Kitchen Cabinets: Drawers vs. Roll Out Trays

There's a "Tastes Great — Less Filling" kind of argument that's been going on in reagards to drawers vs. roll out trays.  I'm of the opinion that they both have they're place, and the situation will dictate which is best for your kitchen.

Kitchen cabinet drawers present homeowners with another way to store things.  Rather than a regular kitchen base cabinet with a door/drawer combination, some people prefer drawer base cabinets because they can be easier to get into.  Instead of having to open a door, then bend over and rummage around inside of the cabinet, people can just open the drawer and get at their stuff right away.

There’s some help with this, and it’s roll out trays.  Some kitchen cabinet manufacturers call them sliding shelves.  Sometimes the terms are used interchangeably, but be sure to ask if you’re contemplating either; trays are generally very shallow kitchen cabinet drawers boxes with glides, while sliding shelves are usually just a plank on rollers.  Even so, some people would rather have kitchen cabinet drawers than door and drawer cabinets with roll outs.  There’s an extra step with roll outs, and that’s the opening of the doors. 

If you want to get at your stuff instantly, then kitchen cabinet drawers are for you.  Any of the kitchen cabinet manufacturers I’ve dealt with make drawer bases, but there are a couple of variations.  There’s the three drawer base, the four drawer base, and these are very common.  What I don’t see a lot of is two drawer units.  These are very deep kitchen cabinet drawers, and very handy for pot and pan storage. In the three and four drawer bases, sometimes you can get an option for one drawer being particularly deep, sometimes they’re only offered in equal depths.  You’ll have to hunt around to see who makes which configurations exactly.

One thing that kitchen cabinet drawers don’t do well though is look like doors.  You can have the most functional kitchen in the world, but if it doesn’t look right, it will grate on you until the next remodel.  That’s a long time. There has to be some balance between function and appearance, so just throwing kitchen cabinet drawer bases all over the place might not be the ticket to a happy kitchen. 

When I’m designing, I like having them on at least one side of the stove.  A big 30-36 inch one.  With the peg board drawer organizers so many manufacturers have now, they’re a real treat to use.  Door type cabinets have advantages too though.  There are sheet and tray dividers now that you get can, and they slide out too.  This might be easier than the horizontal storage offered by kitchen cabinet drawers.  Cake pans might also be better stored in a door/drawer or full height door cabinet than a cabinet with just drawers.  It’s up to the chef in the end, whichever way better suits the style of the person cooking is the way to go.


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