The subject we will be discussing here is: What do we do about the corner cabinets in the kitchen, the ones that are difficult to get to and tend to become a “cemetery” of lost utensils?
In the previous post we looked at straight-cornered and L shape-cornered cabinets. Both of them have two walls that meet at 90 degrees.
This time we’re going to look at a third type of corner, the diagonal corner. This type of corner cabinet creates a third front, at an angle of 45 degrees and looks like this:
- It takes up space in the kitchen. When looking at a kitchen with this kind of cabinet, you’ll notice that the cabinet line tends to “intrude” inwards into the kitchen space. That’s why we don’t usually use this design for small or narrow kitchens.
- The depth is impractical. The front surface of the closet is further away from the back wall than is usual, creating a storage space of considerable depth that is difficult to access.
- The internal dimensions are disproportionate to the width of the cabinet door. A standard cabinet of this type has a door width of 42cm and a depth of almost 90cm. This has a “keyhole” effect in which the relatively small opening makes it difficult to remove the large kitchen utensils being stored inside.
- Increased surface width and depth at the corner, creating an area large enough for a stovetop, sink or generous work surface. These options are not available with a 90-degree corner cabinet.
- Results in a smooth, continuous work surface that is fully integrated into the work surfaces on either side. (In contrast to a straight-corner closet where the 90-degree corner work surface is of limited use.)
Solutions to problems:
1. Angling the back corner of the cabinet. Because of the distance between the back wall and the front of the cabinet, which creates a depth that is impractical, we want to “bring forward” the back of the cabinet. One way of doing this is to make the back of the closet parallel to the front. This will give us a shallower shelf that doesn’t go all the way back to the right angled corner of the wall behind. That way the kitchen things being stored on the shelf are just easier to get to. It’s true that we lose that little bit of corner space in the way-back, but because that corner is difficult to reach anyway and almost impossible to keep clean, we are probably better off without it.
2. Fixed, straight shelves at right angles to one another. Similar to the shelves we might use in an L-shaped cabinet (see illustrations from Part 1), these would be placed at right angles to one another on the same level, or alternatively “crisscross” shelves would overlap one another at right angles. This will leave the front "triangle" of the cabinet open so we could get nearer to the back of the closet.
For solutions 1 and 2
- Very large internal storage space.
- The closet resembles a “crawl-space” requiring uncomfortable bending and crouching for access. Because of the width of the single door, the opening is narrow and limited even though the closet has spacious internal dimensions. An L-shaped closet has two doors and gives much greater access.
These options are useful for:
- Storage of kitchen utensils not used very often, or Pesach dishes.
- A low-budget kitchen.
3. Carousel- (Available in either plastic or nickel)
Advantages of the carousel:
- If you insist on accessorizing the corner cabinet with a "gadget", this is the only one available for this type of corner cabinet.
- Inefficient use of the area available, as the cabinet has large “dead areas”.
- Negative feedback from people who have used this gadget. Objects fall off the carousel shelves, the carousel can be difficult to turn around especially when loaded with heavy objects, and the amount of storage space is limited.
This option is useful for:
- very few situations. I don’t usually recommend it.
How about drawers? A angled corner cabinet has a front. The unit of drawers in this case is constructed just as if it were a regular cabinet, its width being determined by the width of that front. The drawers themselves are then at an angle of 45 degrees to the units on either side of them. The “dead space” areas that remain on either side of cabinet are covered by the marble countertop and are not visible.
If the corner dimensions are 90 x 90 cm, then the front width will be 42 cm. If wider drawers are required than the cabinet itself would have to be bigger. A cabinet of 100 x100 cm, say, would give us a drawer width of 50 cm to work with. A cabinet of 105 x 105 cm would give us drawer width of 60cm and so on (use the Pythagorean theorem). However, there’s a catch: the more you widen the front of the cabinet the more space you take away from the cabinets on either side. In addition you take up more kitchen floor space. We usually make this decision about width according to the needs of the client: a cabinet that will be used for a stovetop needs to be wide enough at the front to allow for easy and comfortable cooking, for example. And if the drawers are going to be used to store pots and pans then they’ll need to be at least 60cm in width.
