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The countertop might be the thing that sees all the action in the kitchen, but none of that chopping and dicing would be possible if it weren’t for the base cabinets underneath it. This supporting structure holds up the surface and, more important, accounts for half of your storage (usually more if you’ve replaced all your uppers with open shelves). Think of these cupboards as the foundation of your kitchen: Nothing works without them. 

Your base cabinets should be functional first, meaning the interiors of the drawers and doors are optimized. Sometimes this calls for buying a fancy trash pull-out or customizing the heights and depths of the boxes to your exact cookware. They should also stand out in some way or another from the other cabinets in the room (after all, your eye naturally works its way from the ground up—this is your chance to make a statement). Are you taking full advantage of this overlooked spot? If the answer is no, ahead we gathered a few ideas to help you lay the groundwork. 

Make Them Radiate

Brass isn’t only meant for drawer pulls and knobs. Liz Gardner embraced the metal in full force in her space by cladding all the base cabinets in the glistening, unlacquered surface. Some of the fronts have a beveled detailing that gives the flat sheet a ton of texture. 

Put All Your Drawers in One Place

The island is truly the heart of the kitchen when it’s decked out in storage. Everything from utensils to small appliances can live in any of these 12 drawers. When you’re working with a limited L-shaped footprint, this freestanding piece is a solid work-around. 

Carve Out a Cookbook Nook

We usually only think of incorporating open shelves up high, but leaving some open gaps down below can come in handy. Food blogger and stylist Alison Wu left openings right next to her oven to hold all her books, so she can easily access them when she’s in the thick of cooking. 

Free Up the Counter

Wine starts to get really unhappy at around 78 degrees and starts to “cook” at 90 degrees, according to top sommelier Aldo Sohm, so if you care about your vino, don’t leave it sitting out in the open: Invest in a mini refrigerator that controls the temperature. 

Streamline the Handles

There are few distractions in this traditional-meets-contemporary kitchen. The base cabinets that support the peninsula structure consist of J-groove doors, meaning you just have to curl your fingers around the edge to open them. 

Display Dishes

It might seem counterintuitive to keep plates so close to the floor, but in a glass enclosure, they’re just as safe and dust-free as they would be in an upper cabinet. 

Keep the Clanging to a Minimum

Baking pans and cutting boards never seem to fit seamlessly into any cabinet (they’re usually not deep enough or too wide), but this system, designed by Naked Kitchens, features a pull-out compartment next to the range for quiet access. 

Don’t Knock IKEA

The Swedish retailer’s stock frames are known for being budget friendly, but they’re surprisingly sturdy, too. If you really want to upgrade the plain fronts, go to Semihandmade or another retailer that specializes in creating partial custom fronts for the frames. The beaded ones in this kitchen make the whole room look bespoke. 

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