Drawer help--39' wide stacks or break them smaller?

breezygirlMay 26, 2011

I will have 4-drawer stacks flanking my rangetop. The width on both sides is 39". In order to maximize space in my framed, full overlay drawers, I was planning on making the stacks 39" wide.

Each drawer will need to house two different kind of things in it. For example, one drawer might be half oven mitts and half spice tins. I know I would need drawer dividers to keep everything neat and tidy.

Then Fori made a comment on another thread about how wide and shallow drawers can be awkward to use so now I'm not sure if I should break up the 39" space into two seperate drawer stacks. I would lose 3" of interior storage space, but I'm willing to do it if the wider, single drawers will be difficult to use.

Here's how my cab maker drew these from his own sense of design without my input. Maybe the upper drawers being doubled on top helps enough to leave it like this?

(Ignore my use of MS Paint on the uppers.)

Would you go with 39" drawer stacks, do what my cab maker drew, or split them up into two stacks?

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Go wide!!! You can fit a lot more into wide drawers than you can into pairs of narrow drawers.

For looks, the small ones on top do look nice.

I don't have any trouble with my wide drawers. My pot drawers are 48". They just have pots, but that includes a cast iron roaster and cast iron wok. Oh! And some small accessories in the in between spaces. I keep the grid for the roaster bottom, turkey lifters, and similar in the drawer with the roaster, and the skimmer and rack with the wok, for instance. The top, super shallow drawer, has all kinds of stirrers, screens and grills, silicone pot pads, etc. In my baking area, I have 31" drawers, top one with utensils, and bottom two with bowls, baking dishes and pans. And pot holders, pie weights, etc. Again, no problem.

I have narrow drawers in my island, and there's wasted space. Not so in the wide drawers.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2011 at 6:26PM
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The width gets awkward only if there is another person in the kitchen - they might have to get out of the way for you.

If you can load the lower drawers with all your pots and pans and not have a problem, I think that sketch looks great.

You might need side _and_ center supports.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2011 at 6:26PM
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Lazy--I hadn't thought of the "move over" factor.

Plllog--I thought wide, too, for less wasted space. But these are 4-drawer stacks. Still OK?? The top three drawers have about 4" of height, and the bottom drawer has about 7". I just don't need deep drawers around the rangetop as too much of the stuff I have to store there would get lost in a pile of utensils, etc in a deep drawer.

There are 2 deep, 36" wide drawes under the rangetop for pots and pans.

Thanks you two!

    Bookmark   May 26, 2011 at 6:34PM
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I have 36 " wide 3 drawer stack. My upper drawer is narrow for all my knives, and cooking utensils (LOVE IT) and the two lowers are deep for all my pots and pans, drainers ect... I have to say it is my favorite bank of drawers in the kitchen. Personally I like the design above, except I would change them to 3 drawer banks so that the bottom drawers are deeper. (it is so nice to put the lid on the pot, and just place it in the drawer)

    Bookmark   May 26, 2011 at 6:47PM
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Cjc--Does it feel awkward to pull out a long, shallow drawer?

My pots and pans will go under the rangetop. Everything else I have to store there would get lost in deep drawers. That's why I went with the 4-drawer stacks.

The bottom drawers flanking the rangetop there have 7" of finished depth.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2011 at 7:07PM
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I have a couple of four drawer stacks. You're right that there's potentially more wasted space with bigger items in smaller drawers, but I still have plenty of wasted space in my four drawer stacks.

Are you talking about interior or exterior depths? Seven inches (interior) is plenty deep for colanders and stuff like that. Four inches is great for baking dishes (casseroles) and other large things. I mean, besides utensils, spices and pot holders.

How big are your potholders? I have scorched my hand reaching into a hot oven to baste, so use big mitts. They fit better in a big drawer than a small one. How many spices do you expect to store there? Will they all fit into one drawer?

There's nothing wrong with the small drawers on top. They do look nice, which might be a good enough reason to do it. I wouldn't split the other drawers, however. 3" is a lot of room to lose in each drawer! (I, personally, would leave them large because I'm greedy, but they do look nice with the top ones split.)

