By Meg Escott
There are lots of kitchen storage solutions available so here I discuss lots of different kitchen cabinet inserts and other kitchen storage ideas - what works and what doesn't and things to watch out for. I hope you find something that will work in your kitchen.
This page supplements step 5 of the how to design a kitchen process, all as part of the kitchen design layout series.
The kitchen storage ideas page is also worth a look - it deals with storage ideas that aren't part and parcel of the kitchen cabinets.
Kitchen storage starts with making a list of all the things you plan to store in the kitchen. At the bottom of this page I've done a kitchen storage list for you as a start.
Kitchen storage solutions for all of your kitchen stuff
So all this stuff needs to fit somewhere and that's what kitchen storage solutions are all about.
If you’re following the how to design a kitchen process you’ll have decided on what kitchen cabinets you’re getting, now it’s time to decide what’s going to go in those cabinets and what kitchen storage ideas are best in each cabinet.
I've kept the pictures in black and white so that the focus remains on the functionality rather than the look of things.
Let’s go through some of the kitchen storage solutions that are available and discuss them a bit (I’ve tried to be as thorough as possible). Not every idea will be available with every manufacturer and some of them (stuff that just fits in a cupboard or drawer, or that is screwed onto the inside of a door) you can buy from anywhere to add to your kitchen storage.
I take a look at...
Let's start with the basic kitchen cupboard
First we’ll deal with cupboard doors. Some of these points apply to base cabinets and some to wall cabinets.
The first decision is whether your cupboards will have one door or two. For cupboards up to 24 inches (61cm) you can have one door (which side will the hinges go on?) For 24 inch cupboards you could also decide to have 2 doors. For cupboards bigger than 21 inches you’re going to need 2 doors. Remember if you have two doors this means that you’ll need a central post. So it limits the size of what you can get in and out of the cupboard easily.
Other options for cupboard doors
As well as the basic hinged door here's a few other options on offer.
With doors that open upwards, make sure you’ve got enough ceiling clearance. If the doors can’t open fully the top of the cupboards will be inaccessible.
Make sure you try this type of kitchen cabinet door before you buy them. Are you tall enough to close the cupboard once it's opened? Is the way the cupboard door opens and closes to your satisfaction? The door on the left has hydraulics so opens and closes smoothly and easily. The door on the right is spring loaded (and cheaper) but it's harder to open, and can spring shut with a bang when you're closing it.
Garage doors are ideal when you have a wall cupboard that comes down onto the counter space. It means that the door can be opened without having to clear the surface in front of it first.
Glass doors in kitchen cabinets are great for display. You can show off your best stuff without it getting dusty and internal lighting can be used to add to your kitchen lighting options. If you're thinking of going down this route, remember that the shelves themselves will be seen through the glass (less so if you go for glass shelves) so factor this in when you're choosing the design.
No I'm not talking about some new edgy design. I just want to take the time to point out that the cupboards at the end of a run need not always be the normal square ones. A curved corner cupboard or a 'diagonal' corner cupboard might add something special to the design.
Cupboard doors shouldn’t be overlooked for their storage possibilities.
One of the keys to storage is that you will use what you can see. Things at the back of deep cupboards will rarely see the light of day. Think of how handy the door to the refrigerator is. Why not use cupboard doors to the same effect?
If you're installing one of these yourself, make sure the screws are small enough so that they won't come through the front of the cabinets. I learnt this the 'nearly had tears in my eyes' way.
So now let’s deal with what’s inside the cupboards. There's nothing worse than kitchen storage solutions that can't be adapted and made efficient to suit you.
If it’s shelves, make sure the heights are adjustable. And I don’t mean 3 different height levels for each shelf. There should be lots of height positions available so that you can add more shelves if you like, or have one really shallow shelf and one deep shelf.
<---- Shelves not adjustable enough.
That's more like it!! ---->
Baskets - kitchen shelf storage essentials
If you have lots of kitchen cabinets with shelves (going with just shelves and not fancy inserts is a great way to save money) and not enough drawers, try using baskets to keep stuff together. It effectively turns a cupboard into a drawer and I prefer drawers. It’s just so much easier to get at everything, and it's no drama to take everything out for a bit of spring cleaning when the time comes.
