Is your pantry a bit of a disaster with tons of stacked cans, food, and appliances everywhere? Can’t find ingredients when you need them? Or you do, but you have to move items out of the way or accidentally knock them over to grab them? If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions, it’s time to consider a better storage solution—and by that, we mean a custom pantry. It’s time to make the most of your kitchen layout and say, “goodbye, clutter—hello, organization.” Once you’re organized, you’re going to feel a weight lifted from your shoulders. Cooking is going to be easier and you’re going to be a lot more relaxed in the kitchen.
But, designing the right storage solution and getting a custom pantry that fits your needs is tricky stuff best left to closet designers and storage experts. Here are a few smart pantry design tips and storage ideas to help you as you work with a designer to build your custom pantry.
Shelves for food storage should never be deeper than 12 inches.
There are two primary types of pantries: walk-in pantries and reach-in pantries. Most are reach-ins, but regardless of the style, you should remember to opt for shelves no deeper than 12 inches. Many clients seem to be in love with the idea of really deep shelves. They think it’s the answer to their pantry woes, but what they don’t realize is that the actually create three big storage problems: 1) The shelves are too deep to reach the back, so you end up using only the first three quarters of it, a big storage no-no. 2) Items get lost in the back of these shelves and become dust collectors and expire. 3) You end up having to move things around or knock things over in the process of looking for something, an organizational nightmare. This can also result in buying more than what you need because you weren’t about to take inventory properly—or not being able to complete a recipe because you can’t find what you are looking for.
For better efficiency and visibility, shelves should be customized and separated based on need. For pots, pans, and appliances, shelves should be between 14 and 16 inches deep. Never any deeper! For food storage, shelves should be 6, 9, and 12 inches deep. It’s also never a good idea to stack food or cans in tall shelves. Instead, opt for shallower, shorter-height shelves. You end up saving space while getting better accessibility. Whether you have a custom reach-in closet or custom walk-in closet, the rules above apply.
Open shelving is ideal.
With the right sizes in use, open shelving in a pantry can maximize storage potential. It makes unloading groceries a breeze, and finding what you need and seeing what needs restocking extra easy. If you want to take organization to the next level, corrale similar items and store them together in wicker or wire baskets. For example, baking supplies in one and snacks another. This helps finding things a cinch. You can also help prevent visual chaos by eliminating messy-looking open boxes and instead decanting bulk food like cereal and sugar into uniform jars or bins. This provides a sense of cohesion while also keeping food fresh and providing visual cues about when to restock items.
Wire shelves and door racks are out; melamine is in.
Wire shelves are no longer in style. In fact, Closet Engineers doesn’t even offer them as an option to our clients anymore. Instead, we’ve found that melamine is in. Additionally, less and less clients are asking for racks on the insides of pantry doors. We still offer them with customizable features as they are great for organization, but we’ve found that there has been an overall downward trend in demand.
Pantry pull-out shelves are functional, but more expensive.
We generally recommend open shelving as the best pantry storage solution, but we don’t have any problems with pull-out shelves. Some customers adore them. We can’t argue that they can make life easier, allowing you to find and take inventory of food quickly; but, it comes at a price as this pantry storage solution tends to be a more expensive option.
Hooks are helpful.
For bonus storage space, add hooks on the back of your pantry door. These hooks can hang aprons, oven mitts, reusable shopping bags, and even pizza peels for quick access. In a pantry, taking advantage of vertical storage is essential and in the end, saves on space.
Corner shelves are a waste of space.
We like to call corner shelves “dead shelves,” and with good reason. They’re especially a nightmare in pantries, creating problems rather than solving them. Corner shelves in pantries eliminate visibility and make it really tough to access what you need. Essentially half of your stored items are blocked! Instead, the better storage solution is shallow shelving (6 inches deep) along one wall so you can see and access everything it’s storing.
Hide garbage and recycling in pantries.
Don’t forget about your garbage and recycling! Some clients don’t like their garbage cans out in the open, but don’t have the pull-out garbage cans and recycling bins built into their cabinetry. That’s where we come in. We customize shelving around these unsightly objects to accommodate them in any pantry space.
It’s always good to know the facts. Now that you know what it takes to design a modern, well-organized pantry, you and your custom closet designer can make intelligent decisions about the storage solution best for you. Remember, it’s all about tailoring your new pantry to your specific needs—and the improvements in the kitchen will be staggering: less stress, better organization, and a nicer looking pantry.