For many people, kitchen organization is a little like listening to opera — either you really like it, or you really don’t. However, even those of us who do not enjoy thinking about where to put our plastic storage bowls understand how a solid organizational plan can make our lives a little easier.
If you are working within your existing kitchen, there is no shortage of ideas on the internet to help you find storage solutions that range from inexpensive dollar-store hacks to pricier, custom cabinet inserts. If you are a homeowner embarking on a new kitchen remodel, you have the ability to learn from your current organizing dilemmas and start fresh.
There are a few organizational philosophies and tricks to employ that can help save time and money either way.
Assess Your Current Organization
Begin with an honest assessment of how you use your kitchen. Are you inspired by the latest cooking trends? Does every baking show on television seem to be issuing you a challenge to try new recipes and techniques? Or are you more interested in the latest time-saving kitchen gadgets and a good place to store the take-out menus? Take a look at how you use your space and note any inadequacies so that you can incorporate this feedback into your new design.
Once you have your dream kitchen planning underway, begin to think of your kitchen in zones. Dishes, glassware, and cutlery should be as close to the sink and dishwasher as possible to facilitate putting items away. Baking supplies should be in close proximity to whatever counter space you use for recipe creation, keeping in mind the location of baking-related appliances and power supplies.
Cooking utensils and tools are more convenient if they are close to the stove-top area. And for those who want more than a simple cup of coffee in the morning, an espresso bar can be a little bit of heaven in the kitchen.
When designing new kitchen spaces and considering your organization, do an assessment of the items that you currently have on hand. If you are packing up a kitchen in preparation for a remodel, use this time to purge those little used, single-use tools. (Do you really need a banana slicer?)
Once your collection has been pared down to your favorite, versatile and often-used items, consider taking a picture of them in groupings according to purpose and sharing that with your kitchen designer. This helps represent the size of your collection and let them know about any odd- or large-sized items that may need special consideration.
Layout Where You Will Install
Go beyond your current storage solutions by making a wish list of kitchen areas that you wish you had. If you need to have a place for those pre-workout snacks at the ready, consider a drawer or two near the kitchen exit.
If you hate sacrificing cabinet space for canned goods, think about narrow drawers behind your kick plate for storage of durable but small items. If you have tableware that you love, consider changing to open shelving so your adored items are always visible.
Knowing what you need early on is also helpful when choosing your cabinetry. For this discussion, let’s consider four types of cabinets — off-the-shelf (pre-measured) cabinets versus custom cabinetry, which are both available in either traditional construction or frameless cabinets.
Pre-measured cabinets will come in a number of stock sizes that are popularly used in many homes. The problem is that you are bound by the limitations of these stock sizes. You might need to use filler panels or have a shorter cabinet run than you would like to make stock sizes fit your space more precisely.
Custom cabinetry can not only be manufactured to fill every inch of your space, but you can also build specialty cabinets that can go around obstacles like chimneys or ductwork so that you don’t have to sacrifice these potential storage areas.
Traditional cabinet construction is done with a front face on the cabinet box, which is where the doors are mounted. For wider traditional cabinets, there is often a center stile to give them extra strength and stability. Frameless cabinets forego the front face and allow the doors to be mounted directly to the inside of each cabinet. They also do not use a center stile since there would be no place to mount double doors on a wider cabinet.
Many people don’t consider these issues when designing for storage. While traditional cabinet construction may be preferable for areas with extra heavy cookware or tableware collections, a frameless cabinet can provide storage that is easier to access and allows for larger items to be stored and retrieved with greater ease. Frameless cabinets are also easier to access as open storage because there is no cabinet front.
Get High Quality Cabinets You Will Love
Don’t forget to work with a custom cabinetry designer, like Authentic Custom Cabinetry to make the most of each cabinet’s interior. This will ensure that every inch of your cabinets can be used to make storage solutions that work for you.
With the right spring-loaded insert, you’ll no longer have to lift your heavy mixer out of a bottom cabinet every time you use it. Small, narrow spaces can give your spices a home near the stove. If you have platters, baking racks, or other large items, work with adjustable dividers that can adjust and grow as your kitchen items change.
Finally, if at all possible, leave a little unused space for future additions to your kitchen tools and dishware. If you only plan for everything you currently have, you could force some tough choices down the road when adding items.
A good rule of thumb is to try for 20-25% unused space in your new kitchen cabinets, and use adjustable separations: shelving, drawer pegs, or cutlery dividers whenever possible. This will give you versatile storage options that will lengthen the practicality of your kitchen cabinets.