A designer shares her top tips and techniques for creating a stress-free kitchen
by Gillian Lazanik
We don’t just prepare food in our kitchens, we host our friends, have family discussions and simply hang out in them as well. Enhancing the organization and functionality of your kitchen will allow the space to feel open, appear tidy and look great while serving your needs. Here are the top 10 tips and techniques I encourage my clients to follow when designing their kitchens.
1. Max Out on Storage
I don’t think I’ve ever heard a client say, “I have too much storage.” Since kitchens are not always arranged in a straight line, there’s often dead space. Make the most of corner cabinets and other unused areas with custom storage. In this San Francisco kitchen, for example, an angled pullout spice rack fills an awkward space next to the stove. Try to use every nook and cranny — you will probably not have much trouble filling them.
2. Add a Magic Corner
Another great storage solution is a “smart” corner with pullout shelves, Lazy Susans or wire shelves on tracks, such as this unit from specialized hardware-maker Richelieu. Use these nifty storage solutions to gain access to otherwise wasted space, where you can keep large pots and pans, small appliances and other bulky items. They tuck into cabinets nicely and provide easy access when needed, helping to create a more organized kitchen.
3. Put Everything in Its Place
Use drawer organizers to create a space for each of your kitchen utensils. Their individual compartments will encourage you to put everything back in its place after each use. This custom built-in drawer organizer from Dura Supreme Cabinetry provides specialized storage for steak knives and spices.
4. Hide Small Appliances
First impressions are made when you walk into a kitchen, so keep those countertops clear. It makes a huge difference when you don’t see rows of appliances on the counters, and it also frees up space for prep work when cooking or baking. Consider appliance garages, which are storage cabinets with rollup fronts that retract the same way a garage door does.
5. Organize the Garbage
Having a separate pullout drawer for your garbage, recycling and compost is the best way to address your trash. By setting up a garbage center with multiple smaller bins, you are doing the right thing for the environment in an efficient way. If your compost starts to smell, for example, you can take just that bin outside without having to lug a large garbage container that might not be full yet.
Use different colors to distinguish each bin or write each bin’s purpose on top of its lid.
6. Think Outside the Cabinet
Aside from the obvious upper and lower cabinets, try utilizing a wall for added storage of everyday items. These can be hung from hooks, baskets or floating shelves for easy access. This kitchen storage solution is also a great way to show off decorative tilework or bricks that otherwise might be covered by bulky cabinets.
7. Create Continuity
As open floor plans become more and more popular, kitchens often can be seen from the rest of the living area. While the solutions already discussed will help your kitchen stay cleaner and more organized, there are still those bulky large appliances to consider. Many appliances today come with an integrated-panel option, though it will cost you more. Hiding your appliances with panels will create a continuous, clean look throughout your space without breaking up the visual flow.
8. Let the Light Shine
Cooking and cleaning in the kitchen requires good lighting. While natural light is always nice, mounting undercabinet lights will help you find what you need, especially at night. You can also buy LED light strips that can be added to the inside of your cabinets and drawers.
9. Create a Workspace
There are many reasons to add a dedicated office space to your kitchen. It’s an ideal space for writing down a recipe, paying the bills or leaving a note for the family. Kids often like to do their homework in the kitchen because of its easy access to snacks. Whatever the reason, a little corner in your kitchen with a chair, a flat surface and storage is likely to get a lot of use.
10. Do It For You
Try to customize according to your needs. Place frequently used items next to each other in easy-to-access locations. Doing so will add to your kitchen’s functionality and efficiency since you won’t have to spend all your time and energy running around.
Remember, not all individuals use their kitchens in the same way, so make sure you communicate with your kitchen designer and describe how you want your space to work for you.
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