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Closet Blog: How to Design and Organize a Pantry

Party in the Pantry!

I know that sounds a little crazy, but most of the things you need for a party end up being stored in your pantry, since it's one of the most all-encompassing storage niches' in your house. From Campbell's Soup to Kraft and from Betty Crocker to Orville Redenbacher — it's in there. So, putting some thought into a pantry organization system can really pay off. Follow these tips and ideas on organizing your pantry for maximum storage and optimal usability. The more you do, the more improvement you will see. When you are finished, the results may make you feel like celebrating.

How to Organize Your Pantry:

  1. Less is More: When it comes to shelf depth in a pantry — less really can be more. It's good to have a variety of different shelf depths in your pantry. Shallow pantry shelves are great for small items like soup and mac n' cheese. The shallower depths ensure that these products remain accessible and do not get lost in the back of the shelf. Narrow depth shelves can also benefit from shelf rails to keep small items from falling off.
  2. Let's Go Deep: Deep pantry shelves or pull-out drawers are great for storing serving pieces, platters and large appliances. Just be sure to design pull-out drawers with varying amounts of space in between in order to accommodate different size items. Your pantry shelving system will have adjustable shelves so you can determine what works as you organize this space with your own foodstuffs.
  3. Re-Use — Recycle — Reclaim: If your pantry becomes the home for the recycle center, make sure it's organized and easy to use. Do this by deciding on how much space is needed for the containers and where they will go. Any sort of recycling pull-out can really make this task easier.
  4. Bottom Heavy: Leave open floor space in your pantry so you can simply slide heavy items like cases of water and soda on the floor for easy access and maneuvering.
  5. Get Wired: Getting wired need not only refer to drinking a lot of coffee (although the pantry is the perfect place for coffee storage if you do embibe in this popular beverage). Pull-out wire baskets in the pantry are great for storing potatoes and onions as well as things like bags of chips — or just bags for taking to the grocery store. They help contain things while still allowing you to see what's inside, plus they allow for air circulation that will help keep root vegetables dry. A note about storing potatoes and onions: Raw potatoes and onions should never be stored next to each other. According to the nutrition experts at Penn State University, do not store onions in places with exposure to moisture, specifically near potatoes, because onions can rot quicker when they absorb the potatoes' moisture and gas. Potatoes will also decline when stored near onions. Both potatoes and onions release gases that cause the other to rot more quickly.
  6. Captain Hook: Hooks are convenient in many areas of the home, and the pantry is no exception. The real advantage of hooks is that they make that all-important "vertical space" (aka the walls) usable. In a pantry you can hang aprons, reusable shopping bags, oversize grilling tools, pet leashes, mops, brooms and more.
  7. A Clear Vision: Clear containers are the best way to store bulk food items and dry goods like rice, beans, popcorn, flour, sugar, quinona, etc. This will go a long way to staying organized and help prevent food spoilage by eliminating multiple open boxes or bags of the same item, each partially used.
  8. Make Use of Corners: Corners are one of the most under utilized areas of the pantry — or any type of kitchen cabinetry. The dead space often left in cabinet corners can be dealt with using curved shelves specially designed for corner access. An even better way to maximize the corner is with a rotating closet storage system. This "Lazy Susan" rotating pantry approach allows for different items to be stored so that everything is immediately acccessible and easy to see at a glance with no wasted space.
  9. Beverage Storage: Many pantries also double as wine storage areas. Wine bottles, as well as many other bottled beverages, are better stored horizontally. Pull-out bottle racks, wine and beverage storage cubes with wine cubbies and wine holders that can hold bottles horizontally so that the corks don't dry out are a smart investment.

The ultimate pantry design and organizational system that is best for you will depend on a number of factors, including: the size and shape of the available space; the types and quantity of items to be stored; ergonomic factors like your height; as well as budget considerations. The constant in every pantry organization project, however, is the need to maximize storage space in a way that provides easy access and high visibility of all inventory. Follow these guidelines, and you'll be on your way to having a more efficient food/pantry storage system.


Closet Works is Chicagolands' largest and most experienced provider of custom storage solutions. Since 1987, we have been helping homeowners by creating custom closets, pantries, bookcases and more to help create a better, less stessful lifestyle. Great ideas to "Organize Your Life" and examples of our custom pantries and pantry organization accessories can be found throughout our webite. For more information on Closet Works call toll-free at 800-4-CLOSET (800-425-6738).

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