A Peek in Your Old Cabinets Is the Design Spark for Your Kitchen Remodel

By Lea Schneider

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All those great finishes and cabinet designs present an array of opportunities for kitchen design. It’s easy to get torn between several great looks, so you might not know the best kitchens start from the inside out.

Anyone who is truly in love with their kitchen isn’t just in love with the look. They are in love with the way it functions. As a professional organizer, I’ve spent a lot of time in a lot of kitchens trying to adapt existing cabinets into functional storage. What’s exciting about kitchen remodeling is you get to build functionality into your design.

Nearly every kitchen I’ve worked in has storage issues—and solutions. There’s the tiny kitchen without much space, the large family with multiple cooks and the open-concept kitchen with few upper cabinets for storage, just to name a few. No matter what your situation, you can choose kitchen cabinets that maximize storage and functionality.

Begin with Cooking Style

Every kitchen owner has a cooking style, even if your style is not much cooking. You might be looking for a large surface for family potlucks and a place to store serving trays, or you might be a baker and want easy access to your standing mixer, plus a place to roll out pastry dough.

Before shopping for cabinets, think about how you typically use your kitchen in order to make sure your remodel will fulfill your needs. Make a list of the kinds of things that happen often in your kitchen, from kids rushing in after sports practice to microwave some snacks to your friends gathering to try their hand at homemade pizza dough.

Take Inventory

Kick off your remodel plans by taking an inventory of two things. First, make a list of things you don’t like about your existing kitchen. You’ll want to make sure each of the problems is addressed in your new cabinet selection. For example, you may note that you have a kitchen countertop full of small appliances because they are too tall to fit in your old cabinets’ fixed shelves. This would put adjustable shelving on your must-have list. Second, make an inventory of your kitchen’s contents. What kinds of things do you own, and how much room do you need to fit them all?

Cabinet Storage Solutions

Here are a few solutions to common storage problems I see in kitchens. In your remodel, be sure to incorporate solutions to any storage issues you have in your current kitchen.

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Turntables – Make good use of deep, dark corner cabinets by spinning everything into easy reach with a built-in lazy Susan. This double-stack turntable has great height for storing cookware or small appliances.

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Recycling – Build in a permanent solution to handle recycling. A cabinet with two or more trash containers allows you to have a home for the recyclables and another for trash.

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Lower Cabinet Accessibility – Think about what you will need to store in you lower cabinets. This is especially important in an open-concept design, which may have fewer upper cabinets. Choosing deep drawers or slide-out shelves makes lower cabinet storage easy to use. Remember as you plan that you may need to store typical upper-cabinet items, like plates or drinking glasses, in drawers.

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Glass Fronts – There are several advantages to using glass front cabinets. You can easily see what you need. They become a design element as you put pretty items on display and they help make your kitchen feel more open. On the other hand, they put the contents on display for all to see. If super tidy isn’t your cup of tea or you cabinets are filled with plastic sippy cups, you might not want glass doors. Keep in mind your design can contain a mixture of solid doors and glass doors. Think about which contents you’d like to display and which you’d like to hide before settling on your doors.

No matter what you need to store, there are cabinet solutions. Having a list of needs at hand will help you shop for and find great cabinet storage, whether you need dividers for baking sheets and platters, lifts for heavy mixers or trays for silverware.

End your exploration with one of my favorite project questions. Whenever I’m renovating, I try to ask an expert what I might not have thought to include. In my own kitchen remodel, I learned I could get a great liner put in my under-the-sink cabinet. This meant any future drips or spilled detergent was easily cleaned.

Starting from the inside out is sure to give you a beautiful kitchen that functions like a dream.

Lea Schneider

Lea Schneider is a professional organizer who advises homeowners on balancing household organizational demands with design. Lea writes her tips for The Home Depot. You can research kitchen cabinets and hardware on the Home Depot website.

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