Friday, April 15, 2011

Friday Night Fights: Lazy Susan vs. Magic Corner

In a never ending pursuit to bring you accurate information by letting out my inner math-geek, I wanted to address a question that came up last week.  A client of mine had read the Magic Corner post and wanted to know how it compared against the storage of the Lazy Susan.  What was the best storage solution for a corner?  It was a great question, because once you get past the "wow" factor of the Magic Corner, you notice there's a lot of mechanism required to make it work.  Does all that hardware take away from the storage of the corner?

Using Sketchup, I drew each cabinet and the surface area for the Magic Corner and the Lazy Susan.  Then using the area calculation function of Sketchup I was able to determine how much actual storage area there was on any given level and compare it to the entire area taken up by the cabinet on that same level.  Believe it or not, this sort of thing interests me.

The Magic Corner cabinet uses up the least amount of space at 1080 inches², based on a 42" wide by 24" deep cabinet pulled 3" from the corner.  (Non-cabinet folk can ignore that part.  Just trust me on the numbers)  The trays however provide only 506  inches² of storage space; the remainder is taken up by mechanism and "void" space.  That's 53% of the area is not used for storage.

For the Lazy Susan I assumed a "standard" 36" x 36" cabinet which provides a total of 1152 inches².  The trays on the Lazy Susan we use are quite large; 750 inches².  This means that our Lazy Susan corner uses 65% of the total area.

So the Lazy Susan is the winner, right?  If we were comparing only efficiency, then yes.  But we also need to factor in efficiency of the actual storage shelves and how they fit into the layout of the kitchen.

The biggest issue I have with the Lazy Susan is the fact that it's round, and the majority of the items I want to store on it are not.  I've lived with 2 Lazy Susan cabinets in my kitchen for 10 years now and there's a lot of wasted space on those shelves.  It's not bad, but in comparison, the square shelves on the Magic Corner are easier to work with.  They're also adjustable and removable which provides a nice flexibility.

A typical Lazy Susan cabinet will be 36" x 36" which means you have a fixed amount of space you'll be taking up along a wall.  This often means you'll be using a filler (or custom cabinet if you have access to them) to get the run of cabinets positioned the way you want ... centring the sink beneath a window for example.  The nice thing about the Magic Corner is that it uses a "blind cabinet" (sorry, more cabinet talk) which can be pulled a variable distance along the wall.  Flexibility is a big plus, especially in renovations.

So do we have a clear winner?  It will all depend on the kitchen and the person it's for.  But if you base it on what I see being built in our shop, the Lazy Susan needs to go back to the gym and do some more training.


  1. The wasted space in a Lazy Susan, and the fact that it is round, it the most common objection. The Magic Corner issue is the clearance of what is next to it on the articulated hinge side. In a pinch, I use the Magic Corner, even put directly beside a range once and it cleared like a dream. But, when you compare the other option of getting down on your knees to access all the storage, I really think it is up to the user - not the designer. This is where planning guidelines are a guideline. Know the rules, right?

    I think the whole idea of the corner and how we use them need to go back to design school. Boo corners!!

  2. Yes, corners are bad. Agree 100%. But how many kitchens you design are corner-free?

    Clearance is really a non-issue. You just have to plan for it the same way you'd plan for clearance around a DW or a range. Going beside a range in a tight corner is, for me, the best use for a magic corner. If you have only 27" clearance between the corner and the range, the blind corner fits in perfectly. Just pull the corner 6-12" from the corner depending on the range, and you're set!

    Agree that it's up to the client ... when each device can be used to equal effect. But sometimes the client wants a lazy susan, when a blind corner would give the design better balance. That's when the designer's expertise comes into play.

  3. In the kitchen on which I'm currently working, the blind corner (magic corner unit) ended up being the clear choice not only because the magic corner provided more usable storage but also because it provided more accessible storage. In that I mean that every other cabinet in the kitchen (including the pantries) has pull out shelves or drawers (my client is an older navy guy and really wanted to avoid getting down on his knees to get into his cabinets). The magic corner unit allows a significant portion of the storage to be pulled out of the cabinet not unlike his other cabinetry units. The sliding shelves in the blind portion of the corner will serve as storage for his not so oft used pieces of equipment.

    Of course, the blind corner with its magic inserts also allowed us to fit in more appliances on one corner (the shorter wall is being built at 8'-1" to match an adjacent wall and yet allowed for the 36" bottoms up refer as I like to call it as well as a built in under counter microwave drawer unit at 27" wide). Additionally, the use of the blind corner unit allowed for an additional 6 inch wide pull out spice rack that we would not have otherwise fit in with the use of a "true" corner with lazy susan.

    Overall, although the Lazy susan offers that additional storage in inches, I think the ability to re purpose the "missing" 300 square inches can make a big difference in storage in a kitchen.

  4. Great post Arne - perfectly and graphically answers the question my client has today.

  5. Wow, thanks Sarah! Always great to know something I've written has been helpful.

  6. How do corner drawers compare in terms of usable space?

  7. I like the corner drawers for certain applications. My experience with them is much like the Magic Corner, in that they may not utilize 100% of the space, but what they do use is really accessible. A couple of hardware manufacturers make a set for full-overlay type cabinetry that I find a little buggy, enough so that I avoid them. Corner drawers seems to work best in a face-frame style of cabinetry.

  8. I am starting a remodel and making the corner space easily accessible is very important to me.  I was hoping for one clear winner.

    The Magic Corner seems like it would take the most # of physical movements to access all items and therefore the most time.    I'm not sure if corner drawers are truely full extension and if the things in the very back corner would be as easy to get out as those at the front (if they are tall items taking up the full height of the drawer).

    Do you have experience with the LeMans Corner?  It looks like it might not use the corner space as fully as the others, but seems easier & quicker to use than the Magic corner.

  9. In fact, the Magic Corner requires only one "action" to open it.  Granted, it's of the pull-out-turn-to-the-side action.  But it's all one fluid movement.

    The Lemans is very cool, and works almost exactly like the Magic Corner with a couple differences:

    1) It requires 2 actions to access it.  One to open the door, and another to pull out the shelf.  Each shelf also operates independently of the other.

    2) The kidney shaped shelves leave you with a similar dilemma to the lazy susan shelves.  i.e. storing square items on round shelves, resulting in wasted space.

    Honestly, there's no perfect answer.  I'd suggest locating a showroom that has each accessory installed and trying them out to see which suits you best,


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