Kitchen Corner Cabinets

      Creative solutions for this awkward space. February 10, 2004

Question
What ways have you found to utilize the space in kitchen base cabinets where the run of boxes turns 90 degrees?

Over the years I've tried angle corner cabinets with full round lazy susans, pie-cut susans mounted to right angle doors, half-moon susans that open with one of the adjacent doors and then slide out (supposedly) for total access.

I must admit that after trying about everything I can think of, none of the solutions are really elegant or trouble-free. Sliders get out of whack after a few years, customers lose things off the back of lazy susans never to be seen again, and while I've tried piano hinging two adjacent doors together to open in concert, I haven't been able to match the "self closing" aspect of the other doors.

A client I'm just starting to work with has flatly stated that she "hates lazy susans," so this is a good time to see if there are any good solutions out there.

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor J:
The best solution I've found for small corners (12" a door, more or less) is either a lazy susan or a pull-out drawer system. If you go with the lazy susan, provide a radiused back attached to the cabinet to stop things from falling off the shelves.

You are right that no elegant solution has been presented yet. All you can do is give your client a list of options and be honest with the good and bad points of each.



From contributor T:
Part of the answer lies in the quality of the lasy suzan you install. In high end cabinets, I suggest my own custom lasy suzan. It's three shelves attached together with four dowels close to the edge, with a flat bearing at the bottom and a pivot at the top and no post in the middle. I use rubber plywood for the edging that is about 3/4" higher than the surface of the shelf. They turn very smoothly and are very stable. Very seldom will something fall from the shelves. They are a lot more solid than those plastic or wire lasy suzans. They are also priced accordingly, but clients don't complain when I show them the quality.

I use 2 12" doors attached together with the Blum concealed bifold hinges. They have their own self-closing mechanism like their regular hinges. You can find those hinges with most of the manufacturers of concealed hinges.



From contributor G:
I know what you mean about lazy susans, especially if the client wants the doors to follow the lazy susan through the cabinet.

My solution has been to set a drawer stack at 45 degrees into the corner, so the face is at the same angle as a regular 45 degree lazy susan. Better storage and solves the lazy susan problem. The other more recent solution I have used in higher end kitchens (because this hardware is not cheap, approximately $350) is to build a blind corner cabinet and use this sliding hardware from Richelieu for blind corners, which works great! Installed properly, there are no call backs.

Remember the biggest offender when it comes to lazy susans is the end user. Just as in pantries, a lazy susan is rated for 50 lbs. and they put 200 lbs. worth of stuff on it, double or triple stacked, and they wonder why it stops working and stuff falls off.



From contributor S:
How about a pop-up appliance garage? LOL.


From contributor H:
Blum has just come out with a drawer system for corners which is very nice, or you can make them yourself as the previous post mentioned.


From contributor C:
I've done all of the above many times. What works best for me is to make the last door equal to all the other doors on that run, strictly for aesthetics. Looks nice. I put in an extended cabinet into the dead corner with an 'L' shelf (removable). No lazy susans, because I got a lot of complaints about not being able to get into the cabinet to clean with the lazy susan there. So I started doing just the extended dead corner cabinet and the customers are happy. They really like having that huge space that they can actually climb into. Don't forget, in a kitchen there are some very large pieces that need to be stored away and the back of this cabinet fits the bill. They can keep it clean, too. Besides, as a designer, I like to use the corner 90 degree rail as a decorative, usually carved, detail.


From contributor R:
I know this sounds crazy, but if the kitchen is a good size, I deaden it off. I find nothing but junk ends up there and anything else you do either detracts from the look of the cabinetry or is goofy and/or expensive. You can also turn it into a secret hiding spot for the customer's valuables. Helps to sell it. All that effort and money can usually be spent elsewhere to greater effect.


From contributor V:
I have had good customer feedback with the recycling baskets from Rev A Shelf.


From contributor F:
Most of our work comes from a designer who is totally anti-susan. Almost all his lowers are drawer stacks. When a 45 degree corner will work in the layout, he'll either do as contributor G does, or he'll put a wine cooler, sink, dishwash or recycle pull-out cross corner.

When it's 90 degrees, he does like contributor R. Why compromise the easiest to access and most useful storage (drawers) to gain access to less useful and difficult storage? Customers who dislike susans will usually agree with this rationale.

In his designs, which are mostly large, there's plenty of room for the big stuff that would go in the corner.



From contributor K:
Like others, we've done a lot of the above, but over the years we've come up with a solution that customers seem to really like. We call it a super-susan (sounds better than lazy). We've since seen versions of it on the market.

We make our own susan platters, and attach them on the bottom of the cabinet, and on a middle shelf, so they are actually sitting on a platform. We also make the middle shelf/platter adjustable so they can even put large pots and pans on the bottom and whatever on the middle shelf, as height is less of an issue. Nice thing about it is that they no longer have to worry about items falling off the susan, as it has a 1 1/4" side lip (total of 2 1/2", minus 3/4" material and 1/2" recess) and the farthest it can go is on the shelf. The platter is 3/4" maple (sometimes I use 1/2" if stock is low), ribbon around the side is 3/16" solid maple (although it can be any color), attached to 3/4" solid wood front (either splay or 90 degree). The susan is a stainless steel ball-bearing, which is rated at 1000 lb., and the pegs for the adjustable shelves are custom-made solid brass, which go 5/8" into the 3/4" side and back material. If the kitchen is large enough, I usually suggest a splay corner, with a splay cabinet above and an appliance garage up top.

