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Kitchen Remodel Wisdom: 10 Storage Upgrades You Need to Consider

Clare and Harrison Mill Valley Kitchen Remodel Photo by Andres Gonzalez

Renovating a kitchen is a constant calibration between what you desire and what you can afford. Some upgrades or added features, though, should rest squarely in the “worth it” column—chief among them storage upgrades.

For proof, check out the recently remodeled kitchen of Clare McCamy and Harrison Miller, the Mill Valley, California, neighbors of Remodelista editor in chief Julie Carlson. The new space feels fresh, organized, and entirely uncluttered thanks to thoughtful storage features throughout. Here are 10 storage upgrades from their kitchen that every homeowner should consider before embarking on a redesign.

Photography by Andres Gonzalez for Remodelista, from Kitchen of the Week: A New-Build Kitchen in Mill Valley, CA, the Six-Month Check-Up.

1. An Under-Sink Pullout

The space under the sink can be a Bermuda Triangle of sorts. Store things there at your own risk. A pullout drawer is a great solution for keeping this normally chaotic part of your kitchen neat and orderly.

Clare and Harrison Mill Valley Kitchen Remodel Photo by Andres Gonzalez
Above: A pullout drawer under the sink makes it easy to locate and grab cleaning essentials and hand soaps stored there.

2. A Trash and Recycling Pullout

You may think you don’t need this feature. After all, you likely grew up with a standalone trash can or one stored under the sink—and you turned out fine! But here’s what’s so great about having this custom pullout: One, all you need to do is pullout the drawer to throw away something (as opposed to opening up a cabinet door, then pulling out the trash can). And two, the drawer does an exceptional job of keeping odors contained.

Clare and Harrison Mill Valley Kitchen Remodel Photo by Andres Gonzalez
Above: We especially like the deep casements that hold up the trash and recycling bins in this pullout.

3. Custom Drawer Organizers

Sure, you can always buy drawer organizers a la carte, but having them integrated into the design and customized for your needs will feel like a necessary luxury.

Clare and Harrison Mill Valley Kitchen Remodel Photo by Andres Gonzalez
Above: Kitchen prep essentials are organized in a custom divided drawer to the left of the sink.
Clare and Harrison Mill Valley Kitchen Remodel Photo by Andres Gonzalez
Above: A drawer with built-in spice compartments.

4. Under-Counter Kitchen Island Cabinets

Remember: A kitchen island isn’t there just to provide more seating. Its primary function, in fact, should be to offer more counter and storage space. With larger islands, there will likely be room for storage on every side, even on the side where the stools go, so be sure to take advantage of every square inch of potential storage space.

Clare and Harrison Mill Valley Kitchen Remodel Photo by Andres Gonzalez
Above: McCamy’s island is “a wonderland of storage,” she says. “We took advantage of every bit of that space.” Shiplap cabinet doors hide additional storage for every-once-in-a-while items.

5. Appliance Drawers

If you have a small household or your kitchen is seriously tiny, you may want to check out space-saving drawer appliances instead of the standard full-size versions. (McCamy and Miller chose theirs in addition to standard appliances because they have four children.)

Clare and Harrison Mill Valley Kitchen Remodel Photo by Andres Gonzalez
Above: McCamy had a dishwasher drawer installed on one end of the kitchen island. “The Fisher & Paykel dishwasher drawer is simple and incredibly useful for all the overage and for tall glasses and large pots; I can see us using it as our primary dishwasher when our children are gone, we’ve grown old, and leaning over isn’t as easy as it once was,” she says.
Clare and Harrison Mill Valley Kitchen Remodel Photo by Andres Gonzalez
Above: On the other end of the island are two refrigerator drawers. “We adore the U-Line refrigerator drawers, which we use for all things breakfast. They give us just enough extra cold storage for a family of six,” says McCamy.

6. Open Shelves

Okay, this isn’t technically an upgrade since it doesn’t cost more to add open shelves. In fact, it costs less—and that is precisely why every homeowner should consider them.

Clare and Harrison Mill Valley Kitchen Remodel Photo by Andres Gonzalez
Above: Open shelves hold their everyday dishes and glasses, and keep the light-filled space airy.
Clare and Harrison Mill Valley Kitchen Remodel Photo by Andres Gonzalez
Above: The couple particularly love the stainless steel open shelf above the stove. It stores their cooking essentials within easy reach.

7. A Warming Drawer

This may seem like an extravagance, but if you have multiple kids with different activities, having a warming drawer will make scheduling dinner times much easier.

Clare and Harrison Mill Valley Kitchen Remodel Photo by Andres Gonzalez
Above: “With the kids’ conflicting schedules, we use it almost every night,” says McCamy of their warming drawer.

8. A Walk-in Pantry

Not everyone has room for this, but if your kitchen is blessed with space, a walk-in pantry is a worthwhile investment.

Clare and Harrison Mill Valley Kitchen Remodel Photo by Andres Gonzalez
Above: The walk-in pantry (opposite the refrigerator) is stocked with wine glasses, dry goods, and a freestanding microwave (powered by a built-in outlet).

9. A Coffee Station

If you’re a java fiend, this is a must-have. Once you’ve determined where your coffee station will go, make sure there will be enough outlets for your brewing needs.

Clare and Harrison Mill Valley Kitchen Remodel Photo by Andres Gonzalez
Above: A Rancilio Silvia Espresso Machine and a Mazzer Luigi Coffee Grinder hold court in the coffee nook next to the refrigerator. The almost invisible built-in cabinet is stocked with brewing basics such as filters and cups.

10. A Utility Closet

If you have the space and are on the fence about whether to include a utility closet in the kitchen design, think of this: The kitchen is a room that you need to clean nearly every day. Why not keep brooms, mops, and other housekeeping essentials nearby?

Clare and Harrison Mill Valley Kitchen Remodel Photo by Andres Gonzalez
Above: In the hallway off the kitchen, a Viking French Door Refrigerator and coffee station face an open pantry. Down the steps, a broom closet is tucked away; the space is illuminated by a Hector Wall Sconce from Original BTC.
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