When you’re planning your kitchen, don’t stop at the exterior design. It’s helpful to sketch out exactly what you’ll be storing in each cabinet. It’s a tedious mental exercise that you’ll be tempted to put off until after installation, but that would be a mistake. Planning the interior organization will help you anticipate your family’s needs and design a kitchen that fits the way you really live. Here are some things that I changed my mind about that would have been expensive mistakes to correct.
As I peruse kitchen forums, I often see so-called “pros” knock IKEA cabinets, despite articles like this in the New York Times, where seasoned kitchen designers and sellers admit that IKEA cabinet boxes combined with custom doors and end panels will get you the design you want with all the bells and whistles for half the cost. Those “bells and whistles” they’re talking about are the interior organizers, and it’s one area of kitchen planning where costs add up quickly. In a custom kitchen, interior organizers can represent half the total cost of a new kitchen, excluding appliances. This is exactly where IKEA shines, and I’m giving myself free rein to take advantage of organizers that will make our life easier.
Despite how pretty it looks, I’m not planning to put my spices in matching jars or to buy a bunch of flip-top containers to decant my flours and other baking goods. I’m not a fan of unnecessary decanting. (To understand why, my decant rant.) My rule of thumb is to not create organizational systems that require more maintenance than you’d have without them.
The Drawer-Within-a-Drawer Is Definitely In
I intend to make full use of IKEA’s ingenious hidden drawer-within-a-drawer that Sektion is so famous for — and that will change everything. I’ll also spring for the pull-out garbage and recyclables stations and some of the cutlery trays, mats, and tool organizers.
Spice Pull-Outs Are Out
The first thing I changed my mind about is having spice pullouts on either side of my cooktop base. I had been planning for an 18″ pullout on either side.
But after going through this exercise, planning for cabinet interior organizers, I realized these spice pullouts are just not practical for the way we live and cook.
While the top shelf of a spice pull-out would be great for small spice jars, what would I store on the bottom shelves of the pullouts? Bottles of olive oil and vinegar, perhaps, but we don’t use enough of them to warrant two 18″ drawers. Plus, can you imagine bending all the way over to try and read labels while you’re cooking? While pretty, they’re just not practical for me. Spice pull-outs are out in my kitchen, and I’m happy to have learned this before it was too late.
Deep Drawers Are In
The decision not to have spice pull-outs means the base cabinets on either side of the cooktop can be large and roomy. They’re all the same 36″ size now, which adds harmony to my design. Now base and wall cabinets are all the same width and present a unified front. My number-one storage splurge is base cabinets with drawers instead of doors.
The deep bottom drawers can hold a lot of weight. The hidden smaller drawers will provide exactly the storage I need for cutlery and cooking utensils.
Under the Range Storage Diagram
Deep bottom drawers will be very convenient for storing small appliances. Three 36-inch drawers might seem like a lot, but when you consider appliances like the Instant Pot, air fryer, and toaster oven — they take up a lot of space. Having them easily accessible without back strain = priceless.
Above the Range Storage Diagram
Above the cooktop, I’ll store the plates, cups, and glasses that we use every day, as well as cooking tools we’re constantly reaching for, like colanders and strainers. Higher up but still within reach I’ll put storage containers and wine glasses. The top spot will get the things I rarely use, like party glasses, flower vases, and large storage containers like cake plates and carriers.
Tall Pantry Storage Diagram
At first I considered placing matching pantries on either side of the refrigerator. The symmetry appealed to me. But as I went through my kitchen making a list of all the random things that will need a home, I realized that I could use a broom closet. Not just for brooms, because we only have one of those, but for tall things like the step ladder, ironing board, and vacuum cleaner. These things are scattered about in random closets, taking up space we could use for something else. And the step ladder never did find a good home in our current set up. So I decided to change the inside organization of the pantry on the right to one that has lots of tall empty space, and a handy cleaning pull-out.
Island Base Cabinets Storage Diagram
When I got down to mapping out my island storage, I made an exciting discovery. I have very little need for another 24-inch cabinet, which I had placed in my design. If my contractor is okay ending the island with an appliance, I’m considering extra freezer drawers.
Extra Freezer Storage Is In
The refrigerator I’ve sourced is a true counter-depth, so it’s a bit smaller than our current side-by-side, and I think we’ll feel it most in loss of freezer space. I do a lot of batch-cooking on the weekends, including a big batch of bone broth soups that I freeze in single serving mason jars and take to work with me throughout the week. Each batch makes about 10 pints and they take up a lot of space in the freezer. Extra freezers will mean I could start purchasing grassfed meats in bulk from nearby farms on the Northfork, something I’ve been dreaming about for a while. An under-the-counter freezer would support the healthy way we want to cook—and live! And I would never have considered this, had I not mapped out where everything will go in the new kitchen.