1/6/2012 Stan's Cabinet Shop
Urbas Home Services

Serving north Kitsap and east Jefferson Counties, Washington
Including Bainbridge Island, Poulsbo, and Bremerton
Custom Cabinets and Home Remodel
Individual Detail for Every Job
What's Out There

Document made with Nvu
Stan Urbas 
Urbas Home Services
E-mail: cabinets@urbashome.com
Seabeck, WA 98380

office phone: 360-830-4162 (local to Kitsap County, Poulsbo, Bremerton)
cell phone:    206-992-8803 (local to
Bainbridge Island)
WEB Site:      stanscabinetshop.com or  urbashome.com


About Us

Some Examples Of Our Work

How We Build Cabinets

Storage Problems?
    ==> Storage Solutions!

Cabinet Styles

Cabinet Options

What's Out There: Is This Your Kitchen?

If You're Interested:

Storage Problems? ==> Storage Solutions!

Is this you? You  have a nice sized kitchen - you seem to have plenty of storage space, yet you just don't seem to be getting enough out of it.You have cupboards, but you don't know what's in them. You have shelf space, but it would take a contortionist to access it. You need a place to store and display your fine china and stemware. You have auxiliary storage, but it isn't very accessible - and it's ugly to boot! Very common problems in kitchens both new and old.

Buying cabinets is not like signing up for a wireless telephone service. There are literally thousands of companies out there; probably hundreds right there in your area, and many, many more that you can order from around the country and around the world. Some of them are highly crafted furniture pieces; others are not. Some are beautiful to behold; others are very plain. Some will last a lifetime; others start to break down in the first year. If you put down three or four hundred grand (or more) on a new home you can at least expect to get decent cabinets, right? Unfortunately, not necessarily so.

Ii this section we will examine the following problem areas:

  1. Space is needed to store and display fine china and stemware
  2. There is insufficient total storage space (total volume)
  3. Space is very difficult to access (marginally accessible)
  4. You can access cabinet space but can't see what's there (visually restricted)
  5. You aren't getting full utilization from you closet or walk-in pantry
  6. Space is impossible to access (inaccessible)

These are not the same, but they are closely related to one another.


Problem 1: Yor need a place to store and display your fine china and stem ware.  Great cabinets are fine, but if you want your guests to be able to view your fine posessions they need to be visible when the doors are closed.

Problem 1 ==> Solution 1: Modest-sized display areas.

This first example contains two modest-sized displays: a standalone cabinet with glass doors and open shelves attached to a cabinet. Both use overhead lighting found in the room ceiling.

Problem 1 ==> Solution 2: Dedicated display areas.

Seen here is a corner-cluster of four separate cabinets with interior lighting, glass shelves, glass doors, and glass cabinet ends. Note thate contents are fully-visible from all angles.

In this example a glassed-in display area is overhead to a buffet serving counter.

Note that for optimum display we use glass panels in the doors, glass shelves, and interior overhead lighting.

Problem 2: Insufficient Total Storage Space (total volume). Usually a kitchen will have enough space for the routine stuff: the every-day dishes and cookware, the silverware, the common  canned and boxed goods. But what about the things you don't use that often? Like the fine china or the specialty cookware? The deep fryer or fondue pot you only use once or twice a year? Or those canned goods you buy in bulk and plan on using over a long period of time? Do they get stuffed in the back of your lower cupboards where you can never find them? Or to a shelf in the garage or basement? Or to the attic?

Problem 2 ==> Solution 1: Right up there! The first thing you'll see in most kitchens is the space between the upper cabinets and the ceiling. My dad used to refer to it as "the kitchen dust-catcher". His solution was was to build soffets above the "standard" cabinets to enclose that space. That solution may be fine - it does get rid of the dust catcher and can be attractive. But how about using that space?

Note the difference between the two photos above. Ignore, for the moment, differences in style and color. The doors on the left cabinets are much shorter . Notice how much taller the cabinets above the microwave are in the cabinets on the right. "Standard" upper cabinets are around 30" high. By choosing custom-built cabinets you can have your upper units 40" high. That's an additional 10" of space all the way around your kitchen. Plus there is very little difference in actual cost between a 30" and a 40" cabinet. Realistically speaking, you are not going to want to put dishes you use every day up that high. And you will need a short stool to get at the space. But why waste that space? Wouldn't it be better to have that chafing dish up high in the kitchen than in the garage or basement? Or worse, in the attic?

