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Handleless kitchen:The Definitive Guide

This guide will show you the things you need to know about handleless kitchen.

You may have done lots of research online for handleless design ideas, and you may have a overwhelmed feeling after your research.

Firstly, I’ll show you what is handleless kitchen and briefly introduce the history.

Then I’ll show you the most popular or most practical types of handleless styles in New Zealand market.

Last, I’ll show few things to avoid for handleless kitchen.

Let’s get started.

Handleless kitchen Naffy
Picture: Naffy

Content:

#1: What is handleless kitchen?

#2 The variations and options of handleless kitchen.

#3: Is handleless kitchen suitable for you?

#1: What is handleless kitchen?

Handleless kitchen is well known as sleek, contemporary, seamless, uncluttered and to name a few.

More and more house owners are choosing this type of design for the new build or renovation.

So, what is handleless kitchen?

 

Simply put, it means handle free. There are no physical handle elements attached to the fronts of a kitchen.

Instead, it has a physical aluminium or profiles that either recessed into cabinet body, inserted or integrated into the top or at the back of kitchen fronts.

Please do keep in mind that, the absence of physical handle elements doesn’t imply that the handleless kitchen is cheaper. It can be more expensive than the standard kitchens, because the production, such as CNC programming is more complex. Also, the special requirements such as mechanical or electronic accessories are more expensive.

Handleless kitchen is trending, but it’s not a new design. If we look back on the history of kitchen design, the handleless kitchen was introduced by Siematic, a German kitchen manufacturer, in 1960.

And the “Siematic 6006” was the world’s first kitchen with integrated handle bar.

Almost sixty years passed, the elements to create handleless design have a lot more variation or choices than the past. I am going to show you the different types of handleless design, and most of them are available to New Zealand local suppliers.

#2 The variations and options of handleless kitchen.

In short, handleless kitchen call fall into Three big categories.

The first one is using mechanical opening or electric. For example, a price friendly version of Blum tip-on push-to-open fittings.

Picture: Blum tip-on drawer
Picture: Blum tip-on for doors

The second category is Servo-Drive style, but this requires far more extensive planning and a bigger budget. 

The electrical Servo-Drive system offer synchronise opening by taping the front to open, and self-closing with a single touch.

Picture: Blum Srevo Drive

The third category is the most cost effective and widely used, compare the previous two types.

Gola profile

The horizontal aluminium profiles are integrated at the back of the door or drawer fronts, the cabinets are milled with few cut outs for mounting them into the body.

This is the most popular option of handleless kitchen design for creating a minimal style.

Today, these aluminium profiles have been designed to fit LED strips for illumination, you can choose this if you need extra light to see the drawer dark spot.

Gola profile-Wood

Another variant for this type of handleless is integrated with wood or MDF material profiles. 

Instead of using aluminium profiles, the two pieces panels are butted or screwed together to create the handle profile. 

The greatest advantage for this type is you can choose enormous colour to fit your personal taste.

The biggest disadvantage of Gola profile is, it consumes more storage space.

Picture: MHK & Hafele

Integrated profile

 

In this design, the aluminium (or wood) profile elements are integrated on the top of the door or drawer fronts. 

It’s a very good solution for lacquer doors and drawer fronts, as the profiles protect the top edges from finger nails. 

This solution increases the life time of lacquered fronts and maximize the storage space without losing the internal storage space.

Recessed pull

The grips make the kitchen look like a handleless kitchen.
Actually, they are handles that are usually made of aluminum or stainless steel. 
 
There are two versions, either sitting on the front surface or at the top-back edge.
 
 
Picture: Santos

In the Santos’s design, the aluminium element inserted on top of the edge of drawer create a protection for the lacquer finished panels. This helps to project the paint from fingernails. 

Picture: Composit
Shark nose or J profile
This type of handleless design is a more price friendly version, comparing with the fronts with Gola and other versions of handleless design.
 
The kitchen fronts are machined from CNC with special router bits, or processed with a functional edgebander for “shark nose” or “J” shape. 
 
The first picture shows the “shark nose” profile, the top beveled edge allows you to touch and open cabinets and drawers directly at the top or bottom edge. 
 
The second one shows the “J” profile handle. It has a big disadvantage that collects the dirt and dust. A better solution is to integrate an aluminium “J ” pull bar for handles.  
 
Picture: Bulthaup B1
Picture: Leicht

#3: Is handleless kitchen suitable for you?

I would like to say that the choice either for a handleless design or a kitchen with handles, is depending on individual needs. 

If you  love the tidy, uncluttered and clean aesthetics, then a handleless kitchen is definitely right for you. 

But if you are with arthritic fingers, or long fingernails, then a kitchen with standard handles might be better than handleless. 

It is painful with arthritic fingers, even you pull the smoothest soft closing runners with lots of dishes and plates. Also, the long finger nails can scratch the paint off the edge of grip while either opening or closing the fronts. 

 

Whether a kitchen with or without handles is better depends on your individual needs. If you value clean-cut aesthetics, a handleless kitchen is definitely right for you. But if you want to focus more on a long-lasting kitchen with the possibility to redesign, then you decide best for a kitchen with handles. In the end it is a matter of individual taste. If in doubt, your kitchen planner will be happy to help you.

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