iStock-533573355

Open shelving always looks inviting in magazines, but unless your daily dishes are nice enough to display, it’s not practical. (iStock) 

There are many recent design trends that have vastly improved the functionality and efficiency of the modern kitchen. But while some of the trends succeed aesthetically, they can create organizational challenges. Here are five examples.

Large, open-plan kitchens

Large kitchens with open floor plans have become popular in recent years, and for good reason. For a lot of people, it makes sense to have ample space in the kitchen — it’s the central gathering place and the spot where families spend a significant amount of time preparing, consuming and cleaning up after meals. But despite all the advantages, there are some disadvantages. An abundance of storage can hamper efficiency if it’s not well organized, making it difficult to find what you need quickly. Additionally, and this is not to be underestimated, a larger kitchen means there is more space to clean and keep tidy. If you like to cook and entertain and are able to keep the space neat, a large kitchen is wonderful. But if you’re not spending a lot of time in the kitchen and aren’t especially organized, don’t knock down those walls just yet. Keeping this central — and open — area orderly can be a struggle, and it’s not for everyone.

Replacing lower cabinets with drawers

Another trend is to have mostly deep drawers as storage on the bottom portion of the kitchen. In some ways, deep drawers are better than cabinets for storing kitchen items; things are contained, and it’s easy to see everything when you open the drawer. A lot of companies have also created inserts that can help with organizing. But some things just don’t fit well into wide, deep drawers. I’ve had clients try to store tall alcohol bottles lying down in drawers because they didn’t fit standing upright. Others have voiced their disappointment over how much space is wasted when you try to keep pans and plates in drawers. And heavy items, such as upright mixers, are difficult to store in them. When you’re deciding on a layout, take a complete inventory of your kitchen. A regular cabinet with shelves is sometimes just what you need.

Open shelving

Doesn’t open shelving always look so inviting in magazines and on cooking shows? How nice would it be to have all of your most frequently used dishes out in the open, where they’re easy to see and access?

The problem is, most of us don’t use display-worthy dishes every day. Often, the open shelving becomes a display space in an area that would have been the perfect place to store daily dishes. Before you add open shelving, consider how your pieces will look and whether you’re up to the task of keeping the shelves neatly arranged.

Movable pantry shelves

Built-in pantry cabinets with pullout shelves are also all the rage. They’re a major improvement over pantry closets or cabinets with fixed shelves that make it difficult to access items hidden in the back. However, the design of the movable shelves — wide and with a low frame — makes them difficult to manage and keep neat. Large boxes topple over when the shelves are moved, bags of snacks get piled on top of one another, and there’s often wasted vertical space between the shelves. Fortunately, there are several ways to make these drawers more organized and functional. Insert a vertical divider so that things can be neatly lined up and stored upright. Store foods such as noodles, cereal, rice and flour in stackable canisters that make better use of the vertical space than the products’ original packaging and won’t topple over every time the shelf is pulled out. And use clear, open bins to contain things such as snack bags and bars.

Ceiling-height cabinets

Cabinets that extend to the ceiling are now the norm in kitchen design. And it’s understandable — they make the ceiling appear higher, erase the problem of what to do with the ­awkward space between the cabinets and ceiling, and provide extra storage space. The problem, however, is that these out-of-reach cabinets give people an easy excuse to keep all kinds of things they don’t really want or need. And although it’s fine to keep some rarely used dishes or extra wine glasses in the uppermost cabinets, it is generally not a good idea to keep things or buy things just because you have the space to store them. If this applies only in your kitchen, you’re doing okay. Just don’t let this mind-set infiltrate other rooms.

 

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