Monday, August 23, 2010

Kitchen Dilemma: What do I do with the trash can?

A commonly addressed piece of the kitchen design puzzle is the trash can. More often than not, homeowners are concerned with major appliances that the waste bins seem to slip their minds. Obviously, having a good kitchen designer in your corner helps on keeping tabs of those seemingly forgettable but very important details.

When planning your new kitchen, advise your kitchen designer of your trashy habits... Not the swearing and the junk food, but how you throw away waste. Do you recycle? Plastic, glass, and compost? Just aluminum? What about dry waste? Yikes- didn't realize trash was such a complicated deal!

Now that you think about it... that separate bin that sits out in your kitchen with aluminum cans is an eyesore, right? Hate looking at it?

One of the primary principles of Feng Shui(if you aren't familiar, it isn't some radical design religion. It is however, a guide with some pretty basic steps to making your home a pleasant, aesthetic place to be) is to have the waste bin out of view. Pretty simple, eh? I suppose that out of view would mean in the garage or laundry room, but who wants to walk out of the room to deposit some trash?

The bin system above is perhaps my favorite- a top mount, double bin(standard 13-gallon) on a solid(you want this- think about how much you use the trashcan) dovetail platform with soft-close. KraftMaid introduced this model as part of their 2011 launch that has me in all sorts of good spirits. The addition to the standard operation is the soft-close mechanism that is so popular on the KraftMaid drawer. 

A question that I get a lot is, "I've seen a trashcan cabinet with a drawer over it... Can I have that?" Sure, it's available. BUT.... (You knew there was a but) think about what you are going to have in the bottom of that cabinet and figure out what you'd want to put in a drawer that will be in the same cabinet as your kitchen waste. If you don't have trash that smells bad then go for it- personally, I like the single door, top-mount. Even brings the trash can up a bit higher so that when I am acting like an NBA pro throwing trash away I have a better chance at making the toss from downtown(wink, wink). In all seriousness, the drawer on top option is good for a place to store your trash bags and that's about it, in my opinion. 

Not everyone is putting in a new kitchen right now, but there are still options to get that waste bin out of the corner. Talk with your local designer(or us, of course) about solutions that will work with your existing space.

Now, doesn't your kitchen look better without that unsightly trash/recycle bin sitting out?


  1. Good post, Nick. These are the little things, the details, that separate a good kitchen remodel from an average or not so good one. My suggestion is that instead of asking "do you recycle?" the question could be, "where do you keep your recycling now?" I personally think if we (designers) plan for the trash bins to accommodate recycling (and composting too!), it will encourage people to do it.

  2. Tammy- You are SO right! I must say though, the "do you recycle" question is merely a response to my surroundings. Our local municipality doesn't pick up recycling where I live, and only glass/aluminum in other parts of the city.

    I am 100% with you on the design community helping our homeowners be more open to recycling by making it a priority in the design.

    Great thoughts! (Thanks for the comment)

  3. Luckily for us, the city handles the sorting of our recycling so we can put everything that qualifies for recycling (including my blog posts)in a single bin. That having been said - we still need two bins. We seem to be able to get one installed in the mill work but homeowner doesn't want to give up another bit of work storage and the other bin goes in the pantry. At least we design it to go there.

  4. Dear radical design religious guy: I have trash, recycle, compost and chicken scraps. Can you wave your magic top mount double-bin wand over that problem please? I like the practical solutions you offer (and don't prefer). You are my feng shui master of choice (yes, I do know how to pronounce it).
    Oh, please don't put Bob Borson's posts in a bin - they are too good for that, even the nice double bin one in the picture.

  5. Nice post and something I'll definitely have in our next kitchen re-design. a guest at people's homes, I hate asking the "Uhh, where's the trash?" Something about it makes me feel uncomfortable. I guess because I hate opening other people's cabinets. Thoughts? I suppose the host could prop the drawer or something, but still.

  6. Bob- That's really awesome that your city does the dirty work for you. Really leaves no excuse to not recycle. I wish other cities would take note and follow suit. Initially, I didn't really like the two bin set-up(like shown above), because I worried that it would give waste more time to "sit". But for your situation, might be the perfect solution!

    Alexandra- If I had a magic wand that worked to change kitchens just like that, I'd use it on your kitchen first. Sincerely, Choice Feng Shui Master.

    Amy- Fantastic question! Not to sound a little unrefined, but you might just need to get over it. Here's my tip that I use... If someone has their trash can in their cabinet it's likely(not always) in one of two places. For someone in the building industry, like yourself, you may be able to spot an 15-18" full height door. If it isn't there, it's likely under the sink. I usually pick one, and quietly ask if I've chosen correctly.

    As a Southern gentleman, I am all about the polite and genteel. It's not rude to ask where the waste bin is- don't open all their cabinets though, Amy... that may raise a few eyebrows!

  7. Darn! I thought you were giving me an excuse for a moment *smiles bashfully*. I know...I can spot the trash can, just feel odd opening it. I know, get over it.

  8. We just ordered lower kitchen cabinets. I had to go from an 18" trash cab pull out, to a 15" which would be a double 27Qt.

    We only have 95.5" from the dishwasher to the end of the open wall.
    36" was going to be the kitchen sink, 18" the trash pull out cabinet and a 40" double cabinet on the end.

    We had to change the 36 to a 38 because of the Blanco undermount sink we want to purchase 33" needs 35" to install.
    So, that left us with 38" sink, 15 trash cab and a 42" end cabinet.
    Are the 2 27Qt's going to be enough? Currently we walk from the kitchen to the laundry room next to the kitchen to open the laundry room door and drop our recycles in a bin. Our trash can has been in the laundry room and the door kept closed to keep it from the dogs :)) So we are hoping this new cabinet trash bin will be so much better.


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