STORAGE Serious cooks store more pots, tools and food than most homeowners. "Think of the kitchen as prime real estate," says cooking teacher Felix. "No one can use 47 cake pans at once. Put the heart-shaped baking pans on a shelf in the basement. Ditto for oversize items like the turkey roaster. It's worth the trip for these seldom-used items if the space you have functions better on a daily basis." Weimer's advice is to plan and assign storage before you decide on the final layout. Take an inventory of everything you own; don't forget to include the ice-cream maker you plan to buy. Measure everything, from the diameter of dinner plates to the dimensions of your largest tray, to be sure planned spaces will accommodate them. Then replace oddball items with things that nest, she recommends. Cabinets. Choose closed cupboards (they hide clutter), and avoid open shelves (they gather dust). Store collections and decorative objects behind glass doors, and stay away from ornate grooves and fussy molding details because both are hard to clean. "If you have the space and are designing the kitchen with custom or semicustom cabinets, specify the upper tier of cabinets 15 in. deep instead of the usual 12 in. to accommodate plates and platters, for example," says Ellen Brounstein, a Summit, New Jersey, interior designer who's also a serious cook. "Take the cabinets all the way to ceiling height to provide storage space instead of wasting it on a soffit." Always opt for adjustable shelves. And skip the tiny knobs and hard-to-grasp decorative hardware. With a C- or U-shaped pull, you can open cabinets with one finger or even with gooey hands. Some other ways to gain more efficient storage: Store measuring cups, mixing bowls and other items used together in the same place. Duplicate frequently used items like cutting boards, knives and dish towels in each work area. Keep two containers - one at the baking center, the other at the range - for wooden spoons, spatulas and other cooking basics. And try to store every item at its first point of use. Keep the saute pan near the range, and stow pasta pots near the sink. To save the extra step of opening doors, choose base cabinets with large, deep drawers instead. They're ideal for storing all items except pots, which you should store on shallow shelves that pull forward in a base cabinet, never overhead. Weimer also suggests including a bank of drawers 2 or 3 in. deep for stashing easily lost small items, such as cookie cutters, custard cups, pastry tubes and place mats. Just be sure to specify full-extensions slides so the drawers open all the way and you can see items in back. You can also gain extra inches of storage in underused spots. For example, mount pull-down holders for a cookbook or knives under the cabinets. Install a narrow shelf beneath wall cabinets for spice jars. Or, consider attaching a rail and hooks to the backsplash for hanging ladles and small pans. "Store items in the open only if you use them regularly," Felix says.