5 Simple Steps to a Perfect Pantry

Bring neatness to your pantry—a notoriously hard-to-organize space—with these tips and tricks, based both on common sense and experience.

How to Organize a Pantry

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In many households, meals start in the pantry. Whether it’s an oversize cabinet, a converted armoire, or a separate small room, we rely on the pantry to store as many canned goods, paper products, pet supplies, packaged foods, and cleaning solutions as the laws of physics allow. No matter how compact or generously sized, pantries hold more and function better if well kept. But neatness can be difficult to maintain in these notoriously jumbled, chronically overstocked storage areas. Read on for five simple yet effective pantry organization tips, all geared to help you get in and out with a minimum level of frustration along the way.

 

1. MAXIMIZE AVAILABLE SPACE

How to Organize a Pantry - Maximize Space

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Put every square inch to good use. That means packing as many shelves, drawers, or cabinets into the pantry as possible. In an awkward corner or cavity where nothing else would fit, capitalize on exposed sections of the wall, using them to support hooks, pegboards, or magnetized panels. Also, if there’s a door into the pantry, don’t overlook the straightforward, no-frills benefits of a hanging pocket organizer, perfect for loose items like bags of rice or pouches of beans.

 

2. EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED

How to Organize a Pantry - Configurable

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Successful pantry organization depends in part on the changeability of the space, whether or not it can be modified over time as storage needs shift. Whenever there’s a choice, opt for configurable shelves over fixed-in-place ones. Built-ins are nice, but stand-alone metal units are a fraction of the cost, at least as functional, and most important of all, they’re almost endlessly versatile. Adjustable wood cabinetry exists, but it tends to be one of the costliest options.

 

3. CONSIDER USING CONTAINERS

How to Organize a Pantry - Containers

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It may seem unnecessary—and for some people, it probably is unnecessary—but if you struggle to keep the pantry tidy, I recommend storing dry goods (e.g., flour, sugar, and rice) in transparent, airtight containers. There are many round-shaped options to be found in this product category, but rectangular containers stack much better, affording a more efficient use of space. For miscellaneous small items, use inexpensive baskets or repurposed crates to cut down on clutter.

 

4. GO LABEL CRAZY

How to Organize a Pantry - Labeling

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Many homeowners love open storage, because with no cabinet doors or drawer faces to obstruct the line of sight, you can see what you’ve got at a glance. Particularly in the pantry, where so many different items commingle, the downside of open storage is how visually chaotic it can look. One solution is to store like items in opaque containers, each labeled in keeping with its contents. To make your labels, get creative with washi tape, clothespins, or chalkboard paint.

 

5. ADD STYLE

How to Organize a Pantry

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The pantry’s role is a functional one, but loving how it looks may motivate you to keep the space more organized day in, day out. Paint the walls a cheery color, or hang wallpaper over visible portions of the wall. Space permitting, install a funky pendant light or chandelier. And if you’re buying baskets and bins to fill the shelves, coordinate them not only with each other, but also with the decorating scheme that exists elsewhere in the kitchen and throughout the rest of your home.