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Title:
RETRACTABLE STORAGE SYSTEM
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2016/133407
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
This invention relates to a system for mounting a bin in a cavity. In one form the system comprises two runners configured to be mounted in the cavity, a frame mounted on the two runners and configured to move in and out of the cavity on the runners, the frame being configured to support a lower portion of the bin, a mounting for mounting a front panel in front of the frame such that, when the frame is retracted into the cavity, the front panel substantially closes the cavity, and securement means for substantially securing an upper portion of the bin relative to the front panel. In another form the mounting is substantially free of exposed parts that may damage clothes. In another form the system comprises runner covers the prevent objects falling into the cavity contacting the runners. In another form the frame comprises an annular rim to receive a bottom end of the bin.

Inventors:
BERTEKSEN ALLEN (NZ)
HOWSE DAVID (NZ)
BREWSTER GRAHAM (NZ)
BERTELSEN JAMIE (NZ)
WARD PHIL (NZ)
BURTON SAM (NZ)
WOODALL STEVE (NZ)
Application Number:
NZ2016/050021
Publication Date:
August 25, 2016
Filing Date:
February 19, 2016
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
KITCHEN KING LTD (NZ)
International Classes:
A47B88/04; A47B47/00; A47B77/04; A47B77/18; A47B81/00; A47B88/80; A47B96/06; B65F1/00; F16B12/00
Foreign References:
US3922046A1975-11-25
US7370919B22008-05-13
CN201484981U2010-05-26
US20070024166A12007-02-01
US5242074A1993-09-07
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
ROGERS, Jason et al. (James & Wells, Private Bag 3140, Hamilton 3240, 3240, NZ)
Download PDF:
Claims:
Claims

A system for mounting a bin in a cavity, the system comprising:

two runners configured to be mounted in the cavity;

a frame mounted on the two runners and configured to move in and out of the cavity on the runners, the frame being configured to support a lower portion of the bin; a mounting for mounting a front panel in front of the frame such that, when the frame is retracted into the cavity, the front panel substantially closes the cavity; and securement means for substantially securing an upper portion of the bin relative to the front panel.

A system as claimed in claim 1, wherein the securement means comprises a securement member having a first portion configured to be mounted to an inner side of the front panel and a second portion configured, in use, to substantially secure to a side of the bin facing the front panel.

A system as claimed in claim 2, wherein the second portion is configured to

interlockingly engage with a part of the bin.

A system as claimed in claim 3, wherein the second portion comprises a protrusion or hook configured to engage with the bin to restrict horizontal movement thereof.

A system as claimed in claim 4, wherein the protrusion or hook is configured to engage with a flange around the rim of the bin.

A system as claimed in any one of claims 2-5, wherein the securement member comprises a body, the first portion being connected to a first end of the body and extending downward substantially perpendicularly therefrom, the second portion being connected to a second end of the body, the second end being opposite the first end of the body, and extending upward substantially perpendicularly therefrom.

A system as claimed in claim 6, wherein the second portion comprises a vertical portion and a hooked portion extending from an upper end of the vertical portion. A system as claimed in any one of claims 1-6, wherein the securement member comprises a bracket of unitary construction.

A system for mounting a bin in a cavity, the system comprising:

two runners configured to be mounted in the cavity;

a frame mounted in sliding engagement with the two runners and configured to move relative to the runners in and out of the cavity, the frame being configured to support a lower portion of the bin; and

a mounting for mounting a front panel in front of the frame such that, when the frame is retracted into the cavity, the front panel substantially closes the cavity,

wherein the mounting is substantially free of exposed parts that may risk damaging clothes coming into contact with the mounting during normal use of the system.

A system as claimed in claim 9, wherein the mounting comprises a cover member configured to substantially cover the mounting, the cover member having an upper surface that is free of protrusions and/or indents and/or is substantially smooth.

A system as claimed in claim 10, wherein the mounting comprises first and second mounting brackets, each of the mounting brackets being attached to the frame and/or one of the runners at or proximate either side of the frame and being configured to mount to the front panel, wherein the cover member is mounted to the first and second mounting brackets so as to cover upper edges of the first and second mounting brackets and/or to cover the gap between the mounting brackets.

A system as claimed in claim 11, wherein the first and second mounting brackets are elongate and a lower portion of each mounting bracket is attached to the frame and/or one of the runners, an upper portion of each mounting bracket extending upwardly from the frame and being configured to mount to the front panel.

13. A system as claimed in any one of claims 11-12, wherein the first and second mounting brackets are integrated in a single mounting bracket.

14. A system as claimed in any one of claims 9-13, wherein the mounting comprises one or more side panels, each side panel having a substantially planar outwardly facing surface. 15. A system for mounting a bin in a cavity, the system comprising:

two runners configured to be mounted in the cavity;

a frame mounted on the two runners and configured to move in and out of the cavity on the runners, the frame being configured to support a lower portion of the bin; and

a mounting for mounting a front panel in front of the frame such that, when the frame is retracted into the cavity, the front panel substantially closes the cavity;

at least one runner cover member configured to be mounted in the cavity such that, in use, the at least one runner cover member substantially prevents objects from falling into the cavity into contact with at least one of the runners.

16. A system as claimed in claim 15, wherein each runner cover member comprises an

elongate body and a base, the base being configured to be mounted to an inner surface of the cavity and the elongate body extending from the base to, in use, shroud at least one of the runners from above.

17. A system as claimed in any one of claims 15-16, wherein each runner cover member is configured so that, in use, the base is mounted to an upward-facing surface on the bottom of the cavity. 18. A system as claimed in any one of claims 15-17, wherein the runners each comprise a track along which a part of the frame can move, wherein the tracks are positioned on a side of the respective runner and the runners are positioned so that said sides face away from each other. 19. A system as claimed in claim 18, wherein each runner is mounted to an outer side of one of the runner cover members. A system as claimed in claim 19, wherein the elongate body of each runner cover member substantially shrouds the inner and top sides of the respective runner.

