Avoid Space Wasters in Your New Kitchen (And Replace Them With Space Savers)

by Matt Solis


Make your kitchen both beautiful and functional by avoiding kitchen space wasters. Photo: Altera Design & Remodeling, Inc 2019

Back in 2011, Chris Bjorklund wrote the original version of this article. Kitchens have changed since then, but the sentiment is timeless: For those of us who live in the Bay Area, there simply isn’t room for space wasters in the kitchen. With that, read on to learn how to replace those space wasters with space savers.

Out: Kitchen desks
In her original post, Chris mentioned that the only family member to ever use her kitchen desk was the dog. Even in 2011, laptops and cellular devices were making traditional desks obsolete.

In: Charging stations
The wireless devices that freed us from the desk need to be charged. Whether you’re remodeling your entire kitchen or just reorganizing it, consider identifying a space to charge laptops, cellphones, Bluetooth speakers and more without adding clutter to the kitchen.

Out: Trash compactors
Once popular, trash compactors have all but disappeared from contemporary kitchens, and for good reason—they don’t handle compost or recyclables well, they’re expensive and they take up valuable real estate.

In: Recycling/compost centers
Now that all Bay Area counties offer recycling (and most take compost), managing waste in your kitchen is a little more complicated. Simplify by integrating dedicated recycling and compost bins into your kitchen. As you plan, be conscious of how your city handles waste and integrate this into your plan. For example, if your city allows for mixed paper/plastic/can recycling, you can get by with one recycling bin. If not, you’ll need at least two.

Out: The double-bowl sink
Before dishwashers were common, the double-bowl sink made sense: wash in one bowl, rinse in the other. These days, the double-bowl sink often takes up extra space while making it difficult to wash large items.

In: The single-bowl sink
These days, one large, single-bowl sink with a garbage disposal will serve most modern homeowners perfectly. A single-bowl sink can accommodate nearly all of the dishes that haven’t yet made it into the dishwasher, as well as bulky cutting boards or pans. More, the single-bowl sink takes up less of that precious counter space.

Out: Enormous appliances
If you have the luxury of space in your kitchen, you probably shouldn’t be bothering with this post. Otherwise, overly large appliances like jumbo refrigerators and dishwashers are just unnecessary.

In: Efficient, compact appliances
In recent years, appliance manufacturers have started designing refrigerators, dishwashers and microwaves that emphasize efficiency rather then size. Consumers seem to appreciate this trend. For example, Mark Kelly, owner of Kelly’s Appliance Center, notes that counter-depth refrigerators have become more and more popular in recent years. He attributes this popularity to both appearance and the space savings these slim refrigerators offer for smaller kitchens.

Out: Laundry in the garage
Why haul your dirty clothes all the way to the garage and then haul the clean ones all the way back in?

In: Combination washer/dryers in or near your kitchen
Technically, having a washer and dryer in your kitchen is a space-user, not a space-saver. But having a washer and dryer in or close to the kitchen can make your daily chores much more efficient. Mr. Kelly suggests saving space by purchasing a combination washer/dryer. More, as he points out, a washer/dryer saves time because you don’t have to transfer your clothing.

Out: The empty corner cabinet
Corner cabinets take up a lot of space and can theoretically provide a lot of storage. A corner cabinet with standard shelving, however, is dark and hard to access.

In: The optimized corner cabinet
These days, there are many ways to make a corner cabinet work in and for your kitchen. “Great options for tricky kitchen corners include high-quality Lazy Susans and kidney-shaped inserts, which put everything within easy reach,” explains Lillian Hall, associate designer at Diablo Valley Cabinetry. In addition, Ms. Hall says there may be ways to design your kitchen without corner cabinets at all.

Lastly, here’s Chris Bjorklund’s short but sweet original post:

If you’re planning for a kitchen remodel, you need to think through how you’re going to be using the space. I remember when I did my first remodel years ago. We thought it would be a good idea to have a desk where the kids could do their homework. They never used it, but the family dog did—she slept under it for years. Chris Chidester, general manager of The Cabinet Center, says desks in kitchens aren’t as popular as they used to be. Now that people have laptops and cellphones, they gravitate to kitchen islands or tables to work, which frees up space for storage. Mr. Chidester also suggests not wasting space on trash compactors. “Now that we’re recycling so much, we don’t have nearly as much garbage as we once had, so compactors are almost becoming extinct.”

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