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Portland Design Build Remodeling Blog

Remodeling Your Kitchen for Maximum Storage

Posted by Lane Cooper on Mar 9, 2020 8:08:48 AM

In certain areas of the house, who doesn’t want more storage? The kitchen is a major gathering point in the homes, so you may need a lot of variety in storage options here. As you get ready to remodel your kitchen, plan to maximize every inch, limited only by your budget and your square footage. Take a look at these options.

Think First

With your designer, mentally (or physically) place yourself in each working area of your kitchen and imagine what tools you would want close at hand. This will help you decide your storage needs for each area. Especially if you don’t have unlimited space, determine which items don’t absolutely have to be in the kitchen, and plan for their storage elsewhere, such as in a walk-in pantry or in cabinets near the kitchen. This could include a wine fridge, appliances such as fryers or noodle makers that you don’t use every day, and longer-term food and paper-product storage.

Identify Problems

A kitchen remodel needs to do two things. First, it has to make food preparation and eating easier. Second, it must solve the problems you encounter right now. Make a list of your top five problems in the kitchen. It might be a struggle to find ingredients that are spread out across the kitchen, or simply a lack of space to manage clutter. Determining what you don't like about your existing kitchen helps you figure out how you should change it.

Dream Specific

A lot of homeowners start with a kitchen that they don't use as much as they would like because it isn't set up for the way they want to use it. When you start to dream up a plan for your kitchen remodel, make sure that every choice you make optimizes the kitchen for your use, not the way you imagine a kitchen should be. Do you want pull-out shelves instead of drawers? You can have it. Need to balance storage with a large countertop workspace? Your preferences should come first. Remember to consider the needs of everyone who will use the kitchen, even the kids.

Commandeer the Space

Although many people decide to work within the space already devoted to the kitchen, this isn't always a necessity. With the right builder, you can re-imagine the spaces surrounding the kitchen, too. Is there a little-used room adjacent to your kitchen that you could commandeer? Lots of older homes have a small, formal dining room next to the kitchen that only gathers dust. Think about knocking down the wall to give your open-plan kitchen some elbow room. Or convert the room into a pantry or butler’s pantry.

Roomy or Creative

If you have the acreage for it, building a walk-in pantry for your remodeled kitchen has its advantages—most notably, sheer space. Even so, you should devise storage strategies to get the most out of that room. When you imagine getting items in and out of the pantry, how does it look to you? You might love the separate space that you can use to organize food, appliances and other goods. This is an ideal choice if you have the extra room and would rather reserve the kitchen's square footage for food prep.

If you prefer to keep your supplies close at hand, or if you don’t have the space for a separate pantry, you've got lots of options. There are endless cabinetry products and pantry-like cabinets that help you store your supplies and tools in creative ways. You can have custom or semi-custom pantries that match your kitchen cabinetry, with features like soft close drawers and pull-out shelves. 

Deep Drawers

Cabinets have been the standard in kitchen storage for decades, but they aren't always the most efficient. Deep drawers have been around for a while, but cooks still love them because they make better use of the space below the counter. Rather than having to get down on your hands and knees to reach pots and pans down there, you can pull out a deep drawer and see everything stored in it.

These drawers come with many features to make the storage even easier, such as dividers to keep items separate and pegs between which you can stack different sized plates and bowls. Keep in mind that drawers don't have to be huge to be functional. In most cases, you'll need drawers with a variety of depths. Consider large ones to hold big but relatively lightweight items like mixing bowls. Shallow ones are better for cooking tools like spatulas.

The Ceiling's the Limit

Many designers are taking cabinets all the way to the ceiling to make use of that vertical space. Obviously, you would put only infrequently used items in the highest sections, although some kitchens even have library-type ladders to help the cook reach the upper-uppers. Another trend going around is the elimination of upper cabinets, or the use of open shelving, to give a kitchen a more open feel. You can have both ceiling-height cabinets and open space by designating one or two walls for a bank of tall cabinets and reserving other walls for open space or open shelves.

Stashing the Little Guys

How many small appliances do you want to permanently leave out on your kitchen counters? Think about the toaster, mixer, blender, dough maker, waffle maker, coffee maker. Probably not many, if you want a clean look in your kitchen—or countertops that are easy to clean. A few ideas for stashing those tools:

  • Appliance garage in the corner, below the upper cabinets
  • Cabinet built just for the purpose of holding several of those appliances, set a bit away from the main work flow in the kitchen
  • Pull-out shelf for the mixer, concealable behind a garage-hinged door
  • Dedicated cabinet space for the coffeemaker and its supplies, away from where the serious kitchen work is done, so that someone who wants another cup won’t get in the way of the cook

Space for Transitions

You might want to keep the kitchen exclusively for cooking and eating, but that isn't the way it works for every household. Many floor plans position the kitchen right next to the entrance from the front door or garage. This means that the kitchen is where family members drop stuff once they walk in the door, and the last place they look for it before they leave. If you don't have a mudroom or other transitional room between the kitchen and the door, making room in the kitchen helps you fight clutter. Leave a small amount of wall space for hooks and shelving. This gives you a perfect place to hang up jackets and school backpacks, as well as room for mail and your keys.

Other Options

  • Building an island or peninsula into your plan increases your storage space.
  • Research the tricky pull-out and tilt-out drawers and shelves that can hold spice racks, knife racks, and trash and recycling receptacles. There are toe-kick drawers—opened with your foot—that can hold linens, a stepstool, wine bottles, or even dog dishes.
  • Under-sink cabinets are easier to access if you build in storage drawers there.
  • You can tuck away your microwave in an open space below the countertop, with or without a door, or you can stash it in your walk-in pantry.
  • Put risers inside cabinets to make use of vertical space.
  • Don’t forget the inside of cabinet drawers for built-in racks to hold pan lids, spice bottles, and measuring spoons.

Topics: Home Remodeling, Kitchen Remodeling, Remodeling Ideas, Remodeling Tips, Home Additions, Planning a Remodel, Kitchen Design