10 steps for a perfect pantry

Whether your pantry is palatial or pocket-sized, careful planning can make it one of the hardest working spaces in your home. Here is how you can create the perfect pantry.

Black and white 1950s photo of women writing shopping list for pantry needs
ARTICLE Persephone Nicholas

Today’s most stylish kitchens are deceptively simple looking. Sleek banks of cabinetry conceal food, your homewares, appliances and more.
It’s not just about looking good though, an efficient kitchen helps get food on the table faster – and that’s where the pantry comes in. A well-stocked and organised pantry can save you time and money – if you can see what you have in stock, you’ll be less likely to buy things you don’t need. You won’t waste time looking for things that aren’t there.
If you’re renovating your kitchen, take some time out from thinking about finishes and appliances and ponder the perfect pantry.
If you have the space, a walk-in pantry – a small room off the main kitchen area or large cupboard – can feel like a luxury. If space is a squeeze, a more compact pantry area or cupboard will do the job, as long as it’s well-organised. Ready for the challenge of creating a dream pantry? Then follow our 10 steps to pantry perfection!

Site it right

Beautiful kitchen renovation with brown mosaic tiles and stainless steel appliances

photonewzealand/Lisa Cohen
If you’re building from scratch, position the pantry on a cool side of the house and plan to incorporate plenty of natural ventilation. Use fly-proof gauze on air vents to help keep bugs out.
Consider installing a sink if there’s room, and ensure you have plenty of power points so you can use electrical appliances here too. Save space and avoid cable clutter with a USB powerpoint from HPM and Legrand, which allows you to charge phones and other mobile devices without unplugging appliances.
Plan appropriate task lighting so you can begin food preparation here and keep messier tasks out of the kitchen.
A separate pantry is a particular boon if you do a lot of entertaining and want to keep catering behind the scenes. Consider investing in a second dishwasher and fridge if you entertain on a large scale regularly.
The pantry is also a great place to store large serving platters and trays, plus special occasion crockery, cutlery, glasses and linens that aren’t used everyday.

Plan for perfection

The perfect pantry is the one that best meets your needs. Before starting work, think about exactly how you will use this space.
For most people it will be food, but consider whether you want to store fresh food – such as fruit and vegetables – which require a cool, well-ventilated space; as well as ambient supplies in jars, packets and appliances to free up bench space in your kitchen.
Ian Crayton, Kitchens and Plumbing buyer for Bunnings, says: “In pantries where appliances are likely to be used, the most sensible location is 100mm above benchtop height (900mm), as this is where the appliances will most likely be used (toaster, kettle, mixer, juicer, coffee machine, small microwave).
If you’re lucky enough to have the space for a large pantry, you may want to include a table. It will serve as a ‘landing zone’ when you’re unpacking groceries and is the perfect spot for planning meals and making shopping lists. You might also want to include a wall-mounted docking station for your favourite mobile device, if you expect to spend a lot of time in here.

Stretch your space

Woman looking for ingredients in her Space Tower pull out pantry from Blum
Few of us have as much pantry space as we would like, but there are some smart solutions around that can help ‘stretch’ the space available. For example, Blum’s new Space Tower is specifically designed to help you make the better use of existing capacity.
It comes in a range of sizes and feature five high-sided, full extension drawers (each holds up to 65kg of goods) so you can see and reach everything in your pantry easily.

Mix it up

Larger pantries should incorporate a variety of storage options. Combining open shelves, baskets and drawers with kitchen cabinetry or freestanding units, adds visual interest and ensures there is a suitable spot for everything.
Shelves are a great choice for storing items you want to display and are best kept fairly shallow.
Glass-fronted cabinets are perfect for displaying favourite crockery and glasses if you want to avoid the dust that comes with open shelves.

Keep everything in its place

Creating a space for everything – and keeping it there – will help you make the most of your pantry.
Ian Crayton at Bunnings says it’s important to design a system. There are two ways to do this – by usage or by food type.
“Choose what’s going to work best for you and then designate a space for each category, keeping the most frequently used products easiest to access. It’s also a good idea to create a section of products that are close to their expiry date and plan meals to use them in the coming week,” he advises.

Keep appliances undercover

kitchen renovation with blue seratone splashback and sunken round sink

Achieve a sleek modern look in your kitchen by keeping everyday appliances in a pantry cupboard. Microwaves, kettles and toasters for example, can all be kept in a kitchen pantry with deep shelves at waist height.
Positioning them on an easy clean surface or tray helps keep things pristine.
A walk-in pantry is the perfect place to store appliances you don’t use everyday. You may want to store the appliance with associated items rather than other machines.
For example, it makes sense to store a mixer with baking goods.

Keep things contained

Professional organiser, Sarah Cottman of Heavenly Order, says choosing the right containers can make a big difference when it comes to optimising pantry space.
She recommends using square or rectangular containers, which stack well and reduce wasted space. She also suggests keeping tabs on expiry dates when you decant products. Snip the use-by-date from the pack and pop it in the container or make your own labels using printables or masking tape.
She recommends storing items such as sauces, packet mixes and oils in long narrow containers.
“Line the containers with paper kitchen towel for easy cleaning,” she says.

Do it with drawers

Pullout storage can be a smarter option than conventional deep cupboards.
“Although pantries with shelves can hold volume, access is difficult and items can be lost in the darkness.
Pullout storage makes sense as it brings everything to you, eliminating the need to climb into the cupboard,” says Greg Adams of Hafele.
He recommends investing in a pantry pullout with shelves that are accessible from both sides, are height adjustable and feature soft-closing technology; such as Hafele’s soft-open and anti-slip finishes.

Write on the walls

Shopping List Chalkboard created as part of a kitchen renovation using chalkboard paint

photonewzealand/Robin Stubbert
The pantry is the perfect place to keep your shopping list. Affix whiteboard stickers, put up a pin board or create your own funky chalkboard with coloured chalkboard paints.
Keeping your list in the pantry means it’s easy to make a note whenever you need to replenish something.

You might be interested in reading: Kitchen styles to choose from.

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This article by Persephone Nicholas featured on page 110 of Issue 013 of Renovate Magazine. Renovate Magazine is an easy to use resource providing fresh inspiration and motivation at every turn of the page.

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*All information is believed to be true at time of publishing and is subject to change.

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