Kitchen Storage: What Lies Beneath

In my previous blog post on kitchen design, I promised you a deeper dive into the storage I incorporated into my kitchen. I would imagine you’ve all been on tenterhooks ever since, and I’m delighted to tell you THE WAIT IS OVER, the day is here and we can chat nooks, crannies and tupperware to our hearts’ content.

Photo by Nathan Jones Photography

So, when you’re initially thinking about designing your kitchen, you’re probably thinking of cabinet colours, whether or not to incorporate an island, what sort of work surface to have, and all that fun stuff. But what really matters is what lies beneath: if you’re going to the trouble of putting in a new kitchen, you want a place for everything and everything in its place. No more popcorn machine stashed on top of the cupboards. No more homeless Nutribullet. I started in the early stages of kitchen planning by making a list of every kitchen related thing I owned, then did a brutal edit of what I actually used and what could go to the great retirement home for unused candy floss makers in the sky (the tip).

Next, I put them into groups of things which could live together and made a rough sort of plan of what could go where, based on the amount of kitchen units available to me. Crockery, baking trays, utensils, cutlery, glassware, bins, pots and pans, gadgets that I actually use, tea towels, foil/cling film/baking paper, all those sorts of things. I’ll run through some of what I did, which might be useful if you’re in the early stages of kitchen planning and pondering storage too.

1. The Pantry

I’ve always coveted a big pantry and was overjoyed that we could incorporate one into the kitchen design. Our house has quite a quirky layout and along the back of the two rooms we knocked together, there was a corridor of great uselessness. We used to hang our coats in it. I think it once was used by servants, as it led straight out of the basement which still has the old Victorian cast iron range cooker in it, and into the old kitchen/dining room. In the absence of any servants (I’m still working on the children), I cut the old corridor in half and made the outer half into a downstairs WC, accessed from the hallway, and the inner half into the pantry, accessed via the kitchen. You can (just about) walk into it and I’ve put a massive Billy bookcase from Ikea in there, which actually fits perfectly and was a tenth of the price of the built in shelving I’d been quoted. I’d put a stone floor down too, and deliberately not extended the underfloor heating into the space, to keep it cool.

Thus, all the tinned and packaged food lives in there and I still smile every time I open the door. The shelving only went in relatively recently and I’d lived with a pile of tins and packets all over the floor in there for the best part of a year. I had to give up on trying to maintain any sort of system as the other three inhabitants of the house seemingly dedicated their lives to making it as horrifically messy as possible, and I have limited energy reserves. I made this little video for Instagram, it’s a tricky space to photograph – narrow and high – so I’ll use this to give you an idea. It has a festive soundtrack as it was Christmas when I made it, but that’s ok isn’t it?

Island Storage

I was delighted to be able to incorporate an island, I’d always wanted one. It’s not one that I needed seating at (there was plenty at the table next to the island, and there’s two sofas in the “living” end of the kitchen, so plenty of room for many backsides), so my main aim was to cram as much storage into it as possible.

As an aside, I now can’t unsee the cat with an arched back in the veining on this end of the island, after it was repeatedly pointed out by people on Instagram! And now you can’t either.

I decided the whole thing would be drawers of varying sizes (although they all look uniform from the outside, as designed by the clever Stuart at Born of Wood). At this point, I’ll tell you I was very inspired by my friend Bess, who has a remarkably lovely kitchen, as well she might as she’s an amazing interior designer. She kindly let me have a root through her drawers, so to speak, and I got loads of inspiration from her clever storage ideas. I also absolutely rinsed Pinterest for inspiration. This what I ended up with….

a) Pan drawer with incorporated pan lid drawer (italics denote excitement)

Photo by Nathan Jones Photography

From the outside, you see a deep drawer, but within there lies a double delight – a shallow drawer at the top for all the lids, so they can sit flat and don’t need to be stacked upright in a rack, or balanced on top of pans, meaning you can’t stack them. Beneath that, a deep space for the pans themselves, plus sieves etc. Joyous.

