Three steps to plan your perfect pantry

You know when you were growing up and you wrote a list of all the things you wanted in a husband—tall, handsome, blue eyed, athletic, hands bigger than yours (okay, maybe that was only on my list)? And then you grew up, and the Law of Attraction brought Mr. Perfect into your life? I’m convinced this same principle works when planning your perfect pantry. If you plan in specifics, you’ll get just what you dreamed of.

My pantry before was laughable. Not only were we unable to utilize half the space because of weird angles and shelving, but we also had a broken metal shelving unit inside that we never updated. So our food just slid around or fell on the floor or whatever. You guys, don’t wait to upgrade stuff like this (a post on that coming later).

Today our pantry holds all the food I need it to, plus all my baking stuff, plus a lot of my serving pieces, plus my small appliances, and I’ve still got room to spare. I have no regrets about how this pantry turned out, and that’s because I had a very specific plan before it was built. Here are three important steps when planning your dream pantry.

>> Consider how you live. This section is all about function. Ask yourself these questions:

  1. What space do you really need for food? What foods will you store—cans, bags of chips, boxes of crackers?
  2. How will you organize food? All the spices together? All the dry-bulk together? Cans together?
  3. What about big containers for flour, sugar, rice, and the like? How much space will they need, and are you going to use containers you already have or upgrade?
  4. If you’ve never decanted things like oatmeal, brown sugar, powdered sugar, coconut, or popcorn kernels in the past, would you like to? If so, what containers would be ideal? How much room would they require?
  5. How much baking do you do? Would you like a baking station?
  6. Do you like having small appliances on the counter? If not, could you dedicate space in your pantry for them to be plugged in and hidden away all the time? What ones would you like to have on demand?
  7. How many shelves do you need for things like electric frying pans, pretty platters, pie pans, cake stands, and pitchers?
  8. What items need to be accessible daily? Which items can be stored in the top, not-so-easy-to-reach cabinets?
  9. What foods do your kids like to eat? How can you make these easily accessible for them to serve themselves and pack their own lunches?

Fill this out like a worksheet. You’re going to use this information to your advantage.

>> Decide what looks best to you. This section is all about form, and it’s the fun part. Spend a couple hours on Pinterest or in magazines and narrow down your favorite pantries—you’re looking for cabinet style, but you can also look for fun organizing and in-cabinet decor. This was my inspiration:

via—cabinet style

via—cabinet color BM Smoky Ash

>> Now marry form and function. Take all the nitty-gritty details and figure out how to make them fit into the beautiful pantry of your dreams.

This is the sketch I gave our cabinet guy. Because I knew exactly what my pantry needed to do for our family, it wasn’t hard to plan the space for efficiency. In fact, this was my first and only draft (and it looks so professional):


The way we use the space today varied a bit from the plan, but making the plan ensured we got the space we needed. Here’s our pantry today:

And now a GIF because I swore I’d never make one.

And a few other takeaways:

Install outlets. Wherever you want small appliances, add outlets. To save a surprising amount of time, keep these appliances plugged in. For us, that means the KitchenAid and the toaster are always ready to go.

Use shallow trays to corral like items. My spices are in one, my baking supplies are in one, and my dry-good canisters are in one. If I need to see what’s in the back of the spice tray, I can easily take it out and look without disrupting the entire population of bottles. And my canisters just look cute in their tray, and when things look cute, they’re easier to keep tidy.

Don’t forget inexpensive plastic bins for holding canned food, lunch-sized bags of chips, fruit cups, and potatoes.

You do not need much space for a baking center. I mix all my cookies right here in the pantry. I do not have to move my KitchenAid to the island, and cleaning up afterward is a breeze. My measuring cups are above my mixer, and my flour and sugar are in the next cupboard over. I can whip up a batch of from-scratch brownies in five minutes flat. So don’t fret if your pantry is “small.” So many people today have an entire room dedicated as pantry space, but you can carve out a small baking station even in a smaller, single-wall pantry.

What are your musts for a pantry? What did I forget to mention? Please share the goods. •





4 thoughts

  1. Wow, this looks awesome! I love your idea to plan it out ahead of time and see what you really need and would be ideal. So nice to have all your small appliances together and able to use them in the pantry. It looks awesome! The pantry cabinet is beautiful!


  2. I love your pantry cabinet. It’s beautiful! All these ideas are so smart. I never thought of being able to use your KitchenAid in your pantry. Great idea! One day can you just put together my house plans? Thanks 😉


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