Why You Should Choose Drawers Over Cabinets in Your Kitchen

Why You Should Choose Drawers Over Cabinets in Your Kitchen

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Nancy Mitchell
Jul 18, 2017
Kitchen drawers efficiently holding dishes, in a photo from IKEA.
(Image credit: IKEA)

The typical American kitchen (as of this writing) has a row of upper cabinets, with another, deeper row of cabinets below. The lower cabinets will have, perhaps, one drawer, and then a set of doors. This is a terrible idea. If you're considering a kitchen remodel, I'm here to convince you that every kitchen should have drawers, and not doors, for the lower cabinets. If you've already got drawers in your kitchen, well, read on and feel smug.

Banks of drawers (and a breathtaking backsplash window) in a kitchen from Cantilever Interiors.
(Image credit: Cantilever Interiors)

Disclaimer: I have never had a kitchen with drawers like this. (My current, teeny-tiny NYC kitchen does not have any drawers at all, not even a small one for silverware, a fact which I find continually maddening.) So this post was born from my blunted longing for drawers, but I figured I'd better do a little research to see if they are actually as great as I imagine. My 'resarch' involved interviewing various members of the Apartment Therapy team via Slack, which confirmed: yes, drawers are great. Here's why you need them in your kitchen.

Fresh, minty drawers (and a matching range hood!) in a kitchen from Decor8.
(Image credit: Decor8)

1. Ease of Access

A typical lower cabinet is two feet deep, which, with a doored cabinet, means that it's easy for stuff to get lost in the dark netherworld at the back of the cabinet. And who wants to pull out everything they own just to get to that one pot? Drawers neatly solve this problem, making even objects in the very back of the drawer easy to access.

This kitchen from Bolig pairs drawers with a couple of glass-front china cabinets — the best of both worlds.
(Image credit: Bolig)

2. Organization

The space inside a doored cabinet is basically a a giant box, which can often result in a terrifying, haphazard jumble of stuff. Drawers make it much easier to add dividers, which allows everything to fit neatly into its own spot.

Drawers make for efficient cabinets in a hyper-modern kitchen from Bo Bedre.
(Image credit: Bo Bedre)

3. Efficiency

Using every square inch of drawer means you'll be able to fit a lot more stuff into the same amount of cabinets.

Two-tone drawers in a kitchen from Bolig, via Nordic Design.
(Image credit: Bolig)

4. Style

If you like the look of a kitchen without upper cabinets, drawers are pretty much the only way to go. Imagine, for a moment, trying to cram bowls and plates and glassware into a doored cabinet. Nightmarish.

In this kitchen from Nuevo Estilo, all the storage is below waist height.
(Image credit: Nuevo Estilo)

Still not convinced? Here's a quote from Adrienne Breaux, our house tour editor and kind of an expert on what makes a great home.

I've never had drawers myself, but my parents do and it's amazing and incredible and I wish all cabinets were like this. Instead of having to get down and dig through the back of a cabinet, you just open it up and gently choose from an organized array. Drawers make you feel like you live in Martha Stewart's kitchen.

Case closed.

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