A pantry is a beautiful thing… or at least it can be!
I grew up in a home with several pantries, taking for granted the glory of their amazing storage capacity and easy accessibility to commonly used items. Then I moved to a dorm room, lived in hotel rooms around the country for a few years and spent the first 3 years of my married, condo-owning life without a pantry at all. Woe was me. But, you do what you have to do and work with what you’ve got, right?
After years of a pantry-free existence, when my husband and I started planning our kitchen renovation last spring, you won’t be surprised to hear a pantry was high on my list of must-haves in our new space. Since we weren’t totally gutting our existing kitchen, I found the space for my new pantry by moving the refrigerator to the opposite side of the kitchen and turning the huge under-used fridge nook into the pantry of my dreams!
Now that I had my space, I set off to make it perfect. And you can too.
Step 1: Pretty Please
As someone who spends a lot of time in the kitchen, I wanted to make sure that the pantry was a place that made me happy, not some dark, dingy corner I feared what I would find upon opening the door. My first idea, thank you Pinterest, was to wallpaper the inside of the pantry, to give a fun background to all of the stuff we would store in there. When that proved to be a bit pricey for what is essentially a closet, my handy husband suggested I get some paint, a heck of a lot of Frog Tape and test out my stripe-painting skills.
2 days, and not nearly as much hands on time as I thought, later … VOILA! Fun stripes for the foundation of my pretty pantry!
Step 2: Accessorize
Next step was to head to everyone’s favorite place – The Container Store! My husband and I had a blast deciding which shelving options and spice racks to get in order to make the most of the space. The Elfa shelving system is super easy to install and incredibly versatile.
We got the door rack which hooks right over the top and bottom of the door, no drilling required! It’s perfect for all of our spices and most used stuff. Plus, when the door is open all the way, it’s right next to the stove for convenient grabbing while cooking that gourmet meal!
Step 3: What Goes Where
Where each item would go, for maximum ease when cooking, was the next all important step. Since I now had this nice, bright pantry, with a great amount of storage space outfitted with racks and shelves, I set about organizing everything that belonged in the pantry onto my new racks and shelves.
Here is my pantry map, a great guide for organizing any kitchen space.
1 & 2: These racks were a little high so onto those went marinades, rubs, bullion cubes, least used spices.
3: I’m a baker so I need to make sure my baking ingredients were in easy reach. At just about eye level went baking spices and extracts (i.e. cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla).
4: In easy reach went everyday spices (i.e. parsley, rosemary, oregano, garlic powder)
6: Salts (shelf above and below)
7: Olive Oil, Pam Spray & Frank’s Red Hot
8: Snacks (for easy grabbing), Brita Filters and Straws
We got another spice rack unit to install on the inside closet wall for additional oils, vinegars and spices…
And here is the inside shelf-by-shelf breakdown!
1: The top shelf ended up storing mainly extras of things and stuff we don’t need on a daily basis (i.e. pasta maker, paper towels, extra dog treats, olive oil, flour & sugar)
2: Family size storage on this shelf, since we buy the giant oatmeal container and refill our little one for easier handling in the morning, the family size box of goldfish, extra dried fruit waiting to be put into trail mix or granola, etc.
3: The tea and snack shelf: tea to the left, crackers in the middle, and the basket on the right is for any opened bag of chips or other snack item that can be problematic when left loose on a shelf.
4: The Good Morning shelf with a separate coffee station on the left! Put some water in your mug and make your coffee right in the pantry! All the fixings are there including mugs, coffee and hot chocolate pods, flavor syrup and honey. (You DO have to walk to the fridge for milk, but hey – I never said I was perfect!)
Breakfast items on the right! Cereal, granola and oatmeal right at your finger tips so your sleepy self can easily pour yourself a bowl while you wait for that coffee.
Full disclosure: I organized the entire pantry and then found the onion and potato basket sitting on the counter. This was the only shelf with some extra space. So it’s placement was an accident, but having it right there has actually been super helpful in reminding me what we have stored in there. We have actually been using the produce we have on hand before it’s ready for the trash.
5: The obligatory canned goods shelf with beans, pasta, peanut butter, chicken stock, tomato products, rice and pasta. Any pantry staples you keep around the house for a last minute meal go right here.
6: The Booze, Baking and Barks shelf with the bar on the left, baking supplies in the middle, and dog treats on the right.
7: Heavy storage goes on the floor: The hubby’s homebrew and sodas go on the left; in the middle is a basket filled with any extra canned goods that didn’t fit on shelf 5 and loose sodas. On the right is the dog food for easy daily access. You can also see the reflection of the swiffer in the dog food can, right inside the door for easy cleanup!
Now before you get overwhelmed and start telling yourself that you could never get something this well organized, I will tell you that this didn’t all happen in one day. There were definitely a couple of weeks of trial and error, as we figured out the best place for things to live. It’s always best to go into a project like this knowing that the end result may take some time. It’s a constant process of figuring out the best way for things to work as you use the space in your normal day-to-day ways. The door spices and coffee station were well thought out, so they never moved, but the bar, dog treats, flour/sugar tubs and snack basket had several homes before we reached what is pictured here. And in a few months, when we have to find space for bottles and baby food, it will probably all change again!
When tackling any new space in your life, always remember that if you take the time to organize it the way that YOU want and what works best for YOU, and your family or whoever else will be using the space, you’re much more likely to keep it neat and organized.
And if opening that closet is just depressing with it’s faded white walls? Slap on a coat of yellow paint! Just because it’s a closet doesn’t mean it doesn’t deserve some love.
An organized home is a happy home. And boy does this pantry make me happy!
Post authored by Beth Renoni, photos by Brian Renoni.