How To Choose Cabinet Features
Cabinets have so many add-on features from which to choose, the decision can be daunting. Some features are available only on more expensive cabinets, but most are available as an upgrade to whatever cabinets you choose. We'll explain here many of the most common features and their benefits.
Drawer slides are the mechanical system by which drawers open and close. The most basic drawer slide is to just allow the drawer to slide on the wood of the cabinet or on plastic guides to reduce friction. Next up from there are slides that mount to the bottom right and left edges of the drawer box. They have a roller which fits into a track mounted to the cabinet. Improvements upon this include full extension drawer slides which allow the drawer to open all the way, giving better access to the back of the drawer. Another upgrade are self-closing slides which return the drawer to a fully closed position when you give it a shove. Hidden drawer slides mount under the drawer box making them invisible. Finally, are slides which are rated for heavier loads or which provide ultra-smooth gliding action when opened and closed.
Lazy susan turntables are circular platforms that mount inside cabinets and can be spun to bring items from the back of the cabinet to the front. They are most commonly used in corner cabinets. Corner cabinets are too deep to easily reach the back. A large lazy susan enables you to efficiently store and retrieve items in these large cabinets.
Self closing doors and drawers are sometimes standard now or may be an upgrade. These use hinges and drawer slides that have a positive lock to snap them the last bit of the way closed. A nice way to keep the kitchen looking neat.
Appliance garages typically bring the upper cabinet all the way down to the countertop and create a nook for storing appliances. They are called garages because of the roll-up doors which resemble a garage door. This handy feature enables you to keep small appliances convenient to where they will be used while avoiding the visual clutter. Corner cabinets are a good place for this option because the space is often wasted and provides a fair amount of storage space.
European style hinges are a cabinet door hinge that mounts entirely inside the cabinet, hidden from view. This hinge is a popular choice for modern style cabinets and particularly important when clean lines are the goal. These hinges are popular with manufacturers and so may be standard on their cabinets.
Silverware organizers can be built right into the drawer. The advantage is that they typically take up the entire drawer. With an added organizer, there is often wasted space around the organizer. However, we don't like the lack flexibility with built-ins. Furthermore, they get a regular pounding from silverware being dropped in and removed. We prefer being able to swap in a new organizer every few years.
Pull out spice cabinets and drawers. These can be placed in upper or lower cabinets and some manufacturers offer drawers hidden in the stove surround. These can be nice because they are built for the scale that spices come in, unless you buy bulk products. Bulk packaged spices do not fit, but you can transfer them to smaller containers for daily use. While these seem like a good idea, they lack flexibility and some of the space may prove to be less than easy to access. It is best to see a real example of what you will be getting make sure all the space will really be usable for you in your kitchen. Remember, there are plenty of after-market organizers that can be added later.
Pull out shelves found in bottom cabinets may be the single best improvement in cabinet technology in the last 50 years. Open a base cabinet door and pull the shelf all the way out to select what you need. Before these handy shelves, you might have to get on your hands and knees to reach to the far back to get that fancy platter you hardly ever use. Now you can save strain and get that platter out for dinners other than special occasions.
Drawer pegs are showing up more often in cabinets in the United States. The bottom of the drawer has a grid of holes into which you can place heavy-duty pegs. These pegs allow you to create niches for dishes or pans and helps to keep things from moving around. This is particularly useful with dishes stored in lower drawers or pull-out shelves.
Plate shelves are an open section in the cabinetry with wooden dowels spaced to create niches for individual plates. This is an efficient way to store plates and protect them from damage. It puts the plates on display, but only from the edge view. This is more a style preference than a practical feature. If you like the look, go for it.
Wine racks are available for upper or lower cabinets. They replace a single cabinet with diagonal supports to create a grid to store bottles on their sides. These are often suggested for upper cabinets, however the problem is that heat rises and storing wine in a hot kitchen, up where the heat is, really isn't a good idea. A better location is to store them in a lower cabinet, such as in a island or other lesser used cabinet space. Kitchen cabinet space is usually at a premium and so giving up an entire cabinet to store wine may not be the best use of space. Wine refrigerators are also very popular and may be a better choice than storing wine in a rack.