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Collective Q+A: What Is the Kitchen Feature That Changed the Way You Use Your Space for the Better?

A white and wood kitchen designed by Yellow Brick Home // #ybhtwoflat
sconce | faucet | sink | DIY shelves

Spoiler alert: We’re in the thick of our own kitchen renovation. JK, you already knew that. But! Did you know that many of the design elements we’re incorporating into our space is a result of learning from our peers? I think the biggest fear Scott and I have is missing something – a crucial element, gadget or storage hack – that we’ll wish we would have incorporated before it was too late. For this, we turn to our friends who have recently renovated their own kitchens, and we’re taking notes on the things that might work for our family. Examples are drawers as base cabinets (as seen in our Two Flat kitchen above), floating shelves for grab-n-go items, and countertop materials, to name a few.

Honestly, we couldn’t think of a better time to share their knowledge, in hopes it sparks some ideas for you, too! This is another round of Collective Q+A, a blog series focused on sharing voices other than our own to promote new ideas and encourage outside-of-the-box thinking. Today we’re asking: What is the kitchen feature that changed the way you use your space for the better?



By refinishing our existing cabinets we were able to allocate most of our budget to wall removal, and it was worth every penny.Nahyun Arnal

Nahyun Arnal, Our Hideaway Home | Our kitchen was not a memorable space.  There was minimal storage, a tight layout and it felt very disjointed from the rest of our home.  Not to state the obvious, but to clearly state the obvious, removing a wall to open up the layout dramatically changed the way we use our kitchen for the better.

Nahyun’s kitchen before

Over five weeks and with a tight budget we tackled our kitchen refresh! Our goal was to add storage, improve the flow and function of the space, but also to repurpose as much of our existing kitchen as possible!  By refinishing our existing cabinets we were able to allocate most of our budget to wall removal, and it was worth every penny.  I underestimated the impact the wall removal would have on – not only our kitchen – but our entire main floor.  Now daily tasks like cooking and cleaning are actually enjoyable, entertaining is on another level and the sunshine that penetrates throughout our home is truly magical. 

Budget kitchen makeover from @ourhideawayhome // featured on Yellow Brick Home
Nahyun’s kitchen after!

Follow along with Nahyun on her blog, Our Hideaway Home, and on Instagram @ourhideawayhome.


I’d probably been following a few too many interior designers because I suddenly knew I needed wallpaper in my life. The pantry felt like the perfect place to incorporate it. And so, in addition to making the pantry functional, I became devoted to the idea of making it beautiful.Samantha Smith

Samantha Smith, One Smith Story | Building a Pretty Pantry! We’d never had a proper pantry in our previous homes, so I was dead set on including one when we built. We couldn’t afford to incorporate all the bells and whistles in the build cost, so we had the builder leave our little corner pantry empty and I planned to tackle it myself and design it in a way that would work for our family. As I started planning the pantry, you could say I got a little *extra.* I’d probably been following a few too many interior designers because I suddenly knew I needed wallpaper in my life. The pantry felt like the perfect place to incorporate it. And so, in addition to making the pantry functional, I became devoted to the idea of making it beautiful. I didn’t have a lot of fancy tools, but I had a whole lot of gumption and a fantastic Instagram community cheering me on.

Pantry  makeover from @onesmithstory // featured on Yellow Brick Home

Fast forward a couple of months and here’s what I’ve learned: Making the pantry pretty actually encourages us to keep it organized! Imagine that. It might sound silly – the idea of a styled space for food storage – but it brings me joy every time I open the door (which is frequently) and it ensures I keep those goldfish crackers and granola bars tucked away in their rightful place. Now I’m thinking I might need to make my closet pretty, too…

Pantry  makeover from @onesmithstory // featured on Yellow Brick Home

Follow along with Sam on her blog, One Smith Story, and on Instagram @onesmithstory.