A system as claimed in claims 17-20, wherein the frame comprises a frame body and frame side portions, each side portion having mounted thereto track engagement means for engaging with the track of one of the runners, wherein the side portions extend downwardly from the frame body and the track engagement means are mounted to an inner side of the respective side portion.

A system as claimed in any one of claims 17-21, wherein each runner comprises a first elongate runner member and a second elongate runner member mounted to an outer surface of the first elongate runner member and in longitudinal sliding engagement thereto, the first elongate runner member comprising a base configured to be mounted to the inner surface of the cavity and the second elongate runner member comprising the track.

A retractable storage system for mounting in a cavity, the system comprising:

a bin comprising one or more substantially downwardly facing surfaces on a lower portion of an outer side;

two runners configured to be mounted in the cavity;

a frame mounted on the two runners and configured to move in and out of the cavity on the runners, the frame comprising an annular rim region defining an aperture therein, the aperture being configured, in use, to receive a bottom end of the bin such that the bin is supported by the one or more substantially downwardly facing surfaces resting on the annular rim region; and

a mounting for mounting a front panel in front of the frame such that, when the frame is retracted into the cavity, the front panel substantially closes the cavity.

A system as claimed in claim 23, wherein the outer side of the bin comprises on more inward steps, the one or more inward steps comprising the substantially downwardly facing surfaces.

25. A system as claimed in any one of claims 1-24, wherein the runners are configured to be mounted in a lower portion of the cavity.

26. A system as claimed in any one of claims 1-25, wherein a lower portion of the front panel is mounted to the frame.

Description:
RETRACTABLE STORAGE SYSTEM

Field of Invention The invention generally relates to retractable storage systems for retractably mounting a bin or other storage receptacle in a cavity. More particularly, the invention relates to base mounted laundry carrier storage systems.

Background to the Invention

Drawers typically comprise a supporting structure mounted on slides or runners to allow the drawer to move in and out of a frame or housing, i.e. between open and closed positions. Perhaps the most well-known configuration of drawer has a front panel, side panels, a back panel and a base which, together with the front panel, form a lid-less box in which objects can be stored. When the drawer is closed, the front panel usually sits generally flush with the frame or housing. However other forms of drawers are also known.

Drawer-like systems may be used to stow storage receptacles such as bins (rubbish or garbage containers) and laundry baskets. For example, Kitchen King Limited produces a range of products called Hideaway Bins for mounting bins inside kitchen cabinetry. In one example, the drawer comprises a front panel that, when closed, fronts the cavity in the cabinetry in which the bin is stowed and is typically designed to look like another kitchen cupboard or drawer. The front panel is mounted to the front of two runners. Also mounted on the runners is a support frame which is configured so that one or more bins may be supported between the runners. The runners are positioned high in the drawer cavity so that the frame supports a flange around the rim of the bin(s).

Kitchen King also produces a similar product on a larger scale so that the bins may be used as laundry bins or hampers. One problem with this design is that, since the laundry bins are relatively tall, it can be difficult to lift the bin off the support frame because the entire bin has to be lifted above the height of the frame before the bin can be removed. This can be especially difficult for short, weak or infirm users. Another problem is that clothes or other objects may easily catch or become trapped in various places around the runners, support frame or bin rims, for example between the bin rim and the support frame or against the edges of the support frame. In the case of clothes, this can cause snagging or ripping, which is undesirable. An alternative design of a laundry hamper stow drawer is the Bottom-Mounting Pull-Out

Hamper by Rev-A-Shelf. In this design, the runners are situated low in the cavity, a supporting frame made of wood or polymer moves on the runners and the front panel is affixed to the front of the wooden frame. The frame defines an aperture into which a laundry bin or hamper can be placed, with a support bar under the frame supporting the weight of the bin. The frame is made to be very bulky in an attempt to provide stability to the bin at its base, although this necessitates the use of a significant amount of material which may not be aesthetically suitable to some installations and may be expensive, in addition, if clothes are not correctly inserted into the bin (for example through careless throwing), they may snag on some parts of the system, such as the brackets used to mount the front panel to the wooden frame and the drawer runners (if clothes fall behind the wooden frame).

Another known design is the Fulterer FR3610 waste basket pull-out system. This is conceptually similar to the Rev-A-Shelf product described above with bottom-mounted runners and a bin sitting in a frame on the runners. The bins in the Fulterer product are inherently unstable and may be susceptible to falling over, spilling contents on the floor. Furthermore the design provides plenty of components on which clothes may snag, such as the brackets and runners.

It is therefore an object of the invention to provide an improved system for mounting a bin or hamper in a cavity using a base or lower mounting.

Furthermore, it is an object of the invention to provide a bottom mounting laundry hamper system that provides other advantages for ease of use, such as any one or more of: ease of installation; ease of cleaning; and ease of adjustment of the front panel to allow alignment with adjacent cabinetry. Alternatively, an object is to provide a cost effective and/or aesthetically pleasing design.

Alternatively, it is an object of the invention to at least provide the public with a useful choice. Summary of the Invention

According to a first aspect of the invention, there is provided a system for mounting a bin in a cavity, the system comprising:

two runners configured to be mounted in the cavity;

a frame mounted on the two runners and configured to move in and out of the cavity on the runners, the frame being configured to support a lower portion of the bin;

a mounting for mounting a front panel in front of the frame such that, when the frame is retracted into the cavity, the front panel substantially closes the cavity; and

securement means for substantially securing an upper portion of the bin relative to the front panel.

Preferably, the securement means comprises a securement member having a first portion configured to be mounted to an inner side of the front panel and a second portion configured, in use, to substantially secure to a side of the bin facing the front panel.

