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All About the Mountain Fixer Kitchen Cabinet Interior Functionality



If you really want to put Brian Henderson to sleep, ask him to weigh in on where the spoons or cereal bowls should live in the mountain cabin. And yet, you obviously need them to be somewhere that makes sense for your everyday cereal consumption. Having everything you need in a place that makes sense takes small annoyances out of your every day. I say this knowing that we chose to put the fridge on the other side of the island, but listen, some of us prioritize natural light and the assurance that our coffee mugs are close to the coffee maker high in life. So today’s post is bringing you INSIDE the kitchen cabinets to show you the interior function and where everything goes with hopes that if you are renovating your kitchen soon, you can glean some information (or at least learn from the comments). As a reminder, here is the overhead plan so you can see where everything lives:

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper I Design You Decide Kitchen Plan With Notations 09.17.18 2

Grace took the lead on this and she got INTO it. The kitchen cabinetry has been her baby and she is caring for it like most first parents. At one point, I saw her Googling average size of a butter knife to ensure that she was designing the flatware drawer to maximize the space. She also considered the tallest cereal box possible and the average size of canned soup. These are things you don’t know you are going to obsess about in the field while in design school, but hopefully she did so you don’t have to. 🙂

First up, the cooktop counter:

Emily Henderson Mountain House Kitchen Cabinet Interior Kitchen Cooktop Final

The cooktop wall is full of cooking supplies: pots, pans, utensils, spices and the more important “junk drawer/charging station.” My fantasy is that our phones will just stay in there all the time while up there, especially at night and that I’ll no longer have an iPad or laptop on the counter charging, but instead inside a drawer, hidden away. The “junk” portion of the drawer is one that I’m very excited about as it’s the first drawer you run into from the kitchen door (where we’ll most likely be entering and exiting the most) and instead of having a tray or a “bowl of anxiety,” I’d like to have a drawer of it so I can hide that anxiety until later. The “anxiety” part (at least in my home) is induced by unopened mail from the IRS and random receipts of things that surely need returning. But up there, I don’t foresee too much of this so it’s mostly for keys, phones and loose change.

The peninsula is otherwise known as “the bar.” It’s the part that separates the living room from the kitchen.

Emily Henderson Mountain House Kitchen Cabinet Interior Kitchen Peninsula Final

I’m so excited about these fridge drawers (we partnered with for all the appliances) because the bottom drawer will house kids’ snacks and fruit, and the top one will be mixers and beer for grownups. Also, not having to run and get ice maybe ever again up there seems unbelievable (the closest store is 10 minutes away, which is certainly not far, but there and back is a half hour trip).

For the drawers, we have flatware on top (perfectly measured for the height of average knife, fork, etc…thanks Grace), our plates and bowls in the middle and the bottom drawer houses the kids’ stuff so that they can get their own plates to set the table and when they unload the dishwasher, they can put their own stuff away. We have this now in our kitchen and it makes it easy and it works. Also, they recently started unloading the dishwasher and while the first time took a good 40 minutes, they do it rather mindlessly now, almost like we do. FYI my “chore nagging strategy” mostly consists of me saying a version of these phrases over and over: “so helpful,” that “we need your help,” “the whole family helps out,” “you are good at helping,” “I have a fun job and you are old enough to have some jobs, too”, etc. Charlie even tried to repeat my “many hands make light work” phrase to Birdie that he’s heard me say one million times. His version was “lots of hands make it go fast” and I was like, “yah, bud. Exactly’.”

Anyway, this drawer will ensure that I won’t have to nag them to set the table or unload the dishwasher ever again.

On the island, we have the sink, dishwasher and the garbage receptacle.

Emily Henderson Mountain House Kitchen Cabinet Interior Kitchen Island Final

These were all pretty standard but we are building this pull-out, two-tiered tray for cleaning supplies, dishwasher soap, and the top tray is reserved for sponges. In all my life I have never thought I’d have a designated sponge area. What eye-sore can I possibly put next to my sink now??

Time for the full-height cabinets, which were a beast to figure out.

Emily Henderson Mountain House Kitchen Cabinet Interior Kitchen Full Height 1 Final

We are doing two retractable cabinets doors for the appliance pantry and the dry bar which I am very excited about. Let it be known that you lose a good four to five inches of interior space with the hardware and the additional box you have to build to hide the hardware. You basically use the same hardware as you would a TV cabinet and it’s pretty big and ugly. We decided that it was worth losing the space since we won’t be there 24/7, but if this were our main house, I’m not sure we would have made the same choice.

