Do you want to know one of the easiest ways to begin making your home more accessible?

P.S. It’s also one of the most inexpensive.

Change your door and cabinet hardware (handles). It’s as simple as that.

The hardware on your doors is an important element in the overall style and look of your home, so it’s important to keep that in mind when making your selection.

But equally important to consider is that the right hardware will also determine the accessibility of your cabinets and doors.


No more knobs

The number one thing to remember? Don’t consider using knobs. Not even for a second. Never install knobs on kitchen or bathroom cabinets, interior or exterior doors, or even closet doors. They require a level of dexterity and strength that not everybody has.


Lever handles

  • Install them on all your interior doors, including closet doors.
  • The lever style is especially important for your front door. The traditional front door handle is a handle-set with a thumb-press but these are more difficult for some people to operate.
  • The lever is easy to use by people who have difficulties gripping, twisting, turning, or even opening their hands up. Just by pressing down on the lever the door will open. They are great when you have an armload of groceries too.

    Handle with return

    Tip: The longer the lever, the easier it is to open.

  • The lever handle with a return, like the Argos lever by Emtek (see image), is safer as it will be less likely to catch on a sleeve or purse strap.


D-style handles

  • D-style handle

    So-called because they resemble a D shape where you would slip your hand in behind without the need for twisting or gripping.

  • These can be added to doors for a secondary and/or alternative way to close doors such as large sliding glass ones or heavy front doors.
  • Use them on kitchen and bathroom cabinets, closet doors, pocket doors, and sliding glass doors.


Bar handles

  • Bar handle

    These are similar to the D-handle but are more linear and don’t neccessarily have the D-shape.

  • They add a clean and contemporary look and you can often find the same style in various lengths to mix and match. TIP: Pay attention to their profile as they can be uncomfortable to lean against when installed on lower cabinets.
  • Use them on kitchen and bathroom cabinets, swing doors, pocket doors and closet doors.

No handles

  • The press-to-open mechanism eliminates the need for a handle.
  • They offer the ultimate clean contemporary look.
  • Easy to operate with wet or greasy hands and no crud-catching ledges to clean.
  • These are easily retrofitted to your existing cabinet doors.


Pocket door

Pocket doors

Their notoriously difficult-to-operate hardware is improving each year. You may not be able to retrofit hardware on your existing hollow-core pocket door, but for new installations look to use mortise sets for easier usability. With a little ingenuity it is possible to install a bar handle on a solid-core pocket door.  You just need to remember you need the door opening to be minimum 32in/81cm for wheelchair accessibility.


Soft-close systems

A great addition to your cabinets would be soft-close door and drawer closers. They will eliminate the annoying noise of slamming doors and may help protect glass doors from breaking. The closers are easily retrofitted to your existing cabinets or ask for them if you are ordering new cabinetry. With soft-close, doors and drawers only require a gentle push or nudge to close beautifully on their own.


Action Plan

This project could be the simplest first step toward a more accessible home.

Can you see where you could make things easier on yourself by change a few handles?


Read more about accessible doors.