More preferably, the second portion is configured to interlockingly engage with a part of the bin. For example, the second portion may comprise a protrusion or hook configured to engage with the bin to restrict horizontal movement thereof.

Preferably, the protrusion or hook is configured to engage with a flange around the rim of the bin. More preferably, the securement member comprises a body, the first portion being connected to a first end of the body and extending downward substantially perpendicularly therefrom, the second portion being connected to a second end of the body, the second end being opposite the first end of the body, and extending upward substantially perpendicularly therefrom. In one embodiment, the second portion comprises a vertical portion and a hooked portion extending from an upper end of the vertical portion. In an alternative embodiment, the second portion comprises flaps at either side thereof, the flaps being angled relative to other parts of the second portion.

In preferred embodiments, the securement member may take the form of a bracket of unitary construction.

Preferably, the runners are configured to be mounted in a lower portion of the cavity. Preferably, a lower portion of the front panel is mounted to the frame.

According to a second aspect of the invention, there is provided a system for mounting a bin in a cavity, the system comprising:

two runners configured to be mounted in the cavity;

a frame mounted in sliding engagement with the two runners and configured to move relative to the runners in and out of the cavity, the frame being configured to support a lower portion of the bin; and

a mounting for mounting a front panel in front of the frame such that, when the frame is retracted into the cavity, the front panel substantially closes the cavity,

wherein the mounting is substantially free of exposed parts that may risk damaging clothes coming into contact with the mounting during normal use of the system.

Preferably, the mounting comprises a cover member having a clothes-kind upper surface configured to substantially cover the mounting. More preferably, the clothes-kind upper surface is free of protrusions and/or indents. More preferably, the clothes-kind upper surface is substantially smooth.

More preferably, the mounting comprises first and second mounting brackets, each of the mounting brackets being attached to the frame and/or one of the runners at or proximate either side of the frame and being configured to mount to the front panel, wherein the cover member is mounted to the first and second mounting brackets so as to cover upper edges of the first and second mounting brackets and/or to cover the gap between the mounting brackets. Preferably, the mounting comprises one or more side panels, each side panel having a substantially planar outwardly facing surface. Preferably, the first and second mounting brackets are elongate and a lower portion of each mounting bracket is attached to the frame and/or one of the runners, an upper portion of each mounting bracket extending upwardly from the frame and being configured to mount to the front panel. Preferably, the first and second mounting brackets are integrated in a single mounting bracket. More preferably, the single mounting bracket is of unitary construction.

Preferably, the runners are configured to be mounted in a lower portion of the cavity. Preferably, a lower portion of the front panel is mounted to the frame.

According to a third aspect of the invention, there is provided a system for mounting a bin in a cavity, the system comprising:

two runners configured to be mounted in the cavity;

a frame mounted on the two runners and configured to move in and out of the cavity on the runners, the frame being configured to support a lower portion of the bin; and

a mounting for mounting a front panel in front of the frame such that, when the frame is retracted into the cavity, the front panel substantially closes the cavity;

at least one runner cover member configured to be mounted in the cavity such that, in use, the at least one runner cover member substantially prevents objects from falling into the cavity into contact with at least one of the runners.

Preferably, each runner cover member comprises an elongate body and a base, the base being configured to be mounted to an inner surface of the cavity and the elongate body extending from the base to, in use, shroud at least one of the runners from above. More preferably, each runner cover member is configured so that, in use, the base is mounted to an upward-facing surface on the bottom of the cavity. More preferably, the system comprises two runner cover members, each runner cover member substantially preventing objects from falling into the cavity into contact with one of the runners in use.

Preferably, the runners each comprise a track along which a part of the frame can move, wherein the tracks are positioned on a side of the respective runner and the runners are positioned so that said sides face away from each other. Alternatively, the runners are positioned so that said sides face towards each other.

In preferred embodiments, each runner is mounted to an outer side of one of the runner cover members. More preferably, the elongate body of each runner cover member substantially shrouds the inner and top sides of the respective runner.

In preferred embodiments, the frame comprises a frame body and frame side portions, each side portion having mounted thereto track engagement means for engaging with the track of one of the runners, wherein the side portions extend downwardly from the frame body and the track engagement means are mounted to an inner side of the respective side portion. More preferably, each track engagement means comprises one or more ball bearings.

Preferably, each runner comprises a first elongate runner member and a second elongate runner member mounted to an outer surface of the first elongate runner member and in longitudinal sliding engagement thereto, the first elongate runner member comprising a base configured to be mounted to the inner surface of the cavity and the second elongate runner member comprising the track. Preferably, the runners are configured to be mounted in a lower portion of the cavity.

Preferably, a lower portion of the front panel is mounted to the frame.

According to a fourth aspect of the invention, there is provided a retractable storage system for mounting in a cavity, the system comprising:

a bin comprising one or more substantially downwardly facing surfaces on a lower portion of an outer side; two runners configured to be mounted in the cavity;

a frame mounted on the two runners and configured to move in and out of the cavity on the runners, the frame comprising an annular rim region defining an aperture therein, the aperture being configured, in use, to receive a bottom end of the bin such that the bin is supported by the one or more substantially downwardly facing surfaces resting on the annular rim region; and

a mounting for mounting a front panel in front of the frame such that, when the frame is retracted into the cavity, the front panel substantially closes the cavity.

Preferably, the outer side of the bin comprises one or more inward steps, the one or more inward steps comprising the substantially downwardly facing surfaces.

Preferably, the runners are configured to be mounted in a lower portion of the cavity.

Preferably, a lower portion of the front panel is mounted to the frame.

Further aspects of the invention, which should be considered in all its novel aspects, will become apparent to those skilled in the art upon reading of the following description which provides at least one example of a practical application of the invention.

