Photo: Eric Piasecki
Pegboard Drawer

What You'll Learn

  1. Storage
  2. Shelves
  3. Organizers
Sure, it may look like you've got plenty of cabinet space in your kitchen. So why are your countertops still cluttered with spice jars, small appliances, and assorted catchalls? Why are your drawers overflowing with corn-cob holders, spaghetti tongs, and chewed pens, but not the one item you need when you need it? And why, pray tell, do you practically have to crawl inside your base cabinet to retrieve that 5-gallon lobster pot stowed way in back?

The thing about kitchen cabinets is this: Even if you have 20 of them, without some organizational helpers, they're little more than big, empty boxes—adult-style toy chests into which we cram whatever will fit, without any rhyme or reason.

But there are plenty of ways to start making more efficient use of your space, from simple drawer inserts to clever pullout shelving units to full-on custom cabinetry that makes it easy to store (and, more important, retrieve) every pot lid, mixing bowl, and dish towel in your collection.

To get you started, we scoured the showrooms of four top custom cabinetry companies at Manhattan's Architects & Designers Building. What we found are 16 innovative ways for you to carve out new real estate in your overpopulated kitchen, or make better use of the space you have. And while the solutions pictured here must be ordered as part of a total cabinetry package, the creative ideas are available to all.

Pegboard Drawer
Instead of having to heft plates onto hard- to-reach overhead you can stack them securely between adjustable pegs (round or triangular) in this 12-inch-deep base cabinet drawer. An added bonus: The kids have no excuse not to help unload the dishwasher. From Bilotta

Flip-Top Cabinet
If you've got a little empty wall space, why not put it to use with a stylish stand-alone cabinet? Because this one tapers at the bottom, it can be mounted lower than a standard cabinet, providing easy-to-reach shelving above a sink or countertop. It also works over a kitchen desk for holding pens, paper, cookbooks, and other miscellany. From Artcraft

Two-Tiered Pot Holder
Pot lids are a problem. They take up too much space and tend to clang around in a most annoying fashion. These deep-on-the-bottom, shallow- on-top base cabinet drawers easily accommodate large stockpots and their notoriously unwieldy lids. The top shelf is also a good spot for those large utensils that get tangled in narrow drawers. From Bilotta

Hideaway Bins
Bulky plastic bags of rice, dried beans, or unpopped popcorn typically live slumped up against canned goods in wall-mounted cabinets or in the pantry, taking up space and, if not well sealed, spilling all over. This "condiment drawer" has a wood insert with covered stainless steel bins for storing grains and spices. You can also pop out the bins and use them as serving trays. From Bilotta

Cool Storage
Aside from adding visual texture, these wire-mesh-fronted cabinet drawers allow air to circulate, so you can use them to stash onions, potatoes, flour, and other items that require a cool, dark place. Bilotta

Pullout Pilaster
One of the most under-utilized spaces in many kitchens is the gap between cabinets and appliances such as the dishwasher or range. Here, a pullout pilaster conceals a rack for hanging dish towels; similar pullouts can also be fitted with shelves for spices or hooks for oven mitts. Besides, everyone loves a secret hiding place. From Wood-Mode

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