Problem 2 ==> Solution 2: In between. If you examine the above pictures - or look at just about any kitchen in the country, you will notice the empty space between the lower and upper units. Normally that is about 18" to 19" vertically. So here is your alternative: use that "in between" space for additional storage. We refer to this style of cabinet, which is one continuous unit from floor to ceiling, as "full height" pantry unit.

The first issue you may have to confront, when looking at the full height option, is counter space. If available counter space is very minimal, this might not be an option. Similarly, you would not want to break up continuous counter space by putting a full height cabinet in the middle. However, many times it is possible to designate areas away from the main work counters as candidaters for full height cabinets.

In both examples pictured above the full height cabinets are to the side of the refrigerator, away from the main work counters. In the example below you see a much larger structure, with full height cabinets located to the left and right of the refrigerator With the cabinet above they form one continuous unit with elegant raised-panel doors. In all of these examples the refrigerators are not true built-in units. Rather, they are less-expensive free-standing models, and have the built-in appearance resulting from custom building cabinets to match the dimensions on the appliance.

Problem 2 ==> Solution 3: At the bottom. Virtually all new homes built today come with "standard" size cabinets. Standard size means standard widths - many times in six-inch increments. So what happens if you have an "extra" space of five inches or less? For this the cabinets manufacturer supplies the installer with color-matching boards that can be cut to the exact width and fill in the extra space. The manufacturer calls this a filler panel. I call it wasted space.

A better choice: make the adjactent cabinet to fit the space available.

Another choice:
when there is no adjacent cabinet, as in next to a stove (pictured below, right), add a specialty unit designed for the space

In the above examples narror pull-out pantries were installed in "left over" spaces between the frig and dishwasher and to the far side of the stove.

Problem 2 ==> Solution 4: near-by closet. This is probably the most difficult of the solutions, in that it might require structural remodeling if not designed into the original construction. What I am talking about here is the kitchen closet pantry, or a walk-in pantry, located close to the kitchen itself. If you have an existing closet pantry, or are able to remodel to include one, this would be a very handy solution to many storage needs. In the next section we will explore some ways to get the most functionality out of closet pantry space.  (note: I call this a "closet" pantry to distinguish it from the full-height "cabinet" pantries depicted above.

Problem 2 ==> Solution 5: Bathroom linen storage.

Question: Are these solutions limited to Kitchens?

Answer: Not necessarily. Pictured below you see a full height cabinet, used as a linen closet in a main bath area.

Problem #3: Space is very difficult to access (marginally accessible). Available space becomes non-functional:

Marginally Accessible: Pictured to the left is a very typical example of a lower cabinet unit found in almost all new homes today. Just a box with a door, and two shelves behind the door. So what's wrong with this picture? Only those items in front, right behind the door, are readily visible. Those towards the back are not only hard to see, but are very difficult to get at! The older we get, the harder it is to get down on our knees and reach into these cabinets to get what we need! Yet this design, with shelves behind doors. is the "normal" configuration in most kitchens today.

Problem 3 ==>
Solution 1: Drawers. Lots of drawers. drawers everywhere! Drawers - even bottom drawers - are very easy to see into, very easy when it comes to storing and retrieveng cookware or appliances. People even put dishes in drawers. The only exceptions are beneath the kitchen sink, in corners (covered later), and for specialty items like pull-out garbage or recycling bins.

Problem 3 ==> Solution 2: "Bonus" drawer.  In most kitchens the water, drain, and garbage disposal are high enough to all for a drawer beneath the sink doors. This space is very handy for storage of dish cloths and towels.

Note: This sink drawer can be used in bathroom applications as well as kitchen.

Problem 3 ==> Solution 3: Pull-Out shelf. So if you do have a cabinet up high, like over the frig, how often do you access it and how easy is it to get into? This problem is especially compounded by most modern high-volume refrigerators, which project forward of the surrounding cabinets. In this case the cabinet above can be nearly impossible to reach and much less possible to see what inside.

The answer? A pull-out shelf for storing items. Our sliding shelves have a low lip on the front and sides for improved access and visibility, but have a tall back side so items don't slide off behind.

Problem # 4: You can access cabinet space but can't see what's there (visually restricted). This problem is common in both full height units with fixed shelves and upper cabinet units used to store spices and canned goods.