Brief Description of the Drawings

One or more embodiments of the invention will be described below by way of example only, and without intending to be limiting, with reference to the following drawings, in which:

Figure 1 is a perspective view illustration of a retractable storage system according to an embodiment of the invention;

Figure 2 is a perspective view illustration of part of the storage system of Figure 1;

Figure 3 is a perspective view illustration of a hook member of a storage system

according to an embodiment of the invention; Figure 4 is another perspective view illustration of the storage system of the embodiment of the invention shown in Figures 1 and 2;

Figure 5 is a perspective view illustration of a bin of the storage system according to the embodiment of the invention shown in Figures 1, 2 and 4;

Figure 6 is a perspective view illustration of part of a storage system according to another embodiment of the invention;

Figure 7 is a perspective view illustration of part of a storage system according to still another embodiment of the invention;

Figure 8 is a perspective view illustrations of part of storage systems according to another embodiments of the invention; and

Figure 9 is a perspective view illustrations of part of storage systems according to yet another embodiments of the invention.

Detailed Description of Preferred Embodiments of the Invention

In general, non-limiting terms, embodiments of the invention provide a system for mounting a retractable bin or laundry hamper in a cupboard cavity using runners mounted near the bottom of the bin / hamper. In order to keep the bin or hamper stable in the cavity a hook or other securement member attached to the inside of a front panel can engage and stabilise the top of the bin. The mountings and runners are configured (for example, through the use of covers) to be free of protrusions or edges that may be able to snag and damage clothes.

Exemplary Embodiment of the Invention

Figure 1 is a perspective view illustration of a retractable storage system 10 according to an embodiment of the invention. System 10 comprises a housing 11 defining therein a cavity 12. In some embodiments, cavity 12 is a kitchen or laundry cupboard comprising base, side, back and top walls but having an open front. Front panel 13 is mounted directly or indirectly to runners 14 so that the front panel 13 can move forwards and backwards relative to the cavity 12. In a closed position, front panel 13 closes cavity 12 and in an open position front panel 13 is spaced apart from cavity 12 thereby allowing access to it.

Exemplary runners will be described in relation to exemplary embodiments of the invention but various types of runners will be understood by the skilled addressee as being able to be employed. Embodiments of the invention may use any kind of suitable runners such as those typically used to mount drawers, bins or laundry hampers. For the purposes of this

specification, the term "runner" will be understood to mean any device configured to allow sliding or rolling movement therealong.

The runners 14 are mounted in a lower portion of cavity 12 and, in the embodiment of Figure 1, the runners are mounted to the upper surface of the base wall of housing 11. Runners 14 are generally positioned spaced apart at or proximate the side walls of housing 11 and are oriented to extend in the direction from the back wall to the open front face of housing 11 so that front panel 13 slides forwards and backwards. Mounted on the runners 14 and able to move forwards and backwards thereon is frame 15. Frame 15 is configured to support bin 16 so that the bin moves forwards and backwards with frame 15.

In the embodiment shown in Figure 1, bin 16 is a laundry hamper, for example a container having an open top and a plurality of holes in its walls. As such, storage system 10 is suitable for use to store laundry in a cupboard. However, in other embodiments, bin 16 may take other forms and may generally be any container or receptacle. For example, bin 16 may alternatively have sides without apertures and therefore be suitable for use in storing smaller items. The storage system may be used with a kitchen waste bin and be suitable for use to store rubbish in a kitchen cupboard. The invention is not limited by the nature of the bin or receptacle, nor by what is stored in the bin or receptacle, and nor by where the bin or receptacle is located. In addition, the bin may be any shape or size. Such shape and size will be determined by the intended use of the storage system and the skilled addressee will appreciate how the shape and size of the bin may be differed to suit the particular intended use. In the embodiment of Figure 1, the bin 16 has a width substantially equal to or similar to its depth and a height substantially greater than its width and depth, i.e. the bin 16 is tall. This makes it suitable for use as a laundry hamper and for storing in a tall, thin kitchen or laundry cupboard. The bin 16 is sized such that the bin 16 fits inside the cavity 11 and the front panel can be closed.

Bin 16 is preferably removable from frame 15. In the embodiment of Figure 1, bin 16 is able to be lifted off frame 15 and subsequently re-inserted onto it. This enables bin 16 to be transported as desired. For example, in the case of a laundry hamper or basket, the bin can be taken to the clothesline or washing machine.

Storage system 10 may be considered, and may be termed, a "drawer". Front panel 13 retracts and extends from housing 11 and the frame 15 is mounted on runners in the manner of a drawer.

In the embodiment of Figure 1, frame 15 supports a lower portion of bin 16, i.e. at or proximate its bottom. As a result, the storage system is said to be "base mounted". In embodiments where the bin 16 occupies the majority of the space inside the cavity, a base-mounted storage system may have runners 14 which are mounted in a lower portion of the cavity such that frame 15, which is slidingly mounted on the runners, is also positioned in a lower portion of the cavity. This is the case in the system illustrated in Figure 1 for example, where the runners are mounted at the bottom of the cavity and frame 15 has only a small clearance from the bottom wall of housing 11. In other embodiments, the cavity may be large enough to fit other things inside it, for example drawers or additional bins, each of which may be mounted on separate runners. In such cases, a "base mounted" storage system may include runners that are not mounted in a lower portion of the overall cavity but are mounted in a lower portion of the part of the cavity that is used to house the bin. The cavity may have another part below this which is used to house another bin or a drawer, for example. In this example, the storage system may comprise more than one front panel, with one front panel fronting each part of the cavity in which a bin or drawer is housed. A base mounted storage system may comprise a front panel 13 in which a lower portion of the front panel is mounted directly or indirectly to runners 14. It will be understood that, when a front panel is described as substantially closing the cavity when closed, any other front panels that are also associated with the cavity are also closed. The base-mounted laundry bin storage system of Figure 1 can be differentiated from a top mounted storage system such as is commonly known, for example to store kitchen bins in a kitchen cupboard. One advantage of base-mounted systems is the ease with which the bin can be removed from the mounting. In Figure 1, for example, bin 16 can be simply and easily removed from frame 15 by a small lift upwards. In contrast, in a top-mounted system, a bin usually needs to be lifted through a height equal to or greater than the height of the bin itself in order to clear the bottom of the bin from the mountings on which flanges at the top of the bin usually rest. The base-mounting system is therefore more convenient when using tall or large bins, as is often desired in a laundry hamper storage system. It has been explained that the runners of a storage system according to an embodiment of the invention may be mounted in a lower portion of the cavity, or the part of the cavity which houses the bin. The lower portion may be considered to be a portion from proximate the middle of the cavity (or part of the cavity) downwards. In some embodiments of the invention, the runners are mounted at or proximate a middle portion of the cavity. In such an

