Awkward, hard-to-reach spaces don’t have to be useless and forgotten now that clever pull-out, swing-out and roll-out gadgets are part of kitchen design. It’s no longer necessary to leave corner cabinets and other tight spaces empty, or full of things that never gets used because they are hard to reach and never get seen.
New cabinet accessories, many of them from European manufacturers, are offering surprising alternatives for blind corners, deep but narrow cabinets, and other problematic pieces of modern kitchen layouts. “These are organizational tools that help people to find and categorize their things,” explained Meghan Lewellyn, a designer with Markraft Cabinets of Wilmington. And while these ingenious systems are especially helpful for compact spaces such as condos or apartments, they have benefits in kitchens of any size.
“You want to maximize your cabinet space,” she said, “and minimize waste.” By that, she means two things. First, of course, minimize the waste of space that comes from not fully using those hard-to-access corners. But there’s also a waste factor if you have cookware or appliances you never use because you forget about them – out of sight, out of mind. Worse yet, if food products are stored in hard-to-use spaces, they may become outdated or spoiled.
One especially ingenious solution to this problem is the so-called “Lemans” system, an alternative to old-fashioned lazy Susan turntables for corner cabinets. Pioneered by the German manufacturer Kesseböhmer, this swing-out-and-rotate storage rack has proven to be so efficient that other manufacturers are starting to offer similar products.
It treats the “blind” corner and an adjacent area with a wide door access as a single space. When the door is opened, the shelves smoothly swing out on a carefully engineered track-and-pivot arrangement. That brings everything stored in the darkest corner into the light, and within fingertip reach.
While an elegant solution like this might seem extravagant, compared to a simpler slide-out drawer or a turntable, “There’s not that huge a difference in the investment,” Lewellyn said.
“It pulls the products out of the cabinet right to you,” she said, “into your space and into your face.” With this and similar systems, “You’ll never have to get down on your hands and knees trying to find your pots and pans.”
Another simple but ingenious solution to space dilemmas is a pull-out shelf system for deep but narrow cabinets. These can be fitted into individual base and overhead cabinets, or in full-height pantry spaces. The idea is that instead of trying to find items by reaching from the front, everything on these sliding shelves is accessible from the side when they’re pulled out.
Nothing is invisible or hidden in the shadows, so nothing gets overlooked.
For under-sink cabinets, specialized pull-out baskets include removable caddies to hold cleaning supplies, which can easily be carried to where they’re needed, then put back away without stooping or reaching.
In the clever engineering category, another European-designed system puts a double layer of shelves inside a deep cabinet, with one attached to the door and one behind it. The beauty of this is that, when the door opens, the rear shelf slides forward into plain view and easy reach.
A few other nifty mechanical features are also becoming popular in kitchens of all sizes. Pneumatic pistons allow large cabinet doors to lift up with a single touch and stay open while needed. These are replacing old-style roll-up “tambour” doors on appliance garages and other large spaces, Lewellyn said.
And specialized rails and hangers are being offered for backsplashes, putting spices, towels, knives and other tools close by for busy cooks.
The idea behind these technical innovations is to put everything in the kitchen within easy reach, so no stretching, stooping or kneeling is ever necessary.
To see examples of these up-to-the-minute kitchen storage systems, come visit the professional designers at Markraft’s Design Center. They consult by appointment, but drop-in visitors are always welcome to stop by and browse. The Design Center is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, at 2705 Castle Creek Lane, just off Castle Hayne Road.
Since 1985, Markraft has specialized in cabinet and countertop design and installation in residential and commercial construction and custom remodeling. To learn more about Markraft, go to www.markraft.com. Contact Markraft at 910.762.1986 and like Markraft on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/MarkraftCabinets.