I came up with the idea to have a little nook to the side of our range with a pull out shelf to access our toaster and coffee maker which could be pushed out of sight once the morning rush was over. Erin Zubot

Erin Zubot, Erin Zubot Design | Although we all have a toaster, coffee pot or other small appliances that we use every day and love to keep out and accessible, they can look a little like clutter in a beautifully styled kitchen. When we renovated our kitchen I racked my brain for a way to hide away our small appliances. I’ve seen a lot of people use appliance garages but our local electrical code did not allow us to have anything with a door on it. I came up with the idea to have a little nook to the side of our range with a pull out shelf to access our toaster and coffee maker which could be pushed out of sight once the morning rush was over:

Kitchen design from @erinzubotdesign // featured on Yellow Brick Home

We built a little cubby out of walnut plywood and I asked our countertop manufacturer for an extra piece of stone. I attached some hobby brass to the side of it to hide the drawer hardware and it’s just my favorite feature of our whole kitchen now! I really think it is worth the time and energy to put thought into how you will store every little item in a kitchen renovation, whether you incorporate an appliance garage or if you have the luxury of a walk-in pantry, there is usually a solution that can be both functional and beautiful!

Kitchen design from @erinzubotdesign // featured on Yellow Brick Home

Follow along with Erin on her blog, Erin Zubot Design, and on Instagram @erinzubotdesign.


When I completed my DIY budget kitchen makeover last year there was one element that I couldn’t wait to install and use – the single handle pull down faucet from Signature Hardware.​​​​​​​ Nedra Davis

Nedra Davis, Brick End Haus | When I completed my DIY budget kitchen makeover last year there was one element that I couldn’t wait to install and use – the single handle pull down faucet from Signature Hardware. Not only does it elevate the sink area in my upgraded kitchen, it also allows me so much flexibility while I am cooking or cleaning. 

Kitchen design from @brickendhaus // featured on Yellow Brick Home

Follow along with Nedra on her blog, Brick End Haus, and on Instagram @brickendhaus.


We no longer have any lower or upper cabinets, and instead, have all drawers. It has been a complete game changer. Deema Tabbara Lopez

Deema Tabbara Lopez, Pretty on Fridays | If I had to pick one kitchen feature that’s completely changed how we use the space, it would be our drawers. We no longer have any lower or upper cabinets, and instead, have all drawers. It has been a complete game changer. We have way more storage space, it’s much easier to organize (psst Ikea drawers INSIDE of drawers!), AND we no longer have to reach and pull out a bunch of crap to grab something we would have otherwise done if we still had cabinets. It’s incredibly convenient, and bonus, I love the look as well. I can’t imagine ever putting our pots and pans in a cabinet again. 

Kitchen design from @prettyonfridays // featured on Yellow Brick Home

Follow along with Deema on her blog, Pretty on Fridays, and on Instagram @prettyonfridays.


It’s been a game changer to have plenty of room for food prep no matter how many school papers try to hang out on the island.​​​​​​​ Anna + Gabe Liesemeyer

Anna + Gabe Liesemeyer, In Honor of Design | With a full house it can feel impossible at times to keep our countertops clear! We designed an appliance cabinet into our kitchen to free up countertop spaces for food prep. The cabinet is only 30 in. wide, but since it runs from floor to ceiling it fits our coffee maker, microwave, crockpot, and other kitchen items we use frequently. We incorporated the outlets for the coffee maker and microwave on the inside of the cabinet in order to use them by just opening the doors. The lower appliances we can pull out to use when we need them! It’s been a game changer to have plenty of room for food prep no matter how many school papers try to hang out on the island.

Kitchen design from @inhonorofdesign // featured on Yellow Brick Home
photo by Joseph Bradshaw 

Follow along with Anna + Gabe on their blog, In Honor of Design, and on Instagram @inhonorofdesign.



Thank you for supporting the creators that inspire us every day! Is there a feature you’ve added to your kitchen that has been a game changer in how you use the space? We’re over here taking notes!

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  • Peggy4.26.22 - 6:06 AM

    I have a cabinet similar to the last one pictured above, but changed the doors to bifold. This allows me to remove something from the microwave and not have to get around the door to set it down on the counter.ReplyCancel

  • Karen4.26.22 - 6:42 AM

    Four years post-reno and my favorite parts of our kitchen are:  well-appointed “cooking corner” (within 3 feet I have: stove, counter space/cutting board, knives, trash/compost bin, and sink; my fridge is a little far away but we were so limited due to existing windows and doorways), touch-activated sink faucet,  and 4′ open space between the island and wall cabinets (so plushy!). ReplyCancel

