10 Pro Tips to Maximise Your Kitchen Storage
Storage is the key to a well-functioning kitchen that’s a joy to work in. Try these expert ideas to optimise your space
No one knows this better than kitchen designers, so we asked three for their best and most useful storage design tips, from plinth steps and hidden drainers to upsizing the fridge.
Professional advice from: Odile Kipling of SoKipling; Mark Byers of Oliver Green Kitchens; Simon Lennox of Adornas Kitchens & Interiors
Even if you have a dishwasher, there will usually be some things that get washed by hand. In addition, depending on how good your machine’s drying function is, certain items may need a quick air dry to finish them off. The result is that the worktop area around the sink can easily get messy.
Mark Byers has the perfect solution. “An over-sink draining cupboard declutters the worktop area around the sink,” he says. “It’s a solution that comes as a standard option with some kitchens and we’ve also adapted the idea and can incorporate it in the conventional kitchens we design.” In case you’re wondering, the cupboards are made with water-resilient or waterproof materials.
In the example pictured, the cupboard is transparent, but if you don’t even want to see the dishes drying, you could opt for a solid door front.
“Larders are the optimum way to store ambient foods, such as tins, jars and bottles, as they keep everything in one organised space,” Simon Lennox says.
Of course, not all of us have the luxury of being able to incorporate a huge larder, but even a small one can be a real bonus. “A well-organised larder cupboard will add a lot of storage space to a kitchen without necessarily taking up [too much] room, as they can be made to any shape and size,” Odile Kipling says.
She has some advice on how to get the best out of your pantry. “Do an inventory of what you want to store in the larder and measure the tallest, widest, smallest and heaviest items to make sure everything has a place and is easily accessible,” she says.
“Pull-out shelves or shallow drawers are ideal at the lower levels,” Odile continues, “especially if the cupboard is deep, so you don’t have to kneel down and reach for the items at the back.”
She suggests that pull-outs above the worktop in a larder, where you may not be able to see inside them, are less practical, though. Instead, she advises shallower shelves in this position and adding a rack on the back of the door “for condiments, spices or – if you have enough cupboard depth – larger items such as pasta packets”.
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“Internal drawers are very common now, but it still surprises me how often a client is impressed by finding a drawer within a drawer,” Mark says.
“This solution works really well for designs where clean lines are required,” he says. “Full slab doors when opened reveal a set of internal drawers. And we all know that drawers are more practical for storage than cupboards.” Talking of which…
“Base unit drawers [are] another way to optimise your storage,” Simon says. “Drawers are so versatile, and are almost always soft-close these days. They’ll take a lot of weight – up to 70kg with some brands – so you can store everything from potatoes to entire dinner sets in them.”
Both Odile and Simon also point out how drawers – and other pull-out storage – can help to reduce food waste, as you can easily see what you have. “Drawers are fully telescopic – everything in the back of the cupboard comes right out to the front, so you can have a bird’s eye view of the contents,” Simon says. “This minimises duplication and food waste.”
Mark is a fan of adding a recycling centre to a kitchen – usually a cupboard with pull-out units containing different bins. “We typically position one under a sink,” he says.
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“In smaller kitchens, where worktops are also used to store the microwave and other bulky items, extra pull-out worktops can add a valuable food preparation surface when needed,” Odile says.
Both Odile and Mark point out the value of the plinth area – that space at the bottom of your cupboards generally filled by a decorative strip to disguise the units’ feet.
Rather than just blocking this off, Odile suggests fitting plinth drawers under some units. In one of the kitchen brands Mark supplies, the plinth drawer doubles up as a step to help you to reach tall shelves or for children to stand on to assist with food prep.
Another area ripe for exploitation in the name of storage is the gap between a tall fridge and the wall. “If made to measure,” Odile says, “it could store as much as a 600mm base cupboard and wall unit put together – and it’ll be much more user-friendly.”
In this example, a skinny pull-out forms the outer edge of a storage ‘cube’, with an integrated fridge-freezer on the right (you can see more in the next photo).
“A bespoke kitchen designer will know what’s possible and what isn’t,” she says, “and will often find several solutions to problems you didn’t know could be solved.”
More: Classic Kitchen Design Mistakes – and How to Avoid Them
“Storage units on wheels, which can be pulled out when access is required, can be made to look as if they’re part of the fitted kitchen and also double up as island units or serving tables when needed,” Odile says.
“They add a valuable amount of storage space, as they can have drawers and pull-out shelves, and include an extra pull-out worktop, like all the other units, but with the advantage of being movable,” she says.
“Never underestimate the amount of fridge and freezer space you might need,” Simon says. “One of the most important storage areas in a kitchen is the fridge, yet most people settle for a 70/30 fridge-freezer. This amount of fridge space is generally never enough for more than two people in a household. A full-height fridge will cope with fluctuations in shopping, such as at Christmas, but also hold beer, wine and so on all year round, as well as ‘the big shop’.
“If the Covid-19 lockdowns taught us anything, it’s that there’s still a demand to freeze,” he continues. “A full-height freezer enables homeowners to store batch cooking, but also to be very organised – you can even label the contents of your drawers with whiteboard markers.”
Which of these ideas would you add to your own kitchen? Share your thoughts in the Comments.