Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A Bigger Pantry is Seldom a Better Pantry.

A few years ago I was fortunate enough to be able to remodel my kitchen. I lived with an inefficient, counter-less, room-for-one-butt space for almost 14 years. Without going into details, I can tell you that my kitchen was designed by a man who didn't cook! However it did have two, count 'em two, pantries! Not of the behind closed doors, walk-in variety, but of the un-reinforced, un-painted pressboard shelving variety, hidden behind shall we say "less-than-perfect" bi-fold doors. Yuck!

At the top of my list for the new kitchen was a great pantry. I dreamed of one that I could walk into with nice, adjustable shelving, room for linens, space for large counter-top appliances, lots of room for pantry staples as well as Costco over-flow. Extra space for glass and dishware and lighting. In other words - I wanted it all.

However, in all honesty, when I was finally able to really start thinking about and designing the kitchen remodel, I was committed to using the space available without incurring the additional cost of a major structural remodel. I knew I had to re-work the space to make it work, without busting my budget.

The pantry of my dreams was just that - a dream.

But no it wasn't. Instead it was a challenge. For goodness sake, just 3 of us live here. It's not like I was cooking for a family of 10! What I needed was an efficient space, not a big one.

Organization begins with good design. Here are a few things that make my pantry work and work well.

Shallow adjustable shelving; How many times have you gone through your pantry or cupboards, digging for this and that, not finding what you need, purchasing more only to find you actually did have 6 cans of beans and 3 jars of cinnamon? Deep shelves don't work.

Shelving that only goes as high as a normal person can reach; What's the point of shelving if you can't easily access it? Above the pantry I designed a cut out that houses my collection of white pitchers. I use these, just not daily. 

Sturdy pull-out baskets; In one area of the pantry's location, the space against the back wall is deeper. Not wide, just deep. Narrow, pull-out, stainless baskets on rollers make this space work. On the top shelf I use a stainless can dispenser. As I use the can in front, the next one rolls forward from behind. 

Uniform containers for pantry staples; Pasta, rice, sugars, salts, baking essentials, cereal, pancake mix, you name it, decanted into sturdy, uniform-size containers. They not only maximize space but keep foods like these fresher, longer.

Efficient and practical floor storage; Floor space is ideal for tall bottles and large boxes. However having to move these when vacuuming is not easy. I put these items into narrow, galvanized bins (actually planters) that I can easily move while cleaning up.

Finally, by taking a step back and realistically thinking about what I needed as opposed to what I dreamed of, (yes some things had to give), made for a pantry that is beautiful, efficient, cost-effective and dare I say...the pantry of my dreams.

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