Kitchen Pantry Design Tips

A woman looks at a pantry.

Here are a few kitchen pantry design tips that can address both the functional and aesthetic aspects of your kitchen. After all, there’s no reason to have a drab, bland, inefficient kitchen—it’s the focal point of your home.

Plan for Functionality

As with any project, planning is a crucial first step. Determine what you will store in a pantry (versus a cabinet). If you plan on a food pantry, you might incorporate drawers for smaller items like sauces or racks for spices. If you plan to store general goods like paper towels, plastic containers, etc., opt for fewer shelves and larger bins and baskets.

Make a planning checklist, starting with your must-haves. This will help direct your pantry design. Eliminate items that will be out of place or seldom used.

For easy access, shallow shelves work best, but if you decide on deeper shelves think about installing sliding shelf organizers or lazy susans. Use all your space by installing adjustable wire racks underneath shelves, or hang an organizer on the back of the door.

Stackable containers with locking lids are ideal for bulk foods like cereals and pasta. Other transparent plastic bins, boxes, and bottles fit together to save space.

Functional Interior Design

If you have the depth and wall space, you can make a walk-in pantry. If not, you can remove some cabinets (both top and bottom) in favor of a pantry closet. Just be aware that you’ll lose some counter space in the process. Avoid deep pantry shelves if possible, as items will tend to get pushed to the back and forgotten about. Instead, plan for a U-shaped design, with shallower shelves along the inside walls of the pantry.

For a different type of pantry, look to that corner of your kitchen that you hardly use. Measure about 4 feet from the corner along both adjoining walls and 2 feet perpendicular from the walls into the kitchen area. This can be your corner pantry space. A diagonal cabinet door will hide inner shelves—ideal for canned goods—or leave the space open to display decorative items.

A pull-out pantry has a tall door attached to shelving that pulls out like a large vertical drawer. These usually have a slim profile and aren’t designed for extra bulky or heavy items. Many of these units come pre-built, saving you time and money on installation.

A roll-out pantry contains sliding baskets, trays, or drawers. An open pantry door reveals your own adjustable configuration of organizing racks, trash bin holders, etc. These also come pre-built.

Slide-out baskets and drawers are ideal for bulky or bagged items, such as chips, pet food, and other family-sized items. Removable shelves allow flexibility and customization, and they’re easier to clean. Moreover, this type of extra storage space will allow you to save money as you buy items in bulk.

Aesthetic Designs - Exterior

If your cabinets are in good condition, liven them up by adding some external design. There are vinyl stencils or appliqués that can make wood look carved or glass appear etched. Use moldings to frame your pantry doors in styles such as Victorian, shaker, or French country.

To add depth and a textile quality, apply a frame with stretched textured fabric to your pantry door. If you have a design theme throughout the house, extend these design elements into the kitchen. Add sailboat, lighthouse, and weathervane artwork to your pantry to transform your kitchen into a galley. A haute cuisine theme might set the right mood for a kitchen in an urban home, and graphics of plants and flowers can bring your garden (or the garden you wish you had) indoors.