If you’re designing a new kitchen then you may have come across the handleless kitchen style. But what exactly are handleless kitchens, how do they work, and is this style right for your kitchen? In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about this contemporary kitchen trend, including:

What are handleless kitchens?

A mainstay of German kitchen design, handleless kitchens are free from separate handles. They have a handleless grip ledge which creates a flush, streamlined finish that still allows the door to be opened effortlessly. While they are more contemporary in design, handleless kitchens work for both ultra-modern and more traditional cabinet fronts, making them the perfect option for any style of home. This means handleless kitchens are a timeless option that’s certainly not going to go out of fashion any time soon!

How do handleless kitchens work?

Instead of relying on traditional handles, a handleless kitchen will feature one of three different opening mechanisms, each with their own pros and cons. If you’re thinking of getting a handleless kitchen installed, then you’ll need to consider what type of opening would be best for you and your family.

True handleless: The top or base of the cabinet front is moulded to form a small lip which acts as a handle.

J-pull: Similar to a true handleless kitchen but with an integrated handle rail. Instead of being moulded into the cabinet front, the J-pull handle usually has a metal finish. These provide a more accessible option compared to true handleless designs, and are often a cost-effective option.

Push-to-open: Instead of an integrated handle, these fronts are completely flush and have a spring mechanism that allows the door to open with a push. Although they can be more expensive to install, these offer a streamlined finish and are practical to use, especially while cooking. It is worth noting that these doors can sometimes be opened accidentally. Families with small children should fully research this option to see if it’s suitable for their home.

Handleless kitchens aren’t just incredibly stylish. The sleek finish can have a wide range of benefits that can make it a practical decision as well as a sophisticated design choice. That being said, they can also have some drawbacks that might make them less suitable for certain families or homes.

If you’re still deciding whether a handleless kitchen is the right option for you, it’s a good idea to weigh up the pros and cons before finalising the design.

The pros

They’re versatile
The sleek silhouette of a handleless kitchen makes it a stunning alternative to a traditional handled kitchen. They are also available in a wide range of designs and finishes, from traditional styles like a shaker kitchen, to more modern, pared-back fronts. You can also choose between matt and gloss, so you can design the perfect kitchen for your home, all with the benefits of being handleless.

They can be safer
Without protruding handles, handleless kitchens can be slightly safer than traditional designs, especially for families with young children who may be tempted to grab a handle and open cupboards and drawers. There’s also no risk of your clothing getting caught on handles while cooking, or little ones running into them while playing.

To avoid young children opening cupboard by mistake, a handleless kitchen with a true handleless or J-pull design will be the best option.

They’re great for small kitchens
If you’re designing a particularly small kitchen, every inch of space needs to be used wisely. This makes a true handleless or push-to-open design the perfect option for tiny kitchens. Omitting a protruding handle can save you valuable inches, especially if you’ve also opted for a kitchen island, giving you more room to move around your space. The sleek, minimalistic, and uncluttered design of true handleless and push-to-open fronts can also give your kitchen an overall cleaner look, which gives the illusion of having more space.

The cons

They can take more cleaning
If you’ve opted for true handleless or J-pull fronts, then it’s worth bearing in mind that these designs can take a bit more cleaning than traditional handled cabinets. This is because dust and crumbs can settle in the recessed handles through use. This isn’t a problem for handleless kitchens with a push-to-open mechanism. A matte finish will need less maintenance than high gloss as you won’t leave fingerprints behind as you open and close the door.

They can cost slightly more
While you may think removing the handles will cause your kitchen to be cheaper, this isn’t always the case. Handleless kitchens are a little more technical than standard fronts and take extra craftsmanship to produce the recessed handle design. Your handleless kitchen may also require extra opening and closing mechanisms, such as the push-to-open function, which can add to the cost.

They can be less accessible
Handleless kitchens can be less accessible to those with mobility or strength issues, such as arthritis, as the recessed handle or push-to-open mechanism could be tricky or inconvenient to use. Instead consider incorporating J-pull handles that can be easily hooked open with just your fingertips.

There’s also the aspect of convenience. A push-to-open mechanism can be incredibly handy when you’re rushing about the kitchen with your hands full, so you can access everything you need by applying light pressure with your hip. However, some people prefer the convenience of having a traditional handle when they’re busy, so it’s all a matter of preference.

How to style a handleless kitchen

If a handleless kitchen sounds like the right fit for you then you may be wondering how to style it to get the most out of this eye-catching design. Below are some ideas for planning the perfect handleless kitchen and add a touch of wow-factor to your space. You can also take a look at our kitchen inspiration section for even more design ideas.

Choose integrated appliances

To retain the sleek, streamlined finish of a handleless kitchen, choose integrated appliances that sit flush with your cabinets or can be concealed within them for an uninterrupted look. Even your cooker hood can be built into your ceiling or combined with lighting for an unobtrusive style that’s as impactful as it is practical. Our range of Wave extractor hoods can even be custom made to get the perfect look for your kitchen.

Mix and match your finishes

Without handles to distract the eye, a handleless kitchen can really show off the beauty and finish of your cabinetry, no matter what style you choose. To keep the look interesting without drawing the eye away from the handleless design, you may want to mix and match your finishes. For example, by opting for a mixture of high gloss and matt surfaces, or incorporating wooden cabinets in a white or dark kitchen, you can add some extra dimension to the space.

Alternatively, lean into one specific style, such as an all-white handleless kitchen for a contemporary minimalist look, or a fully black handleless kitchen for a moody but welcoming design.

Incorporate open shelving

The minimalistic nature of handleless kitchens make them the perfect pairing for open shelving, adding style and practicality without making the space feel cluttered. Consider adding a tall column of open shelving at the end of your run of cabinetry or incorporated into your kitchen island. This gives you space to show off your favourite kitchen accessories, cookbooks, and more. Accent lighting installed in your open shelving will add even more impact to create a dramatic yet cosy look.

Can you put handles on a handleless kitchen?

If you’ve chosen a handleless kitchen, you may be wondering if you can add handles further down the line, either for practicality or design reasons. Due to integrated handle style or push-to-open mechanism, it can be tricky to add handles to handleless kitchen doors and get the same flawless finish. A better option would be to replace your cabinet fronts but keep the carcass. This can be easy to do and is simply a case of unmounting your old door and drawer fronts and installing the new ones.

We offer a range of next125 and Schüller door fronts in a variety of stylish designs, plus a selection of handles, so you can choose a combination that suits your interiors best.

Handleless kitchens can offer a beautifully sleek, contemporary look in any kitchen. If this sounds like the style for you, be sure to take a look at our handleless kitchen inspiration, where you can see our range of Schüller and next125 German kitchens. Alternatively, head over to our Hexham showroom, just outside of Newcastle, to see our luxury German kitchens in situ.