embodiment, the frame, which is slidingly mounted on the runners, supports the bin at or proximate a middle portion in the case the bin has a height that occupies a substantial part of the height of the cavity. This may provide more stability than embodiments in which the frame supports a lower portion of the bin, and may mean the upper securing member or hook (described below) is not used, although it means the bin needs to be lifted up through a greater height to be removed from the frame. The frame may extend downwards to also support a lower portion of the bin for additional stability. Another advantage of mounting the runners at or proximate a middle portion of the cavity is that a bin that is substantially shorter than the height of the cavity can be positioned so that the top opening of the bin is proximate the top of the cavity, which may be easier for users to reach.

Further details of some exemplary features of storage system 10 will now be described. Upper securing member or hook

Figure 2 is a perspective view illustration of part of storage system 10. In Figure 2, housing 11 and bin 16 have been removed in comparison to Figure 1. Figure 2 shows an example of a securement means 17 which, in general terms, acts to substantially secure an upper portion of the bin 16 to the front panel 13. In view of the relatively large height of bin 16 it may be susceptible to instability, toppling over or falling off frame 15, which may cause the contents of bin 16 to fall out, for example onto the floor or into cavity 12. A mechanism that secures an upper portion of bin 16 to front panel 13 provides stability to the bin in an upper region in addition to the stability provided by the frame in a lower region of the bin, thus providing an overall high level of stability to the bin 16. In addition, an unstable hamper may wobble when the drawer is opened and closed, creating unwanted noise. The securement mechanism reduces wobbling and its consequent noise. In the embodiment of Figure 2, the securement means comprises a securement member in the form of a hook or bracket 17, features of which will now be described in relation to Figure 3. Figure 3 is perspective view illustration of hook 17. Hook 17 comprises a body 18 in the form of a plate member, a panel mounting portion 19 connected to one end of body 18 and a hook portion 20 connected to the other end of body 18. The panel mounting portion 19 and hook portion 20 extend perpendicularly downwardly and upwardly respectively from the body 18. Panel mounting portion 19 is configured to be mounted to the inner side of front panel 13. For example, panel mounting portion 19 may comprise a number of apertures for receiving screws or other fasteners. Alternatively, the panel mounting portion 19 may be adhered to the front panel 13. At either end of hook portion 20 are flaps 21 which are angled relative to the rest of the hook portion 20, for example inwards relative to the rest of hook 17 as shown in Figure 3. In one embodiment of the invention, hook 17 is of unitary construction, for example it may be formed by cutting and then bending a flat panel of substantially rigid material, e.g. metal.

Hook 17 is mounted to the inner side of front panel 13 at a position on the front panel so that the hook engages with an upper portion of bin 16 when bin 16 is supported on frame 15. Figure 4 is another perspective view illustration of storage system 10. As can be seen in Figure 4, hook 17 is mounted at a position where it will engage with a flange 22 around the upper rim of bin 16 when bin 16 is supported by frame 15. The hook portion 20 of hook 17 interlocks with flange 22 to secure the bin in place relative to the front panel 13. In particular, flaps 21 interlock with flange 22. The flange 22 may comprise one or more handle portions 23 where the flange extends out slightly further from the bin rim than other parts of the flange. The handle portions 23 are convenient for a person to use to carry bin 16. The hook 17 may be positioned on the inside of front panel 13 opposite the handle portions 23 when the bin 16 is correctly positioned in frame 15 so that flaps 21 on the hook 17 extend into the space under handle portions 23. In an alternative embodiment, the hook may be configured to prevent or at least restrict sideways movement of the upper portion of bin 16 relative to the front panel 13. Bin 16 is shown in more detail in Figure 5, which is a perspective view illustration of bin 16 according to the

embodiment of the invention shown in the other drawings. Other features of bin 16 will be described in more detail later.

Figure 6 is a perspective view illustration of part of a storage system 60 according to another embodiment of the invention. Storage system 60 includes a securement member 61 that is similar to the hook 17 described in relation to Figure 3 but securement member 61 has a panel mounting portion 63 that extends across a large proportion of the width of front panel 62. Panel mounting portion 63 has holes 64 proximate its ends where fasteners can be used to secure securement member 61 to front panel 62.

Figure 7 is a perspective view illustration of part of a storage system 70 according to another embodiment of the invention. Storage system 70 includes a securement member 71 that is similar to the hook 17 described in relation to Figure 3 but securement member 71 has a panel mounting portion 73 that extends upwardly from the body of the securement member. The fastener holes 74 in panel mounting portion 73 are toward the upper end of panel mounting portion 73.

Securement members 61 and 71 are configured so that, in use, the fastener holes are positioned proximate one or more edges (e.g. upper and/or side edge) of the respective front panel. These configurations of securement member provide the advantage of being able to secure to a 'framed' front panel where the panels have a thin sub-panel in the centre and only have sufficient thickness around the perimeter for receiving fasteners such as screws. In one alternative embodiment of the invention, the securement member may have a similar form to that shown in any of Figures 3, 6 and 7 but with the flaps 21 (such as are shown in Figure 3; the embodiments of Figures 6 and 7 have similar flaps) extending at an angle from the planar central section of hook portion 20 away from the front panel (i.e. towards the bin in use).

