Kitchen Storage Planning: Fitting Everything In
Choosing kitchen cabinets can be quite a project. Aside from choosing the style and color and wood species and the style of knobs and fitting the most cabinets into your kitchen layout; there is still another important detail, one that is often overlooked - practical storage. By practical storage we mean, will your stuff fit in the cabinets you choose? Sure, the shelves may be adjustable. You move the shelves up or down so that the big boxes of cereal will fit; but will things fit efficiently?
Storage planning means taking into consideration the plates, glasses, pots, pans, baking dishes, cookie sheets, spice bottles, boxes of cereal, bags of potatoes, all the things of assorted shapes you use and finding a place they will fit, be easily accessible and waste the minimum of precious space.
Cabinet manufacturers offer all sorts of clever features that seem like a great idea, but they don't all work out as well as expected. For example, one manufacturer offers a very nice looking roll-out spice rack. However, there are two big flaws with the rack. First, it will not accommodate anything other than small spices bottle; slightly larger containers and bulk spice packages have to be stored elsewhere. Second, it is impossible to distinguish what is in each spice bottle because the side rail of the shelf block the view of the label and the contents. Each bottle has to be taken out to be looked at to see its label or contents. Some features look great but don't really work out.
Another storage feature offered by many cabinet manufacturers is wine bottle storage, or wine racks. This seems at first like a good way to display and store wine while keeping it accessible. However, wine is sensitive to heat and temperature fluctuations. The kitchen temperature frequently varies and is frequently warm; it is not a good place to store wine. A second problem is that kitchen storage is usually at a premium, and wine racks are not a good use of the precious space.
Keep in mind the size and shape of your kitchen cookware, supplies, pots, pans, serving ware as well as the food you will store also. Pizza pans, baking and cookie sheets are ungainly for storage; consider using a small 12" lower cabinet, with no shelf for storing items like these on their edges.
Pots and pans can be difficult to store, especially with their long handles. Consider double-wide pull out shelves for storing this cookware. Pull out shelves have a huge advantage over fixed shelves. Everything at the back of the shelf, that was inaccessible with a fixed shelf, is now easy to reach. No more pulling out everything in front to reach something hidden in back. Plus, you don't have to get onto your hands and knees to reach to far back. Pull-out shelves make everything easy to reach from above.
Higher shelves in upper cabinets can represent a lot of wasted space because they may be more or less inaccessible. Even if you plan to use a step stool, using the upper shelves is inconvenient. Upper shelves often are used for storing items that are infrequently used, such as special holiday centerpieces and spare flower vases. To improve the usability of upper shelves, consider choosing cabinets with special pull down shelves that allow you to pull them down to eye level with the use of a handle and special heavy duty hinges.
Food storage in individual cabinets is much less efficient than on a longer continuous shelf, like those in a pantry. Because of the assorted sizes and shapes of packaging, it is rarely possible to to store groceries efficiently. However, pantry shelves, like shelves at the grocery store are more flexible and efficient. If possible plan for a pantry in your kitchen, or even nearby outside of the kitchen as a better storage solution to keeping groceries in a series of small kitchen cabinets.
If you have a coat closet near your kitchen, consider converting it to a pantry for food storage. While coat storage may be a requirement, usually there is more flexibility for storing clothing than thee is for storing food. Convert any space possible near the kitchen into pantry space. Doing so will take some of the burden off of kitchen storage freeing it up and making your kitchen all the more enjoyable.
Glass door cabinets are a great way to display special items. Some people enjoy the look of all cabinet doors with glass, making all dishes and groceries visible. However, unless you have so much space that you won't have to pack the cabinets tightly, you might want to avoid all cabinets with glass doors. The organization and neatness required to keep the look you are going for may be more than you are willing or able to keep up long term.
Every kitchen needs easy access to a trash can. Placing a trash on the floor interferes with traffic and may be unsightly. A better choice for waste (and recycling) are pull out receptacles. A special cabinet pull out, or a standard cabinet with a slide out waste bin is a good option. Place the waste can near where it will be need most, near where dirty dishes will be scraped off and and food prep debris will be created.
A fairly common option is a false front tilt out drawer in front of the sink. This little tilt out is a great place to store sponges, gloves, scrub brushes and other cleaning items that will be regularly needed at the sink.