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Smart Storage Solutions | Kitchen Organization by Designer Sarah Robertson

photography by ADAM KANE MACCHIA

Kitchen Storage
Designer Sarah Robertson crafts elegant kitchens with clever storage ideas.

In Nashville, the kitchen in a newly built home features midnight blue cabinetry, oak accents and soapstone countertops, creating a look that is at once rustic and sophisticated. Behind the good looks are practical kitchen organization methods, like a plumbed sink near the floor in lieu of a water bowl for the owners’ two dogs, toe-kick drawers that hide food for the three cats, drawers for knives and dividers for cutting boards, not to mention a proper place for paper towels, artfully tucked beneath the counter next to the sink.

The kitchen storage ideas and its cabinetry are the work of Sarah Robertson, founder of Studio Dearborn, who has become known for everything from sleek looks for urban apartments to cozy, cottagecore cooking spaces that have garnered her numerous national design awards, a big social media following and editorial features in many publications.

Robertson, however, didn’t come up the usual interior design ladder. In fact, she was literally all business at the start of her career, having received her undergraduate and Master of Business Administration from Northwestern, then working for years as a management consultant. As a side project, the Chicago-area native began buying and renovating old homes in the city’s buzzy Wicker Park neighborhood and soon found her true passion. 

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“I loved the creative element of rehabbing those buildings,” Robertson explains, “and I was always putting in new kitchens and bathrooms.” After the real estate market crashed in 2008, a friend asked Robertson to design a kitchen. “That launched my design company,” she says, “and I’ve never looked back.”

Sarah Robertson

Calling the firm after her middle name, Robertson initially handled projects in the New York metro area, where she had relocated, but soon found herself designing kitchens (plus bathrooms) and her private-label bespoke cabinetry all across the country. She’s handled those spaces on her own or in conjunction with a project’s architect or interior designer. 

Over the years, she’s become known for her unerring sense of timeless style and being a stickler for creating kitchen storage specifically designed for the end users.

“My clients today are much more well-versed as to what they want in a kitchen, thanks to social media” Robertson said. “They often come to me with what they want in terms of style and organization, but we always offer plenty of options.”

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While no two kitchens are alike, Robertson does have some signature kitchen organization touches, such as freeing up walls from upper cabinetry to allow for more windows and display shelves, bringing down the few upper cabinets all the way to the counter for more storage and allowing space for walk-in pantries. Hiding clutter is also one of Robertson’s key goals for a new kitchen, creating drawers where cell phones and tablets can be charged out of sight, cabinets where appliances can be plugged in and hidden, and drawers for things such as spice storage. 

“I’m big on making things accessible, like putting in dividers for pot lids and trays,” she says.

The recently completed Nashville kitchen has all of this and more, detailed with natural brass cabinet hardware and plumbing fixtures, a marble-topped island and a soapstone-clad hood above the gas range, which was custom colored to match the cabinetry. A reclaimed brick wall frames the windows above the sink and dishwasher, and Robertson added textured tile as a backsplash to other parts of the kitchen. An oak and glass cabinet was designed to showcase the owners’ decorative dishware.

“I’m big on making things accessible, like putting in dividers for pot lids and trays,” she says.

kitchen storage ideas

“While white is always going to be popular for kitchens, my clients today aren’t afraid of using color or mixing materials,” Robertson said. “They’re wanting to hide some of the mundane items of the kitchen and add more decorative things. People are more open to having a kitchen that’s not just practical, but reflects their personalities, too.”

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