Do you remember when deep drawers replaced cupboards in the kitchen? It changed our lives, because suddenly we could find the right Tupperware container, see what was lurking in the back of the pantry, and retrieve a saucepan without doing a complete reshuffle. Hardware technology has continued to grow, as manufacturers expand the scope and usability of drawers and pull-outs with various types of electronic operation and automation.
Designers are also constantly finding new ways of putting these innovations to work in the kitchen. The result? Rooms that are easier to work in, a snap to clean, able to store more items, and generally save time and effort. Read on to see 11 great examples of technological and design wizardry that put the fun into functional.
Here’s a pull-out idea that’s better than sliced bread: a perforated breadboard with an integrated crumb-catching tray. You’ll save hours wiping crumbs off the bench and sweeping up the floor. And best of all, when you’ve finished making lunch, just push the board away out of sight.
This nifty set-up solves the age-old dilemma of how to store containers and their lids. Stacking containers in a cupboard or drawer typically has you wasting time searching for a matching lid, and stacking containers with lids attached wastes valuable space. Varying the depths of the shelves in this pull-out cabinet allows easy access to both.
Who wants daggy and damp tea towels messing up their beautiful kitchen? That’s right, no-one. To maintain the visual perfection of this stunning French country-style kitchen, designer Dominique McAdam installed a slimline pull-out rack behind a cupboard front. The top section contains space to hang the damp tea towels, and there’s a little shelf for dishwashing necessities below.
Sydney design firm Minosa faced a number of challenges when renovating this kitchen, not least of which was a shortage of bench space. To solve the problem, they engineered these electronically operated appliance cupboards – complete with benchtops and internal drawers – that pop out from either side of the kitchen’s central joinery.One side is dedicated to breakfast prep, the other side houses the tea and coffee station (pictured), which includes a bench, powered space for the kettle and espresso machine, and drawers for mugs, teaspoons, teabags, etc.
Queensland kitchen designer Kim Duffin put technology to work in this super-streamlined Brisbane kitchen. This electronically operated appliance storage unit, which is large and sturdy enough to hold a number of heavy appliances, pots and pans, emerges from the bench when needed, and completely disappears when prep’s done leaving a clear, uncluttered work space.
Purpose-built pull-out shelves can also be used to take the hard work out of using heavy appliances. Here, a lift-up cupboard door conceals a pull-out shelf that securely holds the coffee machine and sandwich press.
Tip: Ensure the pull-out is full extension (meaning its entire length can be pulled out); this will ensure full access to the unit and enable easier cleaning. And when selecting a pull-out unit, make sure the weight capacity of the runners and base of the pull-out are sufficient. Strength is paramount, so choose components from a reputable hardware manufacturer.
Is your kitchen overflowing with appliances? Almost every meal or snack involves the use of an electric appliance these days, and in my house there’s often a queue of iPads and phones waiting their turn for charging. Electric sockets are prized real estate. But is there anything uglier than a wall bristling with double-adapters?This pop-up power point will solve your kitchen power dilemmas. Install one on your island or prep zone for all the power you need, when you need it. These towers include several electric sockets as well as USB ports. So you can whizz up afternoon smoothies, froth milk for the coffee and charge the phones all at once. Sorted.
Cooking is a messy business and a powerful range hood is essential to draw steam, odours and fats away from the kitchen. But many of them dangle dangerously over the cooktop… hands up if you’ve ever whacked your head on the corner of one? Fortunately for all, technology has come to the party in the form of in-bench downdraft range hoods. These fabulously streamlined units pop up out of the bench to suck away steam and smells while you’re cooking – without any risk of head injury.Compact and essentially invisible when not in use, downdraft vents provide added design flexibility, allowing you to position the cooktop and range hood within an island without losing visual flow.Tip: Downdraft range hoods are integrated into the base cabinet and suck steam off the cooktop and downwards, where it is either filtered and recirculated or ducted outdoors. Different manufacturers offer different options in this respect, so do your research when choosing one. A range that extends higher above the benchtop will be more effective at drawing away steam and grease particles when cooking with tall pots.
Electronically operated cupboards glide open and shut at the touch of a button. Lever arms open the door in an out-and-up motion, allowing clear access to the entire contents of the cupboard. This system also keeps the space in front of the cupboards clear, so you can keep them open during prep and move about freely without having to dodge intrusive doors. The open-close operation button can be discreetly installed at the base of the cabinet.
Despite being an area that’s generally dedicated to cleaning products, the under-sink cupboard is often the messiest part of the kitchen, with plumbing and pipes and the sink bowl itself negating any functionality. Damp dishcloths and paper towels tangle with plastic bags; bottles of detergent and insect spray tumble about, and you can never quite put your hand on the item you actually need.Overcome these issues and restore order with a purpose-designed drawer unit that neatly fits around the sink and pipes, allowing you full access to the remaining space. The drawer unit pictured here even includes a handy spot to store the dishcloth, right under the sink.
Are you constantly clearing bottles of olive oil, vinegar and spice jars away from the bench? Many chefs have a habit of taking these cooking essentials from the pantry during prep and leaving them to clutter the benchtop until the next mealtime. Save everyone time and save your own sanity by installing a small drawer beside the cooktop to stash your everyday ingredients such as vinegar, oil, soy sauce, salt, pepper and other condiments. All the chef needs to do is keep the drawer open while cooking for easy access to everything, and slide it shut when they’re done. Easy.
When renovating a dark, dated and decidedly impractical timber kitchen in Sydney’s Inner West, Provincial Kitchens integrated plenty of clever storage options into the Hamptons-inspired design. These cute little spice drawers, which form part of the architectural mantelpiece above the range hood, are a nifty and convenient place to store all the flavour essentials.
Will a fold-out ironing board change your life? Probably. It means items can be quickly ironed on the go without going to the trouble of wrangling a freestanding ironing board into position and away again. Pull it out, fix that crinkled collar pronto, then slide the whole shebang back into the drawer – quick, easy, no fuss. And you can store the iron and spray bottles in the cupboard below.Tip: When unfolded, a pull-out ironing board can be anywhere from 800-950 millimetres long, and it should be installed perpendicular to the bench. Ensure there’s enough clearance for it to be used comfortably without blocking the kitchen thoroughfare. And don’t forget to include a power point nearby.