Q&A / 

Easy Access Cabinet Drawer

DEAR TIM: I’m in the market for a new kitchen. As I get older, I’m not getting any more limber. A kitchen designer was singing the praises of using one or more cabinet drawers to gain easy access to pots, pans, appliances, etc. inside of my new cabinets. I’ve always had shelves inside my cabinets. Would a cabinet drawer be able to handle nearly a hundred pounds of heavy pots and pans? If so, what other cabinet drawer accessories might be available? Connie P., Chattanooga, TN

DEAR CONNIE: I can surely identify with your observation about age and how joints don’t seem to bend as much as they used to. What’s more, have you discovered yet that when you bend down and try to get up that gravity seems to pull harder than ever? If not, you will. I sometimes feel like I live on the planet Jupiter, where gravity is many times stronger than it is here on Earth.

This kitchen cabinet has four drawers that operate on smooth rollers all of which are hidden behind a swinging door . PHOTO CREDIT:  Tim Carter

This kitchen cabinet has four drawers that operate on smooth rollers all of which are hidden behind a swinging door . PHOTO CREDIT: Tim Carter

You’re going to thank your lucky stars that your kitchen designer crossed your path. Our current kitchen has nothing but drawers in every cabinet. We have a wood cabinet drawer, often several, in each and every cabinet in our kitchen. I have to tell you that when my wife Kathy ordered all of them, I didn’t think it would make my life easier. Oh well, yet another time she was right and I was wrong.

To really appreciate what I’m talking about, you have to look at how the cabinet drawers operate. Low-quality cabinet drawers open and close with a simple wheel or two that rolls in a channel that’s screwed to the sides of the cabinet. The drawers, both exposed and hidden inside the cabinets, operate on precision cabinet drawer glides that have countless ball bearings inside them. They glide effortlessly and are built to last.

Don’t confuse the drawers I’m talking about with the traditional box drawers you’ve seen for years in kitchen cabinets. Yes, we have a few of those traditional drawers. But the majority of the drawers in our cabinets are what I call hybrid shelves. These drawers are boxes indeed, but they have shallow sides, perhaps only three inches deep or so. Large items can be easily stored on and in them and you can grasp the sides of these things when the drawer slides open because nothing is blocking you.

My favorite cabinet in our new kitchen is the multi-drawer cabinet that’s next to our microwave cabinet. I might add that even our microwave is one that has a drawer. Instead of a swinging door like many, when you open our microwave the entire front of the appliance slides out revealing a drawer platform.

Anyway, this cabinet next to the microwave has four hidden drawers behind a large swinging door. There are four drawers that glide out with ease. Two of the drawers store all of our everyday plates, bowls, cups and saucers. The other two drawers have all of the wraps, foils, sandwich bags, garbage can bags, etc. Besides the traditional silverware drawer, these hidden drawers get the most use in the kitchen.

Tucked cleverly under the gas cooktop you’ll discover a drawer that has all of Kathy’s cooking weapons. I call them that because some of these tools look fierce and many have sharp moving parts. This drawer has an assortment of built-in dividers that allows you to segregate the tools so they are easily found. In the back of this drawer is a handy compartment for the hand whisks Kathy uses to whip eggs and all types of other sauces.

Beneath this tool drawer you’ll discover 3-foot-wide drawers where all of the heavy pots and pans are stored. Once again, these drawers open and close with ease and are unaffected by the weight of the heavy stainless-steel cookware.

Be sure to visit several cabinet showrooms and ask the salespeople there to show you as many different cabinet drawers as they can. Once you do this, you’ll discover uses for drawers that you never imagined. I can tell you that don’t miss bending down hearing my knees crack and pop or getting on my hands and knees to see what’s deep inside a base cabinet. With drawers, you just pull it out to get what you need.

One of the cabinets we have in our new kitchen is a large vertical pantry cabinet. This cabinet has five different hidden drawers in it. Many of our dry foodstuffs are located here. Fortunately for us when this cabinet was ordered the first time, it came too big. Our kitchen designer forgot to take into account the heavy woodwork of a nearby arched opening into our dining room.

The contractor had to order a new cabinet and told us the old one was ours to do with what we wanted. The drawers worked so well, I removed them from the cabinet and put them inside a pantry on the other side of the kitchen. Kathy loves those extra five drawers as do I. They make it so easy to see what you have instead of things getting lost on deep shelves.

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