Stuck in the Corner?

By Christine Brun

December 6, 2017 4 min read

It's never pleasant to be stuck in a corner, is it? When the only available table in a cafe is that tiny one tucked into the corner, you have to pull your coat and umbrella tight to your body and politely navigate through a sea of tables and chairs to sit down. Even in language we sometimes refer to the "far corners" of the Earth in a way that can seem a little negative, when in fact we could be talking about wondrous and exotic places. Corners deserve a better reputation!

When it comes to a small home, it is absolutely critical to create a furniture arrangement that utilizes every square inch, including those corners. For example, if the layout in your living room involves seating pulled away from the walls in one or two spots, be certain to create function in those corners. Do not leave them empty. For example, you might have two bookcases that meet tucked into such a corner. Or you might position a narrow writing table or desk there. Finally, corners are the perfect place for cozy reading or working with a laptop. All you need to provide is a comfortable recliner or a chair with an ottoman.

Often in kitchens, and sometimes in bathrooms, corner cabinets come into play. In a kitchen, lower cabinets always pose an accessibility challenge whenever they meet at a corner. It is impossible to easily reach the nearly 3 feet into the space to access items. Specialty hardware is recommended for these hard-to-reach spots. A so-called magic corner can be designed for left and right corners. The device enables shelves to pull out and retract back into the corner cavity so that no space is wasted.

Upper cabinets in a kitchen are positioned on the wall, leaving 18 to 21 inches between the countertops and the bottom of the cabinets. There can also be a bit of wasted space when upper cabinets meet in a corner because of difficulty of access. Sometimes corner cabinets are made into a unique feature with glass doors and hidden LED lighting. In other situations, homeowners prefer open corner shelves.

Bathroom base cabinets are generally a full 24 inches deep and 30 inches high. In older homes, you may find base vanities that were originally built much lower, at about 24 inches above the finished floor. These days the standard height is 30 inches, but some people prefer 36 inches depending on their height. Generally, shrunken versions of upper cabinets are found in bathrooms because the room itself is small.

Let's examine this nifty corner custom medicine cabinet and towel storage combination. Most medicine cabinets are between 4 and 7 inches or so in depth. This specific design features relatively short cabinets, but you could build this same unit taller to store more linens. Additionally, you could mount this type of design on the wall and leave space between the counter and the bottom of the slim cupboard. Note the slender corner pullout cabinet in the section below the countertop. These details are in proper scale for this particular bathroom space, meaning there is a good relationship between the individual elements and the entire space. Remember when designing your bathroom space that most items requiring storage are quite small. You will be more satisfied with multiple drawers and shelves so that small items do not become lost and difficult to find.

Photo Credit: James De Mars

Christine Brun, ASID, is a San Diego based interior designer and author of "Small Space Living." Send questions and comments to her by email at [email protected] To find out more about Christine Brun and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

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