The idea/fantasy of leaving the door to the coffee maker open every morning for two hours without a door in the way trumped the space we were losing.

Here, you can see the skeleton of what goes on inside the cabinets. You’ll see that the pull out shelves in the food pantry and the dry bar are designed specifically for short things on top (cans of food, bar supplies) and tall things on the bottom (cereal or mixers/larger bottles of alcohol).

Emily Henderson Mountain House Kitchenskpmnt Option1 Interior Full Height Open Dim And Copy 3

Grace did such a great job making sure that the appliance cabinet counter had enough space for a coffee maker and toaster, that your hand had enough space to reach in and grab the toast, that the cereal bowls and mugs fit in a way that was the most space efficient. Same with the dry bar. That rendering gave you all the dimensions that we are working off of, but why stare at that when you can see how pretty it is going to be, here:

Emily Henderson Mountain House Kitchenskpmnt Option1 Interior Full Height Open

Now, I will tell you that we haven’t finalized the interior finishes and will likely do some sort of treatment on the back wall of the dry bar and appliance pantry. This post was more for people who like to nerd out about the hyper specifics of kitchen fuctionality (or need it to get them out of the headache of figuring out ideas for their own renovation).

Emily Henderson Mountain House Kitchen Interior Opener Animation 2

Of course, little things might change, but I go to bed with such peace knowing that when we get up there, we won’t have to think about where things go. I hopefully won’t regret shelving height (although they will likely be adjustable) or feel like we missed something. This very second, I don’t know where the Tupperware will go, but don’t worry, I’ll be sure to ask Brian to weigh in on this. I’ll do this first thing in the morning before he’s had his coffee. There is nothing he loves more than me bombarding him with esoteric design decisions at 6:40 am.

So for all you kitchen pros out there—either designers or expert home-makers—what are we missing and should anything change? The cabinet boxes are almost done, but I don’t think things like the flatware drawer is finished yet, I don’t know how much we can actually change, but I’d love to hear your ideas and if nothing else then others reading along can learn from your advice.

Need a little refresher on the mountain fixer kitchen? Here are some posts we’ve done so far: 

Fin Mark


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This is so useful – thank you! I also really appreciate that there seems to be less movement in the posts these days – I’m loving reading the blog again 🙂


Amazing! Pinning for future kitchen remodel (of my dreams). Don’t forget tinfoil, plastic wrap, ziploc, grocery bags, etc.


Great post! A couple of things – my understanding is that vertical spice storage next to the cooktop isn’t necessarily the easiest to work with – labels are on the side of the containers which are ~30” off the floor for the top row (lower for anything below that) – basically hard to read from a standing position. A better approach is a spice drawer – like something by Rev A Shelf. In place of the spices in the narrow pull out could be oils, vinegars, etc (usually distinctive enough you can tell what it is from above), vertical storage… Read more »


Yes I wholeheartedly agree! I have this and it by far is the smartest thing I did with my drawers. I put the stuff like ladles and whisks in the pullout drawer next to the cooktop. Just use another drawer or use some of the utensil drawer.


Do you have a dedicated drawer for ziplock bags, plastic wrap, tin foil, and parchment paper? I would put this with the tupperware near the sink and dishwasher. As you are clearing the dishes, you will want to have access to both of these so that you can easily store leftovers.


Who needs plastic wrap? Single-use, non-recyclable. just put leftovers in one plate and cover them with another plate, like the rest of the world is doing.


Hey Emily! Never commented before, but wanted to put in my two cents. For the big flatware drawer, be sure to talk to your cabinetmakers about perhaps reinforcing that drawer or using super heavy duty hardware. My parents’ kitchen has a drawer similar to what you guys are planning, and between the weight of all the silverware and how much that drawer is used, it’s struggling after 3 years or so of use. Just a thought – love the blog!

Megan Lec

A dreamy kitchen with dream storage. Currently imagining organizing all my things in a kitchen like this and it is just the meditation needed this sleepy Monday morning. Literally cannot wait for the reveal.


Make sure there is room for spoons and butter knives near the coffee maker and toaster. Also a small cutting board for spreading butter on toast and plates to serve the toast. You don’t want to cross the room to grab some.


