Kitchen cabinets belong in the kitchen, but where else do you need lots of great storage? Closets are meant for storage but sometimes you need to add a few shelves, drawers or other gadgets you can find to help you get more organized (love The Container Store's ideas and organizing tools).
Maybe you can't afford custom closet cabinets but if you're flexible and willing to work hard, you can create some incredible solutions that include kitchen cabinets like the ones shown to the right … for a lot less money.
Now I have to be honest and tell you a bit more about my closet, as I really can't take credit for anything except sharing this story with you so keep reading.
Recycling Starts with the Right Attitude!
As a child, we learn by watching our parents. When we enter school, our teachers become role models. As adults, we pick who we spend time with and who we let influence us. When we remodeled our Victorian in Portsmouth NH, we learned a lot from our builder Steve. It was very clear that he planned to minimize waste and reuse everything possible, and it's likely that this experience made me more aware of living green!
Removing the kitchen cabinets in our old Victorian kitchen wasn't difficult but you do have to be careful if you plan to reuse them. These weren't the original kitchen cabinets from when the house was built in the 1890s. Older cabinets that were built along with the house, i.e. the beautiful dining room hutches and living room bookcases common in older homes, are almost impossible to remove intact.
Our builder was pretty amazing. He decided where he was going to reuse all the kitchen cabinets in the house. Now looking back more than 10 years, it's amazing the skills a builder needs to communicate ideas and negotiate win-win solutions. Steve knew recycling was right and he knew how to introduce his ideas slowly, in order to gain my acceptance and it worked, a perfect example of the teamwork I encourage between homeowners and their home professionals.
Recycling My Old Kitchen Cabinets
So where did my kitchen cabinets end up? We didn't have a garage (a common way old kitchen cabinets get used) and my husband had already built all the work benches and shelving he wanted in the basement. Unlike most homeowners, we did have an in-law apartment on the 3rd floor and that's where many of the kitchen cabinets ended up.
- Wall kitchen cabinets fit nicely all the way to the outside wall.
- Base cabinets went down one wall and with some filler wood (weren't able to use the corner kitchen cabinets here), our builder added (didn't have before) 2 more base kitchen cabinets under the window.
- More cabinets … so Steve built out a half wall, adding base cabinets and creating an eating area on the other side. We negotiated on the height of the wall so you wouldn't see kitchen clutter from the living room and it was a brilliant idea (thanks Steve).
- We also moved and reused our old appliances (refrigerator, dishwasher) plus the sink and faucet upstairs.
- Surprise, surprise (not really) when a few weeks later, Steve asked me to come look at the new (2nd) closet in our master bedroom. It was L-shaped, extending to the linen closet on the other side. Steve suggested using the corner kitchen cabinets in the closet, as they'd provide lots of shelving … for free.
Ideas for Using New or Recycled Kitchen Cabinets
Once you do something the first time, it opens up lots more possibilities. Running a handyman business for 8 years also gave me lots of ideas, as I was constantly talking to homeowners and offering ideas on how to achieve the results they wanted and stay within a tight budget.
Here are ideas for using kitchen cabinets in your home and it's more fun if everyone adds their ideas (leave a comment below) as 2 heads are always better than one. You can do these inexpensively (oak or melamine with simple door/drawer fronts) using low-end cabinets from the box stores or any kitchen supplier or match your kitchen cabinets. Choices for counter tops on base cabinets include melamine, laminate counter tops or plywood.
- Install base kitchen cabinets along a wall in a family room, basement, etc. to store (hide) kids toys that you're tired of finding everywhere.
- Add cabinets, including pantry height kitchen cabinets to your mudroom or in the garage next to the door family members use to enter and leave the house.
- Add kitchen cabinets to over-sized hallways or landings so you don't have to look at what's hiding inside (common problem with open bookshelves). If space is tight, try wall cabinets which are only 12 inches deep.
These are some great ideas! Another idea would be to use shelved cabinets as shoe cubbies if you have an open hallway…..just an idea, I don’t really understand if this would work well or not.
It’s definitely possible to use kitchen cabinets for shoes & in fact, my apartment in Tokyo had them built-in right at the entryway. We explored using upper cabinets for my current home – depth is typically the challenge, along with clearance for the doors to swing open.
I’ve actually heard of Japanese homes where a little space from the door is a raised platform leading into the inner hallways. I’m not sure if it’s the purpose of the platform, or people just found it more convenient, but the space under the platform is used to store slippers and shoes. Could you add slim sliding cubbies under the platform? Although, I think, kitchen cabinets would be too big to use in this condition.
You’re correct – walking into our apartment, about 6 to 8 feet in, there was a single step up. The step is to show people where they need to take their street shoes off, so most guests just left them on the floor as finding space in the shoe closets on the right took more time (and we usually filled those nooks up with American food ordered in bulk, e.g. when you ordered Cheerios, you got 24 boxes in a case). Don’t recall any storage below – steps are only 7 3/4 inches high minus step, so not enough space for most shoes. Shoe closets start at the floor level, going up to about 3 or 4 ft tall but not sure how deep they are in Japan or here.