All Things Stored and Wonderful

A well-designed (and organized) pantry is well worth the effort.


We love a good grocery store. Why? Because we can easily see and grab those items we need: canned goods, snacks, and spices are lined up in symmetrical rows and columns; produce is bunched by type, on full display and within grasp.

Imagine having the organization and visibility of all your most-used items easily within reach in your own kitchen. No more stooping or bending to find canned goods or baking sheets. No more moving boxes of pasta or bags of rice to find the granola at the back of the cupboard. Wouldn’t life be wonderful if you could bring those elements of grocery store organization into your own home?

Today’s kitchen pantries offer not only the best in storage and organizational solutions; they also function as multi-use spaces. And as long as you keep to the three tenants of pantry design—organization, visibility, and purpose (as in, every item has a purpose)—you can tidy your kitchen while simplifying your life.

Greenville residential designer Jackson Thacker has designed a pantry or two in his career. According to Thacker, a U-shaped design for walk-in pantries provides maximum efficiency, especially when coupled with graduated shelving that goes from deeper/wider at the base to shallower/smaller at the top. “This keeps you from feeling like something’s going to fall on top of you,” he laughs.

Shelving, of course, is most important, but Thacker claims that anything over 12-inches deep is a waste of time. “Keep shelving to two cans deep for maximum efficiency. You want to be able to see everything you have stored,” he says.

Pantries can also be havens of style, where beauty cozies up with function. After all, Thacker notes, if something looks great, you are more likely to keep it clean and tidy. In a purely aesthetic move, Thacker once installed a vintage screen door as the entry to a homeowner’s rustic pantry and in another home, French doors. Another home’s pantry was made to look like an armoire.

For homeowners without a dedicated walk-in pantry space, never fear. A cabinetmaker can retrofit a built-in pantry inside interior walls by cutting out sheetrock between studs and inserting shelving and finishes. Existing drawers, with reinforced pulls and slides, can store food items out of the way as well.

If those ideas don’t fit your space, Thacker suggests purchasing an exposed shelving unit, an on-trend option. “You can purchase these units from kitchen supply houses or even make your own out of 2x6s to look like a ladder,” he says.

No matter whether you dream of an organizational utopia or you simply want to get stuff out of sight, a well-thought-out pantry provides a way to simplify, store, organize, and yes, even beautify, the space in which you live.

How do I store thee?

The right storage solution is like the best poetry: Lots of stuff is compacted into small, organized units of meaning. Consider these tips for maximizing efficiency and creating beautiful, organized spaces.

  • Store mini-refrigerators and freezers under shelving, upping the pantry’s functionality quotient.
  • Install a countertop over or under shelving to create a coffee-prep station or to house your heavy stand mixer for baking.
  • Use wire baskets to store onions, potatoes, apples, and other produce (but be sure to not store onions next to anything else, as they cause other produce to go bad quickly!)
  • Store pasta, rice, dry beans, and cereals in tall, stackable glass containers. OXO fliplock airtight glass canisters and containers allow you to maximize space and visibility.
  • Hang thin wire shelves on the backs of pantry doors to create a space-saving spice, condiment, and/or oil rack. The ClosetMaid 8-tier cabinet door organizer is made for this purpose!
  • Keep aluminum foil and plastic wrap in bins attached to the door, similar to how you currently store paper towels.
  • Install vertical shelves for baking sheets and cutting boards. Or, retrofit an existing space with the Lazy Daisy 12” Chrome Tray Divider.
  • Bins on lower shelves keep kids’ snacks in reach of little fingers. The Container Store’s Like-It Black Modular Bins stack for maximum storage heights, and their wicker water hyacinth bins provide farmhouse style.
  • Take everything out of its original packaging, as this typically eats up loads of space. Transfer pre-packaged items (think crackers, granola bars, etc.) to labeled bins.
  • Install a lazy susan, like the Lazy Daisy Natural Wood Full Circle 2-Shelf Lazy Susan from Rev-A-Shelf, in a pantry corner.
  • Maximize vertical storage by using wire baskets under shelves. We love the Ikea OBSERVATÖR Clip-on basket.
  • Hooks, like the Ikea Grundtal S-hooks, hung from the ceiling, create even more storage options.
  • Don’t forget Fido or Socks! The Container Store has dry dog and cat food storage solutions for easy tuck-away in the pantry.
  • Sort and organize by category. Then, label everything! Diane at offers template labels you can customize for your own use.


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