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Get Your Pantry in Shape


The pantry is the workhorse of the kitchen. It helps you when you need to get dinner (or breakfast or lunch) on the table and keeps ingredients fresh and cool. But like all hardworking spaces, it can get a little (or a lot) disorganized. Gather inspiration from these beautifully organized spaces, and pick and choose from 15 takeaway tips to get your own pantry in shape.

1. Back-of-Door Organizer

Expand your organizing possibilities with back-of-door shelving designed to hold bottles and jars one-deep. To make the most of this prime pantry space, use it to store your most frequently reached-for spices and staple ingredients. The best back-of-door shelves have guardrails (as seen here) so items don’t topple off every time you open and close the door.

2. Wine Storage

A good wine rack that can hold a full stock of bottles is a must for oenophiles. The custom wine shelves shown here have a geometric design that makes a striking presentation. 

Outfit your existing pantry shelves with a wine rack or two to keep favorite bottles close at hand.

3. Labeled Drawers

Deep pantry drawers hold a lot of goods — but they can also quickly become a mess. Keep yours in order with drawer dividers and reusable chalkboard labels so you know exactly what goes where.

4. Command Center

Need to save school notices and stash incoming mail, but don’t want them cluttering up the kitchen counter? Carve out space along one wall in the pantry for a neat command center, with a bulletin board, mail slots and hooks for keys. 

And you don’t need a walk-in pantry to make this work — just hang similar pieces on the back of the pantry door.

5. Easy-Scoop Jars

Candy jars with wide, angled openings make smart containers for dry goods that need to be scooped or measured. Use the jars for grains, loose tea, flour, snack foods, and yes, sweets. 

To make them even more useful, include a metal scoop in an appropriate measurement inside the jar.

6. Magnetic Spice Containers

Figuring out the best place to store spices is a common struggle. Keeping frequently used spices near your stove is handy, but since spices tend to stay fresh longer when stored in a cool, dry place, the pantry is a better choice for the bulk of your spice collection. Save precious shelf space by installing a magnetic spice rack on the wall — just be sure to label the lids so you can tell what’s what at a glance.

7. Risers and Bins

In a narrow pantry, shelf risers and bins are a big help in keeping your ingredients visible and easy to grab. 

Use risers on deep shelves to elevate the back rows of cans and jars. Sort ingredients into broad categories (such as baking, breakfast) and keep like with like inside open bins.

8. Library Ladder

If your pantry is narrow but tall, make use of all that vertical space by outfitting the pantry with a rolling library ladder. This way, you can easily slide the ladder to just the right spot and step up to grab what you need.

9. Pullout Drawers and Baskets

Deep cabinets in the pantry are bound to become a cluttered mess. Install pullout drawers, baskets and shelves, and you can easily reach what you need — even if it’s way at the back.

10. Turntables

Have a tricky corner space to work with? Turntables (aka Lazy Susans) are a great way to make an awkward corner more usable. 

If you don’t want to have turntable shelving installed, furnish your current shelves with a Lazy Susan or two and twirl away.

11. Bold Color

If style is what your pantry is missing, nothing is more effective at boosting flair than paint. And since the pantry is typically a small, confined space, you can go wild with color without fear of overwhelm. Choose a color you’ve always wanted to try on your walls, but have been afraid to — bold red, lush aqua or deep navy, perhaps?

12. Interior Lighting

The joy of being able to actually see what you are looking for cannot be overstated. If your pantry is lacking in the lighting department, remedy the situation by adding an overhead fixture or wall sconces. 

Hiring an electrician is well worth the cost when it impacts your daily life for the better — and being able to easily find what you’re looking for while trying to get dinner on the table definitely counts!

13. Cookbook Shelf

Have a window in the pantry? Make it pull its weight by adding a shelf below to hold a stack of your favorite cookbooks. If you have recipe binders or food magazines, keep those filed away here too. Then, when you’re planning dinner, everything you need to reference will be in one spot.

14. No-Pantry Pantry

No pantry? No problem. Repurpose a wall in or near your kitchen and deck it out with shelving. 

In an open space, neatness is even more important, so go ahead and splurge on cute pantry bins and a matching set of clear storage jars to keep everything tidy. 

Bonus points for adding some signage and a pretty rug.

15. Sliding Barn Door

Barn-style doors are as cool looking and popular as ever, but that’s not the (only) reason you should consider putting one on your pantry. A traditional door swings wide, which can negatively impact flow in the kitchen. A barn door, on the other hand, slides sideways — making it especially well suited to the pantry. Whether your kitchen is compact or spacious, a barn door could be a smart and stylish choice.

Categories: Tips & Resources

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