The hardest- working room in your home often presents the most storage challenges, but also the most storage opportunities.
We are all familiar with the flip-down drawer below the kitchen sink for sponges and scrubbers, or appliance garages, but here I offer about a dozen additional options you may not have considered. Each can be incorporated into your existing kitchen, a remodel or new construction. Some are definitely DIY-appropriate, while you might prefer to hire a contractor for others. As with most home improvements, a comprehensive – rather than piecemeal – plan conceived in conjunction with someone with some degree of expertise is the smartest approach.
When we think about storage, there are both concealed and visible options. Homeowners have to decide how much of the latter they can tolerate and then try to build in as much of the former as possible to manage the rest.
Concealed storage Of the concealed variety, drawers, cabinets and pantries are the workhorses of most kitchens, with open shelving gaining popularity today. Most homeowners have long stored stacks of plates in upper cabinets, but folks are realizing that heavy plates are more easily lifted up than lifted down. This is where large lower drawers come into play. Consider inserting a movable peg system into a deep drawer to securely accommodate stacks of plates with varying diameters.
Similarly practical are deep drawers for pots with integrated rollouts in the upper portion to hold lids or flatter items, like trivets or even potholders. Another deep-drawer system for pots includes a partition at the back to hold the lids.
Lazy Susans are often installed in corners to make use of that deep under-counter space, but you might consider corner drawers instead. Though the shape of these drawers results in a pair of triangular-shaped compartments in the front, small items like spice jars fit there nicely. And these drawers’ narrow width and extra depth is generally welcome.
In regard to virtually all drawers and cabinets, one word comes to mind: retractable. Retractable shelves, baskets and the like dramatically increase the functionality of these spaces. For upper cabinets, consider pull-downs so that items in the back are easily reachable.
We don’t typically think about seating in relation to storage, but seating does take up valuable real estate in a kitchen eating area, like a bar or island. Why not consider vintage-style swivel stools that tuck out of sight when not in use but easily rotate into place as needed?
A simple solution is to store some items in an adjacent area like a breakfast room, dining room or even living space. But what about the stairs? While most people who live in two-story homes have already made use of their under-stair storage space, usually in the form of a closet, many people have not considered converting the bottom few stairs to drawers. Someone with building expertise should take on this task, as the strength and stability of the stairs must not be compromised. It would be so handy to store flatter items like trays, cutting boards, baking sheets or place mats in these stair drawers, since, in many homes, they are located near the kitchen and dining room.
Visible storage One of the sleekest visible storage solutions is a kitchen rail system. Generally stainless steel, this type of system may not be appropriate for all styles of kitchens, but it places within easy reach frequently used tools and other items. This frees up drawer, cabinet and counter space . Depending on the system, which is typically installed beneath upper cabinets or floating shelving, homeowners can choose between a highly functional and handsome range of components to mix and match with their rails and brackets: mini-shelves, cylindrical utensil holders, rectangular compartments, herb pots and much more.
For those who don’t mind a somewhat fuller look, shelves above windows or doorways can create a great deal of storage space for both decorative and functional items.
If cabinet space is limited, but floor space is less so, an attractive lidded or unlidded basket might be the ideal place to stand up cutting and bread boards. Keep in mind that if you have a pet who sheds, fur may collect in or around the basket.
If pantry space is also limited, consider decanting your herbs and spices into small magnetic canisters and adhering them to the side of your fridge, assuming one side is open and conveniently located to your stove or food preparation area.
And speaking of counters, one of our favorite uncommon solutions is a countertop with an integrated bowl or seamless depression in the surface of the counter meant to prevent eggs and other round fruits and vegetables from rolling off the counter.
Another is a cutting board with a hole positioned over a receptacle so that trimmings can easily be swept into the waste bin, and conveniently removed.
Hopefully, some of these ideas may solve some of your stickiest storage issues.
If you have a question about building, remodeling or storage solutions – or have a storage solution you would like to share – please send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chris Ettel is founding partner of VB Homes. He serves on the Tidewater Builders Association board of directors, served as past chairman of the TBA Remodelers Council and is a longtime board member of the Virginia Beach Public Schools Education Foundation. For more information, go to www.vbhomesliving.com.