Are Your Kitchen Cabinets Functional?

Functional.  We often throw that word around in reference to kitchens. X makes the kitchen more functional. Y reduces the kitchen’s functionality, and so on. But what does it mean? In most cases, it comes down to the flow of the kitchen. Is the kitchen designed to make your experience easy? Can you prep your food as you wish? How about cleaning up? A truly functional kitchen allows you to move through the space seamlessly.  No tripping over each other, agonizing over cabinets you wished were in different spots or muttering to yourself about the distance between the fridge and the countertop, etc. 

The best part? All kitchens can be functional, regardless of how small or large they are. It comes down to the design and consideration of the main elements in the space. Here are some tips to increase kitchen cabinet functionality. 

What Makes a Kitchen Functional?

We are back to our keyword – functional. Just what makes a space functional, and where could you be falling short?

1.    The Kitchen Work Triangle

Have you heard of this concept? The kitchen work triangle represents the space and flow between the cooktop, the fridge, and the sink. In other words, your food preparation, storage, and cleanup. While the Work Triangle offers guidelines, they are not standard. Every kitchen varies in size and shape, which influences the kitchen design. In some cases, you might have to modify dimensions to accommodate this concept and tie in other critical elements to the space. That is why it is crucial to work with professional kitchen designers to ensure you get the proper flow.

2.    Countertops and your work area

You have figured out where you should prep your meals, but is it ideal? You see, it is not just about location.  Maybe it falls short on sizing. For example,  a busy household with children and guests streaming in and out of the kitchen can strain the space available to you. The hope is that your new design can create ample countertop space that minimizes clutter and traffic.  Or allows you to spread out when preparing meals.  Otherwise it is just another element to a less functional space.

3.    Lighting

Can you see what is in front of you as you work in or even just walk through the kitchen? When it come to kitchen functionality, lighting is a key element. 

  • Ambient Lighting: This general lighting works for the entire area, illuminating the space and easing traffic flow.
  • Task Lighting: While ambient lighting covers the whole area, it’s not sharp enough to account for specific tasks.  This specific lighting, in the form of pendants or under cabinet lighting primarily, provides a whole new layer of light to the every day tasks of chopping, slicing and more in the kitchen.  
  • Accent Lighting: Is there anything in the kitchen you want to shine a light on? Of course there is! Find that focal point and let it shine. 
  1.   Storage

Understanding how much storage you need to accommodate your food prep and storage needs is critical to the functionality of your kitchen.  In fact, it is one of the things you cannot afford to overlook. Some items require special storage and cannot be out in the open. On the other hand, others are too small to take up the large spaces in standard cabinets. How will you balance these multiple needs?  We think this is so essential to the kitchen’s functionality that we have devoted the rest of our blog to it.  

Is Kitchen Storage That Important?

Have you ever wished your kitchen was a mess? That you would walk into it and find utensils and spices all over the worktop? Nobody wants to use a messy kitchen, and that is why storage has always been important. Even before pull-out storage and rotating lazy susans were a thing, people still found ways to make their spaces tidy.

The answer is yes.  Kitchen Storage is that important.  Let’s focus on the core reasons:

  • Safety: Kitchens are accident hotspots. You blink for a minute, and someone has hurt themselves. In homes with pets and kids, the risk is even higher. So how does storage help with this? It gives you space to store the day to day and keep sharp objects nearby but out of reach. It is one more way to keep the kitchen safer for everyone.
  • Aesthetic Appeal: Working in a messy kitchen is not fun at all. You cannot enjoy whipping up a new recipe while staring at utensils, last night’s dinner and other items sprawled all over the space. It can even disorient you, taking away from the calm that should wash over you when cooking.
  • Cost Savings: Just how do storage and money relate to each other? Have you ever looked for something in the kitchen and concluded that you had run out of it? Then bought a replacement at the store only to find that the original item was still at home? With no system, that’s how bad storage can get you to spend on things you already have.
  • Time Savings: Good storage allows you to unpack your groceries fast and find them quickly. You can then spend more time cooking or maybe even relaxing.
  • Better Meal Planning: Knowing what you have in the pantry means you can whip up a meal in no time. Just peek in, assess what is there and just like that you have your meal.
  • Cleanliness: Good storage allows you to clean up quickly and keep your kitchen in good condition most of the time. Guests can pop in at any time and you can also enjoy the space more!

