Storage and Utility Room

Storage and Utility Room

Beyond the kitchen it is important to consider your larger food storage and utility needs, particularly regarding auxiliary refrigeration, the deep freeze and food shelves, plus food processing equipment that you do not want to store or necessarily use in your kitchen. In other words having a nice large food pantry is okay, but it is far less in functionality than the superior facility I am about to describe.

I wonder how many people ever consider sacrificing their kitchen table area and combining it with a large food pantry area for a food storage and utility room that would be easily accessed from the kitchen? Let’s see where this idea takes us.

A room with a food storage area can contain the second refrigerator and the deep freeze and great open shelving, etc., to hold canned, bottled and dry goods, out where you can see them easily, uncrowded. Note that the refrigeration unit should be only refrigeration as you already have plenty of freezer space. The storage section of the room should be about 15 feet long and up to 3 feet deep to accommodate the freezer. Given eight foot ceilings, the shelving potential beside and above the appliances is quite large and easily accessed.

The utility section of the room, on the opposite wall, should consist of a sink and a trash receptacle and sizeable wood topped adjacent tables or cabinetry about 30" deep, all items about 15 feet long in total. Counters with cabinets underneath should have double doors. A few should have drawers for special utensils. You might consider using both counters with cabinets underneath and a table with a thick wood butcher block top for cutting meat, etc. The tops of the tables or counters are where you keep your larger equipment, like your food dehydrator, extra large food processor, meat slicer, vacuum sealer, gelato maker and any other device you acquire for bulk food processing, like a standalone meat grinder, powered meat cutting saw and possibly a grain mill.

A rolling two shelf stainless steel cart with a 1" high lip around the perimeter of each shelf provides extra temporary space to hold foods that you process anywhere in the utility section. You can roll the cart to the refrigerator, freezer, food shelves or even into the kitchen to offload items you plan to cook. Similarly, any kitchen operation that produces a large number of containers of food, like canned goods, destined for the storage area will be a perfect use for the cart. Now that is a real labor saving feature. And the food items cannot slide or roll off the cart shelves. The rolling cart can normally be stored beside or between a table and a cabinet to keep it out of the way when not in use.

By using the storage/utility room approach you have a convenient place to do special work and to store food. Most important, you don’t have to lift each appliance out of storage each time you want to use it (and your kitchen cabinets will not be crowded). The area under the table(s) or inside the cabinets can be used for infrequent use equipment and accessory storage, not to mention infrequently used cooking vessels and portable kitchen appliances, and/or as an area for storing plastic 5 gallon cans when making bulk foods like sauerkraut or pickles. Even carboys can be stored there for making wine. How convenient! The storage/utility room is immediately adjacent to the kitchen, for easy access, yet the kitchen aesthetics are not affected.

As it is likely the storage and utility room will not have a window there are two other important things to consider, light and ventilation. I suggest installing a continuous bank of double tube overhead fluorescent lights, as they will light the entire area brilliantly. I suggest installing an exhaust fan that vents to the exterior of the house to accommodate any food odors from activities like making sauerkraut. You will likely not want the room to be heated as there is no advantage whatsoever. Food will last longer on the shelves in a cool room and making things like pickles and wine are done best at cool temperatures of 60º F to 70º F, not higher. You may, however, want to have air conditioning in warmer climates or during the summer.

The exception to the above method for using large counter or table top appliances is to keep certain small or medium size frequent use appliances on your kitchen countertop where they will be better used, like your toaster, blender, regular food processor and electric mixer. What you want to avoid is forced transport of materials to/from the kitchen and the storage/utility room, for frequent routine cooking or other common food preparation that involves mechanical/powered devices.

Overall, the food storage and utility room should be 15 feet long and 8 to 9 feet wide, with 36" wide doors on each end, such that one door opens into the garage and the other into the kitchen. There will be a generous 3½ to 4½ feet of walkway between the storage and the utility areas. Using this special room concept will eliminate using your kitchen as a staging area after food shopping, and it minimizes your work in transporting and storing what you have purchased.

With a nice dining room and comfortable bar stools at a kitchen island do you even need a kitchen table area for anything more than a temporary dump zone when you have been shopping? My bet is that, unless you have a very large family, the kitchen table is not essential if your kitchen island is properly designed and if a food storage and utility room is located conveniently to your kitchen as described above. Why not use that nice dining room more than once a week or less, as is most typical in most homes? Think about it.

Let me conclude this section with two simple thoughts. Serving those you love the best food you can make is truly a measure of your love. And remember to love yourself by providing the best environment for you to process and prepare food.