5 Storage Mistakes Everyone Makes With Shelves & Cabinets!

I have a “secret” Pinterest folder entitled, “BAD IDEAS 🙂 “.

The thing is,

the internet is chock-full of “clever” ideas…

…but the secret I want to shout from the rooftops (as one of my contributions to society🤣) is:

“You don’t need to do them all!

In fact, I recommend you PROCEED WITH CAUTION when spotting a ‘clever new idea’!”

While there are dozens to hundreds of “clever hacks” out there I recommend you smile and turn away from, I’m going to focus on 5 of the most common and/or most easily fixable ones.

Grab a cup of tea (or something stronger if it’s past 5pm like it is here) and I’ll break down the problems—and then my solutions for you—below!

PS: Before you continue, you might want to grab our Design Mini-guide FREE right now by clicking here! (Don’t worry, you won’t lose your spot here!)


Common Mistake #5: Pull Out Cabinet Shelves!

If you want to kill me slowly, put me in a house with all these:

A white kitchen cabinet with pull out cabinet shelves inside the cabinets.
source: Rev-a-Shelf
A pull out kitchen shelf inside a white cabinet. Black hexagon tile on the floor.
source: Pinterest

Pull-out cabinet shelves like these above are not only annoying, but

  1. You have to open a cabinet first…
  2. …the “drawer” then hits the back of the cabinet when you try to pull it out…
  3. …your cabinet is now getting more and more damaged each time (and God forbid you have another human living with you who isn’t as careful as you might be, a.k.a. toddlers, hungry husbands, and anyone in a hurry)…
  4. …the hardware slides are usually built for heavy items and therefore more laborious to pull out (ouch, my back!)…
  5. …and they’re still not maximizing every inch of your space!

Mistake #5b: Pull-Out Bins Behind Doors!

Along similar lines, a pull-out trash can behind a cabinet door is just…

…let’s just say it’s not as good as simply converting this entire cabinet to a pull-out trash drawer.

Do you see why?

For one, you can’t just pop the above open a smidge in order to slip something into the bin (like we did in our trash drawer).

A women demonstrates how a pull-out trash drawer works in a spacious kitchen with white kitchen cabinets and white quartz countertops
Read all about our pull-out trash drawer!

No, with the above cabinet you need to pull it all the way open to access the garbage bin. And that, to me, is just extra work.

Have you ever taken stock of what you throw away and how often? SO MANY TIMES it’s something small (tissue, bottlecap, plastic wrap) and it should be a quick, fast, easy movement. Not a big wrenching movement (or one that requires someone to get all the way out of the way if they’re also working in that space in your kitchen).


Common Mistake #4: Lazy Susans!

I’m all for being lazy and having organizational items that help you, but lazy susans don’t often live up to their namesake. I don’t feel like I get to “be lazy” when I’m using you, Susan.

Where shall I begin with the Lazy Susan Fail List?

a) The items that constantly fall on the shelf?

b) The items that constantly fall behind waaaaay in the back of the cabinets?

c) The spinning right round baby right round, over and over until you realize what you’re looking for isn’t there?

d) All of the above?


Common Mistake #3: Skinny Cabinets!

These usually occur next to a sink or stove (but not always) to maximize that very little amount of unused cabinet space.

White kitchen cabinet with a skinny cabinet pull-out.

(Sometimes these skinny pieces are intended to pull out and store spices vertically. I discuss the massive problems with that in detail HERE!)

Other common solutions are to put a small built in shelf in the narrow cabinet, but it’s still wasting space behind all those trays that need to be sitting forward in the space to be reachable!

But yippee, they saved $10 by not having to buy drawer slides for this instead of hinges.😂🤣

If you missed the related post on why the above slide-outs are TERRIBLE IDEAS for these skinny spaces (although they’re a step up from leaving it as a skinny cabinet-shelf), you can read that HERE! 😉


Mistake #2: Shelves-On-Shelves (and In Cabinets)!

Breaking the shelves into more shelves can be somewhat better, but really it’s just more shelves.

You can maximize your vertical space a little better here, BUT you’re still going to have the problem of

all that unused space!


Mistake #1: Putting Shelves AND Doors Where Drawers Woulda Sufficed!

I had to include this one because it’s such a fantastic example of things that look clever at first glance…

…but that Jess can help slap you back to reality with! 🙂 ha

No, this space did not need to be made this way. The cabinetmaker could have (should have!) nixed this homeowner’s cheap Pinterest idea and finished it off, giving those extra valuable inches to drawers on the other side!

With proper kitchen planning (yes, I teach you how HERE!), you would know exactly what to put in X, Y and Z drawers instead,

leaving you with 1-2 glorious drawer(s) for your phones, laptops and other devices!

Then you wouldn’t have to

  1. step out of the way to open those cabinet doors first
  2. bend down to reach your devices constantly
  3. AND you wouldn’t have a weird empty space (unshown in this photo, of course) from the other angles of this island which were left in order to allow for this “clever” idea!


BONUS MISTAKE #6: Putting Shelves Where Drawers Should Be!

I had to include this Bonus Mistake because I see this almost everywhere in homes, from bathrooms to closets to kitchens and everything between!

Big red X!

A bathroom vanity cabinet with pull-out drawers within the cabinet

Oh, my heart. Why did they not simply turn those lower shelves into drawers? Both under sinks and in closets…

WHY?! (I used to want to sob but now I just shake my head. The world is crazy.)

PS: We have inspirational posts on closets (from organizational layout to built-ins) as well as our Closet Guide you can use HERE!


“So what’s the solution, Jess?”

Honestly, the BEST solution is:

  1. Use our Jess-and-Matt-approved, one-of-a-kind Drawer Guide to quickly and easily convert your existing cabinets & shelves into THESE!
  2. Use our Closet Guide and/or my Kitchen Organization Course (to know EXACTLY where to put every single item in your kitchen, and/or
  3. BETTER YET: Save 100’s of hours of your time (and over 50% of cost) by grabbing our Everything Bundle!


If you’d like to see “Good Ideas” after looking at all those “Bad Ideas,” take a look at these examples:

A folding pull-out ironing board stored within a closet.
Our folding ironing board in our closet
  1. Our popular laundry drawers and pull-out shelves (done right)!
  2. Our unique bathroom drawers instead of cabinets!
  3. Our 21 truly clever kitchen organization hacks & ideas!

Start HERE by grabbing our Design Mini-Guide for FREE!


If you missed it, you’ll want to know the 5 Genius Reasons You Need Drawers Instead of Cabinets! You also might enjoy:

  1. Grab our Kitchen Organization Bundle full of help with kitchen organization, the best kitchen layouts, and how to save serious money in fresh, smart ways!
  2. Joining our Insider’s List and get our Design Guide FREE today!
  3. See our 21 Clever Kitchen Organization & Hidden Storage Ideas!

PS: The full list of our house projects is viewable HERE!

A women stands in front of a skinny cabinet holding it open.
I mean really, WHAT is anyone going to keep in here happily & easily? 🙂

PPS: If you’d like our help on your own home spaces, book a Design Consultation (you’ll have to hurry, we’re nearly 100% booked through next year) or you can do it yourself (with no waiting! 🙂 ) using our time-saving Design Guides & Plans!

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