How to Determine Kitchen Storage Needs

Follow these steps and ask these questions to give your clients exactly what they want.
By: Daniel C. Brown

"No, I don't need any more storage."

When was the last time you heard a client say that? It's probably been a while. In fact, efficient and ample storage space has become a key issue in most remodeling projects, especially in the kitchen. Providing enough storage in a remodeled kitchen begins with careful planning. Here are three steps to take to size up the job:

  1. Perform accurate as-built drawings of the existing kitchen facility.

  2. Take inventory of items currently being stored in the kitchen. If any cooking utensils or dishes aren't used, can they be eliminated? Does the client want to add anything new to be stored?

  3. Do a needs-and-wants analysis of the elements the client would like to have included in the new kitchen.

To determine those needs and wants, ask the client specific, detailed questions such as:

  • What is the client's cooking style? Do two people cook at the same time? Or do they mostly eat at restaurants and only need a basic kitchen?
  • What kitchen equipment does the client use daily? Those items require easy access.
  • What type of appliances does the client need or want?
  • Does the client store quantities of food staples, such as flour and sugar, in the kitchen?
  • Does the client eat a lot of frozen food? If so, he'll need more freezer space.
  • Does the client want a gas or electric range?

Daniel Baumann, owner of Design/Build Technology Inc., in Minnetonka, Minn., recalls a project that included a kitchen expansion in which the clients wanted a pantry closet and an island with a sink and seating for two. Both clients cooked at the same time, so they needed a second sink, too. The kitchen had to open into the dining room, with no wall between the two. One of the challenges of adding significant storage space was the size of the island. Baumann tries to maintain 42 inches of walkway space so that two people can pass each other comfortably beside an island. "I made the L-shaped island inside the U-shaped kitchen so that we could maximize counter space on the island yet maintain travel space around it," he says.

Baumann also suggests two modes of space-creating storage have become popular: deep drawers for pots and pans, instead of pullout trays behind cabinet doors, and large drawers under a sink.

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