I'm working away on my kitchen. Base cabinets are made and I have
some options on making drawers, shelves or pullouts. Last cabinets were
all drawers and pullouts, but I found they were largely crap catchers.
I'm thinking now, jut two drawers, one for cutlery and the other for
tools. Perhaps a third for commonly used dishes, so I can just pull it
out and put them away after washing and drying them (all just to the
right of the sink). Dishes would be upright. Pots and pans commonly used
would be hung over the stove, as before.
But, I'm no kitchen designer, or for that matter cook. What is usefull?
I chose to build all of our base cabinets with drawers. The only
exceptions are the shelf under our corner sink (where we keep our garbage
can), and a single shelved cabinet that fits in a blind corner next to
the dishwasher (where we keep our pots, pans, and small appliances)
We find the drawers allow much better access than shelves. As long as
everything has a place, they don't collect any more junk than shelves do.
Our drawers are progressively deeper from top to bottom. If I'm
remembering correctly, it's 5", then 8", then 12" on the bottom.
Obviously, everyone has their own organization, but here's how we have
ours laid out to give an idea of what our drawers are used for:
Bank 1 (between dishwasher and sink):
1: Hot pads and measuring cups
2: Foils, plastic wraps, garbage bags, etc.
3: Dish towels
Bank 2 (between sink and stove):
1: Odd utensils, pastry cutters, thermometers, potato mashers, etc.
2: Seldom used spices, large containers for refilling spice jars, etc.
3: Lids for pans
Bank 3 (other side of stove):
2: Mixing bowls and baking dishes
3: Large baking dishes
Bank 4 (near the refrigerator):
1: "Snacks" (cookies, popcorn, etc.)
2: Rubbermaid plastic containers
3: Potatoes and Onions
Bank 5 (near the refrigerator):
1: Pasta, rice, beans
2: Teas, coffees, bread
3: Sugar, Flour, Salt
We keep dishes, glasses, and that sort of thing in overhead cabinets with
shelves. Shelves work fine here since the cabinets are up higher and not
as deep for things to get buried.
We also keep cereals and canned goods in an overhead cabinet next to the
refrigerator, and have a full height shelved pantry next to the
refrigerator for stocking extra supplies. Finally, we have an extra large
cabinet above the refrigerator for keeping big items we don't use much
like cake pans and whatnot.
My vote is for drawers! :)
I just checked my original cabinet plans. The drawer "openings" are 5",
8", and 11". We have been very happy with the three drawer sizes, as the
larger (i.e. heavier) stuff can go in the bottom drawers, while the
smaller stuff we access more can go in the upper drawers.
It's really handy to have the garbage bags near the garbage can, dish
towels near the sink, and the various wraps at hand when cooking.
I originally planned our pantry to hold extra food supplies (canned
goods, cereal boxes, etc.). While we do use one of the shelves for that,
most of the shelves have ended up being cluttered with craft supplies,
paper plates/cups, and a few odds and ends we rarely use. :)
This is our one drawer that is still fairly disorganized. I keep meaning
to build a rack of some type to fit in the drawer to hold the lids more
conveniently. Right now they all just lay flat, with a few overlapping.
Not a big deal, but it would be nicer if they were all separated for
Yep, we have an assortment of ceramic and metal mixing bowls. These are
SO much easier to get to in a drawer than when we had shelves in our old
Yep, shelves work well in the overhead cabinets and usually don't get
cluttered. Our one exception is the cabinet we keep coffee mugs in. That
one is a disaster. :)
We keep our cookie sheets, pizza pan, and muffin tins in the drawer under
the stove (upside down so they don't collect dust). We use those
frequently and they're just easier to access in the drawer.
My wife enjoy's cake decorating as a hobby, so she keeps all her pans and
supplies in the large cabinet above the refrigerator. It is honestly
kind of mess, a bunch of large odd sized pans, her "toolbox", and various
containers and decorating tools. It's not the easiest access (we have a
small step ladder), and wouldn't be very convenient for something you use
often. But for items that are only used occasionally and take up a lot of
space, it works well.
When I designed the cabinets for our kitchen, I compiled a list of
everything we owned, and tried to plan out where everything would go
before I even started drawing up plans. Try to think about what you use
often, and put those closest to the areas you use them (i.e. dish towels
near the sink, pans near the stove, etc.). We have a fairly small
kitchen (9'x12') so nothing is really that far away, but planning it out
makes a big difference.
Also, consider how you use things when you plan their locations. For
example, many folks put their silverware next to the dishwasher because
it's close. But we put ours near the dishes, between the stove and
refrigerator so they're more convenient when fixing a bowl of cereal,
grabbing a fork for a frozen dinner out of the freezer, or whatever.
I was just looking at my initial plans for our kitchen, and surprisingly
we still have things organized really close to that even five years
later. We've relocated a few things, but not many.
