8 clever storage ideas stolen from this incredible kitchen makeover

The ’90s kitchen at Erin Zubot’s house didn’t quite work out, both functionally and aesthetically. The space is plagued by dark brown paint, an awkwardly sloping island, bulky dividers that limit upper cabinet space, and a corner pantry that Zubot describes as a “black hole.”

A few cosmetic updates didn’t do the trick, so she and her husband set out to remodel the entire space with custom IKEA cabinets, a mix of soapstone and visible countertops, and a custom marble tile backsplash. Along the way, they’ve incorporated clever storage features that help maximize space and hide a hardworking character behind a beautiful design.

The result is a curated space that caters to their everyday needs in the modern-traditional style Zubot loves. Get inspired by this incredible makeover and apply these kitchen storage ideas for an elegant, organized space.

  1. Design a storage space that fits your needs.
    One of the keys to the success of this kitchen remodel is customizing the cabinets and drawers based on the specific items that need to be stored. “Once I’ve aesthetically decided what I want, I go through all the drawers and cabinets in my plan and decide what I’m going to put in each drawer,” Zubot said. “I make sure that everything has a designated place and that the drawers and cabinets are the right size for what I want to store.” Now, the wide, shallow drawers hold items like cutlery and dishcloths, while the 12 inches deep The upper cabinets store pantry items near the cooking area.
  2. Ditch the corner pantry.
    The pantry was tucked into the corner and deep, items were often lost in the back, and prior to the remodel, the pantry was a major pain point. “I cleaned it out and found something that was expired or something I bought again because I didn’t know it was there,” Zubot said. She opted to eliminate corner pantry altogether in favor of more accessible storage. Now, the combination of cabinets and drawers makes up for that difference.
  1. Extend cabinets to fill all available space.
    With the partitions removed, Zubot can extend the cabinets from the countertop to the ceiling. “Even though the upper cabinets are harder to reach, I keep things I don’t use often on them,” Zubot said. “This increases the total amount of storage in the kitchen by a significant amount.”
  2. Choose drawers instead of cabinets.
    While cabinets can be an effective solution for bulky items, drawers are better at maximizing available space and improving organization. “I try to focus on the drawers as much as possible because they’re so much easier than having to dig into the back cabinets,” Zubot said. Now, instead of clearing the shelves to grab what she needs, she can simply pull open the drawer to see what’s inside.
  1. Make the most of every inch of space.
    No space is too small for additional storage in the kitchen. After extending the island an additional 4-1/2 inches to accommodate an electrical outlet, Zubot customized a cabinet to fit underneath and made a door out of the toe. This cramped space can now store a foldable step stool, which is handy for accessing upper cabinets. There is a similar cabinet on the other side of the island for chopping boards.
  1. Includes a slide-out tray for small appliances.
    Replacing the corner pantry with tall countertop cabinets leaves little room for small countertop appliances. Local building codes rejected the possibility of building an appliance garage, so Zubot opted for an open compartment with a slide-out tray to house her coffee maker and toaster. When breakfast time is over, the soapstone tray easily slides back into the compartment to keep the countertop tidy.
  2. 7. Upgrade the cabinets with pull baskets.
    Plates, cookware and dry goods can easily become cluttered and difficult to access in large cabinets. Zubot knew this would be a problem, especially with blind corner cabinets close to the hood. To take advantage of the space, she added a pull-out system from Rev-A-Shelf, which slides completely out of the cabinet and to the side for easy retrieval of items behind. “It’s a sizable upgrade for the price, but it functions much better than any other blind corner solution I’ve found.”
  1. Incorporates built-in spice storage.
    Use a built-in rack near the cooking area to simplify spice storage. Zubot added a 4-inch-deep groove to hide spices near the cooktop, customizing the height and width of the shelves to fit perfectly into the glass jar collection. Brass rails help keep spices in place.