Re the moving people, if they're standing in front of the drawer you need into, you have to move them whether it's a big or little drawer.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2011 at 7:18PM
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My 4-drawer stacks can be whatever depth I want, but the top one has to be 4" deep. My cab maker's standard 4-drawer stack has finished, interior depths of 4", 4", 4", and 7". I thought I'd go with that. It makes the drawers shallow enough so I don't lose my smaller items and gives me one deeper drawer for the few bigger items I need to store there.

I've only ever had narrower 4-drawer stacks similar to those measurements.

I have several big oven mitts. DH works for a restaurant supply company and brings me the occassional treat of an odd item or two. None of mine match, but I like them all.

Spices? I think about 40-45 of them in tins yet to be purchased from Specialty Bottle. I also have some other odd things like the Spanish smoked paprika that comes in the gorgeous tin that I'll leave as is. By my calculations, most should fit in one of the split upper drawers if I decide to go that route.

I never thought of configuring the drawers the way my cab maker drew those above, but it does look nice. I'm more into function and form usually.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2011 at 7:46PM
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Make sire you use very good drawer guides.

The weight of a wide drawer with pits and pans is NOT small.

Steel ball bearing drawer guides with a decent weight rating.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2011 at 7:50PM
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I don't like wide unless I have stuff that needs the width...Like pots and pans. Smaller gadgets and tools just don't need that much room and get mixed up and tangled...and don't get put back in their 'right ' spots by younger dish-doers if you have dividers. It's frustrating and overwhelming for me to organize a big, wide drawer, when more efficient, smaller ones will do. I like to divide the tools by purpose or task, and not have to open a huge thing and clear a wide path in the kitchen to find one little do-dad.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2011 at 8:01PM
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if you decide you want the wide drawers.... but like the look of the split top as in the pic... how about you just make a false front for the top drawers? it'll look like 2 smaller drawers, but open as one larger one.

(spoken as a form over function gal myself, but I do like things to look a certain way when possible)

    Bookmark   May 26, 2011 at 8:14PM
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Breezy -- is it too late for this question?

I agree that wide are nice and do eliminate the wasting of space that dividing into two drawers creates, from two 'sources', from the fitting-things-around-edges source, and from the width-of-cabinet-sides source. Between these there is significantly less space in two 19.5" drawers vs one 39" drawer. But note that there is variable loss from the fitting-things-around-edges source depending on what you put in the drawer. That is, with big, shapely items like, say, skillets or lasagna pans + something else, there can easily be large, unused spaces around drawer walls -- the hard suitcase in a car trunk paradigm. But with smaller, more easily malleable items (say, oven mitts), there is less loss near the edges of the drawers as you can fill in that space more easily. So large drawers lend themselves more critically to things like pans than smaller items.

That said, rhome's point about opening a vastly oversized item for something smaller is important, I think (not that I've lived with my kitchen, only started putting things in). Stuff shifts and gets lost horizontally the same way it can get lost vertically. If you can afford the additional drawer and can plan in advance where what goes and can therefore estimate big-enough sizes, that would be best.

I think it was buehl, maybe plllog, who had a link to how they planned their kitchen to a fare-thee-well (sp?) with labels for what goes in which drawers. While over-the-top, I recommend that method! Because really that's the only way you can get close to sizing the drawers properly. Stand in your mind's eye where you'll cook what and think about what you need at hand, then put the drawer there -- and label it! I kept forgetting what I thought was going to go where. If you have a ton of oven mitts (which are big), you're really not going to want, probably, to share them too much with something else, if you can avoid it. Try shaping a drawer for them alone-ish. Maybe have a split stack in the second row as well?

Note that the size of the split needn't be equal; could be, say, 12"/27", e.g.

Other considerations: cost. Each additional drawer was another $100 or so for me. So two 19.5-ers cost more than one 39", counter-intuitively.

And as was noted above, that big drawer even just *empty* is heavy - it necessitates the heavy-duty glides, which are an additional cost.

Awkwardness opening thin drawer? I think that depends on how thin, what's in it, placement of handles, among other factors.

I have a 5.5" drawer front which translates to a 3.5" interior drawer. That seems thin, and it's long, 31.5". There may be a teensy amount of torqueing, making one-handed opening a little hard. It's not bad and I imagine as the drawer gets heavier with stuff it will get better. I think placing the handles more centrally helps. But this is deeper than the 4" you're talking about. I am guessing that's the drawer front, not interior. For my frameless cabinets, you lose 2" from the interior height for both top drawers and bottom drawers, just 1.5" from height for drawers in the middle of the stack.