Is the spice drawer insulated from the oven? Oils, vinegars, and spices spoil when they’re exposed to heat.


Awesome kitchen!! Just one suggestion about the pull-out spice cabinet by the oven. I have one that was already in the house I bought and I hate it. It seems like a cool thing, but I cook a lot and I hate bending down and digging around looking for what i need. I really would prefer them at eye level. Seems like a small thing, but its just annoying. My suggestion for that space, use that skinny cabinet as storage for baking sheets and/or cutting boards. That’s what I wish mine was because i’m tired of storing baking sheets in… Read more »


Great suggestions! We have a skinny cabinet that we use for precisely that: baking pans, cupcake tins and large cutting boards. I absolutely love it. And we have two shallow regular pull-out drawers with Rev a Shelf spice shelves, and it’s easy to see and find everything. As far as knife storage, something like the Knife Dock storage tray from Sur La Table is an easy solution. I love all the built-in storage options, but my suggestion is to leave a couple of drawers without anything built in to give yourself some wiggle room as needs evolve. Same with shelves;… Read more »


Sensational and incrediably helpful post – thank you!
I know how long it takes to get and synthesize information like maximising, efficient practical placement, whilst beautiful from the outside working in a puzzle. Thank you for simplifying this down and sharing!


This is very thoughtful! The only thing I would warn about is the under the sink cleaning supply plan. I am paranoid over kids (mine or not) eating those dishwasher pods, drinking clorox, etc. Maybe find a place to store all the chemicals up high? A little walk is worth it to not be dialing Poison Control. Full disclosure, my kids eat all the things that can kill them so I have that number on speed dial.

emily jane

I had the exact same thought and then wondered if there are already guidelines to follow for people who rent their homes as Airbnb’s that cover possible risks and/or insurance liabilities (like dishwasher pods)..? I do have another safety concern though… My personal experience as a parent has instilled an alarm system for when alcohol is easily accessible to children so when I read: “and tall things on the bottom (cereal or mixers/larger bottles of alcohol).” my alarm bell rang -loudly. Even though I am perfectly aware that no small person is presently at risk as the renovation is not… Read more »


While not quite on the topic of this post, I feel like this house is speaking your wood tone love language:


What’s the cost of the fridge and dishwasher? I can’t find thus info anywhere and need to know if this is even in the cards for our new kitchen Reno. Thank you!


You can request a quote from them online; it’s pretty easy to do.


Pretty easy? More like a pain. Register online. Fill out address, telephone, email, blah, blah, so I can be added to Viking’s email list? It takes two seconds to reply. Now that’s pretty easy to do.


Did you check as that’s the appliance partner? I bet they’re pretty easy to find there. Can’t be too many Viking, panel ready fridges with 2 drawers on the bottom.


Love this. I spent hours, days and weeks, with a taped off, pretend kitchen in our rental while I visualized where I would stand to mix baking items, cooking items, where drawers were in relation to the dishwasher so I wouldn’t need to take a step while unloading, where we would be when desiring a garbage can, etc. I can totally relate to this post and I will say that every woman who has come into my kitchen knows exactly where to look for something b/c it makes total sense. Something to consider if not too late….a second spot for… Read more »


What a dreeeeam! The one thing that jumps out at me is not having coffee, toaster and cereal bowls near the rerigerator for easy access to milk, cream, butter, etc. Right now I’m picturing a lot of layovers in between the coffee bar and fridge right on the dry bar counter. Could the two bar spaces be swapped?


Love it and am just drooling over all the built-in organization. My only question is regarding the all-important cereal bowls. Will you be able to reach in and just grab one bowl without having to pull out the whole stack? From the mock up, it looks like if there’s even three (four?) bowls stacked, you may not be able to. In my cramped NYC apartment, I have to do that for some things and it always annoys me.


I don’t see a space for baking stuff (muffin pans, sheet trays, etc). We have a mountain house and we do a TON of baking up there, especially with the kids, over cold mornings. A dedicated spot for that stuff is great. I like to store it upright for easier access. I would suggest the bottom of the Skinny Pantry with at least one divider for things like baking sheets, cutting boards, and cake pans OR above the wall ovens (also with dividers). I also don’t see space for storing large serving pieces like platters and big bowls. With large… Read more »


Good stuff!


So helpful, we’re in the planning stage of our own remodel. Would it be possible to get the dimensions of the cabinets and drawers? It would be great to help visualize the amount of storage each cabinet has. Thanks!