Advantages of drawers:
- Versatility: Drawers allow for easy and accessible storage of everything in the kitchen: food products, pots, pans, dishes, containers, garbage bags, Ziplocs, silver foil and cling-film rolls and so on.
- Design flexibility: Drawers can be of different capacities and heights within one unit.
- Cost: The cabinet costs the same as any square frontal unit, meaning it is cheaper than a specially designed corner-unit. Drawers are always more expensive to make than shelves but for the cabinet as a whole you would still pay less than for a more complex corner-unit.
- If the drawers are going to be used for pots and pans, then they should be wide and spacious and quite a lot of corner space needs to be allocated to them. This reduces the width of the cabinets on either side and takes up more of the kitchen floor.
This option is useful for:
- Kitchens that have a shortage of drawer space.
- In kitchens where a closet with shelves will have very limited use.
- When placing a stovetop on the surface of the diagonal corner (for then you will be happy to have a wide comfortable front to access the stovetop)
An important tip for angled corners (regardless of the internal design of the closet): It’s always best to construct a wall or a panel, above the counter, parallel to the front of the cabinet (angling the 90 degree corner between the walls). Why?
- Aesthetically, it is much more pleasing to the eye when the wall is parallel to the cabinet.
- Practically speaking, the same limitations that apply inside the cabinet apply above it i.e. a triangular, right-angled area right at the back is difficult to reach and clean. Building a straight, third wall at the back brings the back edge of the work surface forward. This can be donebyconstructing a dry wall or by asking the cabinet-maker to extend the back panel of the corner cabinet all the way up to the cabinet above. The surface in between can be tiled or covered with any other kitchen material to make it appear exactly the same as all the other walls.
- If you are planning on putting your stovetop in that corner and would like to have a hood above it, then the construction of the back dry wall enables you to hang it there, as long as the wall is at least 60cm in width. To achieve this back measurement the cabinet itself must measure 105 X 105cm, or there will not be enough space to put in a stovetop.
So we’ve now reviewed the design solutions for three different types of kitchen corner.
There’s one other method we can use when dealing with these design challenges and it’s called “Circumventing the Problem”.
1. Eliminating the corner (or to use a less elegant phrase, “killing” it.) Cabinet A is placed kitty-corner to cabinet B. The right-angled space between them is left empty and no use is made of it. (For the 'advanced'- there are ways we can get around this too but we won’t go into that here.) As soon as the marble counter-top has been laid on top of the cabinets and covers the gap between then it becomes invisible.
- The length available for cabinets on each front is now larger.
- The “corner cabinet” problem has been dealt with if none of the solutions suggested above appeal to the client.
- Wasted space! However, before rejecting the idea outright, do keep in mind that the wastage is less than it appears. If you’ve read all of the above you’ll have realized by now that no matter which solution we choose, we cannot utilize all the corner space effectively. Either certain areas are inaccessible, or the unit itself is built away from the wall, or the shelves used cannot take up the entire depth and width of the interior space.
This option is useful when:
- By “killing” the corner we are able to insert much wider drawers into the front-facing cabinets either side. A front-facing cabinet is always a better option than a corner cabinet and drawers are the best of all.
- Constructing a corner cabinet would cancel out efficient utilization of the front-facing cabinets (such as preventing us from putting in a dishwasher or spacious drawers for pots and pans.)
- We want to cut costs. The carpenter does not figure this corner area into his or her price calculations because there is no cabinet there and no costs of materials.
2. Using the corner to open out into a space outside the kitchen. Let’s assume that on the other side of the corner is a lounge or dining area or even a reception area. We can build a closet that uses the kitchen corner space but opens out onto the other side: for tablecloths, papers, bags and so on. This is certainly the most efficient solution from the point of view of cost and utilization of space, but the architecture of the home doesn’t always permit it.
So what have we covered?
Three kinds of corners and two different ways of getting around the problem. That should do it for now!
Using the tools suggested in these two posts you could play around to create various solutions; you can combine them in any number of ways to solve endless possible situations.
I’ll end by using the same words I used to introduce Part 1: There’s no one single solution to a given situation. No need to be limited by what the next-door neighbor did, or slogans like “Angled corners are out of fashion now” or “Le Mans is a pointless expense.” Think about what is that you want for your kitchen and which solutions are going to work out the best for you.
Creating spaces people want to live in