Just about everyone has found themselves wishing they had a bigger kitchen. No matter how big or small your kitchen actually is, I think we all sometimes feel a little crunched and disorganized – especially when trying to put together a big meal for a crowd. But while some kitchens would certainly benefit from a little added square footage, every kitchen benefits from better storage. In fact, smarter storage, better cabinet organizers, and more intuitive and customized storage layouts have climbed to the top of just about every must-have list. Want the specifics? We’ve got a list of the top ten most common built-in specialty storage options that you might not know to ask for.
1. Pull Out Trash/Recycling Bins
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Integrating your trash and recycling bins into your cabinetry is – maybe surprisingly – one of the absolute most popular new built-in storage features, appearing in fully two thirds of new kitchen remodels (according to a new survey by Houzz). On the surface, this seems like kind of an odd use of your cabinet space. After all, putting a pull-out trash can under your countertop means sacrificing an equal amount of storage. But it has a few big benefits: concealing the bin removes an eyesore from your kitchen and and can help trap and reduce odors. When paired with a specialized cutting board, they make it easy to tidy up kitchen scraps and sort waste, recyclables, and compost material.
2. Sheet Pan Organizer
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Coming in at a close second (and still well ahead of the pack) are sheet pan organizers. Now, the first time I saw one of these, it was like a lightbulb going off. Storing thin, flat pans and racks is usually such a pain, but being able to put them on their sides in a way that’s easy to sort and access all of them? Pure genius! Better still, you can fit a sheet pan organizer in a lot of oddball spaces in your kitchen – particularly ones too tall and narrow to be used for much else. If you do a lot of baking, I’d call this one a real must-have.
3. Drawers Instead Of Cabinets
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Deep drawers are another unusual type of built-in kitchen cabinet organizer that have been on the rise for a while now. The idea here is that deep pull-out drawers let you make better use of your cabinet space; they allow you to access items all the way in the back that might get lost in a traditional cabinet. Most commonly, I’ve been seeing these used for storing stacks of dishware, which allows you to house enough place settings for a crowd in an incredibly compact space.
4. Pull-Out Shelves
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Similarly, while pull-out shelves fall somewhere in the middle of the pack in terms of popularity (appearing in about 44% of renovations), of all the cabinet organizers I’ve been seeing on this list, these have been around the longest, and (in my personal estimation) offer the greatest degree of flexibility. For one, pull-out trays or shelves are incredibly varied, from single shelves inside a cabinet that make it easier to access your pots and pans or appliances to full-sized pull-out pantries. You can even sneak smaller ones into odd-shaped spaces or narrow gaps that would otherwise go unused. Like drawers, pull-out cabinets let you make the most of all the space they occupy, since they extend fully to let you easily access items stored way in the back.
5. Built-In Lazy Susans
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Lazy Susans fall into two broad categories. The first are relatively compact (and probably the ones you’re most familiar with), with a stable base and a rotating top. You can put them inside a cabinet and put items on top of them, then rotate them to access items stored in the “back” – again with the idea of making better use of your space. But the second type of Lazy Susans are the ones that have really been taking off lately. These are designed to do the same thing on a larger scale – specifically in a corner cabinet. They’re shaped like a wheel of cheese with a wedge taken out (to accommodate the door) and enable you to make much better use of the most awkward and frustrating cabinet in your kitchen.
6. Spice Racks
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In my experience, spice racks have a little overlap with pull-out shelves, particularly the smaller ones, or ones squeezed in near your range. But spice racks and organizers are getting incorporated into kitchens in a whole lot of different ways, from the aforementioned lazy susan to cute drawer organizers and racks mounted to the inside of a cabinet door. This last option is actually one of the most DIY friendly options on this list, and one that’s more effective than you might think. They won’t steal much space from the inside of your cabinet, but do a good job of keeping your most oft-used spices in order and easily accessible.
7. Built-In Knife and Cutlery Organizers
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Big, beautiful knife blocks are great (and plastic drawer organizers a little less so). But there’s nothing that can quite match the elegance of built-in knife and flatware storage. Not only will this help clear up counter space (in the case of that big ol’ knife block) and make your drawers look a little more orderly, they’ll also keep odds and ends from building up in your cutlery drawer, since everything will have its proper place.
8. Utensil Organizers
Similarly, homeowners are finding more and more innovative ways of storing their utensils. Some of them are similar to knife and cutlery storage – wood dividers built into your drawers to keep them organized. But personally? I think any utensils that end up in a drawer, even one with an organizer, will get lost in the shuffle. I much prefer utensil organizers that are integrated into pull-out shelves. These let you stand your spatulas and wooden spoons upright without having to keep a big jar full of them out on the countertop by your stove.
9. Pot and Pan Organizer
Pot and pan organizers are a little lower on the popularity scale, appearing in only about 34% of kitchens. I suspect this is because many commercially available models can feel a little gimmicky. Having hooks to hang matching pans or slotted wire racks to hold your pot lids can work really well, but if you have a piecemeal collection of cookware (or just tend to use a few pieces rather than the whole set), rigid organizers can do as much harm as good. The alternative? Opt for pull-out shelves, which will keep pots and pans from getting shoved to the back of the cabinet and make everything accessible without filling up your space with wire cabinet organizers.
10. Specialized Small Appliance Storage and Appliance Garages
The biggest surprise on this list (for me at least) is that fewer than a quarter of surveyed kitchens featured specialized small appliance storage or appliance garages. Despite the fact that they haven’t quite hit the mainstream, I think this growing trend is worth a spot on this list. So what, exactly, is an appliance garage? More or less what it sounds like: a counter-height cabinet (or “garage”) that lets you store and conceal your appliances when they aren’t in use. They’re easy to access when you need them, and can even stay plugged in between uses. Most often, I see these used as concealed coffee or tea stations, but they’re also great for avid bakers who don’t want to leave their mixer or bread machines out on display, but use them too often to be worth stowing them away each time.
Not every storage option works for every kitchen, but adding the right cabinet organizers to your kitchen will not only make the space work smarter, but make even the smallest kitchen feel like enough kitchen!