Figures 8 and 9 are perspective view illustrations of part of storage systems according to other embodiments of the invention. Securement members, generally referred to as 80 and 90, are each secured to front panels 89 and 99 of a storage system respectively by mounting a vertical panel 82 and 92 or the securement members 80, 90 to the front panel. The vertical panels of the illustrated embodiments include fastening holes through which screws or other fasteners are passed to mount the securement member to the front panel. In other embodiments the securement members are mounted to the front panels via other mounting mechanisms, for example using an adhesive.

A horizontal panel 83, 93 extends perpendicularly outward from vertical panel 82, 92.

Extending upward from an outer edge of the horizontal panel 83, 93 is a hook, generally numbered 81 and 91. Each hook 81, 91 comprises a vertical hook portion 86, 96 and a hooked portion 85, 95 extending from the upper end of the vertical hook portion 86, 96. The extent of the hooked portion 85, 95 may differ in different embodiments of the invention. For example, the hooked portion 95 in the embodiment of Figure 9 extends further than the hooked portion 85 in the embodiment of Figure 8, the hooked portion 95 ending in a vertical portion having a similar height to vertical portion 96, while the vertical portion at the end of hooked portion 85 is significantly shorter than the height of vertical portion 86. In the embodiment of Figure 8 the hooked portion 85 bends towards the side of the vertical hook portion 86 on which the vertical panel 82 is located. In the embodiment of Figure 9 the hooked portion 95 bends away from the side of the vertical hook portion 96 on which the vertical panel 92 is located. The embodiment of Figure 9 illustrates a securement member 90 having a single hook 91, which is centrally located with respect to the securement member 90 and, in use, is mounted centrally to front panel 99 so that the hook 91 engages with a middle portion of the bin to which it secures. The embodiment of Figure 8 illustrates a securement member 80 having two hooks 81, which are located at an equal distance from a horizontal midpoint of securement member 80. The horizontal panel 83 may comprise a recess 84 in between the two hooks 81. Both hooks 81 and 91 present an upwardly curved or planar surface (i.e. the upper surface of hooked portions 85 and 95 are curved surfaces and are not edges of planar members as are the upper surfaces of the hooks shown in Figures 3, 6 and 7). This may avoid the tendency for the bin, when put into position in a secured engagement with the hooks to be damaged or to damage the bin, for example for paint to be chipped off either component.

In storage systems where the bin that is secured by the securement members 80 and 90 has a centrally located handle, the central location of the hook 91 of securement member 90 may make it difficult for a user to grasp the bin by the handle, since the hook 91 may itself occupy a significant portion of the space under the handle. In such cases, securement member 80 may provide an advantage as the space under the bin handle is free for a user to grasp and the recess 84 in the horizontal panel 82 gives space for a user's hand to be inserted between the hooks 81 to grasp the bin.

In other embodiments of the invention, other types of hook, securement members or means for securing the bin to the front panel may be used. For example a hook or protrusion may extend out from the front panel and interlockingly engage with a hole in the bin or with a loop on the outer surface of the bin. Alternatively magnets may be positioned in the bin and front panel to attract one another when the bin is in the storage position. In a still further alternative embodiment a tether or strap may be used to secure the upper portion of the bin to the front panel.

Aperture frame support for bin

As can be seen in Figure 2, frame 15 comprises a substantially planar body 25 and has a hole or aperture 26 in the body 25. The body 25 comprises a generally annular rim region 24 around the aperture. Aperture 26 may be punched out of frame 15 and the frame may comprise a number of flanges or flaps 27 extending downwardly around the rim of aperture 26 to add strength to the annular rim region 24. In another embodiment flaps 27 may extend upwardly around the rim of aperture 26 although clothes could catch on the upwardly facing edges of the flaps. Aperture 26 is shaped and sized to receive the bottom end of bin 16. Figures 1 and 4 illustrate bin 16 in position in aperture 26. In the embodiment of the invention shown in the

aforementioned figures, the frame 15 supports bin 16 because parts of bin 16 rest on frame 15. From Figure 2 it can be seen that, when the drawer is extended (i.e. open), there are no components of the storage system under the aperture. Therefore the frame 15 takes the full weight of bin 16 and its contents (although in some embodiments hook 17 may also act to support part of the weight of the bin and its contents). Bin 16 may extend downwardly some way from frame 15 but it does not contact the base wall of housing 11.

Figure 5 is a perspective view illustration of bin 16 according to the embodiment of the invention shown in the other drawings. The outer side or sides of bin 16 comprise one or more substantially downwardly facing surfaces or lips on a lower portion of the bin proximate its bottom. For example, the outer side of bin 16 comprises two inward steps 28, each extending around part of a lower portion perimeter of bin 16. When bin 16 is inserted into aperture 26 in frame 15, the downward facing surfaces of steps 28 rest on the annular rim region 24 of frame 15 so that frame 15 supports the weight of the bin.

Some prior art storage systems have a supporting surface positioned under an aperture in a retractable frame on which the base of a bin stands. However the system shown in the aforementioned figures uses the rim of the aperture to support the bin and therefore avoids the need for such extra supporting surfaces, their cost and complexity.

In an alternative embodiment, one or more flanges may extend outwardly from the outer side(s) of the bin, the lower sides of the flanges forming the downwardly facing surfaces that rest on the frame. Front mounting cover

As best seen in Figure 2, storage system 10 comprises a mounting (generally labelled 29) by which the front panel 13 may be mounted at the front of frame 15. In one embodiment of the invention, mounting 29 attaches to frame 15. In another embodiment, mounting 29 attaches to runners 14. Since frame 15 and runners 14 are connected together, mounting 29 has a direct or indirect coupling to each of frame 15 and runners 14.

