If we've said it once, we've said it a thousand times: kitchen counter space is valuable real estate. That's why when we heard about a dish-drying cabinet that's popular in Finland, we had to learn more.
The cabinet in question looks like your typical over-the-sink storage area, but instead of shelves on the inside, there are slotted dish racks. Why? So you can put wet dishes away and let them drip dry in to the sink (and a little on the counter). This eliminates the steps most Americans take to hand-dry dishes and put them away. In Finland it's called a astiankuivauskaappi which, according to Google Translate, is a compound word for dish (astian), dry (kuivaus) and cabinet (kaappi) — here's an example of what one of these cabinets looks like.
This concept is basically made for small kitchens, as it eliminates the need of drying racks, saving tons of counter space. And this organizer can just as easily be used for pots and pans if you have a dishwasher.
Cheryl Quinton, a Canadian scientist who lived in Finland for more than three years, wrote a blog post about her dish drying rack: "Why doesn't the rest of the world have this?" Quinton wrote on Outdance the Devil. "I love this thing. I have stuff in this that probably hasn't been to a real cupboard in months ... I can throw lots of stuff up there, then just close the doors and, whoo-hoo, clear counters." Here's what her cabinet looked like:
"The dishes drip a lot, of course," Quinton wrote. "But that's often not a problem in Finland, because it's common there to have stainless steel counters and sinks. The trick is to put glassware on the top rack so it doesn't get water spots."
Even though this idea is certainly a space saver, you'll want to make sure you keep your cabinet doors open until the dishes are dry. That way, wet dishes won't stay hidden in the dark, becoming a breeding ground for mold. Once items are dry to the touch, you can close the doors again.
Want one for yourself? Even though most American homes haven't embraced this concept, there are products on the market that will give you the same experience. For instance, this stainless steel storage unit from Nex ($49, amazon.com) sits right over your sink.
Or if you have your heart set on having the drying rack inside of your cabinet, this one from Probrico ($45, amazon.com) does just that and features a drip tray to catch water.
Now you can have your counter space and your air-dried dishes.