b) Cutlery drawer

Photo by Nathan Jones Photography

A very pretty thing, designed by Born of Wood, after I asked for a dedicated space for sharp knives within the cutlery drawer. I like to place the knives in descending order of size, no-one else does. Space for the regular cutlery, and then space to the side for other bits and pieces (rolling pin, salad servers and all that jazz). No, this is not an accurate representation of its tidiness. It is, of course, a lot more rammed than this, but this pic was from a professional photoshoot, so I made an effort at civilisation.

c) Baking tray and utensil storage

Photo by Nathan Jones Photography

This genius utensil storage design was directly lifted from Bess’s kitchen. I’d never seen anything so wonderful in my entire life (well, anything storage related anyway), and knew I had to have the same thing. So I chose 6 pots (they are porcelain ones with a marble print on the outside, yes, even though no-one will ever see it, for the princely sum of £2 each from Asda) and Born of Wood made a cut out for them to slot into – they can be removed to be cleaned etc. Not that I ever have, as I am a slattern. I sometimes stick the vacuum nozzle in there though.

To the right are slots for all the baking trays and chopping boards to be stored upright, so you can easily see the one you’re looking for and don’t unleash a noisy avalanche when trying to pull one out from the bottom of the stack (the experience of my lifetime prior to this kitchen). Not going to lie, this drawer makes me feel extremely adult.

d) Drawer of doom

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrggghhhh. Look away, Marie Kondo.

Come on, we all need one, don’t pretend you can live without somewhere to hide all the rogue items that have no home. Come on down, post it notes, envelopes, batteries, cables, sellotape, elastic bands, et cetera, et cetera, et bloody cetera. My kitchen may now be a space of organisation and order, but my basic personality type hasn’t changed. If in doubt, into the drawer of doom it goes.

e) Other honourable mentions within the island are a drawer for tupperware, a double depth drawer which houses mixing bowls and electrical items like whisks, and the juicer which only comes out at New Year when I’m on a “new year, new me” regime which lasts circa one week, a drawer for placemats, cutters, brown paper lunchbags etc, and a couple of false drawer fronts which house the space needed for the induction hob (it has an integrated extractor fan, so we had to put a flue in which leads to outside under the floorboards. Clever).

The Breakfast Cupboard

Or as I like to call it, the “burnt toast cupboard”, as certain people within the house, we’ll call him Chris as that is his name, cannot make toast without burning it to such an extent that you can’t breathe in the kitchen for 2 hours afterwards. The cupboard always smells of burnt toast. However, it is a wondrous cupboard and I love it wholeheartedly. It has lights which come on as you open the middle doors, and I like to accompany this by making the sound of a chorus of angels as I open it. Every time.

It’s not actually a breakfast cupboard, this just seems to be what people call them when there’s a toaster present. You could keep all your brekko items in there, cereal and whatnot, but I have the pantry for that. I keep all the glassware in here, and then I have a quartz shelf with sockets behind it, where I keep the toaster (for burning bread to ash), the blender, the sandwich toaster and the bread bin. There are three drawers below this, the top one holds all the mugs, the bottom two hold assorted detritus and are not worthy of photos.

To either side of the burnt toast cupboard are two tall cupboards with shelves. I’ll show you the right hand one – I’m afraid I cannot show the left hand one, it’s become a dumping ground and needs a massive sort out, which is somewhere near shaving my legs during lockdown on my list of priorities, i.e. very low. I keep all the crockery in the right hand one, plates and bowls, plus mixing bowls, ceramic dishes etc. There’s loads of room and I love it.

The Charger Drawer

I spotted one of these on Pinterest and was immediately sold. A place to charge all the devices without having wires, phones and iPads all over the work surfaces? Yes please. Here is a pic of it looking charming and minimal.

I sadly have to report that no-one else in the house gives a hoot about my clever system and the drawer is usually found with the charging cable hanging out of it, attached to a device on the work surface. I despair. It has also become a dumping ground for all rogue cables and chargers and mostly resembles a tangled ball of wool. RIP my excellent ideas.

