Pantries rank high on future log and timber homeowners’ wish lists, and for good reason — they’re the ideal way to maximize storage and keep everything from edibles to appliances orderly.
If your house is on the smaller side, you may wonder if you can spare the space to include a pantry in your plans. Well, we have good news: There’s more than one way to weave this storage wonder into your own kitchen. The key is to be realistic about the amount of space you will need, how much you can carve out of your total square footage to accommodate those needs and which type of pantry will bring it all together. Consider this medley of options as you craft your kitchen’s storage solutions.
This is the penthouse of pantries — the one serious chefs and organizational addicts aspire to have — and if you’ve got the space, you won’t regret the decision to include a butler’s pantry into your kitchen’s design.
Butler’s pantries were once the staple of the Victorian-era kitchen, and were, in fact, used by actual butlers. Though waitstaff are not commonplace in today’s log or timber homes, the butler’s pantry is making a big comeback — especially in households that love to entertain.
Essentially an extra room (it’s sometimes called a “back kitchen”), this versatile, highly functional pantry holds much more than shelves of canned vegetables, jars of jam and dry goods. When thoughtfully designed, it also can include space for food prep and service; china, crystal and serving platter storage; and supplementary appliances, like freezer chests, wine refrigerators, extra ovens and the like.
While drafting your kitchen’s design, decide if you will store and use small appliances in this space, too. This will impact everything from clear counter space on which to work to the number of electrical outlets you will need to the task lighting that will be required. And, you’d be wise to install a door to the pantry, so you can conceal any mess that’s made.
Essentially a small storage room, there are a few guidelines to follow as you plan the super-popular walk-in pantry. For starters, the most common configuration for a walk-in is a 25-square-foot (5-by-5-foot) U-shaped design with shelves on three sides.
But dimensions can vary based on the amount of available space you have, as well as the amount of storage you will need. For instance, you may opt for an offset doorway and place shelves only on the rear and opposing sidewall. If that’s the case, a longer, narrower layout may be just the ticket. Extend the length of this pantry to 76 inches. A corner walk-in should measure between 2 and 3 feet deep and have the doorway at a 45-degree angle.
Regardless of the size and shape of the room, remember to keep the shelving shallow. Ideally, food storage shelves should be 12 inches deep; otherwise things will get buried in the back, causing you to waste money buying them again because you thought your reserves were depleted. If you plan to keep small appliances or special-occasion dishware here, too, install a bank of shelving that’s between 12 and 18 inches deep and at a height that will not strain your back when you retrieve these heavier items. The bottommost shelf is normally elevated 20 to 24 inches from the floor, allowing you to accommodate tall or bulky items, such as bags of dog food and paper towels.
Reach in-pantries can be ideal solutions for small-scale homes or for cooks who don’t require substantial amounts of storage. The ideal structural reach-in pantry is typically about 5 feet wide, 2 feet deep and designed so that the items in it are visible and easy to reach.
Because it’s typically smaller than a walk-in, you may want to increase the shelf depth a bit and incorporate features such as tiered shelving, lazy Susans and pullout baskets or drawers to keep everything arranged. Door organizers will add to the condensed storage capacity.
While reach-in pantries can be a small closet-like space, they don’t have to be built into to the actual structure of your home. Often, they can be included in your cabinetry configuration. A stand-alone piece of furniture, like a hutch or antique china cabinet, also can be repurposed as a pantry, giving you complete flexibility and maneuverability.
A pull-out pantry is essentially a reach-in pantry turned on its side, installed into a cabinet bank and faced to coordinate with the cabinetry. If it’s accessible from both sides, it can be as wide as 2 feet; if it’s going to be accessed from one side only, 16 inches is optimal (a pull-out spice pantry can be as narrow as 6 inches).
A few guidelines to make sure your pantry is perfectly designed and organized.
- For canned goods, shelves should be 6.5 to 7 inches.
- For boxed goods (like cereal or crackers), shelves should be 14 to 16 inches deep.
- For oversized items, baskets, etc., plan 18 to 20 inch shelves.
- On every shelf, make sure there will be at least 2 inches of clearance above the tallest item to make retrieval and replacement a snap.
- Take a periodic inventory of your pantry’s contents to ensure there are no expired items.
- Keep rarely used items at the very top or bottom of the pantry, keep frequently used items (as well as those kept in baskets or bins) at eye level, cans and jars at waist level, cereal at knee level and oversized items and storage bins on the floor beneath the bottom shelf.
- Categorize items by type or purpose to make them easy to find.
- Consider using clear canisters so you can keep tabs on quantity, and label each container so there’s no question as to what you have in store.
- If you have kids, create a spot in the pantry that’s all theirs. Store grab-and-go snacks, crackers, juice boxes and other things the kiddos enjoy, and place them a height that they can reach easily.