Hi Emily and team! Bravo, this is so amazing and helpful as we are knee deep in our own kitchen renovation and are at the stage of layout. So I have to agree with everyone else about the spice rack. I currently have it and hate it. What I have seen that I am excited about (and that you might be able to switch it out to) it storage for the sheet trays, cookie sheets and cutting boards. They can all live in the same size space and makes storing thin- yet large pieces like that a great use of… Read more »


I just want to say kudos for kids + dishwasher. That was my kids’ first REAL chore (not just pretend chores they “did” alongside me) and it was the best day in the world when I could pass that along to them! It goes a LONG way for kids to know they’re important to a household. In a book I read (and loved and need to reread b/c it’s been years Cleaning House: A Mom’s 12 Month Experiment to Rid Her House of Youth Entitlement), it went so far as to site evidence/study/something about suicide among youth being connected to… Read more »

Marta V.

Oh agree so much with chores for kids, will definitely check out the book recommendation. Its great Emily’s children will be close to nature in a mountain house. This reminds me of a fascinating read I bought last year titled A Country Called Childhood: Children and the Exhuberant World. It’s all “back to nature” yet written in the most eloquent way. My favorite chapter is “the character fault of exhuberance” and how the author argues that today’s perceived attention deficit/hyperactivity was “cured” by outdoor play. Meaning in the past, kids were restless, parents just sent them outside. We are building… Read more »


where are paper towels going?


If I understand the plan correctly, your cooktop will have a downdraft vent. If that’s the case, I would imagine you have to house the fan/vent/mechanism in the cabinet under the cooktop. Which makes me question how you are going to get two drawers for pots/pans under there. We went through the same dilemma when planning our kitchen reno and were shocked at how much cabinet space the downdraft was going to eat up. Just curious how you factored that in…


I am European so I suppose this just is different but the focus and space dedicated purely on easier consumption of alcohol is something definately not common here. Not sure if it is bad or not but strange still.


Love these ideas but agree about that spice rack–my MIL has one and she hates stooping to read the spice labels. More importantly, will you post about how you would baby proof these beautiful cabinets/drawers? I know at almost three Birdie probably doesn’t get into things you don’t want her to, but if you’re using this space for a family-friendly rental, babyproofing might be a need. I hate all the devices we’ve tried on our cabinets and drawers and would love some user friendly, cabinet-saving tips!


Hi EHD team,
The above design drawings are really bringing the kitchen to life for me! I know British painted cabinet kitchens were used as inspiration. Can you tell us which kitchen cabinet company you are going with that has translated that look so nicely, and that has the special pullout shelves, drawers, etc.?
It really looks like a kitchen you can live in…yet it doesn’t scream “I am a KITCHEN.” Quite a magic trick!!!


The concept of a small appliance pantry is what I’m most excited to see and now top on my list of must haves for the future kitchen renovation. I know your doors side back into their frames, so is that how you handle not trapping steam from your coffee maker when it’s in use? You leave the doors open when coffee is actively brewing?

Vicki Williams

According to your “red” changes you are opting to change out the big drawers on either side of the cook top? Don’t, don’t don’t! Why would you do that? So much less convenient. You have to open doors and then pull out shelves. Assuming pullouts, at least. A 2nd garbage, if you can swing it over near coffee bar you will really be glad you did. And thous cabinets in that Sustainable house really are beautiful and tweak the Shaker look in a great way. How about doing that? Kudos for all you and your teams thoughtfulness!

Hey Vicki! No, we’re keeping the big drawers; thanks for catching that note in the final floor plan! All fixed now! 🙂

Vicki Williams

And Yep, I wouldn’t put the alcohol on the bottom shelf.


I know this has been discussed before but I still can’t fathom the need to hide some of the most functional and often used items in the kitchen behind those expensive retractable doors. I very much appreciate their use in a sleek, modern kitchen that’s open to living/dining spaces but here, it seems like you are only hiding these things from people who are already in the kitchen. In a mountain cabin, no less. If I were a vacation renter, I’d have to keep them open all the time or go crazy opening them all do find the dang oven.… Read more »


Yeah, I second this. I’m not really clear on why you need to hide everything in a vacation house. I would be so lost/confused as a guest in this house, especially if I woke up before my host and just wanted to make a pot of coffee!


Agree with you!

Also the cabinets in the master closet are a mystery.


