The Easiest Path to (dis)Function

For the past sixteen years, I have had the pleasure of doing what is, for me, a dream job – designing and implementing beautiful and functional kitchens and baths. You might think I have seen it all but I can still say that each project brings something new.

Transitional KitchenOn a recent photo shoot of a kitchen remodel completed earlier this year, I had the opportunity to look inside the cabinets to see how the homeowners were using the many convenience options that we designed into their new space. Now usually when I peak inside, it becomes very obvious why we put on doors and drawer heads…to hide the clutter! I avoid photographing any of these function-improving features because, well, even though they work well, they just don’t make for great photos. But in this case, every drawer was lined with shelf paper that coordinated beautifully with the materials we chose for the kitchen and every kitchen gadget was neatly arranged.

This isn’t a ‘show’ kitchen by any means; these people are gourmets and they love to cook – they just do it in a beautifully organized manner. It didn’t take long before I had asked permission to photograph inside the cabinets so you could see some of the key convenience options in use that make a well-designed kitchen function flawlessly.


Roll-Outs – In my opinion, this is probably the single-most important feature to put into a kitchen design.Roll Outs For any cabinet that isn’t all drawers, there should be adjustable roll-outs behind the doors. This provides access to every inch of storage in the cabinet. No more lost items that work their way to the back only to be found when you go to move. And, by being fully adjustable, they often work even better than drawers because you can position them to fit the size of your stuff. See how even the big stock pots can work well on a roll-out?

Dog Food StorageDouble Waste – Ninety-five percent of all kitchens I design contain a double waste and ninety-nine percent of all homeowners put the trash in one and the recycling in the other. Occasionally though there is good reason to break that rule. Those other five percent use a single waste, or a trash compactor, or have a ktichen so close to another area where they put the recycling that the double waste isn’t necessary.

This kitchen has a single waste and a built-in compost receptacle by the main sink. Another double waste is in use by the prep sink for recycling and the dog food – a neat and easy way to handle the kibble and the bits.

In-Counter Compost ReceptacleBlanco Solon Compost ReceptacleWhile this may not be as in demand everywhere as it is here in northern California, I suspect it may just be a matter of time. The ease of being able to dump the kitchen scraps, the coffee grounds, the melted ice from a finished beverage glass, paper scraps and anything else that eventually goes out to the garden is tremendous. With a flush-mounted lid in the counter top, there is no more ugly or smelly compost bin to sit on counter or under the sink. In my own home, Keystone and I agree that, after the roll-outs,  this may be the smartest feature we built-into our kitchen. It works great!

Knife BlockKnife Block – The big block that sat on-counter was quite the style years back but now it gets looked upon as just another bit of kitchen clutter we would rather hide from view. This is where the knife block in the drawer comes into play. All the blades are stored safely, are easily accessible and it doesn’t matter if your tools are a mélange of different makes, models and handle styles. With the counter top block, you had a large, one-time expenditure in a matching set. With a knife block in a drawer, you can acquire better tools by making your individual cutlery investments over time. Or doing like one friend does who receives one additional piece each year as a gift from Mom.

Spice Storage – Here we used a spice drawer where all the bottles sit angled in the drawer for easy access. Spice StorageThis approach works well although it does require the use of a particular-sized spice bottle to properly fit in the drawer. Often I prefer to put spices on the back of a door so they are at eye level and the bottle size isn’t critical to making things fit. But, in this kitchen, you may have noticed the aluminum-edged glass doors that are flanking the hood. This precluded me from putting the spices on the doors so the drawer become the next best choice. Good spice storage is key because, with those little bottles, out of sight can quickly become out of mind.


Whether it is one of the five options highlighted here, a special mechanism that allows access to a blind corner or a shallow drawer that allows the use of drawer space under a cook top, there is usually a ‘convenience option’ available that makes good use of every inch of storage space in a well-designed kitchen. While it may seem like eliminating these options is an easy way to cut costs when faced with the sticker shock of your dream remodel, that is the last thing I would recommend. It is these very options that will determine how well your dream kitchen will function (or not) for years to come. Invest wisely, my friends. 😉

Shallow Drawer Beneath Cooktop


Materials Used in this Kitchen: Brookhaven cabinetry by Wood-Mode, Vista Veneer (perimeter), Matte Java on maple (perimeter). Edgemont Recessed (island), Matte Harbor Mist with Pewter Glaze on maple (island); Franke sinks; KWC faucets; GE Monogram cooktop, refrigerator, dishwasher, double ovens, warming drawer, wine cooler and trash compactor; Zephyr hood; JennAir microwave drawer; Blanco Solon compost basket; Caesarstone ‘Organic White’ counter (perimeter); Super White Quartzite counter (island); Artistic Tile ‘Green Crackled’ backsplash; Lumber Liquidators hardwood flooring; Top Knobs hardware

About CatTail Studio Arts

I am Theresa - the 'T' in CatTail Studio Arts. My husband, Chuck, is the guy behind the 'C'. Our tales cover our many interests including good food, adventurous travel, cooking, gardening, hiking, cycling, crafting ceramics, beekeeping and occasionally even cat tales!
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