Growing up, my family’s house had a tiny, single-door pantry closet…located around the corner from the kitchen and down the hallway. Not particularly an ideal location, to be sure, but I remember how my mother squeezed every last functional possibility out of those precious inches of pantry space. Oh, and did I mention I come from a family of 11? It leads me to think that, despite the size of the family and the size of the pantry, there are certain strategies one can employ to do as my mother did and maximize storage space and accessibility. Here are a few of those ideas:
1. Install adjustable-height shelving.
Of course, the idea behind these is function, not aesthetics. Obviously, pantry contents are customized to each household, and adjustable shelving allows for that. With dignity. No more cereal boxes lying on their side so they fit on the shelf, no more bottled goods wasting 12 inches of above-lid air space. Adjust those shelves, and you’re well on your way to having a wonderfully maximized pantry.
2. Install built-in wraparound shelves.
And make them deep. Although corner shelving can have a bad rap for being awkward-to-access storage, it’s great to have these spaces for rarely used or oddly shaped items. The depth of these shelves is beneficial for storing not just food items, but regular kitchen equipment as well (e.g., the mixer, large pots, and deep baskets). And, hey, if you can color-coordinate your space to look as well as this one, I’d recommend leaving that pantry door wide open!
3. Include drawers.
Drawers are handy for smaller items such as special silverware, extra spices, condiments, etc. They allow access to items all the way to the back of the unit (as opposed to hard-to-reach shelf backs), which keeps foods fresh because it is rotated better. Even if you can’t do beautiful built-ins like the ones in this pantry, pre-built drawers are available as a great organizational addition. Before customizing your space, make a note of items you would potentially want to house in the drawers; this will help you determine what sizes of drawers would be best for you.
4. Utilize pantry doors.
Too often, doors are overlooked as potential units of storage because their ultimate function is to open and close and provide access to a space. But even the few inches of storage they can provide is priceless! Built-in flat shelves on a pantry door are ideal for easy access to spices and small items. If you can’t do built-in, never fear! Door-hung storage units of all types and sizes are readily available at most hardware stores and supercenters.
5. Make a pantry out of a cupboard.
So, let’s say you don’t have space for a pantry…not even in the hallway around the corner like my family had. Perhaps you could then create a camouflaged one, tucked away inside an existing cupboard right inside your kitchen. Doing this, you would still be able to have many useful items on-hand while saving the real estate required for a separate pantry. It’s a win-win!