Whether you’ve just moved in to a new home or are in the midst of a renovation, planning how to organize the storage in your kitchen takes some thought. The size of the drawer or cabinet, proximity to the stove or dishwasher, and ease of access are all factors you should think about when deciding which cabinet your glasses should go in, where to store your cookie sheets, and so on.
To help us nail down the absolute best and most efficient layout for a kitchen, we turned to custom cabinetry pros (and bros) Tyler and Justin Sachs, the brains behind New Jersey-based . Clients come to them with a blank slate, and Tyler and Justin work to design a highly functional (and incredibly beautiful) kitchen from scratch.
With years of experience—and dozens of custom kitchens under their belts—we knew they’d have some ingenious tips. As Tyler explains it, “custom kitchens should be planned from the inside out. Focus first on the function, and then let the form follow.” After all, kitchens “should be created to make cooking more enjoyable and efficient, so you can spend more time hanging out with our family and friends!”
Whether you’re designing your dream kitchen from scratch or are just trying to make an awkward rental kitchen more efficient, the Sachs brothers’ tips are useful for anyone. Scroll down for five of Tyler and Justin’s best tips for optimizing your kitchen’s layout and storage organization like a pro.
Anyone who has had to get down on their knees to dig around for pots and pans in lower cabinets can appreciate that drawers (allowing for a full view of and easy access to their contents) are a smarter choice for cookware that, quite frankly, doesn’t stack well and can be clumsy. Stuck with lower cabinets? Try installing wire or wood drawers inside your cabinets to gain the utility of drawers.
Yes, your KitchenAid mixer is pretty enough to leave out on the counter, but do you have somewhere in your kitchen to store it if you wanted to? Aside from cutting out the shelves in your cabinets (which is a totally valid but permanent option), there isn’t much you can do with an existing kitchen that doesn’t accommodate large appliances like mixers, slow cookers, and blenders. So file this tip away for when you get to build that custom kitchen from scratch.
As much as we love large drawers for lower storage, they simply aren’t an option for your upper cabinets. And despite prevailing opinion, that drawer beneath your oven is not for storing baking sheets and pans. So make sure to prioritize some vertical storage near your range for cookie sheets, muffin tins, large platters, etc. Tyler says their favorite place to put vertical storage is “above any tall, deep cabinet, like a double oven tower or a large pantry.”
If you’re able to install a roll-out mechanism for your trash and/or recycling bin inside your cabinets, make sure it’s close to your sink and dishwasher. Additionally, Tyler recommends storing your knives in a top drawer near your trash and sink. The less distance your knives have to travel for use, cleaning, and storage, the safer you and those wandering aimlessly into your kitchen will be.
Outfit your top drawers with appropriately sized dividers for longer cooking utensils and everyday flatware, and pick top drawers within an arm’s length of the dishwasher for those items, Tyler says. His recommendation to use a top drawer for spices may not be an option for smaller kitchens, but the thought of having spice containers on a slanted drawer organizer where you can see all of them does beat digging around for spices you need—and knocking others over in the process—in your upper cabinet or pantry.