You can use baskets in base cabinets or wall cabinets.
Here I use a basket in a 24inch (61cm) inch depth wall cabinet that's at head height.
Small baskets are handy in normal wall units for keeping groceries together. Here I've got nuts and seeds on the bottom and baking supplies above.
Again it's really easy to just reach up and bring the whole basket down.
Many manufacturers are providing new options for storage behind cupboard doors.
Wire pull outs
Wire pull outs are usually available in full height, maybe 3/4 height and base cabinet height.
The full height pull outs are a great idea in theory but in the past I’ve had three problems with them.
Drawers within cupboards
If you like the functionality of drawers but prefer the look of cupboards you can get drawers inside the cupboards. The one snag of these is that it’s a big job to adjust the height of the drawers (or at least it is with the ones I’ve had). So make sure you know what’s going to go in them and plan the drawer heights accordingly.
The drawers that come with this arrangement tend to be shallow so you’ll need a basket (or some other container) if you want to keep loose things together in the drawer.
Corner cupboard storage is easier to get at by far if there’s a carousel or pull out. Options differ depending on whether the cupboard is an L shape around the corner configuration or a long unit going back into the corner.
Try these out before you buy to see which you prefer - ask if they are detachable so that you can clean the inside of the cupboard occasionally.
In my experience I've found the solid bottom options better because nothing falls through the wires and obstructs the layer underneath.
This is a big, big cupboard that hold lots of your groceries. The main reason I like it is that it’s one place to put lots of stuff away when you bring groceries home and it’s one spot to get everything from when you’re preparing a meal (apart from the refrigerator). The best place for it is often right next to the refrigerator as it's full height and together the refrigerator and larder make up the main food storage space.
There's a few things to consider for a kitchen pantry if you're thinking about a walk in cupboard in your kitchen.
I’m a big fan of drawers – small ones and big ones. Big deep ones are great for plates, bowls, pots, pans. Small shallow ones aren’t just for cutlery – they’re perfect for foil and cling film and tea towels and extra utensils.
Kitchen drawer dividers
To store items like plates and bowls effectively in drawers then drawer dividers makes life much easier. The space can be divided into mini compartments, or items kept in place with pegs.
Lots of manufacturers are doing double drawers, like a drawer within a drawer. It looks clean from the front but for me this means extra steps to open and close the drawers to get at things either in the top or bottom segment of the drawer. Some manufacturers have a catch which allows you to choose if the top or bottom drawer is presented when the drawer is opened from the front.
Don't get trapped into buying drawer accessories that don’t offer flexibility. These utensils (I've seen drawers like this for cutlery and knives as well) look great today but what about when some other utensil comes along and can't be part of the gang?
With wall mounted attachments the backsplash can become another useful storage space. If you’re short on space this can be a godsend. Knives can go on a wall mounted magnetic strip. Utensils can be gathered into a wall mounted container.
Trays or chopping boards can be kept in place behind a bar, herbs and spices can go in magnetic tins and be stuck up on a magnetic piece of wall or the refrigerator. Even coffee capsules can be stored on the wall.
There are some downsides though...
Before you start your hunt for kitchen storage solutions, make a list of what you need to store.
I've made this list for you as a start. You may have more or less stuff.
Some of the items you may decide to store out of the kitchen in another space in the end. Like putting vases in the utility room and the cleaning supplies under the stairs.
If any of your items are particularly tall or wide measure them up so that you can find kitchen storage ideas that will work for those items.
Herbs & spices
Condiments (oils and vinegars, ketchup etc)
Baking goods (flour, sugar, choc chips etc)
Tinned and bottled goods
Bagged goods (pasta, rice)
Tea and coffee
Bottled water and other drinks
Foil, bin bags, cling film
Sauce Pans and frying pans Cullender
Baking Trays and tins
Tea towels (in use and storing)
Apron / oven gloves
Plates and bowls
Cups and mugs
Platters and large bowls
Salt & Pepper
Hand held blender / mixer
Electric can opener
And the rest!
Vase of flowers / plant display
Kitchen safety – fire extinguisher and fire blanket
The drawer that holds everything
Food (non refrigerator)