Kitchen Must-Haves: Functionality and Aesthetics

modern kitchen with a lot of storage and shelves

The time has come, and you’re getting ready to bring your dream kitchen to life. Your mood board showcases all your must-haves and your desired aesthetic. You’ve hired a contractor. You’ve pored over design magazines and scrolled through site after site to see current kitchen trends. You’ve picked out your future cabinets, countertop, backsplash, and floor tiles. But have you thought about the details you can’t see, like kitchen storage? 

In addition to its outward appearance, several elements should be considered to get the most out of your kitchen. There are practical solutions available for everything, from storage for small appliances and dry goods to waste management. Whether you’re planning a new build or renovating, these kitchen tips will make your kitchen more functional and enjoyable to use on the daily without sacrificing aesthetic! 

Explore deep storage drawers 

Drawers are more versatile than ever. Previously reserved for small items such as utensils and tea towels, they are now available in a variety of sizes that can accommodate a range of items. It’s simple: everything but the kitchen sink can be stored there. It’s not surprising to see some traditional lower cupboards being phased out. 

Moreover, there are now several soft-close dampening systems that can be installed on drawers that make them 100% silent, regardless of the force applied to close them. In addition to being functional, they add a bit of quiet to a busy room. Here are a few more kitchen tips to help you make the most of your kitchen storage space.

deep drawers with separators to optimize space

Horizontal drawer organization 

You can stack plates and bowls worry-free. They won’t slide and break if you insert a system of adjustable wooden pegs inside a drawer.  

A large drawer filled with storage boxes or divided into multiple compartments would be perfect to store small quantities of food that you want to make easily accessible, such as kids’ snacks.  

To maximize usable space, design your kitchen with one or more pull-out drawers inside of a deep drawer. Also known as English drawers, they are used to organize cutlery or larger kitchen utensils. Another possibility: pot storage where the top drawer is used to store lids. 

Vertical drawer organization 

Instead of storing your things side by side in a drawer, you could also arrange them vertically. Insert dividers inside a tall drawer to store cutting boards or shallow baking dishes. Do you love baking? This is where you can store your cake pans, pie plates, muffin tins, and cookie sheets.  

Consider small appliance storage 

You may have accumulated several small appliances over the years. Besides the essential toaster and coffee maker, you could be using others on a regular basis, such as a slow cooker, mixer, or sparkling water machine. It’s not ideal to leave these appliances on the counter – they make your kitchen seem cluttered while reducing the amount of space available for food prep. Storing them at the back of a cupboard is no longer the best option; they become harder to access when you need them.  

Good news! Suitable kitchen storage solutions do exist so your appliances will be readily available and safe from dust bunnies, too. They will also help your kitchen look a lot less cluttered!

design your kitchen garage doors for small appliances

Appliance garage 

The term appliance garage refers to a cabinet or compartment that stores the most commonly used small appliances. Consider outfitting this kitchen must-have with electrical outlets; your appliances will always be plugged in and ready to use. You can design your kitchen in away to store all your small appliances in the same spot or divide them by task into smaller groups (breakfast necessities, for example). 

Think about the type of door you want for your appliance nook.  

  • Roll-up doors – picture a mini garage door – are a great option for space-deprived kitchens. They can be partially or fully opened and are perfect for upper cabinets with multiple shelves.  
  • In addition to being a great space saver, lifting doors are easy to open and close. They are perfect for modern or contemporary kitchens as well as tight spaces.  
  • Pocket doors, retractable doors that slide into the wall and disappear when opened, make an appliance garage easy to access. This type of mechanism is especially practical when the storage nook is in a corner with not enough clearance for regular doors. Pocket doors can also be matched perfectly with your other cabinet doors making this a win-win solution. 

Making the most of your corner cabinet 

You will inevitably have one or more corner cabinets if you are planning a U-shaped or L-shaped kitchen. This often leads to accessibility headaches. You almost have to get down on all fours in front of a deep drawer to reach that big roasting pan stored at the back. Not the most popular in the room, corner cabinets can nevertheless become more functional with the addition of well-thought-out accessories. 

corner drawers for storage space

Magic Corner 

Lazy Susans have been around for decades. This famous turntable can take credit for solving part of the storage conundrum. The latest innovation is called Magic Corner, a storage system that unfolds outside of the cabinet and allows you to easily view and reach all contents.  

