Space savers that maximize every square inch of your kitchen

Consumer Reports News: April 18, 2013 10:08 AM

High-end cabinets offer a wide variety of storage accessories, including roll-out shelves, vertical sliding spice racks, and small appliance lifts. But you don't have to rip out your existing storage to get those clutter-busting extras: You can buy and install them yourself and save thousands over a kitchenful of new cabinets.

Before you head to a home center or specialty store, take a good look at what's inside and on top of your cabinets and counters, evaluating what you really need. Next, carefully measure cabinet interiors. Many organizers come in various sizes, and the dimensions are usually listed on the box, but this is one place where fractions of an inch count. And when you get to the store, check the packaging and read the installation instructions, if possible. Here are some ways to maximize your kitchen space.

Hide your trash can
Frequently forgotten but truly essential, trash cans are always installed in base cabinets, preferably as close to the main sink as possible.

Pick a type. Some trash cans slide in and out on tracks that are mounted to the bottom of the cabinet's interior. Others attach to the cabinet door, which slides out with the can rather than being hinged. Those units are generally pricier and more difficult to install. But they let you use the cabinet handle to access the trash can rather than having to first open the door and then reach in to pull out the trash.
Consider the configuration. Some models have multiple waste bins, for example, one to hold recyclables such as bottles and cans and the other for regular trash.
Think about durability. These units are opened and closed many times each day, so quality is important. Models with ball-­bearing assemblies often hold up better than those that slide on nylon wheels.

Lazy_Susan.jpgGet in those tight corners
Storage accessories can ease access to the recesses of corner cabinets, increasing your usable storage space.

Corner pull-out shelves. By pivoting into the interior of the corner cabinet, these pull-out organizers can provide easier and more complete access to the contents of each shelf.
Lazy Susans. These round, spinning shelves (some have a pie-shaped cutout) put items at the back of the cabinet within reach. But even the simplest model is tricky to install because the center pole must be perfectly plumb for the unit to rotate smoothly. You might have to tilt some taller items to get them in and out.
Blind-corner lazy Susans. These types of lazy Susans have half-moon shaped shelves that pivot at the front of the cabinet for easy access.

Extend the shelf life of your shelves
Pull-out shelves are usually installed in base cabinets, on the bottom of the box itself, or on an existing fixed shelf. They create accessible storage in cluttered kitchens. Consider these important points before you buy:

Determine the volume. Some shelves are much deeper, when measuring from front to back, than others. Also consider the height and design of the sides of the shelf. Taller, straight sides keep items more secure than short or sloped sides.
Decide on construction. Solid-construction shelves contain spills and keep small items from falling through, but open-wire shelves make it easier to see items stored on the shelf.
Look for smooth mechanics. A drawer that slides in and out easily from the start is more likely to function better over time than one that sticks.

If you're in the market for new cabinets, look for those that offer lots of storage options. Use our cabinet buying guide to compare basic, mid-level and premium cabinets.

Adapted from Consumer Reports Kitchen & Planning Guide.

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