How I organized our new pretty AND functional walk in pantry!
I recently tore out all of the pantry shelves in this 5×7 space and replaced them with kitchen cabinets. I wanted the pantry to look good, but more importantly function better for us:
After living with it half way done for about four months, and now completely finished for about a month…I can safely say this is the best room makeover I’ve ever tackled. Especially as far as how we use the space and the ease of keeping up with it.
When my family keeps a space clean and organized with little effort, I know it’s a win. As I get older I crave simple and “tidy” spaces — nothing crazy, just areas that work well and save us time and money.
Time saved not constantly looking for things and money saved not buying multiples!
When we know exactly where something is, or more importantly — where to put it away — life is so much easier!
Let’s start with a tour inside of the two pantry storage cabinets and the wood shelves I added in between:
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These cabinets are a standard 24 inches deep, so they hold a ton! There’s plenty of room for small appliances:
And larger appliances like the Crock Pot and the Instant Pot. The only appliance we keep in the kitchen now is the air fryer, since we use it so often.
I will share links to many of the items you see at the end of this post!
Those two are plugged in to the wall behind, and it’s worked great to be able to pull them out and use them right there. I’m going to get a longer set of shelf brackets for that one though — I reused what we had in the old pantry and it’s a bit too short.
When I switch those out, that drawer will come out as far as the pet food one below.
The open middle shelves are great vertical storage space as well. We keep our bread, tortillas, etc., in the metal bread holders. Those skinny baskets are great for random stuff like our pet treats:
It’s nice to have an open spot for all of my cookbooks on the shelves as well.
But the best part of this whole pantry is this cabinet! It’s dreamy because it holds a TON of food. I was able to sort food categories in the different drawers:
We have shelves for canned goods, baking supplies, pasta and dry goods, various sauces and the bottom shelf holds larger items and extras.
I’ve discovered something (about myself) over the years — clutter builds up around me when I don’t have a place to put things away. It’s such a simple thing, but I realized that is why I put off putting a lot of things away.
If there’s not a designated spot for an item (either because of the set up of the space or because of too many things), clutter piles up. And in my case…frustration builds as well.
We had so many shelves in here before, but they were shallow and the vertical space wasn’t utilized. These tall pantry cabinets have been such a huge improvement for us!
Gah…I love these things! Drawers are the BOMB. The shelving in these pantry cabinets was fine, but the lower you go, the less functional they are. You can’t see what’s on the back of each shelf!
Next time I design a kitchen it will have all DRAWERS. 🙂
Being able to pull these out to see everything we have has been so helpful.
I’ll tell you more about those plastic containers I use down below. They’re great for dry ingredients and foods that come in bags — like sugar, chocolate chips, nuts, chips, etc.
I cut strips of paper for the labels and they just slide right in. Easy to change out if I move things around.
The smaller cabinet above the pull out shelves holds lesser used items like small handheld appliances and random kitchen gear:
Now, onto the shorter base cabinets. I installed two of these — both with three drawers. I used 18 inch and 24 inch width cabinets.
The top drawers on both units are the standard depth. We keep foil, parchment paper and storage bags in one:
Even something like plastic wrap was an item we used to buy extras of, just because they used to be all piled up together on a shelf. We never knew what we had (and/or never took the time to look). Now we have one of each and can see exactly what we need.
As I started placing the food into the deeper drawers after I installed the cabinets last fall, the one thing that really bugged me were the chip bags.
In the past we’ve tried lining them up nicely. Didn’t work well. I used a large basket for all of the bags for awhile — but they piled up and then we lost track of what we had because they would get buried.
Chip bags are the bane of my existence.
I got an idea to place the chips in storage containers…and tried it out. Turns out we LOVED IT.
Now I know containers for food storage are oddly polarizing for some people, which I’ve never understood. If you like things organized and looking nice in containers…do it! If you like to keep your food items in the original packaging…do that! 🙂
Like everything else in our homes…do what works best for you and your family.
I started with a couple to see how we liked them, and then added over a few months. I will count all the reasons we love these in a minute, but first of all, the answer to the biggest question…
If you take food out of the packaging, how do you know when the food expires?
Trying to find the expiration date on food packaging drives me bananas. Finding the date on all the different packages is right up there with someone tapping me on the shoulder. 😂 I know, totally irrational, but it bugs me.
These little labels stick on anything — plastic, glass and even plastic baggies. I use them on leftovers in the fridge, food I’m freezing for later, and on our food storage in the pantry.
They don’t smear and hold up perfectly until you want them gone. Then it takes seconds to wash them away. No waste, they disintegrate completely. And you get a TON of them (500!) on a roll:
I’ve gone back and forth on the food storage container thing over the years. I’m solidly in the container camp now and this is why I love these clear containers so much:
- We can see the different chips and snacks we have at a glance. No more bags piled up in a basket or shelf.
- We don’t buy doubles anymore because the clear lids allow us to see exactly how much is left of each item.
- The biggest reason — food stays WAY fresher for longer. No more stale chips.
- The larger 91 ounce containers pictured above hold a standard bag of chips no problem.
- They’re easy to carry around and pour out snacks out of.
- The flip top containers come in a ton of sizes — perfect for anything from spices to large pasta.
I also find they are a better use of space overall. The containers hold a ton and are smaller than a bag of chips. These would also work well for cereal, but check the different sizes to see what works best for your needs.
And the glass jars with sealing lids are great for dry foods like pasta, cereal and rice. I like having them on the shelves — not only are they cute but they’re easy to grab when we’re cooking.
It took about four months of using this space before I got it organized the way I wanted — I moved things around here and there as we were getting used to the new set up.
As far as making our daily lives go smoother, this is by far the best project I’ve ever tackled. I’m so thrilled with our new pantry and feel calm and happy when I walk in. 🙂
As always, I encourage you to figure out what works best for you! What works for us may not be the answer for your family, but I do hope it gives you inspiration!
Here are the items I’ve used to organize our pantry:
White baking canisters are from At Home