Be sure to make your shelves adjustable wherever you use them. In most
cases, you'll never move them once you have them filled with things. But,
I have moved a couple of shelves since we moved in to accomodate larger
boxes and added an additional shelf for two levels of shorter canned
goods. It's a small thing, but it's great to have the flexibility when
you need it.
They are good when they are only about as wide as the stuff that will sit on
them *AND* when you have full and easy access to them. Wide shelves are a
PITA because what you want always seems to be in the back. By "full access"
I mean shelves that are no lower than your knees nor higher than your eyes.
They are good for storing a variety of things of varying sizes *IF* they are
partitioned. Preferably by moveable partitions; the partitions won't get
moved much but they allow someone to set up the drawer initially.
I think of horizontal pullout shelves, behind doors, as drawers too. I find
them handy for storing dishes, pots and pans, etc. One that is very handy
is one that is rather high top to bottom and divided into narrow vertical
spaces; it is good for storing cookie sheets, cake pans and the like.
I sometimes find them handy but generally for specialized things. Our
kitchen has three (four counting the wastebasket).
One of them is behind doors; the pullout has a crosspiece maybe 6" back and
that front compartment has shelves used to store things like flour and
sugar; the area back of the crosspiece is divided front to back, each side
has shelves used for storing infrequently used baking pans.
The other two have the front attached to the sides. One of them has three
trays with open bottoms made of 1/4" dowels; those trays will slide out to
the side when the pullout itself is out; the trays are used for fruit and
vegetables. The other pullout stores dog and cat food. It is large enough
for about a 5 gallon bucket of dog food.
I think you are very light on drawers. Especially if you consider
horizontal pullout shelves as drawers too. In our kitchen we have 13
drawers and 28 horizontal pullout shelves. Everyone is useful, everyone is
used. The only unmoveable shelves are those in the upper cabinets and in
the walk-in pantry.
The easiest way I know is to cut "V" grooves in the sides or the back and
another piece to insert behind the drawer front. A 3/16" dado blade tilted
to 45 degrees will make a nice "V" groove which will accept a 1/4" partition
that has had the ends cut in a matching "V".
We've never had a need for partitions in any of our drawers, in fact, they
would just get in the way for most of the items we store.
The one exception are the silverware drawers, where we used inexpensive
interlocking compartments available at any department store. You can take
them out and clean them when needed, reorganize of desired, or replace them
entirely if you want a different style.
Of course, we do use large rubbermaid containers for our flours, sugars,
beans, coconut, and other items.
There are a few reasons I don't like pullout shelves behind drawers:
1. Accessing the shelf is a multi-step operation. You have to open the
door, then pull out the drawer. Sounds minor, but when you have to do it
repetitively or need to get something when your hands are full, it's not
real convenient. Especially if your shelf is behind double doors.
2. Depending on the layout of the kitchen, the door could make it difficult
to access the pullout shelf. For instance, if I have the door under our
kitchen sink open for access to the garbage can, I can still pull out the
upper drawers in neighboring cabinets without closing the door. With the
drawer-behind-a-door approach, I would have to close the garbage door
first, open the drawer door, pull out the shelf, get my item, put the shelf
back in, close the drawer door, then open my garbage can door back up.
3. Pull out shelves usually end up dinging the back sides of the door.
Either you don't open the door wide enough and the shelf bangs into it when
you pull it out, or you bump the door while the shelf is out.
4. You lose a small amount of space between the back of the door and the
front of the shelf. It's probably only an inch, but in a small kitchen
every square inch counts.
These are nice if you have a narrow cabinet, or lots of pans to store. Just
be sure the dividers are removable for cleaning or to accomodate different
On the other hand, this would waste a lot of space if you have a wide
cabinet, or it you're trying to accomodate a "full sheet" cake pan
These are great if they fit in your overall kitchen layout, though you do
lose the flexibility of a drawer not dedicated to one item.
I had hoped to implement the pullout wastebasket idea in my kitchen design,
but our sink is in a custom corner cabinet and that would have just wasted
too much space on either side.
Ironically, those are the two areas I would want adjustable shelves the
MOST. You never know what you're going to store in the pantry, and being
able to move the shelves around lets you accomodate just about anything. On
the other hand, if you have a walk-in pantry, you probably have enough
storage space it doesn't matter. It's more critical in smaller kitchens
The only fixed shelf I have in our entire kitchen is in the cabinet with
the blind corner. It would be difficult to adjust a shelf that extends
back two feet next to the dishwasher. That hard to access area works fine
for storing our large roasting pan (which typically only gets used around
Thanksgiving), and small appliances we don't use much (like the ice cream
Been there many times and I'll stop later today. The wall cabs are
very interesting but I can't quite figure out the base setups. I don't
see stuff I was thinking about and sometimes I don't understand what is
Or, the reverse! My screw feet came from IKEA. I thought about
getting the euro hinges there too. Remember when you could build stuff
out of Sears parts stores?
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