In the embodiment of Figure 2, mounting 29 comprises a front mounting plate 30. A front face of mounting plate 30 is connected to the inner side of front panel 13, for example with screws or other suitable fastening means. Mounting plate 30 comprises two mounting bracket portions 31 on either side of the mounting plate 30. Mounting bracket portions 31 comprise an elongate fin member extending outwardly from mounting plate 30. A lower portion of each of the mounting bracket portions 31 is connected to a front part of runners 14 using a suitable fastening means, for example bolts. Mounting plate 30 extends upwardly from the runners 14 and frame 15 so that an upper portion of the mounting plate 30 is fixed to the front panel 13 above the height at which the mounting plate 30 connects to the runners 14. The stability of front panel 13 can be enhanced the further up the rear or inner face of the front panel to which the mounting plate extends to reduce the tendency for the upper end of front panel 13 to pivot or flex relative to the mounting to the runners and/or frame.

In other embodiments, mounting 29 may be formed of separate constituent parts. For example, mounting 29 may comprise separate mounting brackets spaced apart and generally opposite the position of the runners. In the embodiment shown in Figure 2 mounting plate 30 integrates such parts into a unitary construction, which may provide some efficiencies in manufacture, assembly and strength.

As can be seen in Figure 2, mounting 29 provides numerous protrusions and other features that may be undesirable for certain uses of storage system 10. For example, where storage system 10 is used to store laundry (i.e. clothes), said protrusions and features may cause damage to the clothes by tending to catch, snag or perforate. Clothes may catch, for example on the thin upper edges of mounting bracket portions 31 or on any of the number of screws or bolts used to couple components of the mounting 29 together or to other parts of the storage system 10. In addition, since mounting bracket portions 31 extend outwardly from mounting plate 30, frame 15 may be spaced apart from the inner surface of front panel 13 or mounting plate 30. This gap creates a location where clothes or other items may end up, be difficult to reach or be liable to catch or snag.

To prevent this, storage system 10 may comprise a mounting that is substantially free of exposed parts that, during the normal course of use of storage system 10, may be liable to come into contact with clothes and may cause damage to clothes. It will be understood that the "normal course of use of storage system 10" may involve clothes being accidently (or intentionally) placed in parts of the system other than inside bin 16, as may occur from time to time.

Such a mounting is exemplified by the mounting shown in Figure 4, which comprises mounting cover 32 and mounting side panels 33. In the embodiment of Figure 4, mounting cover 32 and mounting side panels 33 are integrally formed in a single component. In other embodiments, cover 32 and side panels 33 are separate components that are connected together in use or are separately connected to mounting brackets (such as are described below). Mounting cover 32 is a plate-like member configured to mount over and between the upper edges of the mounting bracket portions 31 and from the front edge of frame 15 substantially to the inner surface of front panel 13 at the top of the mounting plate 30. Mounting side panels 33 are plate-like members configured to mount over the sides of mounting bracket portions 31. Cover 32 and side panels 33 substantially cover all or most of the protrusions, indents, gaps and fasteners in mounting 29 that may cause damage to clothes during use of the storage system. As such, the storage system can be used with a reduced risk to clothes compared to other systems and is therefore suitable to store laundry. In addition, cover 32 and side panels 33 cover unsightly parts of the mounting, improving the aesthetic appearance of the storage system and reducing the possibility of dirt and dust from getting into parts of the system. Mounting bracket portions 31 having an upper edge or surface that are angled diagonally downwards, the width of each mounting bracket portion 31 increasing lower down front panel 13 so that the lower part of mounting bracket portion 31 that is connected to the runners has a greater width and extends further from front panel 13 than the upper part of mounting bracket portion 31. The effect of this slope is that mounting cover 32 has a sloped orientation, sloping downwardly away from front panel 13. The orientation of the cover may help to divert clothes that do not fall into bin 16 towards bin 16 so that they can be easily reached and are diverted away from joins between components that could cause the clothes to snag or catch, for example the join between the mounting brackets or the mounting cover and the front panel. Alternatively, or additionally, the inwardly sloping orientation of mounting cover 32 can be achieved through the shape of mounting side panels 33, for example if the upper part of the side panels 22 extend less far from front panel than the lower part of the side panels. This is the case with the mounting side panels 33 shown in Figure 4, which have a generally triangular- shaped upper portion.

In other embodiments of the invention, other components are used to reduce the risk of clothes being damaged during use of the system. In general, since clothes are inserted into the storage system from above, it is the upwards facing surfaces of the mounting that may be free of clothes-damaging parts, i.e. they have a "clothes-kind" upper surface. The nature of an upper surface that is kind to clothes depends on the configuration of the storage system and also the type and nature of clothes that are stored in the storage system. However the skilled addressee will appreciate what forms of mounting will and will not provide a considerable risk of damaging clothes during normal and reasonable use of the storage system. In general, outwardly and particularly upwardly facing surfaces of the mounting may be substantially smooth, or free of protrusions, indents, sharp edges or points.

Front panel adjustment

It may be desirable to be able to adjust the position and/or orientation of front panel 13.

Inaccuracies or imperfections in the cabinetry, fixings or installation of the system may result in the front panel being out of position when the laundry drawer system is closed. Mounting plate 30 may comprise a plurality of slots 40 through which fasteners may be placed to fasten the mounting plate 30 to front panel 13. If the slots 40 extend horizontally (as they do in the embodiment shown in Figure 2), the lateral position and the orientation of the front panel around a horizontal axis parallel to the direction of the runners 14 may be altered by changing the location of the fasteners in the mounting slots 40. If the slots extend in an alternative direction, the position and orientation of the front panel can be adjusted in a different manner, as will be evident depending on the slot extension direction.

