7 outdated kitchen storage ideas you should probably avoid, and what to use instead for a functional cooking space

If you are looking to update your kitchen this year take note - you might be familiar with these storage solutions, but there are more contemporary ideas that will benefit your kitchen

large kitchen island
(Image credit: Unique Kitchen and Baths)

Kitchen design has come so far in the past 10 years, yet many of us continually return to storage solutions pioneered in the 70s. These designs often don't stand up to present-day requirements when it comes to functionality and can also feel dated amongst a sleek modern interior. 

In 2024, there are a few kitchen storage ideas that you should steer clear of, and some better options you can use to transform your kitchen from overcrowded and impractical to functional and contemporary without compromising on your personal design style. 

Here we spoke to experts about their go-to storage solutions and which ideas to avoid  that used to be popular. Trust us there are some game changers in here.

1. Lazy Susans

Time is up for this classic twirling table. The lazy Susan is extremely outdated and no longer the optimal choice for getting the most out of your space. Experts are unanimously in favour of phasing out the contraption in favour of something a little more reliable and practical. ‘Stored items tend to fall between cracks, or the middle partition starts malfunctioning,’ explains Jennifer Morrison, of Morrison Design House, ’they also aren't super efficient from a storage perspective and can be difficult to properly organize.’

Bob Bakes, Head of Design at Bakes & Kropp, agrees. ‘It’s common for people to overthink storage,' Bob says. 'It isn’t always necessary to use every inch, and I’ve seen people compromise bulk storage in an effort to do so. An example of this is putting a lazy Susan inside a corner kitchen cabinet. It solves some accessibility problems but also minimizes the amount of available space in other ways.’

A lazy Susan seems like the obvious choice when faced with an abundance of oil bottles, condiments, and larger kitchen items, but their unreliable and awkward build makes them less than ideal for this. Instead, opt for pull-out shelving systems. ‘‘We tend to use the magic corner system (available from Amazon) because you can pull the entire unit out to access everything and easily organize larger items,’ says Jennifer. This update will not only maximize your space but will also enhance your overall kitchen experience. No more struggles with a malfunctioning turning mechanism. 

2. Overcomplicated corner units 

‘The infamous corner cabinet, though it attempts to utilize a tricky space, often turns into a black hole for lost kitchenware,’ says Artem Kropovinsky, an interior design expert and founder of Arsight, an award-winning interior design studio based in New York.

We are all guilty of chucking everything and everything in those seemingly endless corner cupboards without any order. Hours have been lost searching for items that lie at the very back where no arm can reach. ‘The lack of accessibility makes this design element feel outdated in a time when ease and efficiency are paramount,’ says Artem.

So, when it comes to how to organize a kitchen, what should we do?  Instead, Artem urges us to rethink the corner cabinet. ‘In lieu of corner cabinets, opt for clever corner drawers or LeMans corner units, which offer a higher level of organization and accessibility. These solutions make it easier to reach every item, effectively bringing function and style into a formerly awkward space.’ 

open shelves in a minimalist kitchen

(Image credit: Nicole Franzen)

3. Upper cabinets

Wave goodbye to the traditional bulky upper cabinets. That’s the message we got from experts who all agree their time has passed. What they suggest instead will instantly elevate your kitchen to feel sleek, contemporary, and purposeful.

‘Despite their seemingly indispensable status, upper cabinets have become a relic of the past,’ according to Artem, ‘their sizeable presence can often overwhelm a kitchen, creating a closed-off and cluttered atmosphere.’ Upper cabinets feel out of place in 2023 where minimalist airy spaces are the norm.

Instead designers suggest utilizing wall space for open kitchen shelving. ‘Open shelves are useful in freeing wall space and creating more air and movement within a kitchen,’ says Bob. This storage solution also offers the opportunity to inject some of your personal style into the kitchen. ‘By showcasing beautiful dishware or curated decorative elements, open shelves can breathe life into your kitchen, transforming storage into a form of self-expression and art,’ says Artem. Providing the perfect opportunity to emulate the minimaluxe trend we love so much. Prop a large piece of art, or structural vase, next to stacked diner plates to turn boring storage into a statement.

