8 Clever Storage Ideas to Steal from This Incredible Kitchen Makeover

Try these design blogger tips for a kitchen redo with savvy storage solutions.

Both functionally and aesthetically, the '90s-era kitchen in design blogger Erin Zubot's Alberta, Canada, home just wasn't working. The space was bogged down by dark brown paint, an awkwardly angled island, clunky bulkheads that limited upper cabinet space, and a corner pantry Zubot described as a "black hole."

A few cosmetic updates weren't going to cut it, so she and her husband embarked on a renovation to revamp the entire space with custom IKEA cabinetry, a mix of soapstone and butcher-block countertops, and a bespoke marble tile backsplash. Along the way, they incorporated clever storage features that help maximize space and disguise hardworking features behind beautiful design.

The result is a carefully planned space that meets their daily needs in the modern traditional style Zubot loves. Take a cue from this incredible makeover and apply these kitchen storage ideas for an elegant, organized space.

Erin Zubot Design kitchen renovation interior view of kitchen island and sink
Courtesy of Erin Zubot Design

1. Design storage to fit your needs.

One of the keys to success in this kitchen makeover was tailoring the cabinetry and drawers to specific items that needed storing. "Once I decided aesthetically what I wanted, I went through all the drawers and cabinets in my plan and decided what I would keep in each one," Zubot says. "I made sure I had a place designated for everything and that the drawers and cabinets were the appropriate sizes for the things I wanted to store there." Wide, shallow drawers now store items like utensils and dishcloths, while 12-inch-deep upper cabinets stash pantry goods near the cooking zone.

2. Ditch the corner pantry.

Tucked into the corner and so deep that items frequently got lost in the back, the pantry was a major pain point before the remodel. "I would clean it out and find expired things or items I had purchased again because I didn't know it was in there," Zubot says. She chose to eliminate the corner pantry altogether in favor of easier-access storage. A combination of cabinets and drawers now make up the difference.

traditional kitchen with gray cabinets
Courtesy of Erin Zubot Design

3. Extend cabinets to fill all available space.

Nixing the bulkheads allowed Zubot to extend cabinets from the countertop all the way up to the ceiling. "Even though the upper cabinets are harder to reach, I put stuff up there that I don't use as much," Zubot says. "It increased the total amount of storage in the kitchen by a huge amount."

4. Opt for drawers instead of cabinets.

Although cabinets can be an effective solution for bulky items, drawers are better at maximizing usable space and boosting organization. "I focused on drawers as much as possible on the lowers because they're so much easier to access than cupboards where you have to dig to get to the back," Zubot says. Now she can simply pull open the drawer to view its contents in full instead of having to clear away objects on a shelf to grab the needed item.

detail of narrow cabinet in island
Courtesy of Erin Zubot Design

5. Make use of every inch.

No space is too small to work in extra kitchen storage. After extending the island another 4-1/2 inches to accommodate an electrical outlet, Zubot customized a cabinet to fit below and built a door from a toe-kick piece. The narrow space now stores a folding step stool, which is handy for reaching upper cabinets. A similar cabinet on the opposite side of the island stashes cutting boards.

coffee and appliance pull out from Erin Zubot Design
Courtesy of Erin Zubot Design

6. Include a slide-out tray for small appliances.

Trading the corner pantry for tall countertop cabinets left limited space for small countertop appliances. Local building codes rejected the possibility of an appliance garage, so Zubot opted for an open cubby with a slide-out tray to house her coffeemaker and toaster. When breakfast time is over, the soapstone tray glides easily back inside the cubby to keep countertops tidy.

7. Upgrade cabinets with pullouts.

Dishes, cookware, and dry goods can easily become jumbled and difficult to access inside large cabinets. Zubot knew this would be an issue, especially for the blind corner cabinet near the range. To utilize the space, she added a pullout system from Rev-A-Shelf, which slides completely out of the cabinet and to the side for easy retrieval of items in the back. "It was a pretty big upgrade pricewise, but the functionality is so much better than any other blind-corner solution I've found."

detail of spice rack in Erin Zubot Design kitchen renovation
Courtesy of Erin Zubot Design

8. Incorporate built-in spice storage.

Simplify spice storage with a built-in rack near the cooking zone. Zubot added a 4-inch-deep recess to stash spices within reach of the range, customizing the height and width of the shelves to perfectly fit the collection of glass jars. Brass rails help to keep the spices in place.

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