Shelves vs. Cabinets

Why shelves make better storage than cabinets

Room for your stuff

By Arrol Gellner, Friday, September 21, 2012.

Inman News®

<a href="http://www.shutterstock.com/pic.mhtml?id=90591127" target="_blank">Shelf</a> image via Shutterstock.Shelf image via Shutterstock.

Editor’s note: This is  the second in a two-part series. Read Part 1.

Last time we talked about how, despite all the fancy  cabinets you find in new houses these days, most people still end up storing  things in the garage. The reason: While cabinets may look pretty, they’re  really not very practical for storing all the oddball stuff that we Americans  tend to accumulate.

As anyone who has open shelving in their garage can attest,  it’s much easier to store and find things on shelves than in closed cabinets.  There’s a lot less frenzied door-flinging and “now where did I put that thing?”  going on. The stuff you want is either right there in front of your face or it  isn’t. This is why your local grocer puts his stock on shelves and not behind  doors.

Shelves are also better at accommodating various and  odd-sized items, since they’re not interrupted by a lot of vertical dividers  the way closed cabinets are. Hence, there’s less bother figuring out how to  make things fit or what order to put them in.

The old Victorian idea of the kitchen pantry or larder is a  perfect example of this kind of practical storage. Even in the fanciest houses  of the time, the pantry was never just an excuse for installing more showy  cabinets, as it often is today. Rather, it was a no-nonsense room lined with  open shelves that could store a few months’ worth of food and dry goods, along  with bulky seasonal appliances such as ice cream makers and canning apparatus.
The separate pantry room was one of the first things to go  when houses were dramatically downsized in the Craftsman era, and that was a  loss, as anyone who cooks in one of the teensy-weensy kitchens of the 1920s and  ’30s can tell you. Not that small kitchens are bad — they’re often much more  efficient than the sprawling kitchens found in some of today’s houses. But  what’s lacking is a catch-all room like that Victorian pantry, where things can  be easily stored and quickly retrieved.

Whether you call it a pantry, a storeroom, a catch-all or  whatever, a little room lined with shelves is a practical storage solution  that’s cheaper and more functional than all those fancy cabinets people have  gotten used to paying for.

So the next time you have the chance to design from scratch  or to rearrange the storage you have, instead of adding more cabinets, consider  setting aside some floor space that can be closed off with a regular door. An  area as little as 3 feet by 4 feet will do, but of course, the more room, the  merrier. Ideally, this space should be near the kitchen, but it’ll serve well  no matter where it is in the house.

Inside, install adjustable shelves from about 12 inches off  the floor to within 8 inches of the ceiling. Most of the shelves can be between  8 inches and 12 inches deep, but if you can, try to include a few that are 16  inches deep to hold awkward or bulk-packaged items. Where space is really  tight, shelves as little as 8 inches or even 6 inches deep will still be  useful. Although the aisle space in front of the shelves should theoretically  be around 3 feet wide, I’ve seen it made as narrow as 18 inches without any  real loss of function.

Since the whole room is hidden behind a door, you needn’t  fret too much about how it looks. All that matters is there’s a place to put  your stuff.

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About reinhartsouth

2008 wasn’t the best time to open a new office, but the Charles Reinhart Company looked to expansion as the way to ensure the future. Reinhart South, now located on the corner of State Street and Eisenhower Boulevard in Ann Arbor, opened January 7, 2008 in a small office on Washtenaw Avenue. Facing the bleakest economic situation since the great depression, Manager Dawn Foerg began the process of recruiting top real estate talent to the company. One agent at a time, South grew. By early 2009, 15 agents called the South office home. Still fighting the economic crises, the office grew to more than 40 licensed Realtors by the end of 2010. Today, South is among the five top producing offices in Ann Arbor.
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