Looking for clever kitchen storage ideas? Precision planning is the key to turning a chaotic kitchen into a neat and tidy work space.
Storage should be a priority when it comes to kitchen ideas - no one wants a hectic space after all.
With the kitchen coming under increasing pressure to perform a variety of crucial roles such as family dining, relaxing, working and entertaining, a good layout and adequate storage are more important than ever.
'High capacity, well sited storage is essential to keep everything neat and tidy, providing a clutter-free space that’s a pleasure to use,' says Danny Lay at Caple.
There are so many demands on the modern kitchen – it’s not just as space for cooking but also for dining, entertaining, relaxing and family life. And regardless of size, well considered storage is a must to keep the space clutter free and easy to use.
1. Zone different areas for kitchen storage
Consider your space as divided into zones for specific functions, planning appropriate storage for each area and creating an easy sense of flow around the room.
'In larger spaces, for example, you might plan a dresser on a wall between the kitchen and dining areas, linking the two zones and providing crockery and cutlery storage close to the dining table and to a dishwasher, perhaps built into an island close by,' says designer Emma Sims-Hilditch.
2. Make the most of cupboard space
There has been a significant move away from base unit cupboards in favor of drawers. The real bonus of drawers is the ease of accessibility – if you have found yourself on your hands and knees scrabbling at the back of a cupboard to find some long-forgotten item, you’ll recognise the advantage of a drawer that pulls open to offer a full view of its contents.
- See: Small kitchen storage ideas – create a sense of order that allows you to cook with ease
3. Look at the bigger picture
If you have the room, a walk-in larder provides the storage, freeing up the kitchen for preparation and cooking. Ideally, a walk-in includes drawers at the lower level, shelves above for optimum storage, and you may want to add extras, such as a microwave and sink.
Current trends go a step further with whole kitchens disappearing from view behind vast sliding doors. Much like a walk in wardrobe, these generous banks of storage are fitted with shelves and internal drawers to make everything organised in one place.
4. Opt for an island
Islands play an essential part in functional kitchens providing a handy area to prepare food, social, eat and even store extra equipment. If space allows, incorporate a bespoke, handleless design that will nearly store your glassware and crockery out of sight.
5. Let shelves come into their own
Kitchen storage can come in many forms other than traditional wall cupboards. Open shelving is a great option if you are the proud owner of an impressive crockery collection, or are a keen cook who appreciates having ingredients close at hand. Having everything on display, however, is not for the faint-hearted as it requires a certain amount of dedication to keep shelves looking smart.
- See: Pantry ideas – versatile storage that’s equally suited to modern life
6. Pretty up a dull cabinet
Kitchen storage does not have to be purely practical, it can also be stylish. Use your favorite wallpaper to line the back of the cupboard to create an attractive display. Here, a large-scale pattern adds intrigue to the interior of a cupboard, making a striking backdrop for neutral ceramics.
7. Use drawers rather than cupboards
A 1290mm-wide drawer will likely allow you to store all your pans in one readily accessible space, which is much easier than delving into the back of a cupboard to retrieve a heavy casserole dish.
Use drawer dividers to organise cutlery and utensils, plates and bowls, pans and lids. Some systems include roll holders for foil and cling film, sloping shelves to lay spice jars with their labels easy to read at a glance, knife blocks, espresso racks to organise pod refills, and more.
'There’s something undeniably satisfying about opening a drawer and finding everything its right place,' says Bernard Otulakowski, MD, SieMatic.
8. Think tall
While drawers make great use of space below hip level, you may also want to make the most of the ceiling height of your kitchen with a section of tall cabinets to house an integrated fridge, freezer and eye-level oven and coffee machine, as well as dry food larder storage.
'The trend is about lots of storage hidden behind sliding doors, so that the kitchen can be shut away when not being used,' says Alex Orosia, Marketing Manager, Porcelanosa.
Slide and hide systems can create, when closed, a feeling of uncluttered space, with the advantage that everything is within easy reach when open. Pocket doors which open, pivot and slide into side recesses, leaving contents directly accessible without doors in the way, are also particularly useful here.
- See: Under stairs pantry ideas – dream larder cupboards to sit beneath a staircase
9. Invest in fitted storage
Fitted storage can be specialist and comprehensive, detailed to suit your needs, and adjusted to fit your space. You can also supplement standard units with bespoke elements, such as under-stair storage, custom-made to fit the dimensions of your room. If this is not offered by your kitchen supplier, you may wish to commission a local joiner. Here, simple shelves fill up unused space between two fitted cabinets.
10. Factor in freestanding elements
You may prefer to use freestanding furniture to create a more individual look. Dressers and glazed cabinets can be used to display decorative china and glassware, adding character to your kitchen, while a sideboard can be used to store china for the dining table, linking cooking and eating areas.
11. Make your storage work hard
Make your kitchen work efficiently by cutting down on wasted walking time. Arrange your storage carefully: it helps if your fridge and freezer are close to your larder, so that you can unload bags of groceries quickly and easily.
The same applies to unloading the dishwasher, so make sure that china and cutlery are stored close by, and preferably also in easy reach of the dining area. Store mugs near the coffee machine or boiling water tap, wine glasses near the wine fridge, pots and pans under the hob.
