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A Kitchen That's Very Spatially Yours

With clever devices, it's possible to arrange and store cookware in a logical and attractive fashion.

May 20, 2000|LESLIE PLUMMER CLAGETT | TODAY'S HOMEOWNER MAGAZINE

There's good news for kitchen-gadget addicts and spatially challenged cooks: You might not be able to make your kitchen larger, but there is a wide array of storage-stretching devices and accessories that will make the space seem bigger.

Some, like the latest cabinet designs, are intended to be visible parts of the kitchen landscape. Others, such as drawer inserts and corner-cabinet carousels, go under cover to push storage capacity to the max.

This roundup takes a look at space economizers big and small, from specialized fittings to general-purpose fixtures.

But before you shop, consider these kitchen storage do's and don'ts:

* Don't use counters as storage space. Work surfaces are prime real estate in the kitchen. Keep them clear by using drawers, cabinets, walls and overhead spaces for storage.

* Do locate equipment logically. This means stowing pots and pans near the cooktop and oven, and everyday dishes between the sink and dishwasher.

* Don't purchase any storage item before taking accurate measurements of the area it will occupy and the items it will contain.

* Do invest in quality products. If a cheap rotating shelf doesn't spin smoothly and completely, it doesn't save space or, in the end, money.

* Don't be unrealistic about the ability of storage accessories to transform your cooking and cleaning habits. Even a deluxe plate rack won't entice your dinner dishes to put themselves away.

Wall Carousels

Liberated from the confines of the cupboard, tiered lazy Susans are now at home on the wall. Nolte Kitchen's version is a handy off-the-counter place to stow tins of cooking oil, bottles of vinegar and other daily-use items that are too big for spice racks or enclosed shelves. ([954] 929-0889; http://www.noltekitchensusa.com). Prices vary.

See-Through Cabinetry

Glass-front cabinetry is a growing trend in kitchen design. Wood-framed drawers from KraftMaid Cabinetry ([800] 571-1990; http://www.kraftmaid.com) feature false-front display panels that play a fun or functional role. Available in two- and four-drawer base-cabinet units, you can fill them with dry goods (pasta, beans) or with more fanciful items (small toys, wrapped candies) for visual variety. With Nolte's lightweight, easy-cleaning molded-plastic drawers, what you see is what you get: a clear view of what's stored inside (prices vary). Place them either above or below the counter.

Basket Drawers

More than just a decorative touch, wicker containers let air circulate around the contents of the drawer--ideal for apples, potatoes and other produce. This look is especially at home in a traditional setting. Sliding, chrome-plated wire bins are a suitable equivalent in a contemporary kitchen. In kit form, the drawers are a rewarding retrofit project (starting at about $150 per set) or you can purchase fully finished cabinet boxes from a number of manufacturers such as KraftMaid.

Hanging Rail

Attached on the back splash, railing kits, such as the ones from Hafele America ([800] 423-3531; http://www.hafele.com), keep utensils within reach but out of the way. By adding such accessories as S-hooks, bottle cradles, a coffee filter holder, a towel rack and even fruit bowls and corner-shelf components, you can customize the system to your liking. Prices, which start at about $10 per linear yard for the basic rail unit, vary by manufacturer and quality of materials.

Flip-Down Drawer

Need just a little more storage space close to the kitchen action? Installed under a hanging cabinet, 22-inch spring-loaded drawers from Ikea ([714] 838-4000; http://www.ikea.com) can handle the odds and ends a busy cook accumulates for about $20.

Pivoting Wall Panels

If you like the convenience of hanging your cooking equipment on the wall, pivoting panels can effectively double your storage space. These devices are a European innovation where cabinetry is designed for mobility. Clearance is key to these units, so they're best installed in the corners of rooms, taking the place of a conventional 36-inch corner cabinet. Nolte Kitchens offers ones that are fitted with shelves on one side of the panel, adjustable rails on the other face (prices vary).

Pantry Pull-Out

Part of the appeal of pull-out pantries lies in their accessibility. Don't install them in corners, where one side of the shelves will be blocked. The new System 4000 from Hafele ($1,500) features adjustable, quick-release trays that lift out completely from a central supporting column.

Table-and-Chairs Trolley

Drawers, work surface and seating are combined in one neat roll-away unit for the truly pressed-for-space. Lillian Vernon ([800] 285-5555; http://www.lillianvernon.com), offers a cart for $150 that claims only a 28x30 inches of floor space.

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