“Determine what you use all the time and what you want to use but is currently too hard to take out,” says Miyashita, who owns Sozo Studio in San Francisco. “Also, cluster similar items so you don’t have to walk all over the place.” Your coffee maker, grinder and mugs might nestle together, and your rolling pins and parchment paper should be close neighbors. Occasionally used items, like turkey pans and oversize soup tureens, can be placed farther afield.
Also consider the heft of items. While it’s fine to keep glassware in upper cabinets, it will be gentler on your back to pick up heavier dishware at waist level. Miyashita often installs full-height cabinets with folding doors. “They take up airspace not otherwise utilized and free up the counters,” she says.
Keep your back in mind, as well as utility, and forgo shelves in lower cabinets. “I love drawers,” Miyashita says. “Drawers roll out to you and voilà, everything is right there.” She especially likes them for pots and pans, and even tucks smaller drawers inside bigger ones to store smaller or thinner items like lids and baking sheets. Extra-deep and -wide drawers provide expanded interior space for larger things like blenders and mixers.
Miyashita also points out that drawers reduce vertical lines, creating a more streamlined look, as do floating cabinets and organized open shelving. Concealed drawer runners look sleek even when the drawers are open — select ones that run smoothly and close silently no matter the load. Banks of drawers work well in islands, holding knives, cutting boards and food processors to make fast work of meal prep.
Storage can look stunning and be smart at the same time. Start with handleless touch-latch cabinets and drawers. “They add to a much cleaner look and make things easier to dust,” Miyashita says. New cabinet hinges can close cabinets silently with a touch, so there will be no more slamming cabinet doors or having half-open ones to bump into.
Include other options that shorten your reach and relax your muscles. Pull-down racks in upper cabinets get rid of the need for step stools. Miyashita also recommends narrow pullout shelves for spices, and cabinets with sliding doors that cover one side, as seen here. “Then you can organize one side to look nice, with stacks of white bowls or wineglasses, and keep the other half closed,” she says.
Install a shelf above your oven for salt and pepper or other often used spices. Tuck a cabinet in an unused corner or below a stairwell, if the area is close to the kitchen. “I really like to use the backsplash under cabinets. You can stash olive oil, knives and spices,” says Miyashita, who puts sliding doors in front of the backsplash. “It’s space that’s hiding in plain sight.”
She also recommends installing panels to the ceiling in front of integrated fridges, then putting a cabinet in that sneaky high space. “Some clients hide things from kids there,” she says with a laugh. Another idea? “Little drawers in toe kicks, where you can store things like cookie trays and sheets,” Miyashita says. She advises making sure your floor is level before trying this.
Then, when your kitchen has finally realized your organizational dreams, use these same ideas elsewhere in your home. “Closets, bathrooms — it’s all about the same idea,” Miyashita says. “Divide up the space to fit what you have and what you use all the time. Then you’ll have all the things you like most within easy reach.”
More: For more cabinet solutions, visit Hettich’s website.
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