Efficient storage increases the kitchen’s functionality. And it makes the work triangle even more effective.

Which Cabinets Can Increase Your Kitchen Functionality?

The rights choice in kitchen cabinets can immediately improve functionality in the kitchen.  Consider these kitchen cabinet options and the wonders they could work in your kitchen:

  • Corner Super Susans: What better way to reach spices or any items than by stowing them in a cabinet with rotating or movable shelves? It can utilize corner space that would otherwise go to waste and save time when looking for that needed item with out grabbing a flashlight or getting down on the floor..
  • Double Trash Pull-Outs: Walking into a kitchen with visible trash and recycling bins is becoming less and less common. And let’s be honest – it makes a huge difference by making the space more clutter-free. These cabinets typically take up about 18 inches of space. And if you’re working with a small kitchen, we can find a single option suited for your space.
  • Vertical Dividers: Storing them flat just takes up more space than is necessary. Save space by storing your cooling racks, cutting boards, and other flat objects in your cabinets straight up.  Perfect for that 9 or 12 inch space you want to get the most from. 
  • Roll-Out Pantries: Did you know that you can get a pantry as small as 12 inches? Add the roll-out option and you maximize and organize storage as the same time.  A lovely home for all your dry and canned goods!
  • Drawers: It s the rare kitchen that has enough drawers. Drawers will never go out of style. These storage spaces are flexible and easy to operate. Plus the clean lines of the drawer front design can add to the seamlessness of the space. 
  • Tilt Out Trays: What do you do with your scouring pads when you are not doing the dishes? Keep them out of sight with tilt out trays that make the sink a bit tidier.
  • Toe-Kick Drawers: Can you do anything with the space under the base cabinets? Yes! It can be the ideal spot for items that you barely use, like batteries. Or you could make it the kiddie section, enabling your children to reach things with ease.
  • Base Pull-Out Cabinets: Anything we can pull to us in the kitchen is a win. These cabinets can hold anything from utensils to canned goods down to spices. They are perfect for the stove area, allowing you to reach for what you need in the nick of time.
  • Charging Drawers: Where do you keep your sprawl of chargers, or the multiple devices you charge on a daily basis. Having these items sprawled over the kitchen only complicates things. Adding this small cabinet drawer that is wired for power can help you keep everything within reach…and maybe even store everyone’s device for a nice family dinner or conversation. 

And while you are at it, you might want to consider smart appliances in your kitchen to make it even more seamless.  

How To Organize Your Kitchen Cabinets to Function Better

How can you organize your kitchen cabinets to become even more functional? We have some ideas:

  • Pair items: Some items belong together. It makes it easier to stock and retrieve items. And let’s not forget that it improves the aesthetics too!
  • Take advantage of cabinet doors:  Use them for storage. Add some racks, and move your spices, lids, or other small items to the door storage!
  • Prioritize access to high use items: Move items you regularly use closer to the work triangle. You should not need to get on a stool to get spices if you often use them. It helps you cut back on retrieval time and eases food prep.
  • Use labels: Have you ever noticed how home organization gurus label their items? Everything, including salt, has a tag. It works wonders in helping you find things when you need them. 
  • Add dividers: Some items cannot stand alone in the cabinets and create a disorganized mess. Dividers can help you divide the cabinets to classify the items per section. 
  • Go taller: Are you running out of storage space? To avoid compromising the work triangle, we recommend taller cabinets.  Whether it is taller wall cabinets or floor-to-ceiling tall storage cabinets, embrace the opportunity to take your storage to the next level, literally.
  • Swerve in that corner: Do not let your kitchen be defined by a base blind corner cabinet. A little swerve goes a long way…to the back of the cabinet.  These angular pull out trays do the work for you, gently swiveling in and out to use more of the cabinet for storage and leave less dead space. 

If you are ready to make your kitchen and your kitchen cabinets more functional but have no idea where to start, our design team would love to help. We can assess your kitchen’s current functionality and advise you on how best to improve it when designing your new kitchen. Contact us today!

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