If a kitchen remodel is on your mind, you’re not alone. In fact, the National Kitchen and Bath Association says that Americans remodel over 10 million kitchens each year — that’s nearly 10% of all households!
And while it’s fun to select kitchen finishes and fixtures, it’s crucial to consider function first in a kitchen design — especially when it comes to making the most of your kitchen storage.
Today, our interior designer, Steph Morris, weighs in on some of her favorite smart storage ideas for every kitchen. Whether you’re looking to renovate your kitchen in the near future, or need tips to improve your storage right now, Steph’s sharing ideas to maximize space and efficiency in any kitchen.
To make the most of your kitchen storage, divide and conquer
We often think we need more storage. But often, what we really need is better storage.
Drawers and cabinets can quickly become a jumbled mess, feeling overcrowded and jam-packed. By dividing cabinets and drawers, each item has a specific place, and suddenly it doesn’t feel so overwhelming.
Cabinets and drawers today are so customizable. Options range from built-in spice racks and drawer dividers to pull-out cabinet shelves designed to maximize every inch of lower cabinetry.
Corner cabinets have come a long way, too. Lazy susans keep things closer at hand compared to fixed cabinet shelves. Even better? Pull out cabinet systems for blind corner cabinets that let you see everything at once.
For slim items like baking sheets and cutting boards, install cabinet dividers to store them vertically and keep everything at hand.
Keep everyday items handy
People think about typical kitchen items when planning their kitchen storage — silverware, cookware, food, etc. But what about other items you use each day in the kitchen?
“More and more homeowners are realizing they don’t have optimal storage for daily medications, supplements, or that big jug of protein powder,” Steph explains. “So they just get stashed in a nearby cabinet or left out on top of the fridge. But this isn’t what anyone wants when they imagine their dream kitchen.”
That’s why her team spends hours asking questions, touring client homes, and really listening and learning about their everyday lives and habits. Because you can have ample kitchen cabinetry — but if your storage isn’t actually tailored to you and the way you live, it’s not ideal.
So as you’re optimizing your kitchen storage, make sure you carve out space to keep daily medications at hand and have a cabinet that actually holds larger items. Better yet? Design a cabinet with room to keep your blender, protein powder, and travel cups all in one place to streamline your morning smoothie routine.
Take advantage of vertical space
It’s easy to think of boosting kitchen storage in terms of floorplan — adding a bigger island, expanding the pantry, or opening up a wall. But most older kitchens can see drastically-improved storage even without changing the footprint. That’s because older-style upper cabinets often meet a soffit, or have open space above. If this is the case, you’re wasting valuable real estate.
Bringing upper cabinets all the way to the ceiling adds multiple linear feet of kitchen storage — without changing the footprint or knocking down walls. This added storage space is great for bulk purchases you won’t need until later, seasonal serveware, or specialty appliances you only use sporadically (like a popcorn maker or holiday cookie cutters).
Maximize counter space with smart small appliance storage
Every home has an assortment of small appliances — blenders, toasters, coffee makers, stand mixers…the list goes on. Some store away in the pantry. But others need to be close at hand, either for daily use or because they’re too big and awkward to move back and forth.
For daily use items, consider an appliance garage to keep visual clutter at bay. Your toaster, blender, or coffee pot stay plugged in where you use them. But they live behind closed doors the remainder of the day for a more streamlined look.
For bulky appliances like stand mixers, a lower kitchen cabinet outfitted with a pop-up mixer stand could be a great storage upgrade. This stand allows you to keep your mixer nearby while freeing up valuable counter space day to day.
Just pull the shelf out and raise it to countertop height when you’re whipping up your famous chocolate chip cookies, then store it out of sight when you’re done. This stand can be used for other appliances like bread makers and blenders, too.
Pro tip: Install an outlet in the back of the lower cabinet so your appliances stay plugged in and ready to use.
Design smarter pantry storage
A pantry is invaluable for food storage — especially in the past year when families have shopped in bulk and eaten meals at home more than ever before. But a traditional 2-foot-deep pantry cabinet with fixed shelves is inefficient and typically only uses about half of the space well. (The back half is often empty or home to a host of forgotten and expired products.)
For better pantry storage, upgrade to pull-out drawers and shelves. Then, take it one step further and use baskets to keep similar items together. This helps you recognize when you’re running low on your favorite chips and keeps kid-friendly snack items within reach.
Ensure you have enough fresh food storage
Not all food storage is created equal. As more and more homeowners prioritize eating fresh foods and plenty of produce, Steph says their kitchen storage needs to reflect that: “If you’re focused on eating mostly fresh foods, you’ll likely need less pantry storage and more fridge space.”
Appliances aren’t one-size-fits-all, so Steph recommends her clients visit local showrooms and chat with the pros to find the perfect models for their lifestyle and design preferences.
Tailor your kitchen storage to the way you live day-to-day
It sounds obvious, but in a world filled with Instagram saves and Pinterest boards, it’s easy to focus on the aesthetics of a kitchen renovation. But in a room as hard-working as a kitchen, it’s critical to consider the way each element functions, especially when it comes to storage.