Thoughts on using lower cabinet for dishes

October 8, 2019

I'm used to storing dishes in an upper cabinet, but I will have few in my new kitchen and none is well placed near the dining room. What are thoughts on storing them in an under counter cabinet and/or a bottom drawer? Location is perfect, just wondering if it will be bothersome to bend down when unloading the dishwasher or getting dishes out.

Comments (36)

  • Bri Bosh

    Since you have a new kitchen I assume you planned mostly drawers for lowers? There are great options for pullout drawers for dish storage. I wouldn’t keep them in lower door cabinets though. Too much bending and lifting...

  • Bri Bosh

    Like these...

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  • Lynne

    Thanks. I would either need to use the lowest drawer, or eliminate one of the more shallow drawers in order to have enough space.

  • Bri Bosh

    I would definitely not use the lowest drawer... try it out by putting your dishes on the floor and then picking them up... noooo thanks!

  • PRO

    I have all my dishes in my base cabinets and it has made life easier. I use the lowest drawer for serving bowls & platters that I don't use constantly, but the next drawer up has all my dishes. I only have glasswear and cups in my one upper cabinet.

  • localeater

    I have a 3 drawer stack near my DW. Top drawer is cutlery, second drawer is my dishes, bottom drawer is platters and less used pieces.

    Your base cabinets should all be drawers, as you plan your kitchen plan all your storage. Make notes about what will go where. I find three drawer stacks more useful than 4.

  • functionthenlook

    Mine are in a upper cabinet that is part of the base of the island. Last house was the same. I like it better than having them in upper cabinets.

  • PRO
    Home Art Tile Kitchen & Bath

    Store dishes that you don't use frequently on the lowest drawer. The dishes you use every day should be on the tallest level of your base cabinets for conveniency. Is there a possibility for you to design a custom drawer for the dishes you use every day?

  • remodeling1840

    Lynne, it sounds like you need to do an assessment of your storage needs against your actual storage. The hardest part of my kitchen planning involved allotting enough storage for all MY “stuff”. Every drawer, every shelf has to earn its keep. On paper I had the inside dimensions of the available storage and labeled each with things to store there. First, it assured a place for everything, but, more importantly, moving was easy. Post it notes on each drawer and shelf guided me as I unpacked. After you sketch out the kitchen, it will be apparent if you have enough storage. You might need to reconsider adding a few uppers if the work flow would improve the function of your new kitchen. Who knew there was so much work involved in this exciting new home?!?!

  • PRO
    Aqua Kitchen and Bath Design Center

    Have you thought of using upper shelves for dishes you use every day? There won't be having trouble with dust if you use them every day and it will be convenient for you to reach them. Something like this.

    from https://www.southernliving.com/home/kitchen/open-shelving-kitchen-tips

    Dishes you don't use that often you can easily store in base cabinets.

  • wilson853

    It's very easy to unload and set the table as the dish drawer is right next to one of my DWs and is closest to both the kitchen and outside tables. Inside width is 32" so what used to take up two upper shelves now fits into one drawer. Heavy duty slides are necessary so that the drawer will open and close easily. It is a three-drawer base so cutlery is on top, dishes in the middle, and paper and plastic on the bottom for holiday and outside use. The bottom drawer has two levels of storage with a hidden drawer so I can keep all of those seasonal items organized better. A 36" upper directly above holds glasses and other items that we use outside.

  • K R

    I actually tried it that way after my remodel but we didn’t like it so I moved them back up. Old habits are hard to die I guess. Plus I live in a house with a 6’ son and 6’5” hubby, so I’m outnumbered. Haha I do use my drawers for pots, pans, baking sheets, and everything else you can imagine and do love them, just not for the plates. I even bought all the separators but ended up returning them.

