Top tips on ‘behind the scenes’ kitchen storage organisation to improve access and maximise efficiency in the heart of the home.
The kitchen would have to be the one place in the house where the most awkwardly shaped things you own are gathered, often muddled together in just enough chaos to be really annoying. And even unsafe, as many of us have learnt by finding the sharp side of that missing paring knife with the soft side of a thumb.
Kitchen drawers and cupboard storage solution
The trouble with kitchen storage cupboards is that they start out looking roomy and useful until all that stuff that gets jammed up the back just stays there, slowly dying. The solution: gliding basket style drawers that pull out easily to let you really get into your stash of kitchen goodies - yours for around $40 each. A ritzier option – if you have room – is to buy a whole freestanding pantry storage unit with drawers you can access from either side or above. You can even double your kitchen storage shelf space without drilling a single hole with extra freestanding racks.
Or, if DIY home improvement is your thing and you have under-bench cupboards between your kitchen and the living or dining area, have you ever thought of putting doors on both sides? Double your access and you can double their usefulness.
Perhaps the biggest kitchen space waster, especially in older kitchens, is the corner cupboard. You know the one, it's next to the dishwasher or stove and has a folding door but you'd have to fold yourself up as well to get anything out of it. Well, here's a great solution. You don't have to track down one of those fancy twirling shelving racks that look like a pie with a piece missing and waste a Saturday working out how to install it. All you need is a Lazy Susan. Available at furnishing stores and storage specialists, for around $15 you will gain full use of the kitchen cupboard and save yourself a heap of aggravation. Lazy Susans - small turning 'tables' - used to be seen mostly in Chinese restaurants, now they come in smaller sizes, with rails and without. So simple.
For big items, drawers are now all the rage but while that's great for pots and pans, it can be a bit risky for stacks of plates unless you also pick up a few of those handy stacking racks now available at many stores. Both these and the extra shelving racks are available with gripping feet to prevent disasters. There are also cheap but strong crockery rack options for cupboards.
Storing your kitchen accessories and gadgets
Then there's the small stuff. Let's start with knives. Any cook worth their hand-forged chef's blade will tell you knives should not actually be in drawers. Rattling around in there dulls their blades and risks the fingers. Check out the alternatives such as knife blocks or magnetic knife storage strips you can fix to the wall. It will also get them up and out of reach of little ones. By the way, if you have one of those older knife blocks that stores your knives at the near horizontal position, get into the habit of storing them upside down to extend the life of the blade. Sharp knives are much safer. Honest.
For all the other weird kitchen gadgets you or your auntie thought you couldn't live without, we can now get our hands on a wide range of drawer storage units. These can be found at kitchen and furnishing outlets and range from pre-molded units to fit standard drawer sizes or kits for you to tailor to your own needs. If you're not a fan of jars of wooden spoons on the benchtop or multiple utensils hanging from multiple hooks, these are the perfect solution for easy access while preserving a streamlined modern look.
Racks and hanging kitchen storage
But if you are a fan of the country style, those kitchen hanging hooks and extra rails can seriously extend your storage capacity. You can even go for the nightclub bar look and use overhead racks to store your wine glasses. Of course you will have to use them frequently to prevent them getting dusty up there.
And when you're hunting for kitchen storage help, don't just go to the specialists. Broaden your search to include hardware stores – they're often cheaper and can give you helpful advice on installation of gliding drawers and other new fixtures.
Value-adding kitchen renovation tips
Real estate agents will tell you that a well designed kitchen is a real sale clincher – a potential buyer’s reaction to this room alone can prove a real bargaining or tipping point in negotiations. No surprise really, when you consider the amount of time family and friends spend clustered around this heart of the home.
So if you are thinking of a kitchen makeover, take a leaf out of the professionals’ style book. A recent survey of over 800 architects gives great insight into what you can expect to find in a well designed kitchen:
• Drawers not cupboards
• Large island benches
• Walk in pantries
• Concealed appliances
• Colourful splashbacks
• Computer data points
• A concealed food preparation area
Other trends point to open plan kitchen layouts and preferences for push-action doors and drawers rather than handles. Most are still opting for a neutral colour for joinery and benches but radical splashbacks have arrived. And a friend of mine is still kicking herself for not insisting on a kickrail-operated ducted-vacuum outlet in her new kitchen (imagine swooshing the kitchen debris straight into the skirting board, never to be seen again!).