Problem 4 ==> Solution 1: Pull-Out Pantry: These are extremely versatile units, offering visibility and access from both sides. For this reason they can readily be sized to fit one or two cans or boxes wide. They can be made wider still if larger items are to be stored. In addition, multiple units can be placed side by side, giving infinite possibilitise to overall width.

Problem 4 ==> Solution 2: Full Height Pantry components. In the example to the left you see where we make the best use of the depth of the cabinet by either storing large items top shelf, cookie sheets and trays (middle section), or small items (pull-out trays on bottom). Note that with this configuration everything is very visible, everything is very accessible.

Problem 5: You aren't getting full utilization from you closet or walk-in pantry. So you've gone and built a closet and walk-in pantry, but still suffer the same old problems Lots of shelf space, lots of "stuff" , but you don't know what's in there. Or, you lose half your storage capacity by providing enough vertical clearance to see what's in back.

Problem 5 ==> Solution 1: Pantry door shelves. These specialty shelves are fully adjustable (vertically) to allow the owner maximum flexibility in storing items of differing heights. Shelves are relatively shallow to provide full visibility of small items (such as spice containers). The shelves also have a raised front lip to prevent items from sliding off when the door is opened. A six-foot piano hinge is used to handle the increased door weight in this application.

Note: These door shelves may be used in conjunction with full-height cabinet pantries as well.

Problem 5 ==> Solution 2: Closet Pantry Drawer and Tray Inserts. In this application the units shown here were installed in conjunction with the door shelves shown above. However, in reality they are totally independent of one another.

                        Upper Half: Pull-Out Shelves                                                            Lower Half: Pull-OutTrays

The lower pull-out trays (left) and upper pull-out shelves (right) are designed to provide maximum visibility and accessibility in the closet pantry. Since all contents may be slid forward, gone forever is the problem of front items blocking out the view of items to the rear. This provides for maximum usability of the deep space in typical closet pantries.

Note that walk-in pantries with fixed deep shelves have the same visibility and accessibility problems as any other kitchen cabinet. But putting these custom-build units inside the walk-in pantry can alleviate those shortcomings.

Note further that since these units are independent and free-standing, they may also be placed in the basement, garage, laundry room, or anywhere else flexible storage is required.

Last of all, if these units are to be installed in a closet pantry some remodeling of the pantry may be required for full utilization. Typically the door on a closet pantry is considerable narrower than the width of the pantry itself. Since drawers open outward, past the closet door, enlarging the door width will allow the drawers to also be the full pantry width.

Problem 6: Space is impossible to access (inaccessible). Note From Stan:  The treatment of corner cabinets is one thing that has always bugged me about modern kitchens. In fact, the lack of good corner options was one of the things that drove me to making my own cabinets in the first place. My wife or I were always down on our hands and knees, trying to crawl into the back of a corner unit through an adjacent door, either retrieving some utensil or looking for something that was misplaced.  I just knew there had to be a better way!

The above pictures demonstrate the exact nature of the problem. to the right of the stove is a cabinet that extends all the way into the corner. But there is no way of getting at anything in the corner area without one getting down on your knees and crawling inside. And they don't even bother with the upper area adjacent to the drawer!

This same kitchen has same problems in the upper units. Note that we are somehow supposed to be able to use that space off to the right. In reality: once the stuff goes in it stays there until the owners moves out or replaces the cabinets!

Problem 6 ==> Solution 1: Corner Cabinet with full-size lazy-susan. These units have a ball-bearing hardware base. Note the nice door size. By NOT having a center post large items are easily stored. The revolving base brings items inside immediately into full view and full access.

Upper corner units have a very elegant appearance with door closed, yet still have excellent accessibility. Upper units may be ordered with 1, 2, or 3 lazy susans.

Problem 6 ==> Solution 2: Access the Corner From the Back. The corner space may become accessible - as a regular cabinet - from and adjacent room or area. In the example pictured below, a cabinet door conceals slide out trays. Facing the dining area, this cabinet may be used for dishes and silver. Other installations may have a variety of applications. For instance, if next to an outside door or common area, it might be a handy storage spot for pet food.

Note the access door at the far end of the eating bar.

So, after all this information, are you ready to solve some storage problems? Interested in more information? Check out Next Step