Mary Dimichino, senior kitchen designer at Bakes & Kropp, makes her open shelves a statement in her kitchens. ‘I like to incorporate open shelving as a focal point either at the sink wall to the left and right of a window or at the range wall to the left and right of the hood. A few rules of thumb: Stick to one color or pattern, group items together, e.g. bowls, plates, and glassware, and avoid cluttering your shelves. Less is more.’ 

blue open shelves

(Image credit: Arsight)

4. Spice racks

Storing spices has never been easy, let alone visually pleasing. In most cases, we resort to a spice rack where pots balance precariously on top of one another making them difficult to organize and access. As we get more adventurous with our food and accumulate more spices we need a better solution that is organized and easy to clean. 

‘We prefer spice drawers over spice storage in upper cabinets,’ says interior designer Jennifer Morrison. 'Using a tiered system in a drawer allows for easy access to small spice jars, cleaner storage, and cuts down on the constant buying of 1/3 full spices that end up shoved in the back since everything is visible.’ 

If you really want a storage revamp you can decant your spices into identical containers to make your spice drawer look unified and extra 'spice-y'.


5. Hanging pot racks

‘Another storage style that feels antiquated in 2023 is the pot rack hanging from the ceiling’ says Roman Smolevskiy, owner of A+ construction and remodelling. Unless you are going for that industrial kitchen look pot racks seem out of touch with our current kitchen desires. 

Pan storage is notoriously difficult to get right but hanging pots makes your kitchen look and feel dated. ‘While functional, these can make a kitchen feel cluttered and do not align with the current trend towards concealed, efficient storage.’ 

6. Storage-heavy kitchen islands

The kitchen islands overrun by draws and enclosed storage that have dominated kitchen styles for the best part of a decade are outdated. 

‘Large stand-alone kitchen islands with static, enclosed storage are also being phased out,’ Roman says. In their place comes something much more personalized that boasts practicality and style. 

There are a plethora of kitchen island ideas to inspire you to switch up your look. ‘Multi-functional, modular islands with open shelving and pull-out drawers that can be moved around to suit the homeowner's changing needs’ are becoming much more popular according to his remodeling company. 

green kitchen

(Image credit: Morrison House Design)

7. The traditional pantry

The once coveted kitchen feature, and a thing of childhood dreams, feels outdated in our modern era. Pantries, often dimly lit and overcrowded, turn into shelves of unordered chaos where a variety of items end up getting lost, forgotten and ultimately expiring. Artem says ‘dismiss the traditional pantry’ in favour of a more 2023 approach, ‘pantry cabinets.’ ‘These provide a much cleaner, organized approach to food storage. Integrated with the kitchen cabinetry, they keep your provisions in sight and within easy reach, maximizing efficiency and eliminating the chaos of a conventional pantry,’ he says.

This type of pantry can also be used to hide daily-use cumbersome appliances such as kettles and toasters. ‘We use our custom hutch in almost all of our kitchens because it allows full storage of bulky smaller appliances like toasters and coffee makers,' says Jennifer of Morrison Design House. 'The design varies but the purpose is always the same, keeping the more bulky pieces out of the way. We use dagger doors or sliding hardware to keep doors out of the way,’ she adds. This clever hack means items that require easy access can still be tidied away without disrupting your counter space.


3 of the best pantry organizers

Amy McArdle
News writer

Amy recently completed an MA in Magazine Journalism at City, University of London, with experience writing for Women’s lifestyle publications across arts, culture, and beauty. She has a particular love for the minimalist aesthetic mixed with mid-century furniture, especially combining unique vintage finds with more modern pieces. Her previous work in luxury jewellery has given her a keen eye for beautiful things and clever design, that plays into her love of interiors. As a result, Amy will often be heard justifying homeware purchases as 'an investment', wise words to live by.