5 storage mistakes people with clutter-free kitchens never make - they'll make you re-think your remodel plans

The most common kitchen storage mistakes designers always spot that are hampering your kitchen's functionality and style

A kitchen backsplash with small shelves
(Image credit: ALEXANDER JAMES)

While good storage will make your kitchen feel effortless, bad storage is something that you'll always notice after your kitchen remodel is finished -  leading to over-stuffed cupboards, badly organized drawers, and making important things you want to keep at hand inaccessible.

Sometimes, to know how to make your kitchen storage work, you need to know what doesn't work, and thankfully designers have plenty of experience in navigating this area. So which modern kitchen mistakes do we need to look out for, and how to do we overcome them? Here's what designers say. 

1. Skimping on drawers

A kitchen drawer in dark wood


'Not adding drawers where possible is a big mistake when building a new kitchen,' says Jane Lockhart, founder of Jane Lockhart Design. 'This is sometimes due to cost, but it is worth the budget stretch as it makes a kitchen far more usable. Drawers allow you to pull out items so they are easier to see and make lifting heavier objects a simpler task. And, added drawers mean you don’t have to bend down as far to find things, overall helping with efficiency.'

To make your drawers even more functional, consider adding kitchen organizers such as cutlery organizers, small bottles etc, acrylic boxes, etc within the drawers to store all the small items neatly.

'In my experience, lower cabinet doors are not optimal as a way to take advantage of storage,' says Lucie Ayres, founder and principal designer of 22 Interiors. 'We do lower drawers always because we find that drawers can store as much, if not more than lower shelves. Just because a typical kitchen used to have lower cabinets with shelves, doesn't make it a reason to do the same. The future is drawers.'

2. Ignoring corner cabinets

green kitchen corner cabinets without pull out storage by BLDC Design

(Image credit: Sharon Hughes/BLDC Design)

Corner drawers are a great way to use your kitchen's dead space to improve the overall decor, and functionality. Corners or alcoves are often the most overlooked spaces but the most useful ones too.

'I think one of the most common mistakes is not taking advantage of blind corner kitchen cabinets,' says Kelly Sopel, president at Trim Tech Designs. 'They’re awkward and sometimes the black hole in the kitchen, but incorporating a pull-out insert mechanism allows easy access to that far back dead space.'

Even the smallest amount of kitchen storage created from a corner can be extremely useful in curbing mess. 

3. Missing out on more shelf space

A kitchen with tall storage unit

(Image credit: Malcolm Menzies)

'Having tall cabinets without putting in more than one shelf to take advantage of the height is a big opportunity missed,' says Jane. 'Adding at least two shelves, or tailoring the position of the shelves during installation to accommodate taller or shorter items, can really improve the amount of things that can be stored.'

You could use the larger kitchen cabinet shelves to keep taller items like cereal packets, squash bottles, or spaghetti jars, and the smaller ones to store spices. Consider adjustable shelves that can be moved around as per your need, and also consider under-shelf baskets.

4. Disregarding pantry cabinets

A kitchen pantry storage unit

(Image credit: Future)

'Not every home comes with a built-in kitchen pantry but that doesn’t mean you can’t attain the same idea elsewhere throughout the kitchen,' says Kelly. 'Designing with a few tall, shallow pantry cabinets, is advantageous for storage, and embodies a custom built-in ambiance with these cabinets.'

An extra pantry cabinet in the kitchen does not however mean it's an opportunity to cram more things in. Make a checklist of items that need to go in here, and throw out any out-of-date things. Organize this space in a way that it's easy to use. Perhaps add a pantry organizer within the cupboard to create extra space and order in the cabinet. Transfer dried items from bulky packets into clear storage jars, and make your kitchen less cluttered and more tidy.

5. Not utilizing the island for storage

A kitchen island with storage

(Image credit: Future)

A kitchen island can be a savior that your space badly needs. Ignoring its potential can be a big opportunity missed.

'A kitchen island isn't just functional because it provides extra counter space or another place to grab a quick bite,' says Joshua Smith, principal designer and founder of Joshua Smith Inc. 'An island can also add additional storage to your kitchen. This is particularly helpful if the kitchen is on the smaller size, but you still want the luxury of a kitchen island.'

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Design Editor

Aditi Sharma Maheshwari is the Design Editor at Livingetc. She is an architecture and design journalist with over 10 years of experience. She's worked at some of the leading media houses in India such as Elle Decor, Houzz and Architectural Digest (Condé Nast). Till recently, she was a freelance writer for publications such as Architectural Digest US, House Beautiful, Stir World, Beautiful Homes India among others. In her spare time, she volunteers at animal shelters and other rescue organizations.