Drawers versus sliding shelves in base cabinets

txpepperSeptember 18, 2010

Greetings everyone! I'm new to this forum and am finding it immensely helpful.

My question to the crowd: In your base cabinets did you do:

1) All drawers

2) Sliding shelves behind doors

3) Open shelves

4) A combination

5) Something else

Why did you make the choice you did?

If you could change your selection, what would you do differently?

My problem: I'm at the point of analysis to paralysis and would like to know how people dealt with the ergonomics, functionality and design aesthetics of their choice.

One main function issue for me, I plan to use some of the base cabinet space as my pantry. My cooktop will be mounted over the oven.

Thanks in advance for taking a moment to reply.

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The open cabinet hosts my day to day cookware and a few glass baking dishes. The slide cabinet hosts the often used tinfoil, baggies,trash bags on top and less used pots and pans and cookie trays on the bottom. The lazy susan host tupperware, strainers, and cutting boards. Crockpot, huge roast pan, mixer are on large shelves in pantry.

For some reason, I am still hesitant to put heavy items on the things that move insde the cabinets -- it is all so new to me!!

    Bookmark   September 18, 2010 at 5:42AM
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Drawers in base cabinets!!!! Not stationary shelves & not roll out tray shelves (ROTS).

Open shelving, especially in base cabinets, exposes your dishes, etc. to dust & dirt. Every time you walk by the open shelves, dirt & dust swirls up and settles on the closest surface...items in open shelves (closer than the floor!)

See these threads:

Thread: Drawers over pull outs in Cabinets

Thread: Adjustable shelves vs. pull outs

Thread: Drawers or doors with pull outs?

    Bookmark   September 18, 2010 at 6:25AM
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The pullouts need the doors opened on both sides and sticking out in order to pull out the "drawers". Going with drawers eliminates one step and takes up less space.
I do have one cabinet with doors and a stationary shelf in case I have any extra large items that need to be stashed. The rest will all be drawers for lowers.
Open shelves are great for the upper level, but I'd avoid them for lowers as explained above. I'd make an exception if you were doing vintage and chose a fabric skirt to cover them, esp for under the sink ;)

    Bookmark   September 18, 2010 at 10:55AM
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Just my opinion but, from an aesthetic standpoint, drawers don't always work. Visually, you may need a few doors especially on narrow cabinets & ROTS give a lot more accessibility than stationary shelves. I totally agree with no open shelves on the bottom unless you have minions to clean them everyday.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2010 at 12:53PM
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I decided to do all drawers for the base cabinets at the advice of my sister and I'm glad I did! I used to have slide out cabs underneath which annoyed me as the stuff would fall backward and you couldn't really pile stuff on top of each other.

The drawers are AWESOME, especially the really deep ones where my pots & pans are now. Such a huge difference and so much easier than those slide outs I had for pots & pans before.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2010 at 1:04PM
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Hi txpepper...

Here's a BIG YES TO DRAWERS wherever possible...In my corners I have cabinets with a round lazy susan in one and shelving in the other. Love the big drawers so much more than cabinets with roll out shelves.

And welcome to the forum!


    Bookmark   September 18, 2010 at 1:53PM
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Pull out shelves generaly give you just a little more headroom due to not having a fame member between the drawers. They also can be adjusted to give you more height in one and less in the other.
other than the above, if you take the doors off a pullout cabinet. then there is absolutely no difference between drawers and pullout.Most quality pullouts have high sides comparable to drawers. they have full extension undermout hardware, just like your drawers. A lot of them are made by the same companies that make drawer boxes for your cabinet maker.

The doors on pullout cabinets are just a pain. I wish I had gotten all drawers.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2010 at 2:23PM
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To expand my kitchen, I'm having new cabinets built to match the existing ones. All the new base cabinets will have drawers.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2010 at 2:37PM
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No doubt already said, but sliding shelves = two pulls to open and two pulls to close. For what? Never made the list.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2010 at 4:28PM
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Thank you for your comments!

Buehl...thank you for the links. I guess I didn't use the right key words when I did my initial search before posting my question.

Since I want one base cabinet unit to serve as a pantry, I need to pull out the tape measure and start measuring my cans and boxes since 'drawers' are not adjustable like shelves.

Have a great rest of the weekend!

    Bookmark   September 19, 2010 at 12:55AM
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It was pointed out above that "Pull out shelves generaly give you just a little more headroom due to not having a fame member between the drawers. They also can be adjusted to give you more height in one and less in the other" and also that shelves could have a slight advantage "... since 'drawers' are not adjustable like shelves".

