While knife blocks and wall racks work well for many kitchens, not everyone has the counter or wall space for these items—and people with pets or young children may not feel comfortable with some of those products. So how else can we solve the knife storage dilemma?
In my own kitchen, I store my knives in a drawer, using an in-drawer knife organizer—my cats get into almost everything, but they haven't learned to open drawers. Of course, people with small children will need to ensure those children can't reach (or open) the drawer.
The organizer above comes from Rev-A-Shelf; it's designed to be trimmed, as needed, to fit various drawer sizes and to accommodate the number of knives needing to be stored.
For end-users who don't feel comfortable doing that kind of trimming, smaller in-drawer knife organizers are useful. Here are two alternatives: a standard in-drawer knife organizer, with slots, and a product called the the Knife Dock, which has flexible dividers made from a combination of cork and rubber. With both of these organizers you can see which knife you're pulling out.
This cutlery storage, from Dura Supreme Cabinetry, has a carved cutlery insert designed specifically for a Henckels knife set; it also has slots for steak knives. With this kind of design, you always know exactly where each knife goes. It would be obvious if one was missing—and which one. And no one will ever pull the wrong knife out of the drawer by mistake with this kind of design! But end-users better be sure these are the knives they're going to want for the long term—and that they're going to be staying in this home—since this design provides no flexibility. It takes up more drawer space than other in-drawer storage options do, too.
But what about people who just have a couple knives they want to store in a drawer, where a knife organizer might be overkill? Those end-users might want some blade guards, such as these from Bisbell. These come in three sizes, but they can also be cut to size, if need be. And the colored labels are a really nice touch.
Of course, not everyone has a spare drawer to devote to knives. Fortunately, some designers have come up with clever ways to provide knife storage for end-users with space constraints. One of those ways is creating under-cabinet storage, such as the Wüsthof under-cabinet knife block. A knife block like this makes it really easy to grab your knives as you're cooking. However, because of the slots, this may not fit all knives.
So here's another design for an under-cabinet knife block: The Drop Block. This one has the flexibility to handle a range of knives, except perhaps those that are extra-long. (Looking at this, I'm doubting my bread knife would fit.) But not all knives would necessarily need to be stored in the same place; the bread knife could be stored separately from the knives used more in cooking.
Another space-saving approach is to include knife slots directly into the countertop, as Devos Custom Woodworking did in the designs shown above. Both of these are made from hard maple—one with edge grain, and the other with face grain and walnut edging. The one drawback I see is that it could be hard to clean those slots—and countertops do tend to see their share of spills and such.
Moving beyond the countertop, here's a custom cutlery pull-out from Modern Design Cabinetry. Again, this might be hard to clean—but tucked away in a drawer, the slots are less likely to get filthy than those on a countertop. It's also a nice use of a skinny space between two appliances.
Another way to use limited space is to create dual-purpose product. MIU France did that with its cutting board, which has a knife storage drawer. This does add some height to the cutting board, though, which may put it at an uncomfortable height for the user. Or perhaps, for a taller user, the extra height might raise the board to a more comfortable level.
And finally, this combination of knife block and tablet stand, from Victorinox, seems ideal for those who use their iPads or other tablets in the kitchen—to read recipes, to watch videos as they cook, or whatever—assuming they have enough countertop space for it. You can't tell from the photo, but it's on a swivel base. For those who have knives that will fit the given slots, this could be a winning design.