How can I make my lower kitchen cabinets more functional? Experts provide their top tips

6 cabinet storage hacks to customize your cabinets for your kitchen needs, making life easier

Kitchen header
(Image credit: Future PLC / St Charles New York / Studio Jake Arnold)

In most households, kitchen cabinets are rifled through, unpacked, and reorganized on a daily basis for the sake of trying to find items, which is why convenience and accessibility are key when it comes to your kitchen cabinets.

It is often those lower kitchen cabinets that are hardest to find what you need in, and if you're like me, you'll start most meal preps on your knees frustratedly trying to spot what you need from them, wishing for a better way.

Well, our experts have recommended plenty of ways to make your kitchen cabinets more functional, so you can locate whatever you need without hassle.

How to make your lower kitchen cabinets more functional

Making your kitchen cabinets more functional involves considering what your kitchen needs are, which products you want to find kitchen storage solutions for to make them easier to store, and which solutions will make life easier when using them so you can organize your kitchen cabinets to make them more functional.

1. Opt for drawers

modern kitchen with cabinetry and countertops

(Image credit: Future PLC)

The first way to make your lower cabinets more accessible is by converting them into drawers. You can alter as many or as few lower cabinets into drawers as you see the need for.

'Drawers, especially in lower cabinets, offer greater accessibility,' advises Nicholas Kaiko, founder of Kaiko Design Interiors. 'A combination of shallow drawers for utensils and deeper ones for pots and pans can make organization a breeze.

'Choose quality hinges and sliders, this investment upfront will pay off over the years.'

Cyble Rizwan, at Persimmon Design agrees, ‘These make it easier to access items at the back without rummaging through everything in front. They come in various designs and can be customized to fit your cabinet dimensions.’

This can make taking out and reorganizing heavier items more convenient and means you will have a clearer overview of what you have stored in them. 

If you're wondering if it's better to have doors or drawers in your kitchen, first assess which items will be easier to access in drawers versus cabinets.

2. Implement pull-out shelves

Dark charcoal kitchen cabinets in a luxury kitchen

(Image credit: St Charles New York)

If you prefer to stick to having cabinet doors over drawers, the next best thing is installing pull-out shelves in your cabinet.

Ben Gold, Founder of Recommended Home Buyers says, 'Installing pull-out shelves and drawers is a game-changer. These additions provide easy access to items at the back of the cabinet, eliminating the need to bend or rummage. They also enhance organization by offering clear visibility of stored items.'

Another pro is that you can customize the cabinet's interior to fit your items.

‘Using adjustable shelving can cater to the varying heights of your items', advises Adam Crookes, food blogger and owner of Donut Maker. 'This means you can custom-fit the space to snugly store tall pots, small appliances, or stacks of dishes, reducing wasted vertical space and ensuring every bit of the cabinet serves a purpose.’ 

These can not only be customized to the dimension of your cabinet, but also what they are used for. You can add boxes or bins to your pull-out shelves to organize smaller items, or for spice storage, consider a pull-out spice rack.

3. Integrate a lazy suzan or corner pull-out

Wood kitchen cabinet ideas

(Image credit: Studio Jake Arnold)

‘Corner cabinets, often referred to as blind corners, can be notorious for wasted space. A lazy susan can be installed to make the most out of this tricky area, rotating items from the hidden depths of the cabinet to the front for easy access,' explains Adam Crookes.

'Use lazy susans or turntables, as they are great for storing items that are hard to reach, such as spices, oils, condiments, or baking supplies,' explains Jacky Chou, owner of Laurel & Wolf. 'You can place them in the corners of your lower cabinets or on any shelf that has enough space. They will help you rotate and find what you need without wasting time or energy.'

'Another innovative solution is the magic corner or blind corner pull-out,' recommends Adam Crookes, 'which brings a tucked-away section of the cabinet out into the open, making use of every inch.’

Principal and Director at Archute
Jacky Chou
Principal and Director at Archute
Jacky Chou

Jacky Chou is the Principal and Director at Archute, an editorial magazine about architecture, home and garden. They have been referenced by The New York Times, Bustle, House & Home, Bloomberg, and Angi. Jacky also his own an online interior design company as well called Laurel & Wolf.

