This Is the Worst Storage Mistake You Can Make

updated May 30, 2019
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(Image credit: Reagen Taylor)

I have friends who renovated their home recently, and they put together this gorgeous, open-plan kitchen with The Works: white marble countertops on top of crisp black base cabinets with pull-out drawers, floating open shelves instead of upper cabinets, and an enormous farmhouse sink. Basically everything I’ve ever pinned. Not surprisingly, it looked amazing when it was finished! The upper shelves had beautiful jars artfully filled with dry goods, and a few tasteful cookbooks interspersed with tchotchkes.

But when they first starting using the kitchen post-renovation, they had to store their dishes in the dining area. So every time they unloaded the dishwasher, they walked 30 feet to a lovely glass-front cabinet that they had to open with a little key to put the dishes away. Talk about a time suck!

Since then, they’ve started storing their everyday dishes on the open shelving, a banned practice in the early days. But the change reminded me of one of the worst storage mistakes you can make in the kitchen: Storing things too far from where you use them.

Why You Should Store Things Near Where You Use Them

Because every day, at likely the worst part of the day — when you’re time-crunched or hangry, or the kids are starting to pillage the snack drawer as if they haven’t eaten in a week — you are spending precious minutes walking hither and thither to fetch things instead of making dinner. The spices are too far away from the stove, where you’re seasoning. The pot you need is in the dining room. The wooden spoons are not near the oven.

How You Can Store Stuff Better

Many kitchen designers talk about the “work triangle,” a theory of creating a space where you can easily flow from refrigerator to the stove to the sink, to ease your path when you’re cooking. Thinking about that work triangle is also a good way to think about where your kitchen gear should be stored: Food prep items near the food prep area, cooking items near the cooking area, dishes near the dishwashing area, etc. Even if you can’t design your kitchen from scratch, it’s good practice to evaluate your cooking and cleanup habits every once in a while and think about where you might be losing time. If you can make a change, do it.

In my new kitchen, my dish storage situation isn’t great. I have to stack the plates and glasses on top of the island, then walk around it to place them into the cabinet where they’re stored. It drives me crazy. I occasionally lay in bed at night wondering if it would make sense to move the dishes next to the fridge — but my problem is that my work triangle is all on one side of the island, and the other side is just cabinets. Something has to go in those cabinets. So while I don’t have a solution for myself, I’ll just hope that you have better storage options. And I’ll be sure to solve that problem whenever my kitchen Pinterest board turns into reality.

Are you storing certain things too far away from where you use them? Tell us about your troubles in the comments below.