Cut the Clutter with Custom Kitchen Cabinet Storage

Many kitchens have cabinets cluttered with canned goods and cookware, countertops overwhelmed with small appliances, and utensils hidden in the depths of drawers. As the heart and hub of the home, customized and strategic kitchen storage solutions are key to maximizing efficiency.

Award-winning Senior Designer and Certified Kitchen Designer, Gloria Carlson has a favorite quote by Steve Jobs, “Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” This is a mission she strives to achieve when working with homeowners on creating a kitchen customized to their lifestyle.

Designing a kitchen that works is unique to every client. “Every person uses their kitchen differently. Understanding the preferences, cooking habits, and nuances of the homeowners is crucial to providing the most functional design,” says Gloria.

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When it comes to storage, Gloria collaborates closely with homeowners, considering how and where they use various items, as well as the frequency of their use. These distinctive details guide Gloria’s planning for storage and organization.

Using these details, she can design an integrated storage plan. Cutting boards, knives, and other meal preparation utensils can be accommodated in one area while baking ingredients, bowls, cookware, and measuring cups can be segregated in a specialized location. Spices, oils, cooking sprays, and wooden spoons can flank either side of the cooktop in pull-outs for convenient access.

This attention to detail continues throughout, with frequently used items strategically placed where the chef can have them at their fingertips.

Innovative kitchen organization and storage options can be customized to meet every client’s needs.

Pantry Pull Outs

Whether you have a walk-in pantry or a large cupboard, organizing this space efficiently and adequately can be a culinary game-changer.

Opportunities to expand pantry storage are many. “Before deciding on solutions, it is essential to consider the pantry’s width, depth, and overall size,” explains Gloria. What will be stored in the space also deserves thoughtful consideration.

Wire bins and baskets are great for onions, potatoes, and root vegetables. Pull-out drawers offer accessibility for canned goods and snacks, while glass or acrylic containers keep flour, sugar, pasta, and grains fresh. Vertical storage tucks away baking sheets and platters, and wine racks ensure your favorite reds are at hand. Simple adjustable shelves can also offer flexible storage for boxes or small appliances.

Tray Dividers

Installing vertical tray dividers above or near a wall oven allows for baking sheets, muffin tins, wire cooling racks, baking pans, and serving platters to be stacked upright instead of in a cumbersome pile. Items can be easily seen and accessed.

Appliance Garages & Lifts

Some homeowners prefer to have critical appliances, like stand mixers and toasters, on the counter standing at the ready. Others want them easily accessible but tucked away out of sight to keep counters clear when they are not being used.

Appliance garages are customized countertop compartments specifically designed to conveniently house and conceal small kitchen appliances, including stand mixers, blenders, and toasters. Designed into the cabinetry, these compartments have doors that slide or lift open and electrical outlets for instant operation. Gloria claims that access to appliance garages has much improved over the years but warns that overcrowding them can make them less functional.

Corner Storage

Corner cabinets can have deep “dead corners” that are hard to access if not planned well. Installing multi-tiered Lazy Susans or blind-corner pull-outs makes the most of the space in base cabinets, ensuring everything is right at your fingertips. Lazy Susan units can also be installed in wall cabinets.
One of Gloria’s recommendations is Hafele’s push-through revolving Lazy Susan.

Plates & Dishware

In the past, upper cabinets were the go-to for dinnerware. But, because plates, bowls, and platters can be heavy and awkward to access from wall cabinets, there is a trend to storing plates and dishware in lower cabinets.

Wood pegboard systems are an ideal organizational solution for dishware. The base is trimmed to fit inside a drawer or cabinet. Sturdy wooden pegs can be placed in various locations, creating organized niches for various sizes of dishes and bowls.

Cutlery, Utensils & Knives

Different sized drawer inserts help organize flatware, cutlery, and collections of utensils. Built-in knife blocks and utensil storage can be integrated into drawers to the side of cooktops or prep areas. Proper storage of knives ensures accessibility and safety while also maintaining the life of the blades. If small children are in the home, extra care should be given to safely keep sharp knives out of reach.

Plasticware Storage

Many homeowners have a cabinet bursting with a chaotic collection of untamed containers and lids. There are several storage solutions that neatly organize plasticware, including pull-outs, bins, and dividers to neatly organize plasticware and lids. Gloria suggests Rev-A-Shelf’s Tupperware organizer.

Wine & Alcohol

For homeowners desiring a wine or wet bar in or near the kitchen, Gloria designs a well-planned location for all barware, bottles, and accessories. Wine racks and refrigerators house bottles at the ready. Stemware racks neatly nest glassware. Custom shelving allows bottles of alcohol to be close at hand. Designated cabinets store cocktail shakers and ice buckets, and organized drawers hold corkscrews, bottle openers, and strainers.

Spice Storage

Having savory spices near the cooktop or prep area eliminates the inefficiency of walking across the kitchen. Creating a “spice space” for avid bakers guarantees that frequently used seasonings and extracts are readily available. Spices can be cleverly stored in tiered drawer inserts, door-mounted racks, and pull-outs, to list just a few. Deep drawers may benefit from illumination to allow the cook to identify seasonings quickly.

Coffee Centers

For those who enjoy their morning java, dedicated coffee centers are collective spaces for all the necessary accoutrements. There are special Keurig pod holders, containers for sweeteners, beans and grounds, and cabinets designed to store mugs, saucers, grinders, and more.


Cluttering the space beneath most kitchen sinks is a mishmash of cleaning supplies. Pull-out drawers and bins enhance the accessibility of soaps, sponges, and cleansers and make the most of space while easily fitting around plumbing fixtures. The under-sink cleaning supply pullout by Clever Storage is an excellent organizational option.

Trash, Recycling & Composting

Gone are the days of exposed garbage and recycling bins. If desired, these unsightly containers can be discreetly tucked away in a dedicated drawer using storage systems designed specifically for the job and the space. For those who wish to compost, some systems incorporate small side bins just for that purpose.

Display Cabinets

The uppermost cabinets in a kitchen can serve a decorative or organizational purpose, particularly in kitchens with higher ceilings, where access requires a stepstool or ladder. They can be outfitted with glass doors and LED lighting to highlight artful vases or beautiful platters, or high cabinets can be ideal for tucking away infrequently used items, such as holiday dishware.

Could your kitchen use a remodel complete with strategically creative storage solutions? Schedule a creative collaboration consultation with a Harrell Design + Build Designer to discover your kitchen’s innovative possibilities.

Woman Founded and 100% Employee-Owned, Harrell Design + Build has created distinctive homes in Silicon Valley and on the mid-Peninsula since 1985. Our Design + Build Team is here to help you reimagine your home inside and out.

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