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Hidden Storage Vs Open Storage – Hideaway or Dare to Bare?

Storage is vital in any kitchen and getting it right can be a daunting task, as a well-stocked kitchen has so many things vying for precious cupboard and shelf space. As a highly functional room ergonomics are, of course, paramount, yet it is important not to forget about the overall look and style of the space. Storage solutions come in many shapes and sizes, so it is important to consider the way in which you use your kitchen and the look you want to achieve; it plays an integral part in the overall kitchen design and its importance should not be underestimated. The styles of storage which make the biggest impact on the look of the room are built-in or ‘hidden’, and open. Here we compare the extremes of hidden storage versus a more open style.


Built-in storage, also known as hidden storage, such as cupboards and drawers mean that kitchen utensils and crockery are hidden away, preserving clean lines and reducing clutter. It might be tempting to stick to the ‘norm’ when thinking about cupboard and drawer placement but there are a few solutions which will mean that your storage works harder for you.

Firstly, drawers placed above or below cupboards can be a good way of keeping related items together, such as placing cutlery drawers above cupboards which house crockery. In addition, hidden internal drawers (i.e. one drawer front concealing three drawers within) work well in kitchens of any size, as they provide easily-accessible storage without having to find room for lots of separate drawers and again maintain the all-important lines around the kitchen.


In smaller kitchens where space is limited kickspace drawers (which are located in the plinth right at the bottom of units) can be a real space saver, providing additional storage and maintaining the clean lines of the overall kitchen design.


Appliance garages can be used in larger kitchens. These house frequently-used items in situ behind bi-fold double or shutter doors, hiding them away so that work surfaces aren’t cluttered but ensuring that they can still be easily accessed and used. When this isn’t an option, hydraulic appliance lifts can prove beneficial as it removes items from the worktop, making an area previously lost to an appliance have purpose again.


We keep mentioning the lines of a kitchen but if you opt for a lot of built-in storage, it is important that this is given proper consideration; it might not seem important initially but once everything is in place, if the lines of cupboards and appliances don’t match up, it can be hard on the eye.


Whilst we have seen a trend for open shelving, it isn’t always as practical as hidden storage. The trend for thick, floating shelves is synonymous with the popular ‘industrial’ look, but there are a few things you need to think about before opting for a lot of open storage in your kitchen.

Open storage undoubtedly means that there is more area for dust to collect and that things need to be kept neat and tidy for a look to be maintained. A key consideration is the amount that you need to store. Endless plates, glasses and bowls stacked on open shelves result in making the space look untidy rather than chic, and could be impractical when it comes to using anything.


In addition, the placement of open storage is important; if too near cooking areas, there is the risk that items will get dirtied. On the other hand, placing open storage away from cooking areas won’t be very practical when you come to use the room.


Open storage is also a bold look and won’t fit with every style of decor. As mentioned, it is a key element of the industrial style, but will also fit well with schemes like french country and shaker style interior decor, as these often include furniture with open elements, such as dressers or plate racks.


Undoubtedly, open shelving can look stunning if done right, but it is important to make sure that you have carefully thought about all the implications and practicalities of how you use your kitchen. If you are longing for the look but don’t fancy the idea of constant dusting and cleaning, there are three ways in which you could achieve it. You could include a small amount of open shelving under counters, for example at the end of an island unit. This can often give the right look and still be highly functional. Equally, glass fronted cabinets can give the look of open storage, but with the practicality of hidden storage. Lastly, consider a utensil rail. This will display your spatulas, colanders and other utensils in a similar style to an industrial kitchen, but requires less maintenance to keep looking pristine.


Remember, storage is a vital part in any kitchen. Forget door style, handles and even worktops and plan your storage solutions first. Are you a minimalist who feels compelled to hide everything away or do you dare to bare? Let us know.

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