How to organise an awkward pantry space

23 Oct 2019

An organised pantry can have a profound effect on the way a kitchen operates and for many families it is can be difference between cooking a meal at home, eating out or ordering in a takeaway meal.

Although it is the dream of many to have a large, walk-in style pantry, a large space is not essential to create a functioning and organised pantry. Even the smallest and most awkward of spaces can be practical and functional!

When organising any space for myself or my clients, I have the philosophy that you should be able to reach anything within a space with a single hand, that is, you shouldn’t have to move anything find what you are looking for. This is vitally important with pantries, particularly the smallest and most awkward pantry spaces.

Here are some favourite tips and tricks to tackle some commonly seen awkward pantry spaces:


A deep and narrow pantry

Deep pantry cupboards are one of the most common pantry issues that professional organisers come across and they can be often an extremely difficult space to use without blocking the visibility of the back of the cupboard.

However, these awkward spaces can be very easily be converted into a highly functioning pantry space with the use of some clever and inexpensive pantry organisers.

  • In a narrow pantry, avoid placing items directly onto the shelf, rather use baskets or other organisers to group like items together. This enables you to move the basket from the pantry to the kitchen bench to help you find the items that you need more quickly.
  • Try a combination of expandable pantry shelf helpers, pull-out or undershelf baskets. In this instance, the objective is to maximise the storage space whilst providing the ability to see and reach everything in the pantry with ease. You should be able to remove each basket without having to move any other basket within the pantry.
  • Choose containers with strong handles and that are appropriate for the weight of the items that you wish to store. Howards Storage World's Mimi organisers are ideal to store heavy items such as oils, vinegars and other liquids or larger items like packets of pasta, savoury biscuits and chip packets, whilst baskets similar to the Marie storage basket are ideal for smaller lighter items like packet sauces and seasonings.

A deep pantry with wide shelves

Just like a narrow pantry, long deep shelves can also become problematic as it can be very easy to overstock the shelves.

  • A quick and easy solution to reduce the depth of the pantry is to install a narrow shelf along the back wall of the pantry. You could install a permanent shelf, or for a quick and easy alternative, a wire shelf helper is a good option.
  • Combining the additional shelf and smaller baskets on all pantry shelves can create a large tiered shelf much like you would find at the green grocers. This provides a very convenient and practical way to store your groceries and if you label each basket it should be obvious to anybody who opens your pantry door where each item in the pantry lives.
  • Alternatively, rather than adding baskets to the lower shelf you could add a smaller three-tiered stepping shelf to store canned foods. It is important to be consider of the height of your shelves and be mindful that placing anything tall in the front half of the pantry will block access to the back of the shelf. Lazy Susan’s are also very effective tools within a wide deep pantry.

A pantry with shallow shelves

Shallow pantries have many big pluses. They don’t offer much depth to store a lot of items, but by design they naturally prevent us from stacking pantry items in front of other items. Our food can be lined up neatly next to each other, so you can always see what you have in stock.

  • To make the most out of a shallow pantry, I would recommend the use of clear containers or jars to store dry good, grains, cereals and snacks.
  • You can attach shelving that can hold spices, sauces or tin food to the inside of the cupboard door to can maximise the available storage space whilst ensuring that your pantry items are more visible.
  • With a smaller and shallow pantry, you need to ultra-mindful of the amount of food that you are purchasing and only purchase what you need for the period in-between grocery shops.

A kitchen without a pantry

A kitchen without a designated pantry can be frustrating, however, any cupboard within a kitchen can be efficiently converted into a pantry.

  • Overhead cupboards are ideal for storing lighter foods like our breakfast cereals and tea/coffee supplies, whilst under bench cupboards are better to store heavier items, particularly potatoes, oils or vinegars.
  • Large drawers work well to store cans, dry goods and spices.
  • The fridge can be used to store condiments, spreads, sauces and marinades.
  • If space is a real premium in the kitchen, a butcher’s block or other form of little trolley can provide a good amount of additional storage space.
  • Consider the use of your wall space. Open shelving with jars of pasta, flour and other dry goods is not only extremely practical, but creates a modern, stylish look.

This article is from Howards Storage World's 'Organisation Station' blog and written by Amy Kennedy - professional organiser and decluttering expert from The Organising Bee. 

Howards Storage World is located on the Ground Floor near the Food Gallery.