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Kitchen Cabinet Drawers

Kitchen Cabinet Drawers Kitchen Cabinet Drawers

Where to Save. Side mount glides are less expensive than undermount slides but they’re evident when drawers are ajar. If you want to slash costs and don’t mind seeing workable parts, consider side-mounted slides. Three-quarter extension glides are another practical way to cut price. In addition, if you don’t plan on stocking heavy items, you may be able to downgrade on weight capacity. Buyer beware, cheap glides can’t handle more than 50 pounds and won’t support rollout shelves or drawers filled with bulky objects. “Cut corners on drawer construction with a solid wood drawer face but an engineered box,” Coslick says. “Only the trained eye will notice the difference. As long as the box construction is good, you’ll be fine.”

Kitchen cabinets should be both beautiful and functional, which is where drawers and glides come in. Choose cabinetry that makes your kitchen life more convenient. Stronger glide technology has resulted in bigger drawers that can handle heavier items. Drawers now store everything from utensils, cutlery and spices to bulkier items like pots, pans, dishware and chopping blocks. Drawers may be kept simple without partitions or divided for easy organization. Drawer fronts typically mimic the style surrounding door faces and can be flush, overlay or lip-edged.

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.

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.

In this kitchen from Nuevo Estilo, all the storage is below waist height.

Solid hardwood has traditionally been the choice material for drawer box fronts and sides. Solid wood joinery includes dovetail, finger, tongue-and-groove, dowel, biscuit and dado joints. “Dovetail joinery is the strongest way to make a drawer,” says Josh Kayer, owner of Martin-Star Cabinetry in Richmond, Va. “The construction won’t loosen over time.”

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.

More expensive drawer slides result in a better cabinet experience. Undermount glides are more costly than side mount glides. However, they also tend to warp and sag less, which saves on repairs down the road. “Undermount concealed slides function three times as well and are able to carry more weight,” Kayer says. “They’re well worth the extra cost.” The best slides include built-in bumpers to cushion the impact of the drawer when closed. Inexpensive glides will cause drawers to eventually get stuck, tilt or sag. “Spend money on a top of the line slide,” says Coslick. “The operation of a drawer is just about the most important thing.”

Improved glide technology makes it possible for drawers to be larger and hold heavier items.

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Most slides operate with plastic or metal ball bearings. Confirm slides are produced from heavy-duty materials with easy-gliding rollers or ball bearings, whether they are side, bottom or corner mounted. Drawer slides typically are made of stamped metal and most are unfinished. However, some can be purchased in black or dark brown finish. The best quality slides won’t rust over time. “To test cabinetry slides, open the drawer fully and check to ensure the drawer feels tight within the drawer cavity,” says Alabama-based builder Erica Neel of Structures Inc. “Make sure that the drawer opens easily, quietly, and does not tilt up or down when fully extended.

If you are seeking luxury at your fingertips, go with “soft closing” or “feather touch” glides, which retract with a gentle push and include shock absorption that prevents drawers from slamming shut. Also, check out detent features, which cause the drawer to pause at various marked positions.

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.

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.

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Kitchen drawers efficiently holding dishes, in a photo from IKEA.

Where to Splurge. Well-constructed drawers are the trademark of a high-quality cabinet. All drawers consist of a front, back, bottom and two sides but the manner in which drawers are assembled and cut determine their value. Solid wood with seamless dovetail joinery identifies the best construction practices. “To determine if cabinetry is high dollar, open a drawer and look inside for solid wood sides and a dovetail joint,” says interior designer Jane Coslick.

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.

Frequent use and heavy drawer contents call for drawer glides, which aid drawers in their function of opening and closing. Many cabinet manufacturers offer a variety of side, top and corner-mounted drawer glides. Quality drawer glide options range from three-quarter-extension, epoxy-coated glides that bear up to 75 pounds and allow most of the drawer to be pulled out from its box, to full-extension slides, which hold up to 100 pounds and allow access to the entire drawer. Some glides can’t be used with particular cabinetry styles. It’s also important to check load ratings for drawers. Options range from 50-pound to 100-pound capacities.

Learn the basic types of doors, hinges, latches and catches available for kitchen cabinets

Resilient drawer boxes are also commonly made from engineered woods, such as veneered plywood, particleboard and medium-density fiberboard (MDF) with joinery often doweled and glued together. Make certain drawers have a minimum of 3/8 to half-inch thickness, especially on the bottom. Avoid flimsy drawers made from thin particleboard with a laminate or wood veneer and any drawers with stapled construction. “While solid wood is premium for drawer front and sides, plywood is a better choice for the bottom section of a drawer because it won’t shrink or swell,” Kayer says. Other common drawer materials include metal and manufactured melamine.

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

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

Two-tone drawers in a kitchen from Bolig, via Nordic Design.

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

“One trend we’ve gravitated towards is drawer-only designs for base cabinetry,” says Mark Hutker, an architect based in Martha’s Vineyard. “In lieu of doors, we stack lower, middle and upper drawers for chef-inspired cabinet design.”

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Drawers make for efficient cabinets in a hyper-modern kitchen from Bo Bedre.

Pull-through slides are ideal for islands because they allow drawers to be opened from either side. Some specialty slides allow drawers to extend beyond a full extension. These slides are advantageous for countertops with deep overhangs. “For the ultimate kitchen experience, I have self-closing drawers installed,” Coslick says. “Clients love them because they add to the convenience of cooking and preparing food.”

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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.

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