These are very detailed plans! Here are my thoughts on them. Firstly, the utensil pullout as shown will waste a lot of space using the cutouts. You might consider getting rid of them for something that is organized but maximizes the space. Second, the dish drawers are very cool. But, when you get older and start having back issues, bending over to pull up heavy plates and bowls will be way more difficult than reaching up to pull them down. Ditto for the tiny finger pulls…will be more difficult once fingers are arthritic. Maybe not something that you are envisioning… Read more »


Ahhh – I’m so in love with this kitchen and it doesn’t even exist yet!! Or does it? Anywho, one question – what are you planning to do for vertical storage, like cutting boards and cookie sheets? I’m a trained pastry chef and have way more specialty baking items that one person should (2, if you include my husband who eats the baked items; 3, if you include my dog who likes croissant scraps). But surely you have one or two cookie sheets, muffin tins, popover pans, pie dishes, etc.


This is just wow! 🙂


wow. kudos to Grace, for such careful thoughtful planning. It looks amazing. what a dream to be able to afford such luxury. it does scream a bit “excessive” with all the appliances and storage space and lighting… that’s no knock on your success or design. I know I’m the minority when I crave simple and small. cars, spaces, inventory. enjoy it all, thought!


I am with you. This kitchen is lovely but way too excessive for a family of four.


For trash, please consider a foot pedal or spring release mechanism (that you bump your hip against) so you don’t have to use your hands every time you need to throw something away. It’s especially useful when working with raw meats! Also, allow a small drawer for all your dish towels/rags. And another for placemats, napkins, etc.

Alexandra Hansen

Hi i love the drawings and renderings. What program do you use. And what cabinet company.

Christina Stratton

This blog is absolutely beautiful inspiring! Thank you for sharing such great insight and creative ideas. Looking forward to following you regularly.

Lexey Hansen

I would love to know what programs Grace uses?


Loved this post – design nerds unite!! One question: What are the horizontal black lines in the drybar cabinet?


Did I miss something… where is the freezer? In other words where will the ice cream live???


Nevermind. I found it. Your drawing noted that each drawer on the fridge was a fridge drawer so I thought it was a column fridge with separate freezer. Glad to know the ice ream has a home!


I love my kick plate drawers. I have one for cookie sheets and one for placemats.


Did I miss where the freezer is? I’m very interested in these panel ready appluances and am wondering just how it works. Hope you’ll share more details in a future post


Perhaps I didn’t look/read carefully enough, but as I understand it, the upper shelves on the larger pantry are fixed (not pull out). If this is the case, I would consider cutting away a portion of the shelf, leaving some on the sides and back, so that items don’t get lost (similar to the appliance and coffee bar but a portion of the shelf could be left on the side – sort of a squared off “C” shape). Deeper shelves just end up hiding half of what you have.

Shara K

Wow. Incredible. Are there any countertop appliances?


Maybe a can stair ? Si you can look at all the cans arranged in heights ?


Great kitchen! I am designing a large Reno project of my own in Canada and nerding out on this. I was sad to find out that a microwave in a closed cabinet was not up to building code. I rarely use one and wanted to hide one too. Even my appliance garage, that is a top priority, needs to have a motion activated plug that cuts power to plugs when closed. I can’t even fathom how 2 wall ovens in a cabinet would ever be permitted or pass inspection here without having to tear out those expensive and beautiful cabinet… Read more »


This post is the most useful post I have ever read about kitchen design. My husband and I are about to embark on a remodel of our existing kitchen and utility area. This post is really helping me to think more precisely about what do we really need and where should it go. There are so many ideas I can use, even though I have a modest budget. Thank you for your consistently funny, inspiring stories. Even though I live in England where spaces are MUCH smaller, many of the ideas are still relevant. Have a lovely autumn!


Hi! I am a kitchen and bath designer in Charlotte, NC and have always loved your blog (follow on Instagram, fainted over your target collection when it was very first introduced, long time subscriber) and have loved following your mountain fixer journey. As far as functionality, everything is perfect and flows nicely!! Butttttt- I would switch the fridge and wine section back. I promise it will function so much better when you are working in the kitchen, even though it is a small detail (I know you get it ;)). Ideally you should have it closer to your double oven… Read more »


This is the most helpful thing I’ve seen for planning kitchen space! Saving for our upcoming remodel… How much for Grace to come to my house? 🙂

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