Maximise storage in your kitchen

Designer Kristen Reid advises renovators on how to maximise storage and minimise clutter in the kitchen to create a clean, minimalist look.

Image of a small kitchen renovated to improve storage space

The kitchen is the hub of the home, so it’s an easy place for dishes and clutter to build up. Especially with deep cupboards and drawers, it’s easy for items to build up and be forgotten. If your current system isn’t working for you, we have the answers to transform your kitchen into an easy-to-use space. From the best place to buy affordable solutions, to organisations tips and better storage ideas - we answer some of the biggest questions in regards to kitchen storage. 


“We are about to embark on our kitchen renovation project and want as much hidden storage in there as possible. Could you help us with some ideas to do this?”

A: Kristen Reid - Designer
We suggest you start with a list of “keep items” – often precious, unique or awkward items that must be included and considered in the overall design. Ensure there is a home for these items by specifying individual drawer heights and widths.
Selecting drawers over cupboards will save space enormously, as you are effectively gaining an extra shelf when choosing drawer banks. Not to mention, you can always reach to the back of a drawer. Drawer extras, such as knife blocks and spice trays, help to declutter your benchtops. 
The use of appliance and integrated technology stations are also essential strategies. Toasters, bread-makers and other everyday appliances can be fitted behind doors of various configurations – from bi-folding doors to pocket doors, or even lift-up doors. Appliances are simply pulled forward when in use then pushed back behind doors, leaving no trace of a busy working kitchen.
Finally, I suggest you take units up to meet the ceiling, where practical, and opt for an in-built power-pack rangehood over a freestanding canopy hood. These higher spaces can be used to store items rarely needed. A good renovation specialist will ensure these higher doors are hinged correctly to make these units easily and safely accessible.


What are some ways for me to add a storage space into my small kitchen?

A: Steve Wang - Renovation consultant
When clients approach Steve, in need of extra kitchen storage space, they are usually struggling due to a small kitchen with a closed-in design. This results in a build-up of clutter and a small amount of space to cook and socialise in. 
“Wall space is the biggest challenge in small kitchens”, says Steve. 
He explains that a significant amount of wall space is usually taken up by splashbacks and appliances. The solution, he says, depends on the structure of the job.
To come up with the best organisation ideas for your kitchen, Steve recommends working with a designer from the start, as well as utilising the Refresh Renovations process. At the beginning of the process, a renovation specialist will come for a site visit to “see your kitchen’s layout and identify changes”.
Steve emphasises that there is no one right way to design a kitchen, and that storage solutions depend on an individual’s needs and taste. The Refresh Renovations process helps to create the ideal storage solution for each individual, as it is guided by their requirements, personal taste and budget.
When it comes to increasing kitchen storage space Steve does encourage homeowners to “utilise wall space as much as possible.” 
Steve recommends changing to an open plan design with a new layout. He has found that opening up the walls of small kitchen spaces has worked well for past clients, making more wall space available for storage solutions.
“One way to do this is to knock down the walls and incorporate other rooms into the kitchen space”, explains Steve, adding that the assistance of a designer or structural architect will be needed for this type of work.
“An open-plan layout is a more practical kitchen design. However, it does require a bigger budget to achieve.”
If removing the walls of your kitchen isn’t currently within your budget, Steve has some cost-friendly storage solutions.
This includes making the use of every inch of your kitchen, including the toe-kick below your bench. Instead of having a toe kick, Steve recommends installing push-to-open drawers. This was a decision which resulted in two extra drawers of space in one of Steve’s previous kitchen renovation projects. 
Another project, which Steve worked on, involved an innovative kitchen island design: while half of the kitchen island provided space for seating, wining and dining, the other half contained built-in storage.
 “The kitchen really is the heart of the home”, advises Steve.
So it is worth turning it into a space you love. 


What are some storage solutions for my small pantry and cupboards?

A: Steve Wang - Renovation consultant
Steve Wang has come across some creative pantry and cupboard storage solutions in his time as a renovation consultant. When clients approach him seeking kitchen storage solutions, inefficient pantry and cupboard designs are often a large part of the problem.
“They are usually struggling to find space for taller items such as wine glasses and cereal boxes”, says Steve.
While pantry organisers are a great idea, Steve has found a new layout to be the best solution. He recommends starting by looking at the design of your pantry and cupboards.
“Instead of adjustable shelves, use pull out drawers. Pull out drawers provide easy access to hidden items,” advises Steve.
Another tip? Working with designers has taught Steve that corner storage is a no-go.
“Minimise the amount of corner storage units in your kitchen as they reduce space”, tells Steve.
Another innovative kitchen storage design Steve has worked on was a pantry built over a kitchen bench. Installing a pantry over the bench keeps all of your essentials within reach while you are cooking. You’ll also have a clear view of your ingredients and be utilising the wall space.
“It keeps things practical and within reach”, adds Steve.

You might be interested in this Q&A: Creating a seamless easy to use kitchen.

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This article featured in Issue 030 of Renovate Magazine. New Zealand's first and only magazine solely dedicated to home renovations.

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