Here's a picture (and please note the cutting board drawer which I just love):

And then I have a 3-stack that's under a short counter with a 5.25" ext cab on top that translates to just 3.25" interior. That's enough, barely, to fit a saran wrap box, but as those things like to spring open, I'm not sure whether they'll get stuck in practice. Here's a picture -- for reference the middle drawer is 8"ext/6.5"int and the bottom is 12.5"ext/10.5"int. I'm embarrassed to say I am actually able to fill that bottom drawer just with plastics and metals and *I just love it*. There is enough room for them all to have their tops and sleeves and the like. All that stuff just drives me crazy and having it all splayed out in that giant drawer is just heaven. And BTW, I had never noticed those streaks on the drawer to the right. They are there IRL, but are much less noticeable, the flash highlighted them. They are colorings of the natural wood; just fine by me.:

So ... I am worried that 4"/4"/4"/7" just might translate to too little interior space -- just something for you to look into. There is another picture of a 4-stack on my photobucket which I think you can get to if you're interested just by clicking on one of the above photos. And there's a picture there of a thin drawer underneath the MW/convection, but it's not long -- it works just fine at 5"ext/2.875"int x 24"w (designed just for the oven racks, but holding hot pads too).


    Bookmark   May 27, 2011 at 11:52AM
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breezygirl i vote for large drawers too. Your first image is a great setup.

I think your dimensions are off. 4", 4", 4", 7", = ??

Remember that you can have an internal drawer anywhere also. It makes for a cleaner look. Fewer drawer fronts to see. It makes for a two tiered approach, where the shallow interior drawer is used for secondary importance items.

If you want to save $, have only 3 drawers: deep drawers at the bottom, medium height drawers in the middle, and shallow drawers on top. In the lowest drawer, things can be stacked. In any case, the lowest drawers are always used for long term storage (i think that's how it ends up, regardless of your plan ! ) Drawers above knee height are the ones that get opened every day. For this reason, think about having some pans or pots in a drawer on the side of the cooktop instead of putting all cooking vessels in the two drawers under the cooktop.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2011 at 1:00PM
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Brickeyee--I'll double check the weight on the Blum guides my maker is using.

Rhome--you make a good point. Your opinion on this was another reason I am rethinking the wide drawer stacks.

Lawjedi--I hadn't thought of that idea. It would look nice that way.

Aliris--the cost per drawer goes up for me too. I can't remember the exact figure. I saw all your pics. They helped. Your cutting board drawer is very creative.

Davidro--the heights I listed, 4", 4", 4", and 7", are finished interior height. I don't know what the external height is.

I agree that lower drawers should be for less often-used items. Happens now too.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2011 at 7:03PM
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Breezy- No problems, I have one handle in the center, and blum soft close glides. Also have a 3 drawer stack on the side by the dishwasher that has silverware in the top, bagies, wraps in the second and mixing bowls in the bottom. Check out Ikea for drawer dividers and storage helpers. My friend has 4 drawer stacks and she likes the usable space in mine much better. Good luck!
From Kitchen before and after

    Bookmark   May 27, 2011 at 7:42PM
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4", 4", 4", and 7"=
19" total useable space.
27" total useable space is what I have.
That is 50% more than what your cabinet solution seems to provide, if we rely on these numbers.

My kickspace is 4.75" to 5", and my countertop is 2cm thick.
That leaves about 3/4" for each of the drawers' floors. That is about right. I have four drawers. Their drawer front is screwed to the drawer so that its bottom is flush with the drawer bottom, not overhanging.


    Bookmark   May 27, 2011 at 9:50PM
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Breezy, are your cabinets framed or frameless?
Mine are frameless and I have 22" of usable space on a 4 drawer stack. 4, 4, 4, and 7 comes out to 19" usable space - that might be due to being frameless or perhaps your cabinet maker is rounding down and you have a bit more usable space than those numbers indicate.

Davidro - subtracting kick space and counter thickness for 36" high cabinets, I come out with 30" left for the cabinet box and drawers. The board on the bottom of the cabinet and the rail across the top are 3/4" thick plus 3/4" for each drawer floor. So for 4 drawers, that takes 4.5 inches leaving 25.5 inches or 26.25 for 3 drawers, not 27".