  • Dormelles

    @Lynne I went through this debate myself, read many related threads, and decided to keep plates in the wall cabinets with my kitchen remodel. An advantage to keeping plates in drawers is that the weight of plates are not as likely to warp drawers as wall cabinet shelves, but you can minimize that by making sure shelf widths and materials are adequate for the weight stored (see the Sagulator for help with this) and by putting an extra shelf in wall cabinets and distributing the load with shorter stacks of plates. The peg-in-drawer system is, according to several reviewers, a space-waster, so some people prefer to just use non-slip drawer liners or freestanding plate stack racks. With plates in drawers, the questions emerge as to how high the drawer should be (not too high to avoid plate shifting; around 8" interior clearance is common), and how much weight the drawer slides are weighted to accommodate.

    Your main concern seems to be ease of use and availability of drawer space. In a small kitchen such as my own, drawer space is limited, and I'd prefer to use the drawers for items that I can arrange more tightly with less wasted space. The convience of wall cabinets for plates ranks closely to that of drawers, so that in itself needn't be the deciding factor. I think the popular move of plates to drawers has come with the overall trend to minimize or eliminate wall cabinetry to lend a more open and contemporary feel to kitchens. Also, the popularity of open shelving has led to placing items like plates that must be kept dust-free in enclosed base cabinet drawers. In smaller kitchens, sometimes the storage is dictated by available space, and plates in wall cabinets makes sense many times in kitchens where base cabinetry drawer space is at a premium.

  • M R

    For those of you using drawers for dishes, is a 33inch drawer enough? Originally I had 36 planned but had to cut it down to 33 and have been wondering if the 3 inches will make a difference. Wow- first world problems!

  • wilson853

    I have service for 16 but it is thin bone china so it really is dependent on the type and quantity of dishes that you have and how high you can stack them. Ours is 32" on the inside. There's two stacks each of berry and cereal bowls, one stack of salad bowls, and one stack each of dinner, salad, and appetizer plates. Because I have extra room I also keep the napkin holder in there but easily could have gotten away with a smaller drawer.

  • Buehl

    Like KR, we considered it but when we tried it out, they were too low for us. But, we're a tall family, so I think that's the main reason. My DH, who does most of the dishes/cleanup, said, "Hell no!". He's 6'5" and can easily reach every shelf in the upper cabinets and didn't like having to reach down into base drawers to put dishes away. He didn't ask for much, so I willingly agreed with him.

    (Actually, at 5'10", I can reach all the shelves as well.)

    My DS is 6'7", so he's even taller (although I think he was only 6' or so when we remodeled 11 years ago...and he moved out into his own place a couple of years ago. They grow up so fast!)

  • M R

    I would love if anyone with a dishes drawer to share photos if possible!

    Very helpful for planning.

  • luckyblueeye

    Since my kitchen cabinets will be custom, I'm asking the cabinet guy to make the top and 2nd drawer the same height. This way I can store glasses in the top one. This location is designated to dishes so I don't want a shallow drawer there at all. (this side of the island faces out so no one will actually see that the top drawer isn't the standard height...all drawers on that side will follow this)

  • chispa

    We have pretty much everything in drawers. To the right of the DW is a 3 drawer stack with cooking knives in the top, dishes in the middle and platters/bowls in bottom drawer. Across from DW is another 3 drawer stack with cutlery in the top, glasses/mugs in the middle and mixing bowl, steamer, colanders, pyrex baking dishes in the bottom one. I can stand at the DW and put everything away without having to move much.

  • wilson853

    My husband is 6'5" and does most of the clean up and loads the DW with no problem but I am usually the one that unloads the DWs. If he doesn't like the dishes in a drawer he has never mentioned it to me and I've never really thought it would be an issue. It would be an unusual occurrence for us to dip all the way to the bottom of the drawer for a dish.

  • doc5md

    Since I'm only 5'8" and DW is only 5'2" and since we wanted lots of windows, the new kitchen will essentially have no upper cabinets at all!! I'm so excited for it! :)

  • nhbaskets

    I've had dishes in drawers now for 10 years. Would never go back!

