There’s something extremely satisfying about a well-organised pantry. It creates a sense of calm and order in the kitchen and saves you precious time searching for items when you’re cooking (it also means you’re less likely to double up at the supermarket, so you save money too).
Upgrading your home to include a butler’s pantry is the ideal option as it gives you a dedicated room to house food staples, cookware and benchtop appliances so you can keep the main part of your kitchen clear and clutter-free. But if you haven’t got the space for a walk-in pantry, don’t despair – there are still plenty of things you can do to streamline a cabinet or wall pantry.
Read on to find out how.
1. Have a mix of drawers and open shelves
If you’re designing a pantry from scratch or upgrading your existing set-up, a mix of open shelves and drawers of different sizes works best. Use shelves to store jars, canisters and glassware so they’re easy to access, and drawers of different sizes to keep items such as utensils, cutlery and large pots organised.
Adjustable shelves are a smart option as they allow you to customise shelf heights to suit the items you need to store. The right shelf depth depends on what you need to store, but as a guide, you’ll want them to be a minimum of 300 millimetres to house plates and platters.
When it comes to drawers, consider paying a little more for quality, full-extension runners as drawers will be more pleasant to use and they will fully extend towards you without risk of coming off the runners. Learn more about the kitchen upgrades that really make a difference here.
A variety of storage options is a must for your pantry – a mix of open shelves and drawers of different sizes works best. This will ensure all your kitchen items can be stored neatly and accessed easily, and prep spaces will remain free from clutter. Featured here: Sorrento Grand, Aurora Estate, Wollert.
2. Upgrade to a butler’s pantry
If you have an open-plan kitchen, a separate butler’s pantry can be a game-changer. It not only provides generous storage for food items and cookware, but gives you somewhere to pop dirty dishes and glassware when you’re entertaining so your kitchen remains pristine. Discover eight secrets to a well-functioning kitchen here.
For added functionality, include one or two runs of benchtops at least 600 millimetres deep (or 450mm, if you won’t be including a sink and dishwasher) where you can prep meals and use benchtop appliances, a sink where you can leave pots to soak, and a second dishwasher or dishwashing drawer. If you’re an entertainer you may wish to include wine storage and a wine cabinet here too.
If you’re reorganising an existing pantry, start with a thorough declutter. Pull everything out of the pantry and give every surface a good wipe down. A sprinkle of bicarb of soda will get rid of any lingering odours.
Go through every food item, throwing out (or emptying and recycling) anything past its use-by date or that you haven’t used in the past 12 months. Wipe every jar and canister down before returning it to the pantry.
Use this time to assess whether your current pantry set-up is doing its job effectively. Ask yourself; Do you have any wasted space? Do you need extra freestanding shelves? Would it make more sense to decant items such as rice or pasta into a jar or canister rather than store multiple packets of the same thing?
Keep your entertaining area pristine and functional for family and friends to mingle and enjoy, even during meal prep. An adjoining butler’s pantry is an ideal inclusion in your open-plan layout. Featured here: Clovelly, Woodlea Estate, Aintree.
4. Get more from your space
Is your cabinet or wall pantry bursting at the seams, making it impossible to find anything? Make what you’ve got work harder with clever storage inserts. Shelf risers and clip-on shelves can double your storage space for tins, packets and spices. Other storage boosters include carousels (or lazy susans) to keep sauces and condiments under control; handy pull-out baskets for bulky items; and swing-out corner units that turn ‘dead’ corners into usable storage.
5. Organise items by category
Make items easier to find by grouping them according to category. Put your baking goods together, cans and jars together, spices together, cereals together, and kids’ snacks together. Store each category in its own storage basket or trug – labelled for easy identification.
Allocate storage ‘real estate’ according to how often you use food items; those you use daily should be stored between eye and knee height for easy access, and keep ones you use less frequently on the upper and lower shelves. Keep a small step ladder or stool nearby for when you need it.
Accessibility and visibility are key characteristics inside a well-organised and functioning pantry. Opt for clear jars and cannisters where possible and organise according to what you use most.
6. Invest in quality canisters
While it’s tempting to pick up cheap containers at the supermarket, it’s worth paying more for better-quality styles – not only will they look more attractive on your open shelves, but they will generally have a better-quality seal so that food stays fresher for longer.
Opt for clear, modular canisters so you can see at a glance what’s inside. Plastic is lightweight and durable, but glass canisters will generally create a more stylish display. You can choose containers and canisters of different shapes and sizes, but to create an attractive and cohesive-looking display, make sure they’re all from the same set.
And if you have dry goods that need to be scooped or measured, or you want the kids to be able to access their own after-school snacks, be sure to include a few scoop-style jars with wide, angled openings.
7. Interior lighting
Whether your pantry is a whole room or a single cabinet, good lighting is crucial so you can find what you’re looking for – particularly if the space is small or there’s no natural light. Look to include overhead downlights or directional spotlights and LED strip lights under shelves for maximum visibility.
Plan to prep in your butler’s pantry? A few downlights under your overhead cabinets will create practical task lighting. And if you tend to enter your butler’s pantry with your hands full a lot of the time, you may find a light is an everyday lifesaver.
Practical task lighting in your butler’s pantry will create the perfect prep station, particularly if it’s a smaller area with little to no natural light. Consider directional spotlights under shelves to maximise visibility. Featured here: Langholm, Newhaven Estate, Tarneit.
Renovating or building a home? You’ll find all the inspiration you need at our Carlisle display homes, which boast practical and beautifully appointed butler’s pantries, plus loads of innovative pantry storage ideas.