Try to keep storage areas which need to be accessed frequently away from the main cooking area, so that the drinks server doesn’t fall over the chef.
12. Choose a double pantry
Smaller than a walk-in pantry, a double pantry is a great place to hide all the everyday chaos. Bi-folding cabinet doors offers a neater, more usable access to the contents of the cupboards without blocking other cabinets. The space inside is expansive, often with work surface space for smaller appliances such as your kettle and toaster. It’s also a great place to store your cereals, crockery, tea, coffee and cookbooks.
'Effective storage is of course the primary function of the pantry, this comes down to not only the internal working of the cabinet but also where to incorporate it into a kitchen design,' explains Tom Howley, Design Director of Tom Howley.
13. Make good use of ceiling height
Why waste the storage opportunity of lovely high ceilings – especially if space is limited elsewhere. Cabinets can be built floor-to-ceiling with handcrafted cabinet doors, open shelving or glazed doors, whichever is best for your space. High cupboards are useful storage for gadgets or crockery you don’t use or need very often.
According to Tom Howley: 'With a bespoke kitchen designer, you will be able to design floor to ceiling units that give maximum storage. In general, I advise clients only to fit floor to ceiling cabinetry if they have lofty, high ceilings.
In smaller spaces, waist-height pull-out drawers are the best option. A waist-height unit means you’ll have access to copious worktop space that floor-to-ceiling cabinetry cannot provide in the absence of an island counter, and lots of low lying storage units. This will open up the space at head height to give the impression of a more spacious kitchen.'
14. Display treasured crockery and pottery
Open shelving encourages a tidy space because items are on show. It’s a great opportunity to display treasured pottery instead of hiding them away behind closed doors.
Arrange glass jars containing dried goods or exotic spices in size order on an open shelf for a practically stylish pinch of color. Open shelving helps light flow through and can make a kitchen look bigger. It’s a great kitchen storage alternative if space is at a premium as shelves make smaller spaces feel less cramped.
'We are seeing a real increase in popularity of open shelving amongst our clientele, who want to carry the aesthetic of the rest of their homes into the kitchen by displaying their most beautiful belongings on open shelving,' says Sophie Hartley, Kitchen Designer at Tom Howley.
15. Save space with curved kitchen storage
Curved cabinetry offers practical storage that simply takes up less floor space than square-cornered pieces.
'The kitchen island is often a hive of activity with cooking, eating, work, learning, and play centered around this area,' says Tom Howley.
'When designing your island, it is essential to consider both internal solutions and exterior proportions. Many aspects of your kitchen design can determine your island shape. You can opt for integrated bench seating, consider extra knee room for kitchen stools or design a bespoke circular table if you have the room.'
16. Use every inch to good purpose
'People don’t only gather in the kitchen at parties; this hard-working room often gets the most footfall throughout the day, as people naturally gravitate towards it for food and company,' says Tom Howley.
As such, it can make sense to separate some activities from the rest of the room. Here, a narrow sliver of wall has been put to good use with a breakfast station. Everyone can help themselves, then close the door until such time as one of them tidies up.'
17. Light up open storage units
Beautifully constructed kitchen storage ideas can become features in their own right. One way to really draw attention to them is to light them – whether with downlights in open shelves, as in the kitchen above by Tom Howley, lighting inside cabinetry or with accent lighting from the ceiling or walls.
18. Make kitchen storage blend away
Sometimes you don't want to show off kitchen storage ideas – you want to highlight what you're displaying on them. Here, this technique is shown off to perfection – the shelves are painted the same color as the wall behind, allowing the curves of the china to stand out in sharp relief.
How much storage do you need in a kitchen?
Before embarking on a kitchen project it’s always a good idea to have a good clear out and to take stock of your kitchen possessions so you know how much you need to store and how. The ‘where’ is just as important as the ‘what’ and a good designer will devise a layout that puts the necessary storage in all the right places.
A pantry or larder should be close to your fridge and freeze for instance, making it quick and easy to unload groceries quickly and easily. Likewise, china and cutlery should be stored close to the dishwasher.
Think not only about how you will use the space, but also any children and guests. It is usually a good idea to keep storage for glasses and frequently accessed items away from the main cooking area so the cook can work uninterrupted – and a dedicated breakfast cupboard away from the main kitchen and close to the seating area is increasingly popular with young families.
How do I get more storage in my kitchen?
Precision planning is the best way of keeping your kitchen from descending into chaos. In a multi-use, open-plan space, try to allocate dedicated storage in each area, not just the kitchen cupboards. For example, window seats with deep pull-out drawers are perfect for stashing away toys and ensure that there’s at least one drawer or shelving unit near the TV for tidying away books, remote controls and games consoles. 'Installing an island with cabinets on both sides helps maximise storage in the dining area for formal crockery and glassware,' adds Tony McCarthy, commercial director at Crown Imperial.
Keeping everything neatly behind closed doors is much easier if the interiors are designed with specific contents in mind. Smaller items will benefit from a shallow drawer with numerous compartments to keep items separated and easy to locate. Consider whether any cupboards will benefit from integral electric sockets, allowing you to charge gadgets out of view. The cases for electronic games tend to come in standard sizes so shelving can be fitted at precise heights to get more in, and the same is true of spice jars, which can slot into racks on the back of an easily accessible cupboard door.
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