But the Blum drawer guides go below the drawer and the drawer face hangs down below the drawer floor to cover them. So it takes 1.625" of height overhead per drawer.

We really like the organization we get from 4 drawer stacks. We even have a couple of 5 drawer stacks.

I don't see any issue with drawers 39" wide. We had a 36" wide short drawer under the cooktop in our old cabinets with old fashion side rails that were not nearly as good as the Blum guides and it worked fine. And as far as side to side organization - it is easy to add drawer dividers. They can be home made or bought and they don't take nearly as much space overhead as doing two drawer stacks.

For example, in our baking area, we have a 2.5" top drawer (I'm using the number for the interior depth) that holds all the measuring cups, spoons, spatulas, dough scrapers, etc. Below that, we have a 4" deep drawer that holds some of the larger utensils such as the rolling pins. Then a 5.5" drawer that holds the smaller baking supplies such as baking powder, baking soda, corn starch and a 10" deep drawer that larger supplies like flours and sugars.

We have simple drawer fronts (typical shaker construction of slab fronts for shorter drawers and 5-piece fronts for taller ones) so it doesn't look too "busy" having 4 and 5 drawer stacks.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2011 at 10:17PM
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We have 36" w 3 drawer stacks on each side of our stove and we love them. I would rather have a wide drawer stack than 2 narrower ones. I have narrower drawer stacks on our peninsula and there is a lot of opening and closing to find things (more separate drawers = more confusing). The larger drawers don't even need dividers, so I am glad I held off on buying those. You also will pay more for installing and hardware in addition to more per sqft for the cabs. I think the wider stacks look neater too. I am not sure I'd do both as a 4 drawer as I love the deeper 3 stacks. If you don't feel a huge need for symmetry, try one 4 stack and 1 3 stack if you don't want both as 3 stacks...
I do like the split top drawer for utensils and such. Those do tend to slide more than other kinds of items.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2011 at 11:03PM
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Mom did the shallow 4 drawer stack in her kitchen. I thought she was crazy until she got all moved in--what on earth would she be able to store in those shallow drawers? She's got her large cooking utensils in the top drawer for easy reach. Kitchen linens/potholders/ovenmits in the 2nd drawer. Overlarge foils, parchment paper, etc. in the 3rd drawer. Utility items in the deeper 4th drawer (i.e. tape measures, flashlights, screwdrivers, etc.). It's actually a good setup because you don't "lose" anything in the drawers. Everything is right there at your fingertips--no digging to find it required. You can bet we have a set of wide shallow drawers specced in our new kitchen build!

    Bookmark   May 28, 2011 at 10:56AM
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I also have a 4-drawer setup (24" wide)....top drawer is eating utensils (silver/flatware), 2nd is plastic bags & wraps, 3rd is extension cords and similar, 4th is bread!

In other areas of the kitchen, I have shallow drawers containing: Linens (33" wide)
Potholders (24")
Prepping & cooking utensils & tools, knives (36")
Gluten-free prepping/cooking utensils & tools (30")
Serving and misc items (pizza cutters, ice cream scoops, bottle openers, chopsticks, etc.), oven accessories (thermometers, baster, etc.) (27")

    Bookmark   May 28, 2011 at 3:35PM
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Cjc--Thanks for showing me.

Cloudswift--my cabs are framed, full overlay. Now that you mention it, I think my cab maker did round down slightly to 4" when I first asked about drawer depth. And my counters will be 4cm Carrara. Your info helped me a lot.

Dianalo--Thanks for your suggestions also.

Mydreamhome--All my kitchens have ever had is 4-drawer stacks to I know what you mean. Easy to find things.

Buehl--Your specifics help too. Bread in a bottom drawer?!

DECISION: I've decided to go with the configuration in my cab maker's drawing above based on all of your input. I don't really think I'll regret the bottom drawers being so wide. I just realized that the chest of drawers we're using as a temporary computer station that I'm typing at right now has drawers 36" wide. I've never considered them a problem. But then again, I don't get into them multiple times a day like I will in the kitchen. On to my next decision!

    Bookmark   June 4, 2011 at 3:20PM
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