5 Essential Features for Kitchen Cabinetry

Cabinet Essentials You Need to Know About

White kitchen in apartment with modern interior
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Few things are more rewarding than completing a kitchen remodeling project and realizing that all your kitchen items have a place to dwell. Good storage in a kitchen goes well beyond merely having plenty of cabinets. Virtually all kitchens have cabinets, but those cabinets don't always provide the kind of intelligent, strategic storage that makes a kitchen work to its maximum effectiveness. Achieving a dream kitchen is often about the storage features and accessories that are placed in those cabinets.

Here are 5 essential features that maximize the storage potential of your kitchen cabinets.

  • 01 of 05

    Drawers and Sliding Shelves

    Three Drawer Base Cabinets
    Drawers are your New Best Friend in the Kitchen Nicolette Patton, CKD

    Drawers are the ultimate accessible and flexible storage devices for a kitchen, for a variety of reasons:

    • Drawers offer perfect ergonomic storage: Drawers come out to meet you—no squatting or bending down to see what you've got. Just pull the drawer out and look down. As we age, our backs become more sensitive to lifting, so drawers are wonderful for folks who have trouble lifting or reaching.
    • Drawers offer flexible storage: Drawers can hold almost anything in your kitchen and can be configured in a cabinet in a number of ways: three or four drawers stacked in a base cabinet, or a single drawer sitting atop doors that open to reveal shelves. A cabinet with a three-drawer stack is especially effective, with a smaller top drawer and two larger lower drawers. Top drawers are usually for utensils, silverware, and smaller items. The larger drawers, however, can be used for a multitude of kitchen items; pots and pans, lids, dishes (can use a peg system), plastic ware, baking/ cookie sheets, small appliances, or food.
    • Drawers offer easy storage: One versus two motions in a kitchen can do wonders to speed up your cooking routine. Operating a drawer requires one easy pull, versus a door/roll-out arrangement that takes two motions (open doors, then extract the roll-out shelf). This easy operation is why so many people fall in love with drawers.
    • Drawers have clean lines: No matter what kind of kitchen you are planning—traditional, farmhouse, rustic, transitional, or contemporary—drawers create clean horizontal lines that are very attractive in any kitchen style. Several three-drawer base cabinets in a kitchen layout just makes sense.

    All too many consumers scrimp by choosing simple door cabinets rather than drawer cabinets. Although they are more expensive, stacked drawer cabinets add enormously to the storage efficiency of a kitchen. Most experts suggest that a kitchen should include at least one stacked drawer cabinet for every double-door cabinet.

  • 02 of 05

    Trash Pull-Out

    Double Trash Cabinet Pull Out
    Double Trash Cabinet Pull Out Nar Fine Carpentry

    So you are doing a beautiful kitchen remodel or building a new kitchen, and you are planning to put your old plastic trash bin to the side of the island?

    No way! Get that trash behind a door; nobody wants to see (or smell) that trash can.

    One of the best kitchen storage solutions is to include a pull-out trash unit inside the cabinetry, where it won't be seen. Ideally, you should include at least two-bin trash unit—one for regular trash and one (or more) for recycling. Most double units take up a mere 18 inches of space and are available with a soft-close mechanism for simple operation. Many of them are short enough to fit into a base cabinet with a top drawer.

  • 03 of 05

    Vertical Dividers

    Base Tray Dividers
    Vertical Tray Dividers in a Base Cabinet Nicolette Patton, CKD

    Vertical dividers are extremely useful for storing many different large, flat objects—cutting boards, cookie sheets, muffin tins, platters, baking pans, pie dishes, large lids, and even cooling racks. Many units are adjustable, allowing you to reconfigure the dividers in whatever manner is most efficient.

    These vertical dividers are often placed in the upper portion of tall cabinetry, such as an oven cabinet, pantry, or deep refrigerator upper. They can also be used in narrow base cabinets from 9 to 12 inches wide, where a drawer stack is not practical.

  • 04 of 05

    Spice Pull-Out

    Spice Pull Out
    Spice Pull Out with Tiered Shelves Nicolette Patton, CKD

    We all use some spices in our kitchens: salt, pepper, paprika, garlic seasoning, the list goes on. We accumulate spices almost every time we try a new recipe. But organizing spices in a wall cabinet can be tricky. When small spice bottles are stacked together on a shelf, it can be difficult to see what you have without removing the entire shelf.

    A great solution is a 12-inch-wide pullout cabinet fitted adjacent to your cooking surface. If you have many spices, you can even opt for two cabinets—one on each side for a more symmetrical look.

    Spice pullout cabinets with tiered shelves are the very best, allowing you to store the jars so you can view everything you have.

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    Corner Storage

    Blind Corner Cabinet Storage
    Blind Corner Storage - Magic Corner Nicolette Patton, CKD

    Not all kitchens have them, but when utilized correctly, corners can be one of the best storage areas of the kitchen. There are three popular solutions for corner storage:

    • Lazy Susan cabinet: Dedicated lazy Susan cabinets are corner units that angle 90 degrees on both sides, most typically found in 36-inch wide sizes. Both base cabinet and upper wall cabinet versions are available. Normally, they have two independent carousels, sometimes with a center supporting pole around which the carousels pivot (those without poles are somewhat better). Each carousel spins 360 degrees and can hold a surprisingly large number of kitchen items. These are considerably more efficient for storage than most blind corner cabinets.
    • Blind corner cabinet: These project out from one wall with a filler on the adjacent wall, and come in many different configurations. They are sometimes used because a lazy Susan won't work with the cabinet layout, or when the blind-corner look is preferred. Blind corner cabinets work best for storage if fitted with pull-out shelves.
    • Corner drawers: These are drawers with "L" shaped fronts that fit into corner cabinets, mounted on rollers that allow you to extract the drawer out into the room. Some companies, such as Blum and Hafele, make units that fully utilize the triangular back corner of the space. When extended fully, they can be up to 30 inches in depth. Corner drawers are your more expensive option, but they most definitely create a WOW factor.

The proper cabinet accessories and storage units can make all the difference between a kitchen that is simply attractive and one that functions with full efficiency. Unless you do your homework and specify your wishes, kitchen contractors and cabinet suppliers typically equip the cabinetry with the features that maximize their profits—which sometimes means they shortchange you on the most innovative features. Dovetail joinery, soft closing hardware, and full extension drawers are all great options for kitchen cabinets.

Don't leave these options up to your contractor or cabinet supplier to select. Be proactive, do your research, and make sure your money is well spent. There are hundreds of cabinet storage options available to you—provided you are well-informed enough to know the possibilities.

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