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Configuring your kitchen cabinets

After planning your new kitchen layout, or making any possible improvements to the functionality of your existing kitchen layout, including the positioning of your kitchen cabinetry, the next step is to plan the configuration of kitchen cabinets to include doors and shelves, drawers and built-in appliances, and any special features such as carousels, pull-out bins, and pull-out shelving.

Kitchen drawers and doors

White kitchen with islandTraditional old-style kitchens had only one or two banks of drawers for storing cutlery and utensils. In modern kitchen designs, however, the clever use of drawers has become much more important.


Many new kitchens will have drawers installed in most of the base cabinets. Deep drawers are more practical than cupboards for storing items like crockery and cookware. Wide, shallow drawers provide easy access to cooking utensils without using very much capacity. Consider your planning needs and budget to allow for as many drawers as possible in your configuration of base cabinetry.

Kitchen base cabinets

The trend with base cabinets is to reduce the number of straightforward cupboards with fixed shelving because they tend to have dark interiors, and also having to reshuffle cupboard contents to retrieve items from the rear can be very inconvenient.


Cupboards are still often used under the sink, and to conceal items such as pull-out bins. Pantries are usually covered by doors but even then, where possible, fixed shelving is being replaced by pull-out shelving for greatest convenience.

Kitchen wall cabinets

Kitchen wall cabinetsWall cabinets are usually much shallower in depth than base cabinets and are ideal for accommodating smaller items in frequent use, such as glassware and coffee cups.


One great advance in modern wall cabinet design is being able to have the doors opening from the bottom and hinged in the centre, rather than hinged on the side, taking up less space at head-height and making the contents more accessible for everyone in the home. Placing a wall cabinet above a refrigerator can provide cupboard space where there would be a void, giving the refrigerator a neat, built-in look. Compact range hoods can be built into wall cabinets placed over the cooktop. Microwaves can represent a hot-spill hazard if mounted overhead so talk to your kitchen consultant about the best placement.


It’s usually a good idea to have as many wall cabinets as possible in your new kitchen to maximise storage. You can also add a thin strip of LED lighting underneath each row of cabinets for the most economical benchtop illumination. The colour of LEDs can be changed to suit the mood.

Full-height kitchen cabinets

New modern minimalistic kitchen interiorWhere space allows, nothing can beat the capacity of a full-height pantry cabinet for storing dry groceries and cooking ingredients. A bank of full-height cabinets may elegantly accommodate one or more integrated wall ovens.


Full-height kitchen cabinets can be particularly useful in smaller homes and apartments where the lack of space might mean needing to store taller items like brooms and mops in the kitchen. Think carefully about the placement of full-height cabinets in the kitchen in smaller homes, however, because the extra room comes at the cost of available bench space.

Kitchen appliance cabinets

With today’s range of small kitchen appliances available in so many beautiful colours and designs, and increased interest in creative home cooking thanks to the number of TV shows focused on the development of home-cooking skills and the enjoyment of home-cooked food, many people would rather have their favourite appliances on display and ready for use at all times than hidden away.


Still, where kitchen bench space is at a premium or a sleek, minimalist look is desired, it’s a great idea to have a dedicated cabinet, fitted with power points, to conceal small appliances and their electrical clutter from view yet still keep them handy and ready for use at any time.

Kitchen islands

The kitchen island concept has risen in mainstream popularity over the last decade. If you’ve got the space to include an island, it could be the best value-adding decision you can make for your new kitchen design.


Depending on your kitchen layout, your island may comprise a bank of storage cabinets with an expanse of bench space on top. One side of the benchtop may be extended to allow for stools or chairs underneath, creating a casual dining or entertaining area.


The sink and dishwasher may be incorporated into the island, but this could be too costly to achieve within budget if the existing plumbing has to be moved, particularly where there is a concrete slab floor. Alternatively, your cooktop could be incorporated into the island but consider carefully if people might be seated around the island too close to hot spatter while food is being seared or fried.

Kitchen peninsulas

If you don’t have enough width in your kitchen to create an island, you might be able to include a peninsula bench extending from one side of the cabinets to create additional food preparation space and perhaps casual dining. The benchtop of the peninsula could be at the same height as the kitchen cabinets, slightly higher to accommodate stools and create a breakfast bar area, or slightly lower with chairs to create a casual dining area or even to serve as the main dining area in smaller homes.