Having just renovated our kitchen, I still have the planning process fresh in my mind. I’ve also lived in the house long enough to know what works and what doesn’t. I thought it would be great to share some of the things that I’ve learned along the way to help with your future (or current) kitchen reno.
I really love a clean kitchen — meaning I don’t want to have a toaster, blender, paper towel holder or other small items on the countertops. For me, less is more. So it was all about striking a balance between having items out of sight, yet easily accessible when needed. I worked with designer Leah Bailey in Savannah and Coastal Georgia Cabinets in Brunswick when creating the design for our kitchen. Here are some of the things I learned from our design process:
- Built-in Paper Towel Holder. A built-in paper towel holder was the best decision we made when designing our kitchen. It’s really Leah’s staple when she’s designing a kitchen for her clients. It’s out of the way but very accessible. Just ask your cabinet maker to create an opening (measuring the size (depth and width) of the paper towels that you use) and insert a wooden dowel rod that’s adjustable. This easy but custom feature seems to be all of our guests’ favorite unexpected detail.
- Think Kitchen Island for your Built-in Microwave. We purchased a Kitchen Aid microwave that resembles an oven and we love it. It’s the perfect size and super easy to use. We opted for the pull down instead of a microwave drawer and I’d recommend this decision as well. Placing the microwave in the Island, next to your trash cans or dishwasher, will save upper cabinet space. We added a drawer below the microwave to hold all of the additional parts and instruction manuals for all of our appliances.
- Pull Out Spice Drawer. We love to cook Asian and therefore we have a lot of spices, oils and seasonings. As a result, we have a three-tiered spice rack next to our range. It’s a pull-out drawer so it’s easy to locate items from either side. The racks are also height adjustable — so you can make sure that everything fits perfectly.
- Built-in Dividers for Silverware and Utensils. We have our silverware and utensils split up between three drawers and each drawer has built-in dividers. The dividers for the serving and cooking utensils (such as large knives, rolling pins, spatulas, and whisks) are wider than the ones in the silverware drawer to accommodate their larger size. Wire dividers that you get from Target are great but they’re all one size and move around when you open the drawers. If you’re lucky enough to be able to custom design your cabinets, don’t overlook this small detail. It makes a big difference and helps you stay organized.
- Storage for Baking Sheets. We did not plan for a tall and skinny cabinet to store baking sheets on their side. I wish that we would’ve done this looking back. Instead we have ours stacked in a cabinet. Having them upright would of made it easier to pick out which one I need instead of having to lift them all out of the cabinet to get the right size sheet.
- Built-in Trash Bins. We placed a large pull out cabinet next to the kitchen sink that holds two bins, one for trash and one for recycling.It’s great to have it close to the sink so that when you’re doing the dishes you can easily place the scraps in the trash. Tell your cabinet maker to fit two bins instead of one. There’s plenty of room, you just need to account for it from the beginning.
- Maximize Storage Space. Get as much storage space out of your kitchen island as possible. I have four cabinets under our kitchen island where we have our bar stools. Since it’s not the easiest spot to get to, I store items that aren’t frequently used such as serving platters, vases, small electronics like juicers, food processors, etc. Opt for floor to ceiling cabinets if you can. If not, then be creative — add cabinets above the refrigerator, in nooks, etc.
- Symmetry is Key. Try your best to have symmetry when designing your kitchen cabinets. The ends of your cabinets should match each other. So if one end has a set of drawers, the other end should also have drawers. It allows for cleaner lines and balance. You can also be creative in these choices. On either side of our refrigerator we placed two large cabinets. One is a pantry and the other one is a built-in coffee bar. When the doors are closed to the coffee bar, it looks like the pantry, so it allows for a very polished look.
- Planning is the Most Important Part. Think about the items you have, which ones you use more frequently and where you would like to store them BEFORE you design the cabinetry. Listing this first will help you conceptualize what you actually need and where. When everything has a specific place it is so much easier to maintain a clean and organized kitchen. Some items to think about are tupperware containers, cake stands (with lids), large platters, vases, baking sheets, spices, silverware, electronics (toaster, blender, juicer, etc.), pots and pans, glassware, plates (measure your widest dinner plate for cabinet depth), pantry items, cleaning items (such as brooms, Sam’s Club cleaner solutions, etc.), and dish towels (and other accessories such as placemats and oven mitts).
A little planning goes a long way in getting the most out of you kitchen. When it is organized it helps you keep track of what you have and inspires you to get in the kitchen and actually cook! If you have any great storage ideas for your kitchen, please share in the comments below. I hope this helps give you a jump start!
Kelli Boyd Photography exclusively for Lavin Label