What to Store in High Kitchen Cabinets?

We love having storage space, but sometimes our cabinets can really make it challenging to take full advantage of it.  Unfortunately many people leave these spaces empty.  But there are lots of options!

In those high kitchen cabinets that are tough to reach, you want to store items that are larger (or grouped together in a container), not awkward, not too heavy, and less-frequently used.  In fact, don’t limit yourself to kitchen items only.  Thinking outside the box will open up all kinds of new possibilities.

Even awkward storage is storage, so it’s well worth our time to figure out how to make it work for us.  

The exact measurements don’t really matter because what’s high for one person is perfectly reachable for another. What matters is what’s accessible to you.  And most of us have at least a few areas of our kitchen that we can’t quite get to without grabbing something to give us a lift up.  Think about the following two types of ‘high cabinets’.

Can you open the door and reach in a few inches without the help of a step stool? 

Some cabinets are just high enough that we can reach what’s sitting in the first several inches, but not any farther into the space.  Items in the front are relatively accessible, but getting to anything behind them requires assistance.

Think of the top shelves in standard upper cabinets, or the top shelf of a tall pantry, or cabinets above a refrigerator or microwave.

For these areas, take advantage of the fact that there is at least some reachable space. 

  • Store more-frequently-used items toward the front.
  • Store less-frequently-used items toward the back.

Do you need a step stool to open or reach into the front of the cabinet?

These would be any type of cabinet that you just can’t access without a little help. 

A good example would be floor to ceiling cabinets. Floor to ceiling cabinets can make for a beautiful kitchen design, and are featured in many modern homes.  But the upper cabinets are so high that most people find they’re not practical for everyday use.  

  • Consider using the space for items you’ll want to access very infrequently, like once or twice a year, or even less often.

Rules of Thumb for What to Store in High Cabinets

If you have a cabinet that is out of easy reach, whether a little or a lot, here are some good guidelines to follow when you’re planning what to store in them.  If you stick to these, then deciding what you want to keep in your high cabinets should be much easier to do.  The main goals are to keep things safe, simple, and strategic.

  • Think in terms of how often you use an item, not that the items stored together need to be related.  Ordinarily it’s a great idea to store things together that have similar uses.  But in this case, it’s more important to consider how frequently you’ll need to use an item.  For example, those Christmas-themed cake pans don’t need to live with the cake pans you use all through the year.
  • Avoid heavy or awkward objects. This is important for safety as well as convenience.  If you’ve ever tried to wiggle out and pull down a heavy appliance while standing on a step stool or your tiptoes, you know what I mean.
  • Store fewer, larger objects instead of many individual items.  The goal here is to prevent clutter where it will be even harder to control.  Larger objects can be relatively lightweight.  And if you have a number of smaller items, find a way to contain them in a basket, bin, or box.
  • Don’t limit yourself to kitchen items only.  If you find yourself with unused space, think outside the box to non-kitchen objects.  After all, you can never have too much storage, right?  Just be careful not to store anything that would be affected by the temperature, odors, and moisture that occur in your kitchen.
  • Have a safe, stable step stool nearby.  When you need some extra height to reach those high cabinets, be sure to have something reliable to use.  Just say no to a chair, piano bench, ottoman, or any other household item that isn’t designed for this purpose.

How To Organize High Kitchen Cabinets?

Organizing those high cabinets is a little more challenging than organizing most of your other cabinets.  Here are some  things that will be especially helpful and make the space as useful as possible.  

  • The lazy susan is a great organizer for awkward spaces like deep and corner cabinets.  A large one could cover most of the width of a cabinet, giving you access to items with a simple spin.
  • Of course, baskets, bins, and containers are must-haves for keeping multiple items tidy and in place.  For deep cabinets, use containers that reach most of the way to the back of the cabinet, that you can easily pull out.  You’ll make good use of even the deep cabinet space, while making it more accessible.
  • Avoid crowding the space, too much stacking, or piling items to the top of the cabinet. Remember, you’re going to want to go back in there and easily find what you need.  There’s no need to fill every last inch. 
  • Put a list of the items on the insider of the cabinet door.  If you can’t reach the cabinet without a step stool, post the list on a lower cabinet door for easy reference.
  • Put an inexpensive battery-operated touch light inside the cabinet.  No need to have one hand busy with a flashlight.

What Do People Store In High Cabinets?

I did a little research and found some great ideas from people who shared what they keep in those high kitchen cabinets.  These range from expected to completely surprising and creative.    If you have something to add to this list, please let us know!

Kitchen Items
  • Holiday Dishes
  • Turkey Roaster
  • Cookie Tins
  • Cupcake Stand
  • Cake Stand
  • Extra Mason Jars
  • Wine Glasses
  • Good China
  • Extra Spices for Refills
  • Paper Towels
  • Large Cutting Boards
  • Dry Goods
  • Wine
Non-Kitchen Items
  • Emergency preparedness items (water, food, etc.)
  • Spare Water Filters for the Fridge
  • Spare Air Filters
  • Picnic Supplies
  • Candles
  • Hide Birthday Presents
  • Family Heirloom Pieces
  • Hide Christmas Cookies, Easter Basket Fillers, and Halloween Candy

You see that the ideas can be almost endless.  So if you’re not sure how to use your extra space, take a little time to brainstorm.  What items are currently taking up prime locations in your kitchen but really belong in one of the less accessible cabinets?  And how can you use the front of cabinets that you can reach for items that you use more often? 

Wrap Up

Although frustrating at times, high kitchen cabinet space that is hard to reach can be used successfully when you have a strategy.  By sticking with a few rules of thumb and using a little imagination, you just may find that you love those cabinets after all.

What Should You Store In High Kitchen Cabinets?

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