  • moinica4.26.22 - 10:38 AM

    5 years post Reno (or a very inefficient 1952 original kitchen) #1 for me is deep drawers instead of cabinets, along with fewer upper cabinets. I also really, really love my pull out trash/recycle bins.ReplyCancel

    • Kim4.26.22 - 10:57 AM

      We’re nixing all base cabinets in favor of drawers – definitely a favorite upgrade of ours, too!ReplyCancel

  • Cici Haus4.26.22 - 10:49 AM

    Pull-out trash under the prep area! I also LOVED having a row of pegs under an open shelf under closed storage. Perfect combination of available options.ReplyCancel

    • Susan5.2.22 - 12:49 PM

      yes!!!! to pullout trash. an unexpected favoriteReplyCancel

  • Julie4.26.22 - 12:14 PM

    As you have already figured out, drawers, drawers, drawers!  But a motion activated faucet has been a luxury and so handy when dealing both hands are unxlean w/meat, dough, etc.  Keeps everything clean when you don’t have to turn on the faucet manually.  Also, pull out trash & recycling bins. I wish I had thought more about adding a thin drawer where the baseboards are under each bottom cabinet, aka @sgardnerstyle or a pull out step stool.ReplyCancel

  • Julie4.26.22 - 12:23 PM

    I always love your collective posts and learning more about other folks and their super creative ideas! We are remodeling our dream kitchen now and are lucky to have a large pantry area with lots of cabinets and another sink to keep the mess out of sight. Some of my favorite things from kitchens past are making the lowers deeper; we built a 6″ frame behind the cabinet base and have more countertop space. And our current house has a built in soap pump at the sink and I never knew I would love it so much! A huge, deep kitchen sink changed my life ReplyCancel

  • Nancy4.26.22 - 2:52 PM

    Drawers – yes! Pull out trash and recycling – yes! Appliance garage for coffee maker, toaster and mixer to clear counter – yes!  I wish we had hidden the microwave too.  Designer wanted to put it under a counter but I think that’s awkward to use.  But I don’t like looking at it either.  Should have worked harder on that one.  Made sure that we had a work space for chopping and prepping next to the stovetop – yes! Other things we did that I love: storage above the fridge was made to hold special platters and roasting pans or baking pans that only come out once a year.  I measured things that I wanted in the drawers (like slow cooker and food processor) and make sure that there were drawers large enough to fit them.  Things have a place now and it’s great.  I also had a special paper towel holder put into my cabinets so that paper towels are always accessible and two extra rolls can be kept at the ready behind them.  Also hands free faucet from Kohler (just wave underneath it to turn it on and off).  My favorite new appliance: steam/convection oven combi.  It heats up quickly because it’s smaller and does amazing things.  ReplyCancel

    • Kim4.26.22 - 3:18 PM

      I am so happy to know that we are incorporating all of those things into our kitchen design!ReplyCancel

  • Nish4.26.22 - 7:45 PM

    Love all of this. One of my unexpected favourite things from our kitchen renovation is a “non-tip” / telescopic shelf in the oven — it wasn’t planned (bought the oven second hand) but it makes checking if dishes are done and getting heavy hot dishes out of the oven so much more pleasant. ReplyCancel

  • Erica4.27.22 - 7:22 AM

    We added a Cabinet for a coffee station. I love having everything ready to go tucked away. ReplyCancel

  • Betsy4.27.22 - 2:27 PM

    I’m adding a built in, pull out, cutting board.  Haven’t even started yet, but this is going to be one of my favorite features.  I just know it!  Doing so, hasn’t changed, or affected, the design in any way.  They said it is just tucked into “empty” space above the drawers.  ReplyCancel

  • […] love that Kim asked her friends about their best kitchen functionality features for their own renovation. Functionality is such a big part of what we were thinking about for our […]ReplyCancel

  • Amanda5.1.22 - 9:18 PM

    Deep drawers, pantry, and galley-style. Everything in one spot, everything accesible within a couple steps. Uninterrupted stretch of counter space.ReplyCancel

  • Claire5.12.22 - 6:38 PM

    Hi!! Will your pull out trash have a motor? We added one to ours so that if my hands are covered in raw chicken I can still get it open :) Ours is from Rev A ShelfReplyCancel

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