Building a Kitchen Pantry – Part 2

This week was all about design and finishes and, thankfully, this is the type of task that comes easier to us design engineers (finally, it pays off!). Here are the steps we took to decide on the design of our pantry:

1. Find your favorites. We scoured the internet with searches like “pantry design”, “kitchen pantry design”, “pantry design ideas”, “pantry storage” and, surprisingly, each search gave us slightly different image results. We shared our favorites with each other via email and pinterest (find our Pinterest board here) and noted what our favorite design elements were: lazy susan, unique spice racks, and double doors.

2. Measure the space (aka. Be Realistic). Think length, depth, and height. There are a lot of beautiful pantries on the internet. It’s true. And while my favorites were walk-in style professional baker’s pantries, I’m not a professional baker, nor do I have the space to pretend to be one. Instead, what we have is a reversed bedroom closet with a modest amount of room for food. Will it hold everything we want? No. But that’s ok. It’s still totally worth it.

3. Combine concepts with reality. This is the part where we pared down what we loved with what we actually have. By abandoning the ideal U-shaped design for a more practical L-shaped design, we maximized our space while leaving enough room to hide away our ugly appliances (which, until now, were conveniently located next to our front door.. because nothing says “welcome to our home” better than our microwave).

4. Design for what you need. This can be the hardest task for most people. Let me break it down.

  • First, go through your cabinets. What do you see? We found: lots of large canning jars (homemade tomato sauce, applesauce, etc.), cereal boxes, grains (rice, dried beans), cans, and a random assortment of snacks (various sized bags, boxes). We also need to store appliances that are used occasionally like a rice maker, crock pot, blender.
  • Second, what do you access most/least? For us, cereals and snacks are daily needs and jars/cans are used less often. Our homemade marinara, salsas, and applesauce jars are rotated throughout the year and because we know what they are, it was ok to have them out of reach. The daily needs should be placed on the most accessible shelves so that you can grab it quickly without a stool.
  • Third, sort based on weight. You don’t want to be on your tip toes sorting through glass jars that could accidentally smash to bits. Anything breakable that you need to sort through (think small jars of peppers, olives that you keep on hand “just in case”) should be placed within reach and within sight (not on deep shelves). And the lighter stuff, like boxes of crackers and cereals, should be placed towards the limit of the shortest adult’s reach.

Photo Evidence of Progress: Part 2

Adding the lighting to the pantry

Adding the lighting to the pantry

Because this is an old house and because there are codes and laws that you have to follow for electrical work, we decided that the most efficient way to get lighting into the pantry was to install it on the wall, rather than the ceiling. Sounds weird, I know. I was very skeptical at first too. But it actually works well (as you’ll see in the next progress post).

Installing shelf bracing

Installing shelf bracing

Once we decided on the shelf spacing (more on that in the next post), it was time to add shelf bracing to the walls. This is the support that will ultimately hold the weight of the shelves and all of the contents, so they needed to be very strong and very secure. We used simple pine boards and screwed them into the studs in several places. They are very secure! We climbed up the supports and – sure enough – they stayed in the wall.

That’s all for this week. Stay tuned.. the pantry is nearly complete!