Unfortunately, while your kitchen may have originally achieved some or all of these objectives, it may no longer be living up to its full potential. If so, the problem could lie with the very foundation of the design, which may not be truly optimized for your lifestyle. Many kitchens that initially appear gorgeous are eventually a hassle to navigate and maintain. A common complaint? The drawers and cabinets aren't placed strategically, so you constantly have to pace the entire length of the kitchen. Maybe you have several cabinets, but they never seem to stay organized for long. Perhaps those vast expanses of counter space are cluttered with appliances when you need them clear for meal prep.
This doesn't have to be your reality. A strategic design can prevent these issues, no matter the size or scope of your kitchen. Our neighbors across the pond clearly demonstrate this. Visit an average home or apartment in Europe, and you'll be amazed by the function and flow that can be achieved in the smallest of spaces.
This is the ultimate proof that bigger isn't always better. Yes, many American kitchens have the advantage of increased square footage, but this means little if these spaces aren't properly organized. Without a nuanced strategy, kitchens risk becoming inefficient and disorganized, limiting the aesthetic benefits of a wide-open space.
Thankfully, viable solutions are within reach. Seemingly small changes can make a world of difference for your kitchen, transforming it into the convenient, welcoming space you've always desired.
Our experts at Plain & Fancy believe that kitchen organization is key — so we've compiled the best ideas to maximize kitchen cabinet storage and make your space easier to navigate. Along the way, you'll realize that a well-organized kitchen is also a beautiful kitchen, where trendy styles and classic designs can still come to life.
CREATING WORK ZONES
A simple, yet genius setup underscores the most functional kitchens: these spaces are divided into specific zones, where key tasks can be carried out with ease. Typically, these zones are built around major appliances or other important features that dictate the flow of the kitchen.
Workflows within traditional kitchens have long followed a tried and tested method known as the kitchen triangle, which emphasizes three main areas: the refrigerator, the stove, and the sink. As open concepts take over, however, it's more common to include four or even five work zones, such as:
- Consumables. Encompassing both perishable and non-perishable items, these essentials are stored within the fridge, along with a main pantry or larder.
- Non-consumables. This is where various forms of dishware are stored, such as cutlery, glassware, and dining utensils.
- Meal prep. This important zone includes all surfaces primarily used to prepare meals, as well as required tools and utensils.
- Cooking. While this zone is centered around the oven and stovetop for obvious reasons, it may also include the microwave and other small appliances used on a regular basis.
- Cleaning. In modern kitchens, sinks and dishwashers are both key parts of the cleaning zone, as is the under-sink area in which cleaning solutions and other tools are typically kept.
While small spaces may call for creative kitchen organization ideas, the basis of any design should be simple. A zone-based system forms a valuable blueprint that ensures you place all kitchen elements strategically.
The ultimate goal is to keep similar items near one another. This, in turn, will limit your need to travel about the kitchen and will also reduce the likelihood of accumulating clutter over time.
OPTIMIZING DRAWER DESIGN
When you think of the last few decades' biggest shifts in kitchen design, you probably picture an open concept, which has become practically ubiquitous as of late. This setup has certainly made its mark, but another, less obvious change has also proven transformative: the addition of more — and more varied — drawers.
In the 70s and 80s, it was rare for a kitchen (even a sizable one) to have more than four drawers. These were usually limited to utensils and other small items, with one or two even relegated to the all-encompassing category of "junk drawer."
These days, a wide variety of drawers can be incorporated in nearly any part of the kitchen, providing unique storage opportunities not only for small implements, but also, for pots, pans, and so much more.
Warming drawers are an exciting option for homeowners who love to entertain, while pullout and even toe-kick drawers bring new life to existing kitchen cabinet storage. Roll-outs take a similar approach, but are placed behind cabinet doors. These handy features prevent you from straining to reach items placed in the corners of your cabinets. They form the basis of the modern pantry and can even be converted into charging stations for tech-oriented households.
THE NEED FOR VERTICAL STORAGE
How much empty space occupies your current kitchen? Look beyond those cluttered counters and shift your gaze upwards. Chances are, you have lower and upper sets of cabinets but make little use of any areas placed significantly above eye level.
Yes, these spaces are more difficult to reach — but no, they need not be ignored altogether. Tall cabinets allow you to place awkwardly-shaped or rarely-used items out of view. They also provide a surprising benefit in smaller kitchens: large expanses of cabinets (especially in lighter colors) trick the eye into thinking you have a higher ceiling.
These days, it's possible to blend kitchen cabinet storage ideas to create maximum functionality. The perfect example? The Chef's Pantry from Hafele, which uses the tall cabinet concept to great effect — but that's only the beginning. The real genius of this innovative pantry lies in its baskets, which pull forward as soon as the doors open. Amazingly, these doors remain silent when closed, further contributing to a calm kitchen environment.
Another option? Add floating shelves along the fridge or in other underutilized spaces to instantaneously expand storage. This can be a great opportunity for putting beautiful items on display, thereby serving both a practical and aesthetic purpose. As always, the goal is to get as much off the counters as possible, as this expands your meal prep area and also makes your kitchen feel larger.
CLEVER CORNER SOLUTIONS
Kitchen corners are a top source of complaint, and with good reason: they are awkward to reach and difficult to accommodate. Unfortunately, the very solutions that promise to give us much-needed access are often just as annoying. The lazy Susan of yesteryear, for example, was supposed to handle all our organizing woes — but these were notoriously difficult to rotate and often made it even more difficult to access hard-to-reach items.
Updates to the lazy Susan may finally bring us to the holy grail of kitchen cabinet organization: corners that are fully utilized and no longer a pain to reach. Meanwhile, blind corner cabinets provide strategic solutions to meet your unique needs. These increasingly incorporate pull-outs or specially designed storage that make the most of this otherwise awkward space.
ADDING OFF-KITCHEN PANTRIES
We hold exceedingly high expectations for modern kitchens, but remember: these spaces don't have to do it all. Entertaining, meal prep, storage...it's a lot to ask of such a small space. Remember: if you're worried about storage standing in the way of functionality, you can always add an off-kitchen pantry.
This extra area makes it easier to store rarely-used items that would otherwise make your kitchen feel cluttered. This is where you can stow not only a vast collection of non-perishable items, but also, the many small appliances that you only use occasionally. If they're not part of your daily or weekly meal prep process, these are better relegated to a well-organized, easy-to-navigate pantry.
Walk-in pantries feel especially luxurious to the modern homeowner, who relishes in the idea of floor-to-ceiling storage space. As always, strategic organization will be essential, as your pantry otherwise risks becoming an off-kitchen mess.
PLAIN & FANCY IS YOUR KEY TO A BEAUTIFUL, ORGANIZED KITCHEN
At Plain & Fancy, we believe that the kitchen is the foundation of any welcoming home. When this space feels orderly, it's a lot more inviting. To that end, we offer a variety of kitchen storage cabinets and other strategic solutions designed to improve the flow and functionality of this essential space.
Ready to discover the kitchen of your dreams? You're welcome to see our work in action at our design center in Schaefferstown. Otherwise, feel free to get in touch — we'd love to discuss your vision of a gorgeous, perfectly-organized kitchen.
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