Think all kitchen cabinets are created equal? If so, it’s definitely time for you to think again. In recent years, homeowners have begun demanding smarter storage options. It’s no longer enough for a kitchen cabinet to just look good or even merely suffice – on-trend kitchens should be efficient, effective, and innovative. One of the most popular features are pull out cabinets or pocket pantries – narrow, deep shelves that are fronted with a standard cabinet panel, but that pull out to give easy access to the contents, including those all the way in the back.
Pull Out Pantries
The most common form of pull out cabinet is the pull out pantry. If you watch a lot of cooking shows, you’ve probably seen these in Alton Brown’s kitchen. They’re as tall as a standard pantry, but a third or even a quarter as wide, and filled with simple, railed shelves. Usually, these shelves are open all the way through, and pull out all the way from the wall, meaning that even if every shelf is completely filled, it’s still easy to see everything on them. Pull out pantries can be as narrow or wide as you want (though ones that are two wide may be cumbersome), and can be installed individually, with multiple alongside one another, or even in conjunction with another type of storage.
Now, for anyone with a walk in pantry, this type of storage might seem a little silly. But if you’re anything like me (by which I mean, stuck in a too-small kitchen!), chances are you know the pain of never being able to find anything in your kitchen cabinets, or even not being able to use all of your cabinet space because you simply cant find anything if you do. Pull out cabinets maximize the storage space in a small kitchen in two ways. First, they physically take up less space – you can cram three pull out pantries into the space of one tall cupboard. But maybe more importantly, you can store and retrieve items from them more easily. Better still, pull out cabinets don’t have to be pantry sized. In a small kitchen, you can install pull out cabinets of various sizes into spaces that would otherwise be too small or awkward to use.
Alongside The Stove
Everyone organizes their kitchen differently, but chances are good that you keep your spices and seasonings as close to your stove as possible. After all, that’s where you use them, and it only makes sense to have that little sprinkle of something nearby while you’re cooking. But range hoods often make above head storage impossible or at least awkward, and the upper cabinets on either side are often prime real estate for cups and plates. So what’s a savvy chef to do? When installing new kitchen cabinets, give yourself 4-6 inches on either side of your range (or near your cooktop) and install a narrow pull-out cabinet. They’re big enough to store even a generous spice collection, keep your most used items at an easy reach, and are even a pretty handy way to store oil, cooking spray, vinegar, or even organize utensils that would otherwise clutter up your counter top and drawers.
Hidden Storage (In Plain Sight)
Most of the pull out cabinets I mention here are fairly large, but the beautiful thing is that they don’t have to be. In fact, some can be so small that you can hide them in plain sight. Have decorative molding around your range hood? Hollow a little piece out and turn it into a petite spice rack. False drawer in front of your kitchen sink? A U-shaped pull out cabinet will allow you to utilize that oft-wasted space without sacrificing your style. Plus, because most pull out cabinets are custom designed, you can choose the number and distance between shelves to accommodate your most used items.
Bumps, angles, corners, and uneven surfaces are absolutely positively the worst spaces to try to add storage to. The doors don’t sit right or open well, the spaces tend to be small and narrow, and get low marks in both visibility and accessibility. Admittedly, there are a few better options for addressing corner cabinets specifically, but in terms of odd edges (like on a prep area or kitchen island) you really can’t beat a pull out cabinets. Why? Because the front cabinet face can be angled while leaving the shelves perfectly straight, maximizing storage in your other cabinets as well.
Nooks And Crannies
Maybe my favorite use for pull out cabinets, though, is in the leftover spaces that many kitchens never quite manage to fill, like the little narrow opening on one side of your refrigerator, or a headache-making gap left from replacing an odd-sized appliance. Because pull out cabinets take up very little more space than they occupy, they can be fitted to almost any odd opening. This allows you to utilize almost 100% of the space instead of leaving it empty or installing an awkwardly narrow traditional kitchen cabinet.
Pull Out Cabinets Galore
Pull out cabinets aren’t a perfect solution. They’re not great for storing small appliances, and offer little help in the way of pots, pans, baking sheets, or Tupperware. That said, there’s a reason pull out cabinets have become such a prevalent kitchen cabinet trend. For pantry storage they’re practically unbeatable, especially in a smaller kitchen, and they’re even great for keeping small utensils organized. Maybe the best feature, though, is that there’s really no limit on how many you can use, since they work so well in just about every part of your kitchen. Heck, you can even use them to sort your garbage out of sight and smell-free.
What type of pull out pantry storage appeals to you? Are you considering pull out cabinets as a storage solution for your small kitchen, or an add-on organizer for a kitchen with a larger layout?