Using drawers, I managed to get all the height and space advantages of pull out shelves. To explain how will require two concepts: first, I used frameless cabinets. There is no frame member in the front of the cabinet in frameless cabinets. Also, one can build the drawer front to be flush with the drawer's "floor" panel so there is no wasted space like you can see (e.g. at any Ikea) where the drawer front is made larger and overlaps. 2/ Secondly, I installed many interior drawers. They are always shallower than the main drawer. In my case the drawer fronts are all 15" high, to create a standardized look, but the division of space inside is not the same in each pair of main drawer and internal drawer. In one case I have a trio: 2 internal drawers behind a main drawer. Some of these internal drawers are semi-attached to the drawer front by a removable clasp so they get pulled open too when you pull on the drawer front. You could also screw the internal drawer to the drawer front if you make it high enough: then it's a base cabinet version of the "high pantry pullout" which has many drawers screwed onto a single high front. Otherwise, internal drawers are only accessible after you pull open the drawer they are in, and you then pull again on the interior drawer's front. Yes, that makes it two movements, but both require the same muscles and the same position. Interior drawers like these are more for storage or items you want to give a lower priority to on a daily basis. One of the two cutlery drawers requires two movements to open: this is the drawer holding the fancier silverware. We use our regular cutlery more often. Same for staples, and utensils we hardly ever use. We can use internal drawers for them: The bottom large drawers are for the huge bag of rice, flour, sugar etc.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2010 at 8:55AM
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FWIW, I had deep drawers in my old kitchen, my mom has sliding shelves in hers and I am going with slide-out shelves under my range top for my pots and pans in our new kitchen. I always found it a hassle to have to lift everything up to get to a pot or pan below another as opposed to simply sliding it out. However I did like that my lids didn't slide off and into the back of the cabinet.

I have t shirts folded and stacked in a dresser drawer and I also have them folded and stacked on a shelf in my closet. With the dresser, I can't see what shirts are on the bottom unless I lift and rifle through them (like a flip cartoon book) and I have to pick up a stack of shirts to get to the bottom shirt. But when I go to the shelf in my closet I can quickly see every t-shirt and slide the one I am interested in wearing out without lifting as much or whacking all the other shirts.

Of course, if you don't stack pots and pans on top of one another, it's a moot point. : )

    Bookmark   September 19, 2010 at 1:52PM
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In my base cabs I have all drawers, except for one which I wish was drawers. In my pantry I have sliding shelves. They are more of a hazzle to use. It takes both hands to open the doors and then one to pull the shelf. In looking at my pantry, most can goods are higher than a base cab would be. Even with shelves, I can't imagine good visibility of low canned goods. The only thing I think could work would be to have mostly narrow drawers and lay canned goods on their side. I suspect there are some pictures on this site that display this.
Here's a picture of my pantry. You can see all the shelves with canned goods are high which gives you a much different vantage point than in a base cab. Also, they have somewhat different heights which allow storing on the bottom.
From Kitchen

    Bookmark   September 19, 2010 at 5:13PM
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Davidrol....your comment lead me to many hours of informative reading. I especially liked your 'clippings'. Reading one of them led me back to my original idea of using glass for my full backsplash and I think I've now decided to go ahead and price this as an option to granite. Thank you for taking time to comment.

Thinkingwoman....I've used the sliding-shelves-behind-doors under a cooktop (at my aunt's house) and found it to be workable. But she basically had one layer of pots/pans per shelf.

My big conundrum NOW is trying to decide if I want to store my pans, etc. up on edge like Lisaslist did here: http://ths.gardenweb.com/forums/load/kitchbath/msg030118382423.html

ala DesertSteph did - in the same link.

Nothing like eating, breathing, dreaming a kitchen remodel. : D

    Bookmark   September 19, 2010 at 11:46PM
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"...a hassle to have to lift everything up to get to a pot or pan below another as opposed to simply sliding it out...

Sorry, but if you're talking about Roll Out Tray Shelves (ROTS) vs Drawers...you will still have to lift the stack up b/c ROTS also have sides, albeit usually shallower sides. Not only that, but if you have your pans stacked, they're more likely to fall off while trying to get to the pan on the bottom b/c the sides are shallower and they won't keep a deep stack from toppling. Drawers are still an advantage in this case. If you have flat ROTS w/no sides (which I've never seen in a kitchen cabinet), the danger for things falling off is even worse b/c of no sides whatsoever. And, you still have the disadvantage of having to open the two doors b/f being able to pull out the shelf. You also have to get out of the way of the doors. Then, you have to push the shelves back in, wait for them to close completely, and then close the doors b/f going back to work. As opposed to just pulling a drawer open just far enough to access what you need and then giving it a gentle shove and going about your work...the drawer closes w/out you having to monitor its progress.

The real answer to your dilemma is to plan your storage so you don't have to stack anything. Maybe one deep drawer for stock pots, etc. and then 2 or 3 shallow drawers for pans and smaller pots...or...a couple of really deep drawers so you can store your pans on their sides. No stacking means no "rifling through" the stack to get what you need...whether in a drawer or ROTS.

However, it's your kitchen, so if you think the ROTS (or shelves w/no sides) will work better for you, then by all means, get them! Maybe they will!

    Bookmark   September 20, 2010 at 12:25AM
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