Mounting bracket portions 31 may be coupled, for example indirectly, to the runners 14 by means of cams 41. The rotation of cams 41 against a shoulder 42 in an edge of mounting bracket portions 31 will cause the position of the front panel 13 to change relative to the runners 14. By altering the cam 41 on each side of the system independently, the position and orientation of the front panel 13 can again be altered.

Runner covers

Referring again to Figure 2, frame 15 of storage system 10 is mounted on runners 14 and is configured to move along a track portion of the runners. Runners 14 are another type of component that may cause clothes or other items to snag, catch or become trapped in them and may also look unsightly. Storage system 10 comprises features intended to mitigate these problems. Storage system 10 comprises one or more runner covers for covering at least a part of the runners 14 and for assisting in preventing objects from falling onto the runners. In the example of Figure 2, system 10 comprises two runner cover members 35, each of which takes the form of an elongate member having a body 34 and base 36. The base is configured to be mounted to an inner surface of cavity 12 and body 34 extends outwardly from the base to substantially or in part shroud a part of one of the runners 14. Body 34 has a length sufficient to shroud a substantial part of the length of each runner or part thereof mounted to the cavity.

In another embodiment of the invention the bases 36 of the runner cover members 35 are joined together by a runner cover joining plate which spans between the runner cover members, for example along the floor of the cavity containing the storage system. The joining plate may be integrally formed with the runner cover members in a single component. In the embodiment of Figure 2, cover members 35 act to shroud runners 14 and also act as a mounting for the runners. Runners 14 each comprise a first elongate runner part 37 having a base mounted to an outer face of the respective cover member 35. In sliding relationship with runner parts 37 are respective second elongate runner parts 38. The second elongate runner parts 38 slide in the longitudinal direction along the first elongate runner parts 37. The sliding engagement may be facilitated by ball bearings or lubricated surfaces, as is known in the art. The second elongate runner parts 38 comprise the track on which frame 15 is slidingly mounted and again the sliding engagement between runner parts 38 and frame 15 may be facilitated by ball bearings or the like. Frame 15 may therefore slide along runner parts 38 independently from the sliding of runner parts 38 on base runner parts 37, thus providing a greater extension than if (as in other embodiments) frame 15 is in direct sliding engagement with a fixed runner part. It will be understood that a third elongate runner part may be connected to, or integrally formed as part of, frame 15 and this third elongate runner part is in sliding engagement with second elongate runner part 38. In other embodiments, the runners may take other forms as known in the art.

In other embodiments, the runners may be mounted to additional brackets that are themselves mounted to the base of the cavity. However there is an advantage in the configuration illustrated in Figure 2 (i.e. with the cover members 35 acting as brackets to mount the runners to the cavity) to minimise components, cost and complexity.

In another embodiment of the invention, the runners may be directly or indirectly mounted to the inner walls of the cavity 12 or housing 11. In one embodiment of the invention, the cover members that act to shroud the runners may be connected directly to the runners.

The storage system 10 is also configured such that frame 15 shrouds a portion of the runner mechanism. Frame 15 may comprise a generally upside down U-shape, for example frame 15 in Figure 2 comprises side portions 39 at the sides of the frame body 25 and extending downwardly therefrom. Mounted on the inner side of side portions 39 is some track engagement means for enabling the frame to slidingly engage with the track of elongate runner members 38, for example rollers, ball bearings, pin/needle rollers, wheels or a smooth sliding surface. In other embodiments the frame may comprise a track and the runner portions may comprise sliding means, for example rollers, wheels, ball bearings, pin/needle rollers or the like. The frame body 25 and frame side portions 39 shroud and/or at least partially conceal the runners from the perspective of a typical user of the storage system (who will generally view the storage system from above), thereby concealing the unsightly runner components and hindering objects from coming into contact with the runners where they may become trapped or be damaged. The configuration illustrated in Figure 2 uses drawer runners as are known in the art and mounts them to an outer side of the cover members 35 (or other brackets). This means that the drawer runners are used on the opposite side of the retractable system from which they would be used if they were mounted on the inner side wall of a drawer cavity, for example for standard box-like dresser drawers. The advantage of the described configuration is that, firstly, the shrouding main body 34 of cover members 35 can be positioned on an inner side of the runners, which is where clothes or other objects are likely to fall if they fall behind bin 16 and into the cavity 11 (since there is a larger space between the runners 14 than between each runner and the nearest side wall). Secondly, the side portions 39 of the frame 15 can be mounted to the outer sides of the runners 14, enabling the frame to shroud and/or conceal the runners, at least in part.

In other embodiments, the runners may be mounted on an inner surface of a mounting affixed to the bottom surface of the cavity or housing. Such embodiments may comprise different forms of runner shrouding, for example runner base covers positioned on the outside of the runners and runner engagement parts on an outer edge of the frame. In such embodiments, the frame may comprise additional shrouding members configured to overlay or shroud parts of the runner mechanism.

Unless the context clearly requires otherwise, throughout the description and the claims, the words "comprise", "comprising", and the like, are to be construed in an inclusive sense as opposed to an exclusive or exhaustive sense, that is to say, in the sense of "including, but not limited to". The entire disclosures of all applications, patents and publications cited above and below, if any, are herein incorporated by reference. Reference to any prior art in this specification is not, and should not be taken as, an acknowledgement or any form of suggestion that that prior art forms part of the common general knowledge in the field of endeavour in any country in the world.

The invention may also be said broadly to consist in the parts, elements and features referred to or indicated in the specification of the application, individually or collectively, in any or all combinations of two or more of said parts, elements or features.

Where in the foregoing description reference has been made to integers or components having known equivalents thereof, those integers are herein incorporated as if individually set forth.

It should be noted that various changes and modifications to the presently preferred embodiments described herein will be apparent to those skilled in the art. Such changes and modifications may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention and without diminishing its attendant advantages. It is therefore intended that such changes and modifications be included within the present invention.