Tackling the pantry is one of those projects that is so easy to neglect, but it gives such instant gratification it should be at the top of our to do list. There are no shortages of pantry makeovers on the internet, and in looking at them one thing is very clear: your pantry should be different than mine and everyone else’s. A pantry for a family with three children, two dogs and a cat will need very different organization solutions than empty nesters.
No matter what your needs are, there are a few solutions that almost everyone could and should utilize to make the most of whatever space they have.
Before we get to the storage solutions I recommend, the process for cleaning out your pantry is pretty straight forward.
Get Things Ready
This may sound obvious, but you’re going to want to take everything out of the pantry, so you need a place to put things. Whether it’s your kitchen counter or table, make sure you have space to organize things before you put them back. It will makes things so much easier.
Purge, Then Purge Again
Get rid of anything that has expired. If you don’t see an expiration date and it’s been there since before the Civil War, toss it. If it’s still edible but something you know you’re not going to use, be ruthless and give it away or toss it.
Organize As You Go
If space allows, place everything into categories as you take them out, i.e., pet food, pasta, soups, etc.
Wipe Down Shelves
As you can see, we emptied EVERYTHING out, including the shelves. Now would be a good time to take a good look at your empty pantry and revel in the emptiness.
Now it’s time to think about what wasn’t working. Here’s a ‘before’:
Part of the problem was shelves that were not flexible and we weren’t utilizing the space efficiently. There’s a lot of wasted space. You may be wondering what that object is on the right against the wall? That’s actually something Fisherman put together to convert our 42″ round dining table to a table that can accommodate 8 people. That wood piece you see is on two corners and secured to the underside of the table. It’s the only way we can have an indoor sit down dinner for more than 4 people, but I’ve decided to get rid of it. It’s not entirely comfortable to use and if I want more people over I’ll do a buffet style, or we will eat on the deck weather permitting. Getting rid of it opens up that wall for storage, which is always a good thing.
Items that are used most often should be easily accessible and you should also consider weight and safety when planning where to put things. I always feel more comfortable with heavier items as close to the floor as possible. If you have children and/or pets, think about what you don’t want them to have access to and plan accordingly.
After everything was cleared out, I painted the two walls on each side in a semi gloss white and covered the back wall in contact paper. I then painted the existing shelves in white and covered the front in a coordinating ribbon secured with tacks that I spray painted brown.
The biggest change is the use of adjustable shelving. Needs can and do change, and I know this pantry will undergo some major changes in the future so I wanted to make sure we’re prepared. Most likely we will add at least one more shelf and do something on the right wall a little differently. I also plan to make better use of the inside of the doors.
I’ve seen pictures of heavy items like stand mixers placed on wire shelves. That always makes me nervous! I much prefer fixed, sturdy shelving for small appliances and heavier bowls. I was lucky that we had this cabinet at the rental that wasn’t really needed so we put it to good use here. If the height between shelves are being under utilized, get some risers. They can double your usable space and they’re not expensive. I’ve seen them in stainless which are a bit more expensive than plastic, but super sturdy and something to consider if you’re storing heavy items, but for most of us the plastic ones will be just fine.
I purchased the Lazy Susan at The Container Store and what I like most is it’s two tiered and the price was right!
I recommend storing canned items one of two ways: either get some brackets that are actually designed for shoe shelves (they’re available at Home Depot/Lowe’s, etc.) and place a closet shelf upside down on it, or get risers so the cans in the back are higher than the front.
I found these baskets at The Container Store on sale for $6 each and they’re the perfect size! I’m storing some things like paper bags, paper plates and cups and party goods…all items I don’t use often enough to give prime real estate to.
I’m sure you’re looking at this pantry and wondering if we ever eat! Don’t forget…this is a weekend place and I almost never cook while we’re here. We usually eat something simple for breakfast like oatmeal and for lunch I usually pick up prepared food before we leave and bring it up to the cabin. Dinner is almost always out. The pantry at our rental which is where we are most of the time , you can see here, (along with some great pantry organizing ideas)and here is where I talk about my view on kitchens and pantries (one of my first posts). Basically I mention it’s better to have a larger pantry and a smaller kitchen and I tell you why.
Check it out and leave a comment. Since it was one of my first posts it really could use some ;).