Meal clean-up is a daily event (for those with small children, it may be an hourly event). Yet,
it’s the activity we want to feature least in our decor. When designing a kitchen, do
not underestimate the impact the clean-up zone will have on efficiency, style and
aesthetics. Centered on the sink, the clean-up zone includes the dishwasher, trash and recycling.
A faucet is not as sexy as a professional range, a custom backsplash or a built-in buffet
with glass doors. However,
it is the most-used appliance in your home. Furthermore, the sink is often the hub of the
high-profile clean-up zone.
Strategically outfit your sink base cabinet with storage solutions and you
will reduce clean-up time and leave your countertops clutter free.
Next, consider the dishwasher. This is typically installed next to the sink base to
simplify plumbing. I locate the dishwasher as close as possible to the eating area and in
reach of storage for dishes, glasses and silverware. If there will be two sinks, try to position
the larger sink near the cooking zone to receive pots and pans. The dishwasher can be
installed next to either the primary or prep sink.
Location is critical for trash and recycling. The worst place for it is under the
sink. Ideally, the trash should be located between the eating area and the
dishwasher. Therefore, after-meal clean-up is a linear clear-scrape-load
process. A pull-out trash and recycling cabinet not only
provides a neat, trim look, but keeps toddlers and pets from messy and potentially
dangerous contents. If you have the space, you may want trash/recycling cabinets in
more than one location.
Finally, be strategic. The cabinet under your sink is prime real estate. Limit items stored
there to products and tools used in the kitchen on a daily or weekly basis.
Everything else finds a new home or hits the trash.
Consider the contents of the sink base pictured below. The feather duster, blinds
duster, bucket, insecticide sprays and collection of used plastic bags belong in a closet
with the vacuum cleaner and mop. Outfit the cabinet with a waterproof drip
floor and pullout baskets. The inner cabinet will be so fresh and beautiful, you will want
to open the doors to show off to guests.
Do you have any clean-up zone strategies to suggest to our readers? Please share your thoughts in a
Donna Jones has been designing kitchens and baths for over 13 years. She loves finding
creative solutions for problem spaces, making improvements that affect her customers’ lives
every day. She feels homeowners deserve top value for their investments in remodeling and
The best solution for a base corner cabinet in your kitchen will depend on a number of factors, including the shape of the kitchen, your specific storage needs and traffic patterns. The Super Lazy Susan is a popular solution. In some kitchens, I eliminate the corner altogether and open up the space. If the corner includes a peninsula, the cabinet can open outside of the kitchen and the remaining peninsula back can be finished with decorative doors. Occasionally, the best solution is to sacrifice the inside corner to gain a large drawer base.
If you would like one of our kitchen designers to look at your space and make a recommendation, send your measurements to us (use the form on our Free Design page or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org). Include notes about your specific goals in optimizing the space. We will be happy to help!