Unless you’re comfortably over the six-foot mark, reaching your high kitchen cabinets will be a challenge – the problem is, hard-to-reach storage is a reality for many of us. The key to making your kitchen more efficient, say organizers, is to use them to store things you don’t use regularly.
There really is nothing more frustrating than cooking a meal and having to hoist yourself onto your counter to reach the tinned tomatoes in your top cabinet (if you’re anything like me, usually in a very in-elegant fashion). Or, worse still, being forced to swallow your pride and ask a taller member of the family to reach it for you. If you want a convenient kitchen that works to your needs, you’ll need to think carefully about what you store up there.
To help you organize your cabinets properly, we’ve asked professional organizers what they store in their high cabinets for a more streamlined modern kitchen. They share their suggestions below, alongside some solutions to make it easier to arrange – and reach – those out-of-reach cabinets with ease.
1. Seasonal items
Despite our kitchens being practical spaces, we don’t use all our kitchenware all year round. Yes, there are the plates, cutlery, and pans we use daily, but there’s also a lot of stuff at the back of your cabinets you probably use just a handful of times a year.
We’re talking about those seasonal items you can definitely go without most of the time: the novelty Christmas serving ware you inherited from your Gran, the huge gravy boat you only bring out for Thanksgiving, those special placemats for your alfresco garden parties – all of them can safely be stowed away up in the heavens until their time to shine comes around.
‘Group your holiday dishes, glasses, and linens, as well as any baking supplies such as cookie cutters, colored sprinkles, candle holders, and birthday signs, and organize them in a basket or spacial dinnerware containers,’ says Di Ter Avest, professional organizer at Di is Organized. ‘This makes it easy to get them in and out, and nothing gets lost in the back.’
2. Appliances you don’t use often
How many novelty appliances do you have that you very rarely use? Really, you should commit to decluttering and part with some if you want an easy way around things, but for those items you can’t bare to let go of just in case, relocate them to your high kitchen cabinets.
‘These should be small, lighter kitchen appliances you don’t use daily,’ says Di. ‘One cabinet can hold the waffle maker you only use on weekends, the sandwich maker that comes out in school holidays, and the hand-held mixer you only use for baking, as well as the likes of ice cream and yogurt makers.’ Tucking these items away in your tall cabinets won’t only streamline your kitchen, but it can help declutter kitchen countertops, too.
3. Kitchen gadgets
In a similar vein, I expect there are some even smaller gadgets cluttering your kitchen drawers that can be relegated to the harder-to-reach cabinets. ‘You know those small unique gadgets you don’t use often, but it is still important to keep because every now and then, you want to make a special or fancy meal?,’ asks Di. ‘Those gadgets can be collected in a basket and stored up high.’
We’re talking the likes of your microwave cleaner, spreader knife, watermelon slicer, lid latch, melon baller, and citrus juicer – all those miscellaneous yet useful gadgets that need a place to call their own. As Di notes, to organize kitchen cabinets, make sure you contain them all in bins or baskets. This means you can pull these containers out easily, rather than rummage blindly in your cabinet shelves for individual items.
Since the pandemic, many of us are a bit more savvy about ensuring we’re stocked up. You never know when an emergency or illness might strike, and you’ll want to be prepared for such circumstances, but extra food supplied and non-perishables needn’t take up valuable real estate in your easy-to-reach cabinets.
Keep those spare tins of tomatoes, packets of dried pasta, and boxes of crackers up high so they have a designated spot. Of course, from time to time you’ll need to dip in there, if not for last-minute cooking ingredients then to do a stock rotation.
‘To ensure they’re within reach, arrange deep upper cabinets with the help of a kitchen organizer like a Lazy Susan,’ says Julie Peak, professional organizer and owner of The Precise Place. ‘Maximize space and storage by choosing one with the same diameter as the cabinet.’ If you buy in bulk to save costs on your food shop, these upper cabinets can also be a great place to store all those extras.
5. Platters and serving dishes
When cooking for a larger party, you pull out those platters, cheese boards, and serving dishes that you go months without using. Maybe there’s even an entire fine china set taking up an entire cabinet somewhere in your kitchen. If you’re storing any of these in lower cabinets, rethink your layout and consider sending them up top instead.
‘Storing infrequently used platters and serving dishes in upper cabinets frees up space in lower cabinets for often-used kitchen items,’ says Julie. ‘If you’re worried about accessing them when you need them, you could always consider installing a pull-down cabinet organizer that increases storage space and makes it easier to reach them.’
6. Cake stands, cake mixers, and icing decorations
Unless, of course, you’re an avid baker, you won’t be needed that huge mixing bowl, cake stand, or icing equipment within easy reach. There are only a few occasions a year that warrant their use, so consider putting them out of sight and out of reach until such a time comes.
‘Cake stands and cake mixers are perfect for upper cabinets due to size and weight,’ notes Julie. For smaller items like icing bags, cake decorations, and candles, she suggests using a basket or container as an additional storage idea. ‘It’s a good idea to organize and label contents, aiding in identifying what’s inside and remembering what’s stored,’ she adds.