Doors vs. Drawers: Which is Best for Kitchen Cabinets?

So, you’ve decided it’s finally time for a complete kitchen remodel.  Now what?  You may be excited to update the style of your kitchen design, or perhaps you want to remove a wall to create an open plan kitchen/living/dining area.  Another top priority for a kitchen renovation is creating ample and appropriate storage space.  There are so many options available including standard cabinets, specialized storage inserts, narrow cabinets such as spice or oil pull outs, and purpose-built storage areas like beverage centers. 

When it comes to cabinet styles, is it better to stick with standard cabinets with doors and pull out shelves or will your kitchen supplies be better organized in deep drawers?  Many people are opting for drawers for everything from pots and pans to dishes and coffee mugs.  Why are drawers such a popular choice, and are they always the right choice?

When planning a kitchen remodel, you must consider how frequently you use your kitchen, who uses it, and what you plan to store in your kitchen.  Whether you use your kitchen frequently, cook a couple times a week, or just occasionally entertain, storage is essential to maintaining a well-organized kitchen.  The way you intend to use your kitchen may help define the type of storage best suited to your new kitchen design. 

If you have multiple sets of dishes, glasses, and coffee supplies for daily use and entertaining, you must factor in ample space to store everything.  If you are an avid cook or baker, you may want to include designated space for baking supplies, a stand mixer, or baking trays.  There are basic requirements for kitchen storage, but some additional customized storage spaces and accessories can be added to suit your individual needs.

In general, drawers for base cabinets offer maximum use of space and are better at keeping cookware, dishes, and even pots and pans in place.  Deep drawers offer the ideal space to keep these items organized and secure.  Since drawers can be pulled out all the way, they allow you to see everything inside so no items get lost in the back of a dark shelf, even in a corner. 

Ergonomics is a key benefit of using drawers in base cabinets.  They are easier to open since they only require one-handed motion while doors require two hands. 

Drawers in base cabinets are also ideal for heavier items like cookware and dishes.  With drawers that pull out all the way you can more easily access and lift out plates, bowls, pots and pans, and much more without having to awkwardly reach to an upper cabinet or stretch to the back of a shelf.  

Drawers can be outfitted with specialized inserts such as a peg system to keep dishes, coffee mugs, and other items organized.  Shallow drawers with custom storage accessories allow for easy storage of utensils, cooking tools, spices, and even for Keurig containers.  Drawers also allow the space to be accessed without having to open doors and pull out a shelf, so may offer less of an obstacle to traffic flow in the kitchen.

Doors with standard shelves should generally be reserved for upper cabinets used for lighter items like glassware. 

Base cabinets with doors and rollout shelves can be used for pots and pans, but are even better suited to small appliances such as mixers.  The shallow shelves are sufficient to keep small appliances in place and allow for them to be more easily accessed and lifted out.

Which option is best for your kitchen design?  If you are trying to outfit an existing kitchen with additional storage options, then pull out shelves may be the best solution as they can be more easily added to existing cabinets.  For a complete kitchen remodel, you have complete flexibility to design your storage in the way that suits you best.  Contact your kitchen design professional to discuss storage solutions or check out our kitchen remodelling gallery for more ideas.