The Bin

Not the most exciting of the storage solutions, but we all need one. I have separate recycling bins in the utility room (separate utility room blog to follow!), so just needed a general waste bin in the kitchen, which slides out when you open a cupboard. I had to compromise slightly on the size of it, due to complex builder related issues which meant the wall it lives on had to be made smaller at the last minute, but there is a lot to be said for a small bin – big ones just mean things fester longer and I hate a festering bin. Pretty sure everyone hates a festering bin. What we also managed to incorporate is a little recycling bin behind the main one (to be fair, quite useless as it fills up v quickly), but my favourite bit is the little drawer within the cupboard, above the bin, where I keep the bin bags. Happy sigh.

And those are the main highlights! I’ve never had a decent kitchen until now and, 14 months in, I can still, hand on heart, say all of these little storage spaces bring me daily joy. Have you got anything in yours worthy of a mention? Let me know!

8 Comments

  1. 14 March 2021 / 7:51 am

    So many genius ideas in here – the knife slots, the utensil drawer, the charger drawer!!! Love them all – now want to redesign my kitchen!!!

    • 15 March 2021 / 11:42 am

      Thanks Jo! I feel like I at least have one aspect of my life in order!

  2. 14 March 2021 / 7:55 am

    This is such a fabulous post, I’m in the early stages of kitchen planning and this is SO useful. Such a beautiful kitchen. But good to read it doesn’t always look like that! Love the charging drawer and my family would be the same, charging on the surface! ?

    • 15 March 2021 / 11:43 am

      Hi Pia, thanks for reading – it absolutely doesn’t look like that it real life! Still gutted about the charger drawer….

  3. 14 March 2021 / 8:39 am

    This is brilliant! So much handy tips!! We are embarking on our own kitchen extension soon. Myself and my husband are designing and building it to save a HUGE amount of money!!! Literally thousands. We also (in our 40’s) have never had a dream kitchen – I say dream – I just mean a decent sized space to really enjoy the kitchen. We both love cooking and cannot wait for the kids to be able to be in the space at the same time without tripping over each other!!
    We have already (after swooning) over your stunning kitchen to go dark green with the cupboards, and there are other bits which I’m stealing from your design (I hope you don’t mind) but also incorporating vintage furniture into the mix (after all that’s what business I’m in)

    Anyway… the storage is vital – I don’t want to see my bin, I don’t want to be routing through drawers to find things, i don’t want to see cables etc everywhere!! (This is my absolute bug bare) I really want a clear considered space. I have all the cupboards I can fit in – I just now need to think about where everything lives. This would have been an after thought – this can just live in here etc and hope it fits in but to think of it all before – genius!!!

    One thing I wondered which is something a friend had mentioned in a conversation. A sink macerator – i didn’t even know it was a thing in England? I just remember seeing them on movies and thinking ‘oh my god’ you’ll loose your fingers!! But you can get them here and we are getting one!!! I can’t wait – it even chops up chicken bones into a dust and it directly connects to the drains. Heaven – no more smelly bin bits. I do have a compost for alll the green waste but fish skin and chicken stinks after about a day! ?

    We are making all our kitchen cupboard doors – even with buying a table saw and all the gadgets to shape them etc, it still works out cheaper than getting someone in to do it for you. We just wanted a bespoke kitchen that fots perfectly. It’s going to take a huge amount of time and I’m not sure where that will come from right now but it’s going to be busy. I’m even going to be brick laying?!?! ?

    Your kitchen/ home is wonderful and has given us the goal – let’s see if we can get there this year? Thank you for sharing all this info, Josie xx

    • 15 March 2021 / 11:47 am

      Oh wow, Josie, this sounds an incredible project and I am in awe of your skills! A macerator sounds BRILLIANT, I’d have loved one, but didn’t think about it. Wishing you the best of luck, are you going to document it om Instagram? And thanks for your lovely words 🙂 x

  4. Lisa
    22 July 2021 / 11:10 pm

    Hi Sandra, can ask where your kitchen cupboard handles are from and what is the finish? Have been hunting for exactly these! So beautiful!

    • 23 July 2021 / 11:37 am

      Hi Lisa, of course! They’re from The Foundryman, they sell on Etsy and have an Instagram account. I’ve just had a quick look and can’t see the exact ones on his site but drop him a line and I’m sure he’ll help. Mine were just the brass finish 🙂

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