Kitchen storage trends to avoid for a more functional cooking space, according to design experts

Trends come and go, but a practical kitchen will last forever

Howdens Halesworth kitchen
(Image credit: Future)

We hear you - getting kitchen storage to be both functional and fashionable can be frustrating. That’s why so many of us browse kitchen storage ideas for inspiration. While some of these ideas look great, they may not be as practical as you think, so it’s important to know which kitchen storage trends to avoid.

Our kitchens hold our lives together, from keeping cutlery organised to hiding knick-knacks from sight. They’re also costly to remodel, so selecting storage that’s practical rather than pretty should be high on your priority list. 

To gather a list of kitchen storage trends to swerve, we spoke to organisation experts who know only too well which styles won’t work for a busy home. Keeping these in mind when shopping for storage solutions will ensure your kitchen works at its best now and in the future.

The kitchen is one of the hardest working areas of the home, so it’s crucial to get the storage right. Steering clear of common faux pas and adding clever fixes will help you achieve the holy grail - a kitchen that’s organised and chic. 

1. Not planning storage in the design phase

Howdens Halesworth kitchen

(Image credit: Howdens)

Getting a new kitchen is exciting, and it can be easy to focus on the aesthetics instead of the essentials, like storage. Choosing the right options when you design a kitchen will make your layout easy to use in the long run. 

'Factoring storage into the planning stage will ensure your kitchen is designed to suit your lifestyle,' agrees Ruth Lavender, a design expert from Benchmarx Kitchens and Joinery. 'For example, cooking enthusiasts need an area to stock up on ingredients, so adding a larder or pantry is ideal.'

If a new scheme isn’t on the cards any time soon, there’s no need to worry - you can still work with your existing setup to enhance your space.

'A simple tactic is to consider how you move around your kitchen, which will help you decide where to locate items,' adds Ruth. 'I’d advise zoning your storage, keeping utensils and crockery in one area and food in another.'

2. Cutting out wall cabinets

Kitchen with central island, timber clad wall and unit, green and wood cupboards and black stool

(Image credit: Future PLC/Damian Russell)

Open shelving in kitchens has been a look we’ve obsessed with for years. A staple in any small kitchen ideas list, it creates an airy atmosphere and keeps essentials nearby. 

However, getting rid of wall units completely means everything from mismatched mugs to cracked crockery is constantly on show, which can make the room look untidy - not great if you want the perfect #shelfie.

The best approach is to opt for a mix of wall units and open shelving. William Durrant, owner of Herringbone kitchens, concurs and says, 'Mixing upper cabinetry with floating shelves will create a lovely sense of space and add practicality while offering the opportunity to introduce colour and personality to the kitchen.'

3. Using complicated storage systems

Kitchen with cupboard door open showing pull out storage

(Image credit: Magnet)

From specialist drawer inserts to fancy electric lifts, the trend for complex storage systems has gotten out of hand. Yes, you want your space to be organised, but you also don’t want to overload your units with fixtures that make everything harder to get to.

The trick here is to go simple and concentrate on kitchen storage that adds value. Dedicated corner storage is a great example, as it’s one of the few kitchen layout ideas we think works for kitchens large and small. It’s a simple addition that unlocks an unused area and turns it into a valuable place for storing bulkier items, such as dried goods and backup supplies. 

But head of design at Magnet, Jen Nash, thinks you can go one step further to take your standard corner cabinetry from basic to brilliant. 'Adding a corner carousel or our Lemans Pull Out Corner Solution, will ensure you make full use of those awkward corners, turning them from inaccessible areas to space-saving solutions - plus they’re also easy to use.'

4. Dangling pots and pans from the ceiling

White kitchen with blue cabinets

(Image credit: Future PLC/Darren Chung)

If you’re still hanging onto your hanging pot racks, it’s time to let go. Once a stylish way to keep everything close by, this look has quickly fallen out of favour as storage trends move towards more hidden styles. 

Let’s face it: for this idea to look good, it’s important to always have matching cookware or utensils. It also adds visual clutter, plus unused pans tend to accumulate grease and dust build-up, making this look hard to maintain for those with hectic schedules. 

Try housing pans in wall units or towers instead. You’ll need to reshuffle the existing cupboard contents to make room, and you can use this as an opportunity to get rid of items you’ve fallen out of love with.

5. Fixed furniture

Kitchen with brass pendant lights above island

(Image credit: Future PLC)

A place to cook, dine, entertain, and more, our kitchens have become the most multi-functional room in a home. So it’s no surprise that our experts are seeing the shift toward moveable furniture that can be used or put away to suit different activities.

'Butcher-style islands and islands on legs are real statement pieces of furniture that allow for movement and give an extra detail to the kitchen,' reports William.

To make a kitchen island feature more flexible, lose the plinths and replace the cabinet legs with castors. You’ll still get the benefits of an extra work surface and storage, but you’ll gain the flexibility to switch up your kitchen layout to suit all occasions. 

How to maximise storage in a small kitchen

When maximising storage in a small kitchen, there are a few principles that our experts swear by. Rule one: clear the clutter. 

We’re all guilty of hoarding expired groceries or dinnerware that’s been passed down the family, but it’s time to get tough. Anything that’s unloved, unused, or inedible needs to go. By doing so, you’ll make more room for essentials and ensure they’re close to hand.

Rule two: make it multi-functional. When space is at a premium, it’s essential to make your storage work as hard as possible. 

'Your larder or pantry can easily be a multi-purpose unit for various activities,' explains Jen. 'You could use it as a breakfast station in the mornings, but come Friday night, you can change it into a cocktail bar by lining up spirits, glasses, and garnishes.'

'Remember that storage isn’t only reserved for your cabinets,' adds Jen. 'For example, if you’re featuring bench seating in your kitchen, why not incorporate built-in storage? This can provide an area to conceal clutter and ensure an organised cooking environment.'

How can I improve my kitchen storage?

Improving your kitchen storage will be a work in progress, so don’t put too much pressure on getting it right immediately. 

For a quick win, Ruth advises to 'Store your most used items in locations that are easy to reach and less frequently used objects in cupboards that may be tucked away and more difficult to access.' This will make your space more ergonomic in an instant. 

Avoiding the trends in this article will also help you improve your storage, ensuring your setup is organised, on-trend, and ergonomic.

Now that you’ve read our expert's opinions, which storage trends are you steering clear of in 2024?

Alisha Solanki

Alisha Solanki is a freelance writer obsessed with all things interiors. Having graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in English and Creative Writing from Coventry University in 2016, she started her career in the editorial team at Howdens, where she fell in love with writing about interiors. Having recently bought her first new-build home, Alisha is currently furnishing it with a mix of modern and Indian-inspired pieces that reflect her rich heritage.