Off-the-Shelf Kitchen Storage
A buyer’s guide to what to put into your cabinets to get the most out of them.
Synopsis: If you need to wring the most functionality out of a kitchen whose storage capacity is about equal to that of the average linen closet, then you’re ready to start exploring the world of aftermarket storage options. Writer Debra Judge Silber set out to find the most sensible “off-the-shelf” solutions for kitchen challenges: blind corners, high shelves, undersink cabinets, food storage, appliance garages, cookware corrals, and trash-bin keepers. Good kitchen storage is not about fancy gadgets; it’s about finding the simplest tools for keeping just what you need right where you need it. And there’s no shortage of products on the market to do just that.
If I could’ve squeezed just one more cabinet into my kitchen when we remodeled, believe me, I would’ve done it. But a kitchen isn’t terribly useful if you don’t leave enough room between countertops to enter and exit, and not terribly pleasant if you obstruct every view with a plywood box, no matter how important it is to have every saucepan at your fingertips.
Fortunately, it’s not the number of cabinets but what they hold that counts. That’s good news not just for me and for my small kitchen, but also for anyone who needs to wring the most functionality out of a kitchen whose storage capacity is about equal to that of the average linen closet.
Unless you’re a carpenter with time to spare (or someone who knows a carpenter with time to spare), maximizing kitchen storage space usually comes down to buying the right manufactured solution. In a perfect world, that’s done when the cabinets are installed. But what if you’re dealing with a previous homeowner’s cabinet configuration? Or if you’ve tapped out both your budget and your creativity just getting your own new cabinets into your kitchen? In cases like these, you’re likely to start exploring the world of aftermarket storage options.
Manufactured storage solutions can be found in home centers (order the better ones through the kitchen department) and, to a greater extent, through online dealers. The choices are so wide, in fact, that finding the right solution may seem as hopeless as rummaging for a lost lid in the dark recesses of a blind corner. For this article, I set out to find the most sensible “off-the-shelf” solutions for what I consider primary kitchen-storage challenges. In terms of space, that means blind corners, high shelves, and undersink cabinets. In terms of specific items that defy convenient storage solutions, that would be food, small appliances, trash and recycling bins, and (my own nemesis) cookware.
In my search, not only did I exploit my own battles with kitchen chaos, but I also consulted designers and architects to find what solutions they rely on and recommend to their clients. Their choices were notably consistent, particularly with regard to the two biggest players in the storage game: Häfele and Rev-A-Shelf. Both brands not only supply cabinetmakers with internal storage features but also offer many of the same solutions to be installed after the fact. But beware: You will pay for quality. In some cases, the storage components you add will cost as much as the cabinet itself. Also, prices vary widely especially online. It pays to shop around.
In the end, good kitchen storage is not about fancy gadgets; it’s about finding the simplest tools for keeping just what you need right where you need it. And there’s no shortage of products on the market to do just that.
Prices listed in this article are street price: what you’re likely to pay based on a review of online and local retailers. Pictured products have been identified by manufacturer and series number.
For more photos and a breakdown of kitchen storage options, click the View PDF button below.