Corner drawer 

A relatively new invention, the corner drawer stores small items in space that hasn’t been traditionally used for that purpose. Take advantage of its irregular form to store miscellaneous items that don’t have an assigned drawer, such as batteries, scissors, or oven mitts. 

Organizing your pantry

At first glance, a deep pantry seems like a great way to store your dry goods and even some extra supplies. But since we all tend to focus on items located within easy reach, the stuff stored at the bottom could be easily forgotten. Think about the following kitchen tips when designing your pantry. 

design your kitchen with sliding and walk-in pantries

Vertical pantry with sliding drawers 

Adding sliding drawers to your traditional pantry could be a great alternative if you have long dreamed about a walk-in pantry but lack the space to make it a reality. Your peanut butter, cereal boxes, and potato chip bags will be as easy to spot as walking into a small room dedicated to such dry goods. 

Pull-out pantry 

Another way to design your kitchen storage is to make your food accessible would be to build a pull-out pantry. The advantage of this system is that you can view all contents from both sides of the sliding panel, so nothing gets forgotten or is out of sight. However, the downside is you have to pull the entire pantry out, rather than a single shelf, each time you look for something.

Mini pull-out pantry

You could also be inspired by this idea and create a mini pantry in one of your lower cabinets, ideally next to the cooking area. This kitchen must-have lets you store oils, spices, and condiments, so you will have everything within easy reach while you cook! 

Once you have found the system you prefer, you can optimize it by picking the right containers for various products 

Manage waste and household cleaning products 

Admittedly lower down the priority list than food and tableware, garbage and household cleaning products can also benefit from clever storage solutions. 

hidden storage space for kitchen cleaning products and waste bins

Built-in waste bin

While there are some cool freestanding models on the market, your kitchen will look more streamlined if this kitchen must-have stays out of sight. Consider adding a built-in waste bin when you start designing your kitchen. You should ideally have at least two bins: one for garbage and another for recycling. If space permits, you could even include a compost bin. To optimize ergonomics, install a built-in waste bin near the sink or under the work surface of an island, for example. 

Drawer for cleaning products 

The cabinet underneath the sink undoubtedly provides the least practical kitchen storage space in the kitchen due to the jumble of plumbing pipes. Instead of reaching around pipes to grab that bottle of oven cleaner, why not install a sliding drawer? Another decluttering alternative for the design of your kitchen storage would be to completely replace the cabinet with a massive drawer. 

Using the toe-kick space 

Nothing looks more aesthetically pleasing than floor-to-ceiling kitchen cabinets. But this leaves many things on the top shelf out of the reach of the more vertically challenged. You will need to rely on a small stepladder sooner or later.  

A step stool could also come in handy for the little ones: you might want them to start emptying the dishwasher and putting away the cutlery and dishes. Whatever they’re doing, it’s never easy to reach up high to put something away. 

The solution: install a drawer in the toe-kick under cabinets. The step stool will then be easily accessible yet hidden in an otherwise wasted space.  

design your kitchen with toe kick drawers

Killing two birds with one stone with a plinth drawer 

It is also possible to install a plinth drawer, or space step, which serves as both extra kitchen storage space and a stable step stool that locks and stays securely in place. Now children and adults alike can safely reach the highest shelf. 

Design your kitchen with your favourites must-haves

Talk to your contractor about whatever piques your interest when it comes time to plan your kitchen design. A gorgeous kitchen is one thing, but a functional kitchen is even better! Take the time to pick out your kitchen must-haves to create your dream space!

If you’re ready to dive into renos, you may appreciate these tips for a stress-free and budget-friendly kitchen renovation. 

You can watch the video below to see some of the ideas mentioned in this article.

Isabelle Pronovost 

Isabelle Pronovost is a former statistical analyst that left the world of numbers to devote herself to words and writing. With a diploma in professional writing, she started working as a freelance writer and journalist in 2017. She has always been passionate about architecture, design, and, to a greater extent, everything house and home related – an interest that naturally led her to collaborate with RenoAssistance.

Isabelle Pronovost is a former statistical analyst that left the world of numbers to devote herself to words and writing. With a diploma in professional writing, she started working as a freelance writer and journalist in 2017. She has always been passionate about architecture, design, and, to a greater extent, everything house and home related – an interest that naturally led her to collaborate with RenoAssistance.