In today’s more budget-conscious kitchens, space is increasingly at a premium. And that means designing effective storage is more critical than ever.
While even the most talented designer can’t magically create extra square footage, designers are getting increasingly creative in rethinking standard storage philosophies to find more effective solutions for avoiding clutter in the kitchen.
Laura L. Orfield-Skrivseth, co-owner, partner, designer and project manager with Minnetonka, MN-based Orfield Design and Construction, explains: “We’re seeing a lack of sufficient square footage in smaller kitchens, so we will use hooks on walls or ceilings, as well as shelves above windows, deep uppers above refrigerators and drawers and spice racks.”
Cheryl Hamilton-Gray, CKD of Hamilton-Gray Design in Carlsbad, CA, adds: “As more customers prefer minimizing wall cabinet storage, items typically housed in wall cabinetry need to be accommodated elsewhere. This requires fitting base cabinetry with accessories to create storage such as with drawer pegs to house dishes and plates, cubbies to store glasses upside down and pull-outs for spice and bottle storage.”
Amy L. Hinck, kitchen and bath designer and project manager, also with Orfield Design and Construction, adds: “We’re seeing built-in breakfast areas [that] provide storage for kids’ art supplies, tablecloths, pet food or little used holiday dishes.”
Orfield-Skrivseth says that other storage solutions she’s done include pull out toe-kick drawers for hidden pet dish storage, a step stool inside a toe-kick and rolling carts that serve as mini-islands.
Step by Step
To achieve maximum storage, designers need to be well versed in the client’s – and space’s – needs.
“We’ll ask clients to show us pictures or magazine clippings of anything they want to include in particular – then we can attempt to design that into the space,” says Orfield-Skrivseth.
Hamilton-Gray agrees: “The first thing is to inventory their storage requirements in the existing kitchen and review what is falling short. Designers should consider family growth intentions as well as ergonomics of storage for main family members involved in food preparation and clean up.”
Tiare Noelani Cowan, CKD, Allied ASID and president of Kailua, HI-based Archipelago Hawaii adds: “We have an in-depth questionnaire that we give each client and it goes over every storage need they have and their preferences for storage space for each upper cabinet, lower cabinet, pantry, drawer and appliance garage.”
These steps are very important, adds Matt Hegemier, designer with Bay Area Kitchens in Webster, TX, because often designers will encounter problems with corners and small spaces.
“With corners, people are limited to what their cabinet line offers. However, I’ve seen a number of different solutions for [when there’s an extra] 3", 6" or 9" of space, such as using pull-out units to offer extra [accessibility]” he says.
Noelani Cowan agrees: “Corners are always tricky, but today there are many great solutions. For instance, if you don’t have 12" on either side of your corner for a Lazy Susan, you can use a ‘blind corner’ that snakes out and allows for use of the dead space in the corner.”
In a recent project, Hegemier made use of some formerly wasted space by incorporating a 9" frameless unit that holds utensils, a steel knife sharpener and large knives, with storage below for large items.
He concludes: “In my experience, there are three things every kitchen needs: vertical cookie sheet dividers (located above the ovens, refrigerator or built-in microwave), pot dividers (used in large drawers to store Teflon pots and pans) and cutlery dividers for silverware.”