Or the Infuriating Struggle Between Access and Wasted Space!
In my parents’ house where I grew up, our kitchen did not have any corner cabinets. We didn’t have a circular kitchen, but because of two well-placed doors it just made sense for the literal corners of the kitchen to have normal base cabinets. As I grew older I started to notice the different things that people would do to make use of the corner spaces in their kitchens. I was fascinated by the Lazy Susan (not the ones that go on dining room tables, but the ones in cabinets)but aside from passing interest, I didn’t pay much attention to these things till later in life. For years during and after college, I lived in places with small galley kitchens that didn’t have to address the frustrating dilemma that comes from kitchen corners. Because of this, it was a bit of a shock when I started spending more time in larger “U” and “L-shaped” kitchens that made use of these innovative design ideas.
There are an endless number of different ideas that solve wasted space in the kitchen. These are some of the solutions that I would suggest.
If you want to save money on your kitchen remodel and you happen to be one of the 12 people on the planet that feels that they have more than enough storage space in their kitchen, then you are in luck because you can leave the corners as empty dead space. This will be one less cabinet which usually means a few hundred dollars savings and it pretty much solves the corner cabinet problem by ignoring it completely. This option works for the base cabinets as well as the upper wall cabinets. For myself and many others, this option is an unacceptable waste of space.
The next option would be to use a blind corner. This is when you take a two door cabinet and tuck half of the cabinet in the corner behind the adjacent perpendicular cabinet. (It’s far simpler than it sounds) Like the dead space idea, a blind corner cabinet can be used for the base or the wall cabinets. (~36” and ~24” respectively) The blind corner is also a little more affordable than the other options. I like that this option lets you utilize the corner for storage rather than leaving it as dead space, but I am not particularly fond of blind corners. Most of the time you end up with about six inches of wasted space between your blind corner and the wall. Furthermore, the access to your items is terrible. Your best bet is to use the blind corner to store items you only use a few times a year. Lastly, I can almost guarantee that over time, there will be a buildup of dust, debris, and food items that you’ve long forgotten about.
One easy solution would be to place one of your major appliances in the corner. This can be a beautiful solution if done correctly. Corner sinks can look really nice, especially with corner windows. A corner wall oven, with microwave can save space and look great. Any of these options also make it easy to have an effective kitchen work triangle. Although this solution works well with many kitchens it does waste some space in the base cabinets. If you put a range, dishwasher, refrigerator, or anything with swinging doors, in the corner, be extra careful to put enough space between the corner and any table or island.
Probably the most popular solution for the corner cabinet is the Lazy Susan. The simplicity and usefulness of the Lazy Susan rotating tray is one of the 10 greatest advancements made by mankind. The name Lazy Susan dates back to a 1917 Vanity Fair article but there is plenty of evidence that the table-top variant was in use over 100 year before that. When used in a large corner base cabinet the two circular or “Pac Man” shaped trays spin on a vertical axis allowing you to get to all your stored items with ease. The Lazy Susan makes use of nearly all the space in the cabinet, but if you only have room for a smaller 33” Lazy Susan, the small door makes your items far less accessible.
One cool option that I have seen popping up lately is the corner drawer base. This is a drawer base that is positioned at a 45 degree angle to allow the drawer to pull straight out of the corner. This cool idea lets you use the cabinet space and gives you an extra set of drawers. Unfortunately this too leaves a fair amount of wasted space on either side of the drawers.
The corner pantry is an option worth mentioning. As the name implies, this is a full floor to ceiling pantry in the corner of the kitchen. Corner pantries can look out of place if you do not integrate them into your kitchen design properly. If you have the option to use a slightly larger corner pantry (~42” or more) you can have enough room to “walk-in” to your pantry.
There is also the option of the revolving trash cans. Pull-out trash cans have become increasingly popular for good reason. It is so much nicer to have a trash can that pulls out like a drawer rather than have a visible trash can in your kitchen. You can now install not one, not two, but three trash cans mounted around a revolving axis much like the Lazy Susan. I have not personally used one of these yet but the idea does seem to be a good option.
One very nice corner option is the “pull-out” or “swing-out” corner organizer. Technically this is a complex accessory that is installed into a blind corner but it is such a game changer that I think it deserves to be mentioned as a totally different idea. The corner organizer is like the Lazy Susan’s cool lazy cousin. A series of reinforced trays are suspended inside the cabinet like shelves. When you open the door you can “pull-out” or “swing-out” the trays on an axis with hinges. This essentially solves a lot of the access issue with the blind corner.
There are other corner ideas that can be implemented in your kitchen but these are some of the best. Some people will be more bothered by wasted space than others, while some people do not mind having poor access to their things and other people find it infuriating. There is no perfect corner cabinet but there are a lot of good options.