In a world where spaces are increasingly being upgraded with amenities rather than square footage, storage becomes a critical issue. No matter what room of the house is being remodeled, paramount is smart, accessible storage – and plenty of it. Nowhere is this more important than in the kitchen and bath, where the imperative tools for living are stored.
“First and foremost, all storage needs to be as ergonomic and easy to use as possible, or it will not ever reach its optimum utility no matter what interior system is installed,” says Roberta Kravette, director of New York, NY-based Nieuw Amsterdam Kitchens.
“It’s all about getting creative with the nooks and crannies of these spaces,” agrees designer Michelle Cooney of Littleton, MA-based Homestead Kitchens. “Making use of every inch and making it as functional as possible is always the focus.”
“Organizing has become big business,” says Joan Eisenberg, CMKBD, ASID, of Baltimore, MD-based JME Consulting. “With clients asking for more, larger commercial-style appliances, the space for storage has decreased considerably. The need for smart interiors has become an imperative.”
“It’s always about making the most of tight spaces where certain elements have to be worked around in existing homes, and creating functional, logical work flows in new construction,” agrees Denise Laridaen, owner of Mauston, WI-based Cabinet Creations.
“We’re encountering a more savvy clientele who are educated on the options available to them,” notes Martha Kerr, CMKBD of Portland, OR-based Neil Kelly Co. “Couple that with the open plan designs that are so popular right now and suddenly designing the perfect solution becomes more complex.”
Eisenberg advises to start planning storage right at the beginning of the design process.
“I’ve always told my clients to work their budget to be able to purchase the price point of cabinetry that will provide them the ability to fully fit in the interiors with pull-out shelves, deep drawers, swing-out or pull-out mechanisms for pantries, cutlery partitions, safe knife storage, etc.,” she says.
Once the budget is established, however, the shape of existing space and what can and cannot be moved during remodeling is the paramount concern.
“We are Manhattan-based, as are 75% of our homeowners, so our biggest challenge is always lack of space and site conditions. Many of our buildings are pre-war and have pipes, columns, return air ducts, etc. that cannot be moved. The spaces are, by nature, smaller,” says Kravette.
She adds that, in conditions where altering the footprint is hindered by immovable elements, the interior fittings in cabinetry, and the choice of that cabinetry takes on a new importance.
“We are absolutely seeing a rise in the specification of interior fittings as a direct result of these conditions,” she says. “Simple things like trash receptacles many times need to fit under a 24" or 27" sink base and still clear the pipes!
We use the fabulous U-shaped drawer that fits around the pipes in Heritage Custom Cabinetry’s Zona Cucina line whenever we can.
“We sometimes use roll-out trays in the bottom of sink bases, and 6" wide pull-out chrome baskets by Häfele that hug the left or right wall of a door/drawer base and are great for cleaning products,” says Kravette.
The situation is similar 1,000 miles away in Wisconsin.
“Roll-outs, pull-outs and trays are fairly standard now,” says Laridaen. “It’s convincing an older demographic that drawers are the way to go that is a challenge – it’s a different concept for them. Many seem to opt for a tray pull-out in a standard cabinet instead of a drawer.”
Bringing cabinets to the ceiling is another space-capturing option. Designers note that storing seldom-used items in these spaces is gaining popularity.
“We typically maximize the height of wall cabinets by going to within 1-1/2" of the ceiling and then scribing the remaining space. We make use of all the different types of flip-up door hinges, again depending on the site conditions.