Milwaukee/NARI’s Nine Kitchen Storage Solutions

May 21, 2013

Even a smaller kitchen doesn’t need to be cluttered and disorganized according to members of the Milwaukee/NARI Home Improvement Council, Inc., the area’s leading home improvement and remodeling industry resource for 51 years.

How can all the cookware, tableware, food, and other kitchen accessories be stored, yet also organized and accessible? “‘Invisible’ is a word that comes to mind,” said Designer Jill Ross, AKBD, CKBR, of AB&K Bath and Kitchen in Greenfield. “A critical goal in remodeling is to make the space do double duty.” To make that happen, Milwaukee/NARI members offered ideas for maximizing space and accessibility in nine areas of the kitchen.

1. Base Cabinets. Ross knows many ways to maximize not only the space, but also the convenience of base cabinets in kitchens. “Full extension, soft close large drawers are my favorite base storage,” she said. Tiered storage is available, as well as dividers for effectively storing pots and pans. She also recommends dish storage with adjustable pegs to hold dishes in place, utensil dividers, bread box drawers, spice and bottle pullouts, and base pullouts with baskets.

2. Wall Cabinets. Many traditional kitchens feature dead space by the ceiling, often used for knick-knacks and faux plants. “Maximize space by installing cabinets to the ceiling,” said Kim Temkin-Taylor of Mequon’s Temkin-Taylor Design. To continue maximizing space in these cabinets, “Pull down tambour doors or ‘garage style’ cabinets can disguise small appliances.”

3. Corners. According to Temkin-Taylor, swivel shelf pullouts will maximize corner space. Ross said, “No more bending low or crawling on your hands and knees to find items in corner base cabinets. Corner drawer units, rotating trays fixed on shelves without a center pole, and wire shelves that pull out of the corner with ease are all good options.”

4. Appliances. Temkin-Taylor recommends using under counter space for some appliances. “A microwave drawer, second oven, or refrigerator unit can be installed under cabinets or in kitchen islands.” Ross added that beverage refrigerators, freezer drawers, and dishwasher drawers are becoming more popular under the counter. “The base mixer lift shelf is not popular because of the weight of the mixer. Appliances are more convenient to use if they are close to countertop height. If space is available, it’s good to hide appliances and provide appliance centers.”

5. Under the Sink. Racks or shelves mounted on the doors will hold bottles and cleaning supplies in sink base cabinets. A rollout tray mounted on the floor also allows for easy access to the items in the back, according to Ross. “Shelving around plumbing pipes, tilt-down bins, and pullout towel racks are popular,” she said. A good place for a tilt-down bin holding sponges and scrub brushes is the often “fake” top drawer by the sink.

6. Food Storage. Ross said it’s ideal to have a tall pantry or large drawers with divided storage for food items. “Spices need to be organized and easy to find and reach,” she said. “Tiered dividers in drawers, shelves on doors, or adjustable pullout wall cabinets are most popular for spice storage.”

7. Backsplash Wall Space. Another place that’s often underutilized is the space between the countertop and the upper cabinet—the backsplash. Temkin-Taylor said, “Use open shelving, a floating shelf, or a recessed niche around the cooktop area to keep cooking oils and spices.” She added that bars can be installed in the backsplash area to hang utensils and magnetic strips can be installed to hang knives.

8. Seating. Instead of the traditional dining room table and chairs set, homeowners can choose a seating option that creates more storage. Ross said, “Bench style seating with a lift-hinged seat or large pullout drawer below the seat can create some great storage.”

9. Message Center. Both Temkin-Taylor and Ross have seen “message centers” rising in popularity as a way to keep kitchen areas neat and organized. “Message centers provide drop space for paperwork and outlets for charging stations for electronics,” Ross explained. Temkin-Taylor suggested, “Create a cabinet that serves as a family communication or message center. This can include a calendar, cork or chalk board, space for mail for each family member, and a charging area.”

The Milwaukee/NARI Home Improvement Council was chartered in July 1961, as a Chapter of the National Home Improvement Council. In May of 1982, the National Home Improvement Council merged with the National Remodelers Association to form NARI—the National Association of the Remodeling Industry.

The Council’s goals of encouraging ethical conduct, professionalism, and sound business practices in the remodeling industry have led to the remodeling industry’s growth and made NARI a recognized authority in that industry. With over 725 members, the Milwaukee Chapter is the nation’s largest.

For more information or to receive a free copy of an annual membership roster listing all members alphabetically and by category, and the booklet “Milwaukee/NARI's Remodeling Guide,” call 414- 771-4071 or visit the Council’s website at

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