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Kitchen Drawers Vs. Cabinets: Which Is Best?

Carla Ayers5-minute read
May 10, 2022

One of the perks of being a homeowner is having the freedom to customize your space to accommodate your lifestyle. Today’s kitchens are the heart and soul of the home – it’s where we gather to eat and entertain. Creating a space that is well organized and functional will save you time and stress when you’re relaxing at home with your family.

Whether you are a first-time home buyer searching for the perfect kitchen or a current homeowner itching to make some kitchen upgrades, you’ll likely need to choose between kitchen drawers and cabinets.

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Should You Have Kitchen Drawers Instead Of Cabinets?

When it comes to designing or renovating your kitchen, there are no wrong methods to home organization. The right answer is what works for you.

Kitchen cabinets are affordable and have fewer restrictions when it comes to the size and weight of the items that can be stored in them. But kitchen drawers eliminate the need to bend down and strain for items in the back of cabinets with drawers and pull-out platforms that make everything inside accessible.

When choosing between kitchen drawers or cabinets you’ll want to consider the most active areas of the kitchen: the sink, the stove and the refrigerator.

  • What do you want easy access to?
  • Do those items seem more suited for drawer or cabinet storage?
  • Will your needs change over time?

Visualizing how you will use the space in the future can help guide your design decisions now.

The Pros And Cons Of Installing Kitchen Drawers

Kitchen drawers are a great solution for organizing kitchen utensils and small appliances. But there are advantages and disadvantages to installing kitchen drawers in your home. We’ve done the research to help you weigh the pros and cons, so you don’t have to.

Pros

  • Small item organization: Cooking and baking requires a lot of tools to be precise. Whether you’re a professional baker or an aspiring chef, having the right tools handy when you need them can make all the difference in kitchen organization. Kitchen drawers are great for small items like measuring spoons, thermometers and other unique utensils and appliances.
  • Lower accessibility: Lower cabinets can hold a lot of things but getting to those items can be a real challenge. With a drawer or pull-out, items in the back of the cabinet are easily accessible without removing the items in front. There’s no need to bend and strain and remove everything to reach one item in the back.
  • Custom organizing: There are endless options when it comes to customizing kitchen drawers. Today’s drawer systems can handle the weight of pots and pans and use pegboards to secure plates and bowls, creating a place for everything kitchen-related.

Cons

  • Height restrictions: Drawers can be used below the counter for storage, but you’ll need to find another solution for above the counter if you’re trying to maximize the storage possibilities in your kitchen.
  • Weight restrictions: Newer drawer systems can support the weight of pots and pans, but you’ll need to mindful of how much weight the rails are supporting. Heavy serving platters and dishes can cause unnecessary stress on the rail systems that support the drawers.
  • Difficult to repair: Drawers are often placed on rails, if these rails become bent or if they shift, it can be difficult to open and close the drawer. Repairing or replacing the rails can be tedious and expensive.

The Pros And Cons Of Installing Kitchen Cabinets

If you’re considering kitchen cabinets for your home, you’ll have a lot of options to choose from for customization. Cabinets and open shelving provide easier access for large or oddly shaped utensils and appliances but they’re not the best for organizing small appliances or utensils. Below are pros and cons you should consider before installing kitchen cabinets.

Pros

  • Larger appliance storage: Take inventory of the items you use in your kitchen. If you’re someone who uses larger appliances like mixers, juicers or griddles, having a place for larger appliance storage will come in handy.
  • Affordable: Open cabinets with shelves are more affordable than under-counter drawers because they require less installation time and involve less hardware.
  • Durable: Open cabinets rely on shelves to divide the space and have fewer moving parts to maintain. Drawers can sag or become warped over time, requiring repairs and maintenance.

 

Cons

  • Difficult finding items: Cabinets are organized front to back with the opening in the front. When looking for items in an open cabinet, items in the back can easily be shifted and hidden and hard to reach.
  • Less desirable when reselling: Many potential home buyers prefer modern drawer systems and consider open cabinets less desirable when looking for their new home.
  • Space waster: Some cabinet systems don’t take full advantage of all the space available. Corners or high shelves often go unused in an open cabinet because they are awkward and hard to reach.

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How Do You Organize Cabinets Vs. Drawers?

Whether you decide on cabinet drawers or shelves, there’s a variety of ways you can customize both to fit your kitchen storage needs. Below are some options we’ve found that can make your dream kitchen a reality.

Kitchen Drawer Organization

When it comes to making a place for everything, drawers might be your best bet. When visualizing your new kitchen, imagine what you’ll need access to while cooking. If you love to add a dash of this and smidge of that while cooking, consider installing a spice drawer next to the stove for easy access to your special blends. With a drawer pegboard system, a homeowner can create a place for every bowl and lid with drawer dividers and peg supports.

Kitchen Cabinet Organization

Kitchen cabinets are a great storage solution for storing items that aren’t ideal for drawers and you don’t want to be seen on counter tops. Cabinets tend to be deeper and can accommodate items like large pots or home brew equipment for the amateur brewer.

Bowls and plates can easily by stacked for easy access. For those with dinnerware they prefer to be on display, consider installing glass cabinet doors. Glass cabinet doors draw attention to the inside of the cabinet, giving the illusion that the walls are father away, making the room feel bigger. 

What’s The Cost Of Kitchen Drawers Vs. Cabinets?

There are a lot of factors to consider when comparing the cost of kitchen drawers and cabinets. When a cabinet is made, it may come from one piece of material to create the box. When a drawer is constructed, it has four sides, a bottom and hardware. These items take more time to install on site and can increase a project’s costs drastically.

According to HomeAdvisor, homeowners reported spending and average of $5,715 with a range of $2,403 and $9,200 for custom cabinetry. Depending on the type of cabinets that are being installed in a kitchen remodel, 75% or more of the cost of a kitchen upgrade could be labor alone. Cabinets and drawers that arrive already assembled are less expensive than those custom built on site.

The Bottom Line

Whether you opt for kitchen drawers or cabinets with doors, you’ll have a world of options to choose from when you’re ready. If you love to entertain and you want your kitchen to be a showstopper, adding drawers will give you a modern sleek look that will wow your guests. But if you’re a home chef who needs space to store your sous vide machine and Le Creuset cookware, cabinets might be the best solution.

Still can’t decide which option is better for you, check out our Homeowner Guide for more information and tips about home improvement.

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Carla Ayers

Carla is a freelance writer and Realtor with a background in marketing, communications and property management. She attended Eastern Michigan University where she received a Bachelors in Arts Marketing and a Masters in Integrated Marketing & Communications.