Why an Appliance Garage Might Be the Organizing Secret Your Kitchen Needs

Want to keep everyday countertop appliances behind closed doors (but close at hand)? The appliance garage is your streamlining solution.

A kitchen without appliances is like a garage without tools. But no one wants these gadgets—the mixer, blender and coffee maker—to take over your counter space, creating a junk drawer in plain sight. Enter the appliance garage, which is exactly what it sounds like: a designated spot in your kitchen cabinetry where you can park your appliances and neatly hide them behind closed doors.

“An appliance garage is a functional way to keep small countertop appliances easily accessible, but out of sight. Like a garage for your car, but tinier,” says Jenny Slingerland, owner and principal designer of Black Ink Interiors.

Successful kitchen organization hinges on the ability to hide clutter but keep it within reach. Don’t have a butler’s pantry or a large walk-in with optimal pantry storage solutions? An appliance garage can help you maximize cabinet and countertop space without the chaos. Here’s what you need to know.

The pros and cons of an appliance garage

While large appliances have their space in the kitchen, so, too, do utensils, dishware and pots and pans. But people often forget about the small appliances, such as toasters, coffee makers, mixers and even microwaves. Appliance garages work double duty, says Stacy Andell, principal at Houston-based interior design firm Luxe Living Interiors. They not only reduce clutter and allow for easy access, they also give you back clean counter space and keep your kitchen aesthetically appealing.

These kitchen storage solutions typically sit on top of countertops and are built into cabinetry. They can feature lifting doors, double-sliding doors, retractable doors and more.

But because of the more complicated components, building an appliance garage is often a job for the pros—and it is likely to cost more than typical cabinet installation. And while you will be gaining counter space, you’ll also likely be losing cabinet space. As a result, you might have to find a new spot for your ceramic bowl collection or devise a clever way to organize your glassware. Find inspiration for your own appliance garage below.

1. Opt for full height

Rd Why An Appliance Garage Might Be The Organizing Secret Your Kitchen Needs Opt For Full HeightMichael Hunter/Courtesy Luxe Living Interiors

To truly optimize your appliance garage space, organize your kitchen cabinetry to be a full-service space with several pull-out shelves that can fit all your kitchen gadgets. Use the top shelves to store complementary dishes and accessories. “It’s especially clean when the layout has full-height cabinetry coming in from one direction and a pull-out shelf to make the space easily accessible,” says Gary Eisner, designer and founding partner at BuiltIn Studio.

2. Let it slide

Rd Why An Appliance Garage Might Be The Organizing Secret Your Kitchen Needs Let It SlideJeff Cate Photography/Courtesy BUILTIN studio

For easy access in a tight spot, like a corner, BuiltIn Studio opts for a sliding drawer and an overhead door that make it super easy to reach in and grab the coffee pot and some toast. The pull-out setup almost works as if your appliances are on a tray.

3. Spotlight your goods

Rd Why An Appliance Garage Might Be The Organizing Secret Your Kitchen Needs Spotlight Your GoodsLaure Joliet/Courtesy Regan Baker Design

California-based interior design firm Regan Baker Design treats the appliance garage as a gallery, with cabinet display lighting that spotlights prized appliances. The overhead door then works as a reveal for your culinary treasures. Plus, a lighting upgrade is especially useful when you’re stumbling to make coffee before dawn.

4. Add an outlet

Rd Why An Appliance Garage Might Be The Organizing Secret Your Kitchen Needs Add An OutletJenny Slade/Courtesy Black Ink Interiors

Conveniently power your appliances in a single space. Slingerland ensured that this appliance garage had an outlet for easy use. (She then coordinated the mixer color with the hardware to tie the kitchen ensemble together.)

5. Set up a breakfast station

Rd Why An Appliance Garage Might Be The Organizing Secret Your Kitchen Needs Set Up A Breakfast StationIsaac Bailey/Courtesy Black Ink Interiors

“An appliance garage can serve double duty,” says Andell. “While it conceals small appliances, it can also serve as a kitchen coffee station.” Add coffee mug storage, a drawer for coffee pods, enough room for a milk frother and more.

Or take inspiration from this Black Ink Interiors project, which focused on housing the necessities that go hand-in-hand with a toaster. Adding utensils corralled in a container to the mix ensured the below drawers were tidy.

6. Entertain with wallpaper

Rd Why An Appliance Garage Might Be The Organizing Secret Your Kitchen Needs Entertain With WallpaperJohn Woodcock/Courtesy Black Ink Interiors

Who says an appliance garage has to be all business? Slingerland lined the back panel of these bold blue cabinets with a neutral, yet interesting, architectural wallpaper for a surprising touch.

7. Focus on the purpose

Rd Why An Appliance Garage Might Be The Organizing Secret Your Kitchen Needs Focus On The PurposeSumera Amber Photography/Courtesy Interiors by Popov

Keep like with like. “This appliance garage was designed for a busy family where tea and smoothies are a daily occurrence that they wanted to be able to tidy away,” says Anna Popov, founder of Washington-based Interiors by Popov. The sliding shelf with ample space makes this garage extremely functional.

8. Bring on the bi-fold

Rd Why An Appliance Garage Might Be The Organizing Secret Your Kitchen Needs Bring On The Bi FoldJohn Granen Photography/Courtesy Interiors by Popov

When you have more than one shelf, a top folding door is the way to go. Popov carefully planned this appliance garage with a vertical bi-fold door so that the countertop could be kept clear at all times. “It provides a perfect place to tuck away the coffee machine,” Popov says.

9. Optimize lower cabinets

Rd Why An Appliance Garage Might Be The Organizing Secret Your Kitchen Needs Optimize Lower Cabinetsvia merchant

Not all appliance garages live between the upper cabinets and the countertop. Create a base in your lower cabinets to store larger items, but install a sliding element that can prop your gadgets up, giving you more space on which to work.

10. Use tambour doors

Electric Oven And Microwave And Roller Shutter Cabinet, Tambour DoorsJazzIRT/Getty Images

Tambour doors roll up into the cabinet and take up little to no space when open, and they are a plus if you enjoy your cabinets open during culinary routines. The appliances are on display when you need them—and out of sight when you don’t.

About the experts

  • Jenny Slingerland is the owner and principal designer of Black Ink Interiors in Scottsdale, Arizona. Her talent is the ability to visualize the possibility of any space.
  • Stacy Andell is the principal of Luxe Living Interiors, a boutique design firm in Houston, Texas. She loves mixing styles and periods to create timeless interiors that cater to her clients’ personalities. She specializes in designing joyful spaces filled with meaningful details.
  • Gary Eisner is a designer and founding partner at BuiltIn Studio in Brooklyn, New York. His firm works on residential, commercial and retail projects, including The Plaza Residences at The Plaza Hotel.
  • Anna Popov is the founder of Interiors by Popov, headquartered in Bellevue, Washington. The studio draws inspiration from travel, nature and art. She specializes in visually stunning and highly functional interiors that focus on elevated materiality and craftsmanship.