An added benefit is being that the platter is set on the shelf, they can also place items to the left and right of the susan, in the back, that they use every once in a while, so the area which used to be a space thief is now wholly utilized. If you are doing a splay corner cabinet as opposed to a 90 degree, an added benefit is that you can also add a drawer on top.

No poles to adjust or re-adjust, simple installation, great product, great effect.



From contributor M:
Splay? Is that a corner with a 45 degree front?


From contributor K:
Yes.


From contributor D:
If they don't like the rotating susans, I just put in an adjustable shelf or the rotary recycling center.


From contributor B:
I like a cabinet door face attached to a large slide-out shelved drawer. It still leaves a small unusable area between that drawer and the adjoining cabinets, but it brings everything out in the open so well, that its others sins are forgiven. I like to use those large slide-out drawers in about half of the spaces that usually get shelved cabinets.


From the original questioner:
Thanks for the great responses. I see a lot of other cabinetmakers have wrestled with this problem. I might try the angle drawerbank suggestion - it looks like they could be around 35% deeper than other drawerbanks in the same kitchen, and I would only lose a little over a third of the volume of usable space in the corner.

I would also like to learn more about the concealed bi-fold hinges - will they accommodate two doors on adjacent sides of a 90 degree corner fastening the two doors together on their common sides? Would I then anchor the whole thing with standard concealed self-closing hinges on the right side door? Do they keep their adjustment?
If I could get bi-fold doors to work I'd just make an L shaped corner cabinet and explain to the customer that it's for "deep storage."



From contributor N:
Several companies have a sliding shelf system. www.leevalley.com has a unit. Type "blind corner unit" in their search engine to see it. The door opens and brings out two shelves and the back two shelves are pulled into view by a linkage system. I have used them and they are sturdy and well-built.


From contributor B:
Those blind corner units are also available from Rockler, I believe. I have never personally tried them, but they look pretty trick to me.

The angled drawer bank I previously spoke of is usually just a set of slide-out shelves, open on the sides. It is similar to a slide-out wastebasket drawer, except that it might be three shelves rather than just one, with a "keel" down the center the full height of the total drawer to add some rigidity, and give you something to place items up against. I think Rockler has those too.



From contributor L:
Here is my solution to the "wasted space" in the corner issue - forget about it! Here is why: Suppose you just make that space in the corner "dead." Now, compare that to a lazy susan - first I have to take away 12" of good, usable, direct access cabinetry from each side. Accounting for 2" fillers, that is a loss of 10" on each face, or 20" total. 20" times the interior depth of 23" is 460 sq.in. So that is a net loss of 3.19 sq.ft. of horizontal interior surface. Then I put a 32" pie-cut susan in there and gain back 603 sq.in* - a net gain of only 143 sq.in. or 1 sq.ft. Since you have 2 levels, that is a net gain of 2 sq.ft. so far - and then you lose 20"** of top drawers, since most of us leave the top drawers out to improve access to the lazy susan. That is an additional net loss of 20"x 22"= 440 sq.in. or 3 sq.ft. So, to sum it up, with a lazy susan you loose 1 sq.ft. of storage space compared to a dead corner. Plus you just spent a bunch of the customer's money for that lazy susan.

When you explain this to customers, most of them get it. I have only done two lazy susans in the last two years, and that was in the same kitchen, in an unusual condition.

My preferred solution to the "dead corner" issue is to design it out from the start. If possible, I run one wall of cabinets to the corner, then hold the other wall of cabinets about 5 feet clear of the corner, giving about 3 feet for access to the other wall of base cabinets. Now we are able to use the corner, have almost the same net usable cabinet space, lower cabinet cost, and a more interesting kitchen design because it breaks up that strong horizontal effect of having the countertops running unbroken all around the kitchen.

Note:
*16"x16" x pi x .75=603sq.in.
**2x (12"-2"filler)= 20"



From contributor E:
Just lose it and spend the time and money elsewhere. There is no elegant solution to corners if you don't like gadgetry. Actually there is: Turn the dead corner into another cupboard or drawer set accessed from another room through the back. Seldom practical, though!


The comments below were added after this Forum discussion was archived as a Knowledge Base article (add your comment).

Comment from contributor A:
Nine out of ten times I will place a standard drawer/door unit. For a 36" corner, I use a 16" canbinet. I like to use this cabinet as a recyle bin area and as I can usually go deeper than 24", I can get 3 containers. The space loss is negligable compared to the usabilty of the unit.



Comment from contributor Y:
Often the corner space is located adjacent to the sink and makes a perfect location for a small "point of use" water heater. Also, any water filters or RO equipment could utilize this space.


Comment from contributor P:
Here is a solution for a corner sink. You can either use an L unit in a normal layout (SMEG makes one) or a larger 45 degree cabinet with a single door across the front. Put the waste and the pipes right back into the corner which would otherwise be the really difficult space to access.


The comments below were added after this Forum discussion was archived as a Knowledge Base article (add your comment).

Comment from contributor A:
I agree with contributors R and L who favor deadening, especially if the customer does not want a susan and there's no good way to design out the inside corner.

45 deg. corner drawers, even the pricy Blum units, waste at least as much space and even more if they are not long enough to reach the back corner. Picture the triangular dead spaces on each side of the drawers. Put them together and you have the same 24" x 24" dead area.



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