Sunday, October 20, 2013

Mike Holmes: Make Your Kitchen Cabinets Work for You

The kitchen -- it's where the majority of us love to congregate, probably because it's where the food is (or beer, if you're a beer drinker). We all want our kitchens to be functional and accessible, all while being a beautiful space to live, cook, and socialize in. It's also important for a kitchen to have plenty of storage space to keep pots and pans out of sight when not in use, but just at our fingertips when we need them. This is where having cabinets designed specifically for your kitchen comes in handy. Installing custom cabinets could run anywhere from $15-$25,000, depending on the size of the kitchen and the manufacturer of the cabinets. Builder grade cabinets or those you can find at big box stores are a lot less pricey, but they can still run around $75 - $250 per cabinet, depending on the size and shape. When you're spending that kind of money, it's important to not only have cabinets that work, but ones that work for you. As Mike Holmes explains the the article below, there are a lot of new innovative gadgets that help bridge the gap between form and functionality, making the things you store inside your kitchen cabinets more accessible for people of all ages and levels of ability.
From the Ottawa Citizen:  

Mike Holmes: Kitchen cabinets come of age

Innovations in design and function improve storage and access


Professional kitchen cabinet manufacturers can create custom kitchen cabinets to maximize space, storage and accessibility in any kitchen.

Photograph by: The Holmes Group

When I approach a kitchen reno, the first thing I’m looking at is space — we want to maximize it as much as possible without compromising structure. But I also need to make sure that the kitchen works for the homeowner. It has to be functional and it has to make sense. And the kitchen cabinets play a big part in that.
Your kitchen cabinets serve two purposes: storage, and access to that storage. As far as I’m concerned, if you can’t access your pots, pans and plates then your cabinets are not doing their job, they’re not working for you. And to me that’s unacceptable.
As far as storage goes, your upper kitchen cabinets should have a minimum depth of 12 inches (30.5 centimetres). Plates and dinnerware are getting bigger now. It’s important that you make sure your kitchen cabinets can store everything you need them to and that the cabinet doors can open and close properly.
You must also be able to access everything in your kitchen cabinets safely so you don’t get hurt trying to reach for something.
I know of some homeowners who open a bottom kitchen drawer or cupboard and step on the shelf inside just so they can reach the top shelf of an upper kitchen cabinet. That’s dangerous.
Most kitchen cupboards and cabinets aren’t made strong enough to support the weight of a person — and sometimes they’re not even properly installed. You risk breaking your cabinets and hurting yourself in the process.
Or how about those kitchen cabinets above the refrigerator? You have to be really tall to access anything in them without doing some extreme stretching or crazy stunts.
Considering our aging population, a kitchen’s functionality and accessibility is becoming more and more important. That’s why more and more kitchen manufacturers are coming up with all kinds of solutions to make kitchens more accessible.
For example, lowered light switches, countertops and cabinets can make it easier for someone older or with a disability to navigate around the kitchen if they are in a wheelchair. I’m also starting to see kitchen cabinets that are electronically operated, where all you have to do is touch the surface of a drawer or cabinet and it automatically opens.
There are also pantries that, instead of shelves, have drawers that can be pulled out so you don’t have to reach in. They also have cabinets with doors that are pulled out like a drawer instead of swinging open. You can also get kitchen cabinets with shelves that can be pulled out, lowered and raised. Some specialized kitchen installers can even add a hydraulic device to your current kitchen cabinets that lowers and raises them.
What’s around the corner?
When it comes to accessibility and kitchen cabinets, the biggest problem area is the corner of base cabinets. These areas can offer a lot of storage space but it’s not easy to access. In some cases, you almost have to climb into the cabinet to reach anything in the back.
Can you imagine a senior or someone with a disability trying to access that space? They can’t. And if they tried they could get seriously injured.
The old solution was to stick a Lazy Susan in there, but that doesn’t always make the most of the space that’s there. So now we have “magic corners.” These are cabinets that were designed to take full advantage of the storage space and make it more accessible.
The way they work is that instead of just a regular storage space — the carcass of the cabinet — inside the carcass you have compartments. These compartments usually look like metal baskets that sit on tracks, so they can be pulled out rather than you reaching in. They make it very easy for anyone to access anything in that back area.
If you’re on a budget, you can buy the units and install them into your cabinets yourself — they’re sometimes called “blind corner units.” But the units alone can still cost around $600. It won’t be as sophisticated as custom, but it might be a DIY project worth looking into.
A really good kitchen cabinet manufacturer takes full advantage of a small space.
That’s why I always push for custom kitchen cabinets. Yes, it’s more expensive than just standard cabinets you can get at a big box store. But if you go with a pro, not only do you get what you want, more importantly, you get what you need.
Catch Mike Holmes in an all-new season of Holmes Makes It Right, Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on HGTV. For more information, visit For more information on home renovations, visit

1 comment:

  1. what are your thoughts concerning Kitchen Cabinets made in China?