The right pantry design can put everything in place.
Story by Tracy Dickinson
Featured in July 2020
Even if you’re not hoarding toilet paper and hand sanitizer, these months quarantined at home have caused many homeowners to reevaluate a number of features in their homes. One of those is kitchen storage.
No matter what size your kitchen, a well-planned pantry can open up numerous possibilities, from basic storage space to all the bells and whistles of a multipurpose room.
You don’t have to add a room to create a pantry.
“Building your pantry into the kitchen cabinet design can be the most efficient use of the space you have,” says Woodharbor’s Jill Lampe.
“I do a lot of tall cabinets with roll-out trays. You can store a lot in just 18 inches or 24 inches of width if it’s at least 18 inches deep,” says Barb Hyde of Beisser Lumber Company. “Add some labels and organizer baskets or clear bins so you can see what you have at a glance.”
“We like to utilize customized concealed storage,” says Deb Pudenz of AIM Kitchen and Bath. “Roll-outs and bins behind a cabinet door can be just as functional as a walk-in pantry.”
And basic doesn’t necessarily mean boring. Decorative touches like barn doors, creative storage containers, and nicely finished woods can turn basic storage into a design feature.
Hyde suggests reevaluating your existing space as you consider pantry options. “Sometimes there’s a wall in the kitchen that isn’t really being used,” she explains. “That can be a great option for a bank of 12-inch-deep cabinets, either tall cabinets or lower and upper cabinets with countertop to double as a serving buffet.”
Pudenz says the key to these decisions begins with listening to the homeowner. “We start with specific client requests, such as accommodating a certain appliance or item. From there, we determine the best way to store and organize. The options are really limitless.”
Moehl Millwork’s Tina Noel says a tight budget doesn’t rule out a walk-in pantry. “If we are budget-conscious, we will work in a couple of base or wall cabinets and add shelving in the rest of the space to keep costs down,” she says. “Adding specific storage for appliances or in-drawer accessories such as cutlery dividers, spice drawers, or knife blocks can make the space even more functional without adding dramatically to the budget.”
Walk-in pantries provide more storage space. They also offer more opportunities for customizing that storage to your specific needs. “Appliance storage seems to be a popular trend,” says Lampe. “Homeowners no longer want the toaster sitting out or the mixer on display. Tucking them inside a pantry is a nice solution to free up more storage in the kitchen and reduce clutter, too.”
Bells and Whistles
As Pudenz says, the options for pantries are nearly limitless. Your designer can help you create the most-efficient storage space and one that is ideally suited to your needs and tastes. Even its location can be customized. That can include off the back entry, in a laundry room, or even in a recessed area around a stairway.
“For convenience,” Noel says, “the pantry is typically either directly off the kitchen or close by down the hallway.”
“Modern butler pantries may be located closer to the dining or entertaining spaces. They can be used to store stemware, drinkware, wine coolers, and a wet bar sink,” explains Pudenz.
“We designed a pantry for a client with limited space, creating a furniture pantry piece for the dining room that fit the style of the home, “ Lampe says. “It had glass doors and was lit to display her dishes and included door and drawer storage for all the extras she needed to store in a pantry.”
“Custom stations have become very popular, too,” says Pudenz. “Coffee and baking stations are most common and can be concealed completely or can become a part of the decor when used with open shelving. Snack and beverage stations are also popular for families.”
Hyde agrees. “We’ve included everything from appliance storage and coffee stations to charging stations and drop zones.”
Pudenz suggests treating a walk-in pantry as more than just a functional space. “Natural lighting is a bonus, but isn’t often an option,” she says. “So great overhead lighting is important. Adding an accent wall color is a fun way to brighten what could otherwise be a strictly utilitarian space.”
Another fun way to dress up the pantry is your choice of door, the one element everyone will see. This decision needs to consider function as well as style.
“Sliding doors are usually preferable,” says Hyde. They don’t require space for the door to swing open. However, they do require sufficient blank wall space in order to slide open.
Pudenz says many homeowners are opting for cabinet-style doors to blend the pantry with the rest of the kitchen cabinetry.
“I like to incorporate something interesting,” Lampe says. “Barn doors can be fun. I also think a fun color on an interesting reclaimed door or French doors can really change the space and add to the design.”
Large or small, simple or fully customized, a well-planned pantry is possible in any home. •
- Deb Pudenz AIM Kitchen and Bath
- Barb Hyde Beisser Lumber Company
- Tina Noel Moehl Millwork
- Jill Lampe Woodharbor