Face Your Kitchen
Your Guide to Kitchen Cabinet Refacing

Base instincts: cool ideas for bottom cabinetry

by Karl Fendelander
Face Your Kitchen Columnist

Your bottom cabinets contain some of the most untouched places in your entire kitchen. Those deep, dark recesses hide cleaning supplies from years past, strangely shaped bread molds, and who knows what else. If you're refacing your cabinets, though, you can take those spaces back. Check out these nifty ideas for taking full advantage of all of your kitchen's storage space:

  • Drawers, not doors: Rather than deep, dark, shelved areas that swallow kitchen utensils, consider going with giant drawers. Drawers allow you to get a bird's-eye view of everything, even the very back of the space -- and use all of it without having to pull everything out to find out what's lurking in the deep. With some custom spacers, you can even use this area for plates and bowls, making it easy for everyone -- kids included -- to set the table and eliminating dangerously high reaches with heavy stacks of plates. Don't like the look of big drawers? Large pull-out shelves behind closed doors look the part without sacrificing functionality.
  • Integrated trash can: If you're a fan of tucking the kitchen trash away, consider an integrated trash system. A pull-out trash makes for easy emptying and prevents the can from tipping over. You can take things a few steps further with a hole in the countertop directly above your trash can, allowing you to sweep extra bits from preparing meals right into the can. For those looking to really jazz things up, a few brands make motorized systems that glide out with a light kick or tap for hands-free disposal.
  • Trick out the kick: The toe kick is the very bottom part of your base cabinets. These few inches of space are some of the least utilized in the entire kitchen. Talk to your contractor about installing thin drawers for storing baking sheets or extra table coverings, place mats and the like.
  • Hidden appliances: You can really step things up with hidden appliances that look like drawers or cabinets. A number of companies make refrigerator and freezer drawers that can completely replace a full-size fridge if you get a few of them. There are even dishwasher drawers if you're feeling extra fancy. Of course, there are also more conventional appliances that can be fitted with wooden facades to blend in without the designer price tag of specialty items.

There are a host of other options for base cabinets -- from slide-out spice racks to lazy Susans in the corners -- that can really help you make the most out of your storage space. If you think you can add enough extra storage space to your bottom cabinets, consider taking down some of your wall-mounted ones to open things up and really make your kitchen feel like new.

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