low-gloss tends to absorb germs and also wears faster than a high-gloss finish.

Aging in Place

Another important consideration for builders is that the number of Americans over 65 years old is estimated to double from 52 million in 2018 to 85 million by 2060. Houses built today are based on advanced building science principles, allowing the structures to last 100 years. For those that wish their house to grow with them throughout the stages of life rather than trading their house in to address future capabilities, design options with longevity are very important.

Aging in place encompasses the ability for people to stay in their homes if possible, rather than go to care facilities. Making these types of decisions in advance can address how our bodies and capabilities will change over time. Using advances in technology, we can design and remodel our homes today to make an easy lifestyle attainable long into the future.

In these situations, a high-quality push to open latch becomes an important convenience as people can now access drawers and cabinets without having the dexterity needed to open them.  Even if one doesn’t have physical limitations, imagine the convenience of being able to gain access even if your hands are full.

 Sugatsune – A Touch of Class and Ease

Sugatsune provides uniquely designed and precision-engineered hardware products and offers a variety of handle-free options. For example, the MLC-100, which features a self-adjusting strike plate, not only makes installation easier, but provides assurance that a door will properly latch when closed, even if door is warped or shifts from high usage. In addition to a wide range of magnetic and non-magnetic touch latches, the heavy-duty MLZN80 push latch is designed to push open large closet, pantries or full-size doors with a push force of 11 lbs.  This means that opening even 175-lb. hidden doors is no problem and, with no handles, remains a true hidden door.

Other non-magnetic push latches include the MC-37, a high-durability option that passed 30,000 cycles in testing. Sugatsune also has offers a lineup of  Self-Opening European Cup Hinges, when paired  with  their many push latch options, can provide added opening force when needed.

Popular in the recreational and marine industries where a positive latching mechanism is required, the Sugatsune LL-66 can be used for overlay doors beyond the lower side of a cabinet bottom is another example of eliminating handles while providing safety. The latch can be installed by surface mounting the bracket right into a cabinet, for example, and sliding the latch right on and clipping it in to provide a clean look. The safety aspect is that, even in a mild earthquake, or on yachts, the LL-66 prevents the door from opening with any type of shaking motion, and items falling out. Several options are available including a fire-proof LL-66GR for use near a fire-source in a kitchen.

And while push to open options provide a sleek look and ease of use, they’re not the only option for achieving the desired effect. To achieve a handless look without the push to open functionality, edge pulls should be considered. Examples of thin cabinet edge pulls that mount to the top of the drawer/door and are made from easily cleanable stainless steel, include the DSI-350 Series and the SN Series.

Regardless of motivation behind designing without handles, there are a variety of options to consider when it comes to creating a sleek look throughout the home.

Learn more about handless options by visiting Sugatsune.