10 Essential Cabinets You Need in Today's Kitchen

A place for everything and everything in its place. Good storage in a kitchen goes beyond merely having plenty of cabinets. The key is to have the cabinets function with strategic storage that maximizes efficiency. Maintaining peak function in your cooking space is all about accessibility within your work zones, the ease of use and limiting how much you need to move around so that you can focus on what matters most: delicious meals and good company. 

Collectively, here at A Direct we have over 50 years of kitchen design experience under our belts. It is our job to know past, present and upcoming trends in cabinetry. Below is our Top 10 Must Have Kitchen Cabinets for 2022, hand selected by Ted. (Ted's Ten, if you will).  These are the cabinets we automatically designs in not only because are they expected in today's kitchens, but because they are loved. 

Top 10 Must Have Kitchen Cabinets in 2020

Nothing screams 'old kitchen' quite like a visible trash can. Whether remodeling your kitchen or building new, you'll want a concealed waste basket as part of your design. In fact, it is the first 'must have' cabinet we design into every kitchen.  Ideally, we like to design in a double or two-bin trash unit- allowing one bin for trash and one for recycle. Most double units take up a mere 18 inches of space, making it rather easy to fit in most designs. If something smaller is needed, a single trash is a fall back option, only requiring 15 inches of space. Take a look below for some inspiration:  

Double Pull Out Trash Cabinet  Double pull out trash cabinet with paper towel storage
Single Trash Cabinet for Dog Food Storage Four pail garbage cabinet


Top 10 Must Have Kitchen Cabinets in 2020

Not all kitchens have them, but when utilized correctly, corners can be one of the best storage areas of the kitchen. As a kitchen designer there is really only one corner cabinet we like to use, that is the Super Susan. (Not to be confused with a Lazy Susan that has a center supporting pole).  A Super Susan is considerable more efficient for storage than even blind corner cabinets. That is because it allows you to use the most amount of space, a corner has to offer. 

Super Susan's are 90 degree corner cabinets that house two independent shelves, supporting a pie cut carousel that spins 360 degrees.  Each shelf can surprisingly hold a large number of kitchen items; Excellent for pots and pans, small kitchen appliances and more.  Since each carousel sits on it's own shelf, it can hold up to 75lbs of weight on each one! Of course, there are additional options for specific uses, like deep bins, chrome rails and even segmented sections.


Base Super Susan- 10 Must Have Kitchen Cabinets in 2020 Super Susan with Deep Bins
Super Susan with Chrome Rails Super Susan with Segmented Sections 


 10 must have kitchen cabinets in 2020

If you are looking for the most accessible cabinet with flexible storage, then look no further than a drawer base! Although they are more expensive, stacked drawer cabinets add enormous storage efficiency.  We love designing with drawer bases for a variety of reasons: 

  • Drawers offer perfect ergonomic storage: Stop bending down or squatting to see what is in your cabinets. With drawer base cabinets, you simple pull the drawer out and look down. Everything comes to YOU.  As we age, our bodes become more sensitive to bending and lifting. Drawer bases are a wonderful option to reduce these motions.
  • Drawers offer flexible storage: Drawers can hold almost anything in your kitchen, and they are offered in a variety of configurations: two, three or four drawer stacks. A three-drawer base stack is our favorite, giving you a small top drawer and two larger lower drawers. The top drawers are usually for utensils, silverware or smaller items. The larger drawers can be used for a multitude of items; pots and pans, lids, dishes, small appliances, food, Tupperware and baking tools. 
  • Drawers offer easy storage: Operating a drawer requires one simple motion- pull vs. a roll out arrangement which takes two options- open and pull. This reduction in motions can do wonders to speed up your cooking routine.
  • Drawers have clean lines: Drawers create clean horizontal lines that are attractive in any kitchen style- traditional, farmhouse, rustic, transitional or contemporary.  

💡Tip- The more drawer fronts you have in your kitchen, the more important they become to the overall look. Be sure to consider the look of the drawer front in your door style. Some styles may even give you options. See what you like best! 

drawer base with peg organizer for plates two drawer base cabinet
drawer base kitchen cabinet three drawer base kitchen cabinet  


10 must have kitchen cabinets in 2020

Pantries tend to be at the top of everyone's wish list when it comes to a kitchen remodel. And it is with good reason! An addition of a pantry is like adding an additional 2-3 cabinets worth of storage.  It gives you floor to ceiling storage for cans, jars, dry goods and more. The amount you can store in such a small amount of space is absolutely amazing. 

Pantries come as small as 12" wide. But if you are able to fit in a pantry that is 18" or wider, we suggest opting for roll out shelves. A roll-out pantry conveniently slides each shelf out for full view. This wide access can really simplify life in the kitchen, especially when they are arranged by necessity or category. 

