From materials to measurements, our expert tells you how to turn awkward under-sink areas into useful storage spaces
Houzz Australia Contributor. Founder and director of Tansel Stainless Steel Wireware,… More
Under-sink storage is by far one of the trickiest areas when it comes to usable kitchen space. Overcoming all the obstructions can leave you with very odd, and at times difficult to reach, spaces. Here are some tips and tricks that can turn this space into storage bliss.
No two cabinets are the same when it comes to under-sink storage space. If you are undertaking a new renovation and have the flexibility to design this space to suit your storage needs, great, but if you have an existing space that is really under-utilised, don’t stress.
Many of these ideas can be applied to a wide range of spaces. And while most under-sink cabinets will have a shelf mid-way up or are completely open, you’ll be pleased to know there a range of solutions for both.
A few practical considerations
There are many options and storage solutions that look amazing in photos, but you need to consider the practicality of these in wet areas. Much of what is stored under the sink is wet and possibly corrosive. Sponges, wet tea towels and just general water drips/spills can significantly affect how long things last. You also need to consider how easily things can be removed if you need to address an urgent plumbing problem or leakage.
Where you have a shelf or are considering a drawer (or anything that has a timber/melamine base) be sure to keep them dry. In just about all under-sink areas that I’ve had in my home, the shelf had to eventually be removed due to swelling in the melamine.
If timber-based products are your only option, try to seal the edges as best as possible, or store only dry items in this area. Timber-based drawers are generally an expensive inclusion, so it’s best to avoid the replacement costs.
Tip: There are specialised products on the market that look similar to melamine but are made using synthetic materials that are completely waterproof. Do your research and talk to a cabinetmaker if you’re looking for a very robust (and waterproof) solution. They do exist!
Lining the shelf with a plastic film, one that preferably has a slight lip in the corners, is a simple way to protect your cabinetry. Plastic trays and racks are also easy and effective solutions that make everything accessible.
Tip: If you have an adjustable shelf, ask your cabinetmaker to edge the sides they usually leave raw; this will increase the longevity of the shelf should water leak into the corners.
Using plastic and waterproof materials
Products made of plastic are a simple and cost-effective solution for under-sink spaces. Putting all the wet items together will reduce water dripping into the corners of your cabinetry and prevent swelling of the board.
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Wire and steel-based storage
These are available in a huge range of sizes and options. It can be a great way to use all the available space around the plumbing and still make everything accessible and visible. There are commonly three materials used for these products: stainless steel, aluminium and regular steel that is either chromed or coated in a plastic film.
- Stainless steel and aluminium products are by far the most durable, this is especially important if you are storing corrosive cleaning materials.
- Regular chromed steel products can have a shorter life span as rust may become an issue.
Tip: Always ask about the warranty as this will give you a reasonable indication about its suitability for wet/moist areas.
Upper cabinet sections
A U-shaped drawer can be made to suit the shape of your sink. It’s a very flexible solution and uses the nooks on each side of the sink, which would otherwise be wasted.
Tip: If using a drawer, ensure the edges are kept as dry as possible (or sealed) to prevent damage if the drawer is made using a timber-based board.
Similar to the drawer, these wire U-shaped drawers provide more air circulation and better drying for sponges and wet items. This solution is a little less flexible, so will require mixing and matching to make them fit around the sink and still be compatible with the cabinet size.
Tip: As noted earlier, using regular chromed or coated steel (ie, not stainless or aluminium) can lead to rusting surfaces over time.
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This is a clever use of space. The narrow section in front of the sink is generally overlooked and considered far too small. Converting the space into a tilt drawer is a great way of storing all the small items that are constantly used.
Tip: It’s important to check the hardware materials and the warranty to ensure it’s suitable for wet items. These space-saving storage options can be a pricey inclusion, so make it an investment that will last.
Slide out storage for the lower section of the cabinet
Most under-sink cabinets have restricted depth due to pipes and plumbing. Adding sliding storage to the lowest part of the cabinet is great for addressing access into these hard-to-reach areas. This is more true if you have a shelf in the middle. Slide-out bins come in a wide range of depths so it may be an option.
Tip: Consider practical issues for the placement (and size) of your bin. A bin placed directly under the sink may create access issues if you have a large family or a very busy kitchen.
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A simple drawer at the bottom is very versatile for storing items that may not be regularly required. The drawer is positioned in an area that someone is likely to stand in frequently, so always consider the practical aspects. The steel rod running the length of the upper cabinet is a simple and space-efficient way to store tea towels and other bits.
Mounting tea towel rails or racks to the inside of doors is a cheap and cheerful storage solution. It’s a great place to store sponges and damp cloths too, because they can dry faster here, and always in easy reach.
Tip: If you have a decorative/routed door front, check the thickness of the door and screw length to prevent drilling straight through when attaching the rail.
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