Picture of elegant kitchen furniture with solid wooden worktops

Storage in kitchen cabinetry is one of the many decisions a homeowner must make when it comes to designing or renovating their kitchen. For many, the question of using drawers versus door cabinetry can become overwhelming; there are so many options and styles out there.

Cabinet Doors: The Pros and Cons

Choosing cabinet doors for your kitchen is a traditional and highly useful way to organize your food, dinnerware, pots, pans and glassware. Visually, it creates a nice rhythm of repetition, and with generous open storage, you can choose nearly any combination of organization. Under-counter cabinetry has the depth and height that allows you to store appliances, stacks of bowls, or bulky pots tucked away until you need them. If you are an avid baker or interested creating your own home brews, this larger space is perfect for equipment storage and can be your designated area for hobby cooking needs.

Alternatively, these larger spaces create one problem that many homeowners struggle with; items can get lost or be difficult to reach with that much open space so low to the ground. Ben Kuykendall, director of sales and marketing at Renovo, says, “While doors can be great for storing larger, taller items, they don’t provide any structure for organizing smaller loose items. Doors orient items front to back, rather than side to side. This forces you to either squat low (or stretch high) while searching and straining for items, and/or to have to unpack your cabinets to clear the way to reach an item in the back.”

Many homeowners and cabinet designers have solved this issue with creating a pull-out shelf, often using similar mechanisms to drawers. It allows full access to the depth of a cabinet without the awkward reaching, stretching or losing of items. If your home has cabinet doors, and you want to solve this without a full kitchen renovation, you can easily retrofit existing cabinetry.

“There is a vast array of options for the interior of door cabinets and many can be retrofitted into existing cabinets,” explains Cecilia Redmond, president of Redmond Interior Design in Burlington, Vermont. “Fittings such as pull out shelves give all the benefit of drawer access.”

In comparison to drawers, cabinetry doors are the lower cost choice. There is less hardware and materials needed to create a set of doors over a set of drawers. This is something to consider when it comes to your home remodeling budget.

Cabinet Drawers: The Pros and Cons

Drawers in kitchens are often customized for specific items. You might be familiar with drawers for utensils, and smaller items, but there has been an increase in drawer design and innovation over the past few years.

With the customized options of drawers that can handle the size and weight of pots and pans, peg boards to secure plates and bowls, as well as pull-out, drawer-style spice racks, there are many ways to get the drawer customization you need. Access to items is one of the great benefits of designing with drawers. As Kuykendall explains.

“Drawers eliminate the need to move or remove items from the cabinet that are in front of the items in the back that you want to reach. By arranging items width-wise across the drawer, rather than depth-wise, from front to back, drawers make more items more easily accessible without reaching, stretching or straining.”

One of the biggest downsides to placing drawers in your kitchen is the higher cost in comparison to cabinet doors. Additionally, drawers often have a restriction to their sizes, so larger items may not fit into the confines of a particular drawer setup.

Drawer and Door Layout: Where to Place Them In Your Kitchen

With all of this talk about the various ways to use drawers and doors in your kitchen, it can be hard to determine where you might begin to place them in your home. For your upper cabinetry, you can certainly play up items you would want to display with glass cabinetry or shelves. This can also visually break up a line of doors and provide a nice focal point.

When it comes to under -counter storage, you will want to first think about the three most active areas of the kitchen: the sink, the stove and the refrigerator.

  • What do you want easy access to around each area?
  • Do those items seem more suited to be drawer storage, door storage or a combination?
  • What will you need access to in your central food prep area?
  • Will your needs change over time?

The key to designing a kitchen to your way of cooking is to visualize how you use the space and what provides the best convenience for your needs. Redmond explains her thought process in designing for under cabinet storage in key areas.

“I like large drawers near the stove – a wide shallow top drawer for knives and utensils and deep lower drawers for pots and pans. Doors are very useful for vertical storage such as trays, chopping boards, and cookie sheets.”

Overall, if you are looking to update the cabinetry in your kitchen, there are many versatile ways to design with both drawers and doors.

Are you updating your kitchen? What else is on your list of renovations? Share them in the comment section.

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