paul bookbinder

Column: Streamlining your stuff

BOOKBINDERAs the years go by, we tend to accumulate as much stuff as we possibly can, fitting it into every nook and cranny our home has to offer. Just take a look in your attic, your garage and especially your kitchen to see what I’m referring to.

When is the last time you needed that big pot your sister left at your house 10 years ago? Or what about the 50 packets of duck sauce you’ve saved, just in case they forget to include it with your next order of spare ribs.

I’m not judging anyone for this behavior because I’m just as guilty, if not more so, as the next person.

Given the premise that this is an inescapable situation, there are remedies of dealing with the clutter, especially in the kitchen. Whether you’re planning a new renovation or reorganizing your existing kitchen, many storage products are available to ease the over-stressed, over-flowing-with-stuff lives of everyday people like ourselves.

Roll-out trays are one of the best solutions to increase the efficiency of base and pantry cabinets, and by making things easier to reach, it’s easier to organize them.

If your base cabinet already has a drawer at the top, you can usually fit two roll-outs in the lower section. Pantry cabinets can generally fit four or five roll-outs. This is one of my favorite upgrades because, as time passes, I find bending over less and less rewarding.

Retrofit roll-outs can be custom made to any size in wood or come in stock sizes in plastic. Some companies, like Rev-A-Shelf and Knape & Vogt, manufacture specialized wire drawers, which attach inside a base cabinet below the existing drawer. They can be ordered with a variety of inserts, providing an extra silverware or multi-purpose drawer without having to replace or rebuild the cabinet.

Wall cabinets are usually only 12 inches deep, half the depth of base cabinets, so roll-outs don’t offer much help up there. Besides, you’d have to stand on your toes to see into them. Instead, try adding an additional shelf in these cabinets. This can increase storage space by up to 20 percent and, at the same time, make things easier to organize.

If you do find yourself standing on your toes to reach into the wall cabinets, Rev-A-Shelf has come up with an ingenious solution. They have developed an innovative, pull-down, wire shelf unit. The whole unit pulls outward and downward bringing the shelves about one foot lower for easier access.

There are also many accessories that can be attached to the inside of the doors. A simple spice rack with adjustable shelves can clear up the clutter on the counter by the stove. It may be necessary to trim the depth of the shelves a little to ensure the door will close.

Adjustable can bins can also be attached to the door and function similarly to a spice rack. These are available in plastic or wood.

Many older kitchens have blind corner cabinets—cabinets you have to reach all the way into the back to get anything. If you have one, you know exactly what I mean. If the width of the door opening is greater than 13 9/16 inches, you may be able to fit revolving, half-moon shelves in the base cabinets. Although you lose some space because of the half-moon shape, it’s more than made up by the convenience of having everything swing outwards toward you.

Luckily, American industry recognizes that we’re not going to get rid of our stuff, so they keep developing new organizers to manage all that we now have and what we’ll accumulate tomorrow.

Paul Bookbinder, m.i.d., c.r., is president of DreamWork Kitchens, Inc. located in Mamaroneck.
He can be reached for questions at 914-777-0437 or