    Our previous kitchen had a 36" stack.

    The island of our current kitchen has 3 stacks of 33" drawers. Never can have enough drawers!

  • decoenthusiaste

    Not convinced about drawers yet?

  • PRO

    I don't think I would like drawers for dishes used everyday. But then I love seeing them in my glass-doored uppers. I have LOTS of upper cabinets as I have lots of dishes/glassware and non-perishables, and no pantry.

    The best place I ever had my everyday dishes was in an antique pine pie safe that was in the kitchen in two house - no room for it in this house. I loved having them there!

  • 2ManyDiversions

    I went from dishes stacked in upper cabinets, just above and to one side of our DW, to dishes in a 3-drawer stack across and to the side from the DW. Topmost drawer holds utensils, 2nd drawer holds every-day dishes and bowls, 3rd holds (or will hold, we are not finished yet, thus no pics) serving bowls and platters. I would not go back to lifting dishes up to a cabinet. It's just far easier to remove dishes and utensils from the DW, across to the drawers. I am grateful every time I unload my DW that it was planned this way : )

    I do keep glassware in an upper cabinet, but the vast majority of it is in a lowest, upper cabinet. I wish I had room for glassware in the drawers across from the DW.

  • 2ManyDiversions

    Adding: I've debated and debated on whether or not I want the divider dowels in our dishes drawer. They are 48" wide. I have decided since they don't move, I'll not add them. I use non-slip liners in all our drawers.

    Dumb question perhaps, but has anyone ever nicked their arm on the dowels? I ask because DH's skin is easily broken due to med's.

  • ILoveRed

    I’ve had both. Honestly, I like emptying my dishes from my dishwasher into the wide upper cabinet directly above and slightly to the right of my dishwasher. My wide cutlery drawer is next to this dishwasher. It’s all very efficient.

    i keep all of my mugs and daily glasses in our beverage center in two wide drawers and they go right into these drawers from a dishwasher located there. But these are the only dishes I really like in drawers.

    I do have one drawer in my island under my microwave drawer that holds all things grandchild ie: sippy cups, plastic cups and plates, bottles and nipples etc. It is perfect.

    my dishes were in drawers in my last house and I just wasn’t that thrilled with the setup...although I agree that you can never have too many drawers.

  • seabornman

    Our dish drawer is directly below silverware drawer and is 32 " wide. All of our dishes fit fine. Dishwasher is offset so all I have to do is move from DW to drawer while standing in one spot. We didn't go with the peg thing. A rubber mat keeps dishes in place. Our drawers are in a 30" deep cabinet. Glasses didn't work as well. I have to go to other side of DW to unload. Still better than last kitchen.

  • wilson853

    I didn't order the dowels but for some reason the drawer showed up with them. There were so many mistakes on our order that I just accepted it. All along I was planning to just use a non-slip mat. At first we didn't use the dowels but my DH decided to pop them in. They work fine and I have not hurt myself or the dishes on them.

  • cpartist

    I LOVE my dish drawer. So much easier but then again I'm only 5'3".

  • everdebz

    Hi nhbaskets - do you have paint color info of your lovely blue [island?] ?

  • everdebz

    Already said that plates don't have to be nearest the floor, but at top of the lowers, which isn't a far reach/ bend .... I think that it can depend if you want to lift plates up / or you prefer bending a bit down...

  • PRO
    Virgil Carter Fine Art

    So.. how tall are you and how's your back condition?

  • redsilver

    Only if they are in a drawer with a roller/slide mechanism, that can tolerate the 'weight' of the dishes. Some are quite heavy. Get new dishes if yours are. And NOT on a lower shelf imho.

  • nhbaskets

    everdebz—my island is close to BM Mineral Alloy.

  • sumac

    " So.. how tall are you and how's your back condition? "

    also shoulders elbows wrists can all wear out as we age and don't forget the weight of your dishes as well

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