If you don't have the space or are unwilling to give up the countertop space, a pull out base cabinet can be a "micro pantry." It will operate just as a pull out pantry does, but below countertop height. 

pantry with deep roll outs pantry cabinet with roll outs 
pantry cabinet with fixed shelves pantry with door storage
Pantry cabinet with roll out shelves by drivebydecor.com mini pantry, base pantry storage


Tilt out Tray for Sink base cabinet

We felt silly putting a sink base cabinet as one of our top 10 must have kitchen cabinets, because... duh!  Every kitchen needs one.  So instead, we wanted to highlight the sink base accessory that belongs in every standard sink base cabinet. That is, a tilt out tray! 

It is a sleek storage space, that makes use of a false drawer front. A tilt-out tray keeps cleaning tools at your finger tips. They are great for sponges or Brillo pads and even as a safe place for rings while doing dishes.  Although they are available in both plastic and stainless steel, we prefer the plastic. This is because it can be easily removed, and washed on the top rack of the dishwasher. 

Tilt out tray for a kitchen sink base cabinet  tilt out stainless steel tray for sink base cabinet


 10 must have kitchen cabinets in 2020

Tray dividers, also referred to as vertical dividers, are extremely useful for storing large, flat objects: think cutting boards, cookie sheets, muffin tins, platters, cooling racks etc. Since these are common items we all use, we try to design in at least one of these inexpensive, yet highly useful cabinet in every kitchen.

They are normally designed next to the range, and will be 9" or 12" wide. But can also be placed in upper portions of tall cabinets- like an oven cabinet, pantry or in a wall cabinet above the refrigerator. 


tray divider cabinet in kitchen pull out tray divider in kitchen 
tray divider in oven cabinet vertical divider in wall cabinet


 10 must have kitchen cabinets in 2020

Base pull-out cabinets have come a long way over the years. It was first introduced as a mini pantry option, commonly used for spices.  Now, the same 12"-15" of space can store not just spices, but utensils, knives, even pantry goods.  

Since we all tend to accumulate spices every time we try a new recipe, the number one base pull out is still those geared towards spice storage. It is a great option adjacent to your cooking zone. Often times we place one of these on one side of the stove, and a tray divider on the other for a symmetrical look. 

base pull out spice rack base pull out utensil storage
base pull out with knife storage base pull out with OXO container storage 


10 must have kitchen cabinets in 2020

Use every last inch of space with a toe kick drawer! This additional storage space can be added to most cabinets, turning the standard toe kick area into an additional storage drawer right at the floor.  It will open with just a tap of the foot, no hands or hardware required.  This cabinet would be ideal for storing: 

  • items you don't access often- batteries, furniture pads, flash lights +
  • items for the little ones to access- like their plastic ware
  • your secret stash of treats
  • your reusable bags 
  • your linens, dish towels +
  • items for your pets- leashes, brushes, treats, even toys
  • takeout menus,  appliance manuals & warranty info + 
Toe kick drawer toe kick drawer storage
toe kick drawer by masterbrand toe kick drawer by drivebydecor.com


10 must have kitchen cabinets in 2020

Welcome to the drop zone.  A cabinet that can be found at the end of a cabinet run, that will keep up with a family who is always on the run! This small space will store and organize keys, papers, messages and more all behind a closed door. Allowing your countertops to be free of clutter.

We often suggest having electric added into the cabinet, so you can also use it as a charging station for electronics. It is available as a wall cabinet or base cabinet in 3" widths. Or if you have 6"-9" space to give, there are even full height drop zones available, creating a storage space similar to a closet or mudroom. 

wall message center, drop zone wall message center, drop zone
base message center, drop zone base message center, drop zone 
tall drop zone storage, end of kitchen run, masterbrand cabinets tall drop zone storage, end of kitchen run, masterbrand cabinets


 Base microwave drawer cabinet for kitchen

A growing trend in today's kitchen, is the drawer microwave. Because of their popularity, the cabinet companies now offer a base microwave cabinet.  This cabinet stores your microwave below the countertop, while also offering an additional drawer for storage.  This keeps your microwave off of the countertop, and pretty much out of immediate view. 

base microwave drawer cabinet for today's kitchen 2020  base microwave drawer cabinet for today's kitchen 2020


The sky is the limit when it comes to outfitting your dream kitchen with everything you desire. With so many options, it can become overwhelming on what to choose. This is where your designer comes in.  They will not only present you with all of your options, but design them into your room so your work stations functional optimally for you and the way YOU use the kitchen.  

10 must have kitchen cabinets in today's kitchens


If you're ready for your new kitchen, but don't know where to start, we're here to help!  Schedule a consultation with our design team. We will listen to your ideas and offer our expert advice. Contact us today! 

For more inspiration, please look at our Kitchen Remodeling Ideas & Inspiration Gallery. 


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Karly Labruzzo

Karly is the Chief Operations Officer at ADirect Cabinet Distributor. She facilitates daily operations to ensure this ship runs smoothly. She has been designing for us full time for over 14 years, keeps us social and up to date in this fast paced industry. She too, is our honorary sound board and complaint resolver. Did I mention she also has a dual masters in Executive Business Administration and Organizational Management? When she's not working, you can find her rocking motherhood, being an amazing wife, or trying new recipes in her own kitchen.

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