Throughout my Kitchen design career I have always strived to balance function and aesthetics.
This thought pattern came about while getting my Bachelor of Science degree in Home Economics.
The program was all about the “WHY”, with students needing to justify everything we did, from why we seamed a garment a particular way, to why we placed a drawer bank in a Kitchen design.
After graduating I started my Kitchen design career following the mantra:
Form Follows Function
In today’s VESTA Blog I will revisit many of the functional solutions I incorporated into my Kitchen designs in the past.
This post will highlight specific cabinet accessories I used for my functional Kitchen designs.
Again, my criteria for the posts in this series are:
- The solutions I present have to be from Kitchens I designed at least 10 to 20 years ago
- I will be OK with so-so images since all I have from then are my digital camera pics
- I will let my readers know if I would implement these design solutions in my designs today
From the beginning I would include basic cabinet accessories in all of my Kitchen designs.
Once these basics were looked after, I would refer to the needs assessment survey I had conducted with my client to develop solutions to meet their needs.
Many of my clients over the years were accomplished cooks with a lot of supplies to store.
Condiment storage was a big ask and an area I spent a lot of time developing solutions for.
At the time, accessory manufactures were beginning to offer base condiment rollout accessories in both wood and metal.
I implemented both types based on the rest of the accessories being included in the Kitchen design.
I also specified every size available to me with a favorite being the 3″ wide filler sized condiment pullouts.
They were great for utilizing every square inch in a Kitchen layout, and I often tucked them in beside the range or cooktop.
In the early 2000’s, posts and pillars were popular in Kitchen design and I would often include a condiment pullout behind them rather than making them static elements.
Looking for ways to add functionality was always top of mind, and this was a great way to get functional storage in the cooking zone.
Another popular design elements in Kitchens in the early 2000’s was the cooking hearth.
Again, instead of making the millwork that came down to the countertop as part of a hearth static, I would often include pullout condiment storage here.
This solutions was very ergonomic and placed condiments at eye level making them accessible to most cooks.
The Magic Corner
For me the “magic corner” for blind corner cabinets was a game changer for functional design.
Most Kitchen designers will agree that the corner is one of the most difficult areas to make functional.
The first generation of these blind corner accessories would attach one section of the accessory to the cabinet door which in turn would pull the shelves from the back corner into view.
It was a good solution but I always felt there was a better way.
Then the corner accessory featured above was introduced and became my go to “magic corner”, and the one I still specify today.
It brings full access to all of the contents of the corner cabinet out into the kitchen for great utilization of the space.
I just caution you as the Kitchen designer to check all your clearances and draw it “open” on your plan to ensure it doesn’t interfere with adjacent cabinets or appliances.
At one point in my career I moved to the “country” and started designing Kitchens for people that had large gardens.
I was tasked with coming up with a solution for storing non-refrigerated fruits and vegetables.
Since this produce needed to “breath”, my first attempt was to install wire basket rollout shelves inside a cabinet for a client.
I then purchased wicker baskets and place them on a rollout shelf as a solution.
I was thrilled when one of the cabinet accessory manufactures introduced a root basket accessory.
They came in set sizes with all of the hardware to install them.
I incorporated these accessories a lot in my Kitchen designs, placing them in base cabinets, in pantries and inserted into drawers.
This is an accessory I specify regularly in current designs.
In the early 2000’s, I owned a custom millwork shop.
We used leveling legs for all of our base cabinetry and this allowed me to easily integrate plinth drawers into my Kitchen designs.
This type of drawer is placed in the kick area of the Kitchen base cabinet.
They are a great way to squeeze some extra storage into a small kitchen and utilize a space that is usually forgotten or ignored.
Plinth drawers in other areas of the home also became a go-to solution as hidden storage for my clients. Because who would think to look there!
My success with plinth drawers had me installing plinth stools in many projects.
As cabinetry was stretching to the ceiling, it was harder for clients to reach the upper shelves.
These step stools that folded flat and tucked in under the cabinet, were a handy addition to many of my Kitchen designs.
While accessory manufactures were introducing a variety of products to fit into standard cabinets, there were still instances when I required a custom solution.
The following are some of those custom solutions I came across while looking back at past Vestabul Kitchen designs.
The bulk food movement became a big thing 20 years ago, and I saw an opportunity to use this technology in my kitchen designs.
I began working with a plexy glass fabricator to produce custom bins to fit inside drawers.
A bonus was that the full extension drawer system had just been introduced, allowing the full depth of the drawer to be utilized.
These bins were great for storing baking supplies and dried goods, such as pasta.
Bake Center Solutions
Baking was another popular past time of many of my clients, and they were always looking for better solutions.
A simple cabinet modification I implemented was to make the door on a base/drawer cabinet into a deep drawer.
By installing heavy duty slides, this became the drawer to hold the large “Costco” sized bags of flour and sugar.
Having a deep drawer like this in the bake center allowed the baker to never run out of key ingredients.
Coming up with innovative solutions for bakers became a bit of a past time for me.
One of my favorite solutions was custom cooling rack cabinets.
In one instance we purchased a variety of oven racks from an appliance repair dealer and fit them into an open shelf cabinet with custom wood runners.
This allowed my client to cool a variety of items at once, coming out of the multiple ovens in her Kitchen.
In another home, the client wanted a heat proof drop off zone from her oven and cooktop, and the solution was a pullout fitted with a set of metal trivets.
Hot items could land here instead of on the countertop, which could have cracked under high heat.
I will leave you with this custom set up for country home I designed.
This farmhouse came equipped with a very large walk in pantry.
The client love it, but the location of the door was not that convenient.
The solution was to design and install a custom sliding door to the pantry from a hallway.
Frequently used items were placed here so that they could easily be accessed without having to walk around to the other side.
By adding a chalkboard to the sliding doors they also had the perfect spot for everyone to note items for the shopping list!
I must say I enjoyed revisiting these functional solutions from the past.
And, I admit many of these accessories can be found in the Kitchens I am designing for my private Kitchen design clients today.
Check in next week to see another area of design I will share from past Kitchen design projects.
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Jan Rutgers has been designing kitchens and products for over 25 years and is a recipient of Kitchen & Bath Design News’ Top Innovators in 2020 for the Kitchen & Bath Industry. She has designed more than 1000 kitchens learning valuable skills with each one! Her experience in Kitchen Design, Millwork Manufacturing and Product Development has led her to create VESTABUL SCHOOL OF DESIGN where she educates and mentors people passionate about the Kitchen Design Industry.