Over the last two years, most of us have spent more time in our homes than ever before. As a result, we’ve begun to place more value in the safety, security, comfort and functionality of our spaces. This shift in values and use encourages us to make our homes a place we truly love, one that functions perfectly for our unique needs and preferences while simultaneously providing us with a safe “escape” from the outside world.
But whether due to simple timing or limitations brought on by the hardships of recent years, we understand that many readers can’t afford the time and budget required to take on a kitchen renovation project at this time. Which is why what had started as a conversation with Cabinet Designer Jessica Webber of Webber Coleman Woodworks on her favorite custom cabinet features quickly shifted into a blended conversation on both custom projects and simple optimizations that anyone can do to get more out of existing cabinet space.
So without further ado, here are 15 ways to make the most of kitchen cabinet space!
Let’s start with the basics: a low-cost optimization that a surprising number of readers know about, yet don’t have. Adding dividers for sheet pans, cutting boards, cooling racks and other baking dishes will allow you to stow items upright instead of stacked on top of one another, making for better organization and easier access to frequented kitchen supplies. Include built-in dividers in your custom cabinet designs or add inexpensive cabinet dividers like these to existing cabinets.
Corner cabinets are notorious for being the most frustrating, awkward space in the kitchen. Which is why Jessica says, “if you can avoid them - do!” But for those readers already stuck with a challenging corner space, consider adding a lazy susan or similar device that will allow you to more easily access items inside the shelf space, rather than climbing into the far recesses in search of long-lost, forgotten or unreachable goods.
Especially for those already short on drawer space, adding pull out trays like these (which can be easily added to existing base cabinets) can be a game changer. “Any time you can pull something out in front of you instead of having to dig to the back of a cabinet, is a win in my book! Pull-out trays make organization and accessibility for people of all ages so much easier”, says Jessica.
Everyone wants a neat and tidy space, but what do you do with all of the small appliances that you use on the daily? Add retractable doors over an area of the countertop that allows you to cover appliances when not in use, while still keeping them nearby, plugged in and at-the-ready.
If designing custom cabinets as part of a build or renovation, you might also want to consider a powered pull-out appliance garage. This feature similarly allows you to neatly stow appliances out of sight while keeping them plugged in and at-the-ready, while giving you the added convenience of pulling appliances away from the countertop for flawlessly functional operation.
We agree with Jessica who says simply, “I love drawers.” Drawers allow you easy access to some of the most needed kitchen supplies, and can be a more convenient storage space for things like containers, paper plates and other items you might otherwise be digging into the depths of your cabinet or pantry to retrieve. Never skimp on drawers when undergoing a kitchen design or remodel, and keep reading for some tips on how to make the most out of available drawer space.
As Jessica points out, “large islands are great, but they can often lead to a lot of wasted space.” Maximize your kitchen storage by adding cabinets to the end of the island or underneath the bar stool overhang for additional, accessible kitchen storage space.
We, as a world, are more concerned with things being sanitary more than ever. Removing as many items from your countertop as possible allows you to keep those items – and your counter surface – more sanitary. And the biggest culprit of countertop clutter in this day and age: chargeable devices.
“Let’s be practical about where you actually charge devices and build in a space just for that”, says Jessica.
The good news is that Docking Drawer Blade Series in-drawer outlets are just as simple to retrofit into existing cabinet drawers as they are to install into custom cabinet projects. A few basic power tools and the detailed instructions that come inside every package are all you need to eliminate cord and device clutter from your countertops and create a more purposeful, sanitary and functional kitchen countertop space.
“Many people think deep pantry cabinets are great for the storage possibilities, but I actually find clients tend to lose more items in deeper cabinets,” says Jessica. Eliminate the frustration and keep from collecting unseen clutter by going with a more shallow cabinet design that allows you to easily see and reach everything inside.
When building new cabinets, you often have the opportunity to incorporate a built-in space for paper towels, allowing you to get one more thing off of the countertop. We can speak from experience in saying that this is one seemingly minor feature that brings us joy each and every day!
Silverware dividers, knife blocks and dish pegs can be easily added into existing drawer space. Consider splurging a little and get custom built-in dividers, which Jessica suggests can often offer “a much better experience than the individual plastic ones that like to slide around in a drawer”.
Trash cans often end up taking over valuable pantry or kitchen floor space, and who wants garbage to be the focal point of the room (no matter how pretty the can!)? Convert an existing base cabinet into a dedicated trash pull-out by retrofitting solutions like this to get your trash off the floor.
Plastic turntables are an inexpensive way to enhance the functionality of cabinets - and even refrigerators! Jessica uses these in her own kitchen to store spices, as well as different flavors of yogurt in the refrigerator. “Just give the turntable a whirl to see everything, rather than having to move things out of the way to see what’s in the back of the cabinet, or even worse, only using what's in the front row”, says Jessica.
Open shelves can be beautiful in theory, but in reality are more likely to become a catch-all clutter zone. Could such a space function better by adding solid doors over the shelves? The answer is often yes, in which case you’re in luck: adding doors can be a fairly simple and inexpensive way (depending on your setup) to optimize shelf space in your existing kitchen.
Something nearly all of us have at our disposal is the ability to adjust the height of existing cabinet shelves. So why do so many of us struggle with finding appropriately sized items to fit into our shelves, rather than adjusting the shelf to fit the desired contents? Jessica admits that “even I forget about this in my own house! Meanwhile, my mom has her drinking glasses shelves adjusted so she only has about ½” between the top of the glass and the next shelf. She is maximizing every inch!” If you have fixed shelves, consider adjusting or even adding an additional shelf that might allow you to maximize your space, as well.
“This is one of my favorite hacks!”, says Jessica. “I don’t like clutter on my refrigerator, but there are still little things that are handy to keep visible. I attached 12” squares of corkboard to the backside of some of my upper cabinet doors, where I can tack all of my invitations, pictures, recipes, and anything else I might want easy access to reference, while keeping my refrigerator neat and clutter-free.”