Kitchen Storage – You Can Never Have Enough, or Can You?
Kitchen storage – it’s always a hot button when Sally and I work on a kitchen design with a client. They all seem to be storage obsessed. Terrified that there might not be enough storage for all their stuff…
KITCHEN STORAGE : CASE STUDY 1
We first encountered this behavior when we worked on a lovely North Shore home a number of years ago. Our client wanted cabinets everywhere! Picture this photo, but with upper cabinets on either side of and between the windows and extending along the wall to the range hood. Then continuing on the other side of the range hood.
Continuing down the range wall, rather than a cozy fireplace, imagine more base and upper cabinets.
As we worked with our client, she became increasingly frustrated with “the look” of the kitchen. It was too much kitchen as opposed to a comfortably luxurious room/living space in which the functions of a kitchen occur. Where would the majolica collection be displayed, etc.?
We suggested the kitchen storage was working too hard, with too much upper and base cabinets in the room. Was all that storage we were planning necessary? We took a step back and inventoried food storage, pots, pans, silverware, china, etc., determining what was needed for the family’s lifestyle, what was unnecessary and could be given away, donated or put-on consignment.
We then set about with a fresh approach and thinking, finding and creating a space for a small 4’ x 10’ pantry, adjacent to the kitchen. We agreed this would be where dry goods, pots, pans, the Holiday china and silverware, etc. would be stored. Basically the kitchen/cooking/dining stuff that was occasionally or rarely used.
Everyday cookware found its way to an open pot rack to the left of the range. Everyday storage was accommodated in organized drawers and several small pantry towers. Note the small built in bench seat, so a person could sit and chat with whomever was prepping the meal. Yes, the lid opens for more storage…
We spread the client’s majolica and china collection throughout the kitchen. A custom plate rack was designed.
More was displayed in the built in cabinetry behind the banquet seating at the casual ding area.
While larger pieces found their way into the Habersham curio cabinets flanking the range and Habersham range hood.
The true icing on the cake was the inclusion of a new gas fireplace across from the informal dining area.
Vision accomplished – a comfortably luxurious living space in which the functions of a kitchen occur with just the right amount of kitchen storage.
KITCHEN STORAGE : CASE STUDY 2
More recently, a kitchen we designed in a 100 year old home presented a different challenge. Kitchens of that era were kitchens – a place to prepare, cook and serve meals. (In the dining room…) In such a small space, there’s no room for today’s lifestyle of casual dining and entertaining, doing homework, hanging out watching the game, etc. in the kitchen.
The obvious solution was to knock down the wall between the kitchen and family room, creating the opportunity to design a larger living space in which one of the functions was the kitchen with a large island and its associated activities.
How did we fulfill the kitchen storage needs? By looking at the kitchen as a series of activity centers and eliminating those things that scream kitchen, such as upper cabinets and a large exhaust hood over the range.
The range hood solution fell into our laps. Structural issues with installing the range hood forced us to design a long horizontal soffit over the range to vent the hood out the side of the house.
Our client inventoried all she planned to keep/put in the new kitchen and then did test fits on paper.
The result was we determined all our client’s storage needs could be easily accommodated with well organized base cabinets and three 24” wide floor to ceiling pantries. NO UPPER CABINETS!
Mission accomplished – just the right amount of kitchen storage. To see more of this project, click here, and scroll down.
KITCHEN STORAGE 3 & 4:
My own self criticism in both the above kitchens is the “Sameness” within each project- one color/finish and one consistent look and detail. In my future kitchen designs, Sally and I intend to challenge ourselves and our clients to include a variety of finish, color and detail.
Our Belgian friend and interior designer, Greet Lefevre, owner of Lefevre Interiors, masterfully integrates kitchen storage into her beautiful and functional kitchens, while making them rich in material, color and detail. She has kindly given me permission to share two of her projects with you.
In Greet’s first light filled kitchen we find several distinct cabinet door styles. I love how classic raised panel door transitions seamlessly to there vertical shiplap, defining two different activity zones within the kitchen. Multiple countertop materials express the same distinction. The antique console table is a delight to the eye. Everyday pots and pans are within easy reach at the La Cornue induction top range. What about the range hood and backsplash. There, but not there. So thoughtfully integrated into the fabric of the kitchen.
Upper cabinets could have been used at this inside corner. Instead, Greet chooses to design and install several open shelves. What a difference maker! So much more open and airy!
Overall, multiple materials, textures and differing details. Yet, the kitchen is serene, calm and oh so inviting – imbued with visual charm and interest. To see the entire project, click here.
Greet’s second kitchen is more architectural in character, with the majority of the kitchen storage designed as built in storage. In the image below, looking almost like a door, the tall built in cupboard to the left of the AGA range takes full advantage of the range’s depth. Notice how the trim surrounding the cupboard mirrors the door nearby door casing in dimension and height. The adjacent floating shelves are a sharp and delightful contrast.
The built in at the end of the island is trimmed as though it were a tall armoire – a piece of furniture! See how the “armoire’s” depth is expressed by the framed opening around the door to the adjoining room, creating a sense of entry fro one room to the other by closing down, then opening up. Greet manages the weight and scale of the unit by doing shelving in the middle portion of the “armoire”. She also creates an opportunity to repeat the black of the AGA range, emphasizing the shelving. Lovely! The range hood fittingly echos the form of the old stone Gothic fireplace mantels, providing convenient nooks for items used every day at the range.
Once again, a masterful kitchen storage solution, without using the expected wall hung cabinets. To see the entire project, click here.
So… What have we learned from my mini-treatise on kitchen storage?
KITCHEN STORAGE: THE TAKE AWAYS
- Your objective is to design a living space that happens to include or be a kitchen.
- Break what you keep/want in your kitchen into categories of use – every day, often, occasionally and Holidays/special events.
- Inventory each category. This is the perfect time to purge and repot yourself as you prepare for your new kitchen.
- As you design your kitchen, using plans and elevations, test fit where everything is to go.
- Investigate alternative storage solutions/locations and options. A small pantry. China cabinet in the dining room. Drawer organizers. Open shelves.
- Consider floor to ceiling pantries instead of upper cabinets to open up the kitchen area, creating new design/decor opportunities.
- Vary the esthetic. Door styles. Finishes. Countertop materials. Hardware. Perhaps a piece of furniture here and there.
- Consider built ins to create a more architectural look and solution. Floating shelves in a niche.
- Don’t be afraid of color, texture, mixing up materials and details.
- Use white as an accent, as opposed to the dominant color. Your kitchen will be visually so much richer, interesting and inviting.
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