4. Invest in dividers and organizers

Kitchen cabinet ideas

(Image credit: Future / Polly Wreford)

Especially if your cabinets are large, installing dividers and organizers where necessary is essential to keeping them organized, making finding and soring items easier.

Cyble Rizwan suggests, 'Utilize vertical dividers inside larger cabinets for storing baking trays, cutting boards, or serving platters upright. This prevents stacking and makes it simple to grab what you need.'

Tiered Organizers, such as these Bamboo Kitchen Shelf Organizers from Amazon, can be used to create multiple levels within the cabinets, ensuring better visibility and access to items, especially in deeper cabinets.

'Instead of stacking cutting boards, baking trays, or trays horizontally, integrate vertical dividers. This not only maximizes space but also makes grabbing what you need more efficient,' says Adam Crookes.

5. Install under-cabinet lighting

Two-tone kitchen with green and white cabinetry

(Image credit: Tom Howley)

'You may not realize it, but adding some lights to your lower cabinets can make a huge difference in the look and feel of your kitchen,' says  Jacky Chou. 'You can install LED strips or puck lights under the cabinets to illuminate the countertops and create a cozy ambiance. You can also add glass doors or open shelves to your lower cabinets and showcase your favorite dishes or cookbooks with some accent lighting.'

Cyble Rizwan agrees, 'Adding under-cabinet lighting not only enhances functionality but also elevates the aesthetic of your kitchen, making it easier to see and access items. Install under-cabinet lighting to illuminate the interior of your cabinets, making it easier to see what's inside, especially in dark corners.'

6. Find tailored solutions

kitchen with white and exposed wood cabinets

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Finding tailored solutions for your cabinets according to you and your family's particular needs will significantly increase their functionality.

'The true essence of design lies in personalization based on your lifestyle,' says Nicholas Kaiko. 'For instance, families with children may need child-friendly storage solutions or easily accessible drawers. Those who entertain frequently might appreciate a dedicated section for specialty dishware or serving platters. By understanding present needs and anticipating future ones, we craft spaces that evolve with us.'

You can create storage solutions for the most frequently used items. For example, you can install a slide-out cutting board directly above a lower cabinet, or have a vertical open shelf for convenient storage.

Rich Mullins adds, 'Suppose you're passionate about baking. In that case, you'll be best served with design cabinets featuring pull-out trays and built-in dividers for your baking sheets and pans. Conversely, for those with an extensive collection of large pots and pans, adjustable shelving can adapt to various sizes.

'Tailoring the cabinet setup to your lifestyle ensures that every inch of space is utilized efficiently.'


How to arrange my kitchen cabinets?

To arrange your kitchen cabinets, Jacky Chou, owner of Lauren & Wolf suggests, 'You want to group similar items together and store them in easy-to-access containers or baskets. For example, you can keep your pots and pans in a pull-out drawer with dividers, your baking supplies in a clear plastic bin, and your spices in a lazy susan. This way, you can see everything at a glance and grab what you need without wasting time.'

Ensure to always keep the style of your kitchen in mind when finding kitchen cabinet storage solutions. Nicholas Kaiko of Nicholas Kaiko Interiors advises, 'For those who prefer a continuous, clean façade of door panels, we recommend a dual carcass solution. This involves having drawers concealed behind standard cabinet door fronts. It marries the visual appeal of uniform cabinetry with the functionality of drawers.'

An idea for making your trash cans integrate subtly with your lower kitchen cabinets is to install a double pull-out trash and recycling bin in a lower cabinet. This can help keep your kitchen clean and aesthetically pleasing.

Lola Houlton
News writer

Lola Houlton is a news writer for Homes & Gardens. She has been writing content for Future PLC for the past six years, in particular Homes & Gardens, Real Homes and GardeningEtc. She writes on a broad range of subjects, including practical household advice, recipe articles, and product reviews, working closely with experts in their fields to cover everything from heating to home organization through to house plants. Lola is a graduate, who completed her degree in Psychology at the University of Sussex. She has also spent some time working at the BBC.