A pantry can last for years if kept organized and clean, but it takes effort and a lot of planning. You should stock your pantry with things you regularly use, like canned goods, cooking oils, non-perishable foods, beverages, spices, and condiments. And while storage space is limited in the average kitchen pantry cabinet or closet shelf, you can maximize space by building custom shelves.
Before starting, there are quite a few factors that need to be taken into consideration. One of the first and most crucial considerations is the shelves’ load:
- Overloaded shelves and cabinets that aren’t structurally sound can cause them to collapse. And if you doubt your skills as a carpenter, avoid the DIY challenge altogether. After all, you don’t want to end up smacking into your pantry wall whenever you open a cabinet or closet door.
- Next, you’ll want to consider the materials you’ll use to build your custom pantry shelves. If you’re looking for the best wood for pantry shelving, it’s best to go with a firmer wood like birch or maple. Standard cabinets are made with softwoods that splinter easily and can be tippy, making them more likely to tip over.
- Finally, there are a few basic considerations when building blocks about how high they should be. If you’re using a pantry shelf to store cereal boxes, use an upper shelf that’s at most three feet from the floor. This ensures you can reach your goods even if you’re on the shorter side. The other important consideration is the height of the cabinets and how many shelves you need to fill them.
DIY Cabinet Shelves
You can build your pantry shelves out of almost anything, but we recommend using plywood because it’s affordable and easy to work with. Ideally, you would choose a plywood panel 3/4 inch thick and 2 inches wider than the area where you intend to install your shelves.
- Get a pencil and a protractor, and then draw a line across the side of the plywood panel.
- Next, mark the middle of your top piece, lay it on the work surface, and keep it where it needs to be cut down.
- Measure up to 16 inches from that point, and then draw another line across that area of your panel.
- Using this information, cut out two identical pieces on each sheet of plywood, which will make four shelves in total.
- Place a level on each shelf to make sure they’re straight before moving on to constructing the legs for your shelves.
- Next, you’ll want to create a frame and place the shelves on top of these legs.
- Start by cutting four pieces of 1-by-1-inch lumber to build your frames each. You want to ensure that each piece is one inch longer than the width of your shelf panel.
- Next, you want to cut two pieces for the top and bottom of your shelf, so use the 2-by-2-inch stock for these legs. Again, ensure each piece is one inch longer than your panel’s length.
- Once you’ve got all your wood cut down, attach the bottom leg using wood screws, and then use glue to put together the top frame.
- Once you get the base of your shelf assembled, place it on your plywood panel, and then use a level to ensure it’s even.
- Drill pilot holes in the bottom of your shelf and then attach the top piece to secure everything together.
- Then, use wood screws along all four corners and the side pieces to secure it. Use wood glue along both sides to make it as sturdy as possible.
- Finally, you’ll want to fill in any gaps between shelves and frames using filler material. This can be wood putty or silicone caulk, depending on your availability. This stuff must harden completely before you put anything heavy on these shelves.
Building An Island Pantry
The built-in pantry design below is a great way to add storage to your kitchen without taking up too much space. This can fit into a corner or in the middle of your kitchen. If you have long counters, this is the ideal place to put ample shelving and cabinets for storage. The upper shelves can hold food, while the lower shelves are perfect for storing utensils and dishes.
We built this island with plywood and painted it white to match our cabinets and countertops. We built the sides of the pantry out of 2x6s that were screwed together at the corners and drilled a hole so they could be easily attached to the base of our island.
The 2-by-4s covered the corners, and then we attached 1x8s to the corners and onto the sides of our pantry to make shelves. After that, we screwed the legs into the base of our island.
If you don’t want to build anything too large, you can create a base cabinet for your pantry and fill it with shelves. If you’re new to constructing cabinets and DIY projects, start small to get acquainted with the process. This saves time and money on errors and missing components.
You can design a custom pantry for any room in your house, and as long as you have enough storage space and the correct equipment, it’s possible to build the perfect pantry for you. Always follow all safety guidelines when working with wood and do-it-yourself projects. Also, ensure that your pantry is well lit and has ample storage space before you start building on it. After all, creating something that meets your needs is essential. You’ll also want to consider these tips if you’re thinking about making a wet bar:
Have a plan before you build.
- First things first—you will want to come up with a plan before you get started with this project. You don’t want to peek over an unfinished workbench daily to retrieve pantry items.
- If you’ve never built anything before, this might seem like an intimidating task. Don’t worry; there are tons of do-it-yourself plans online that you can use for reference. Websites offer different methods depending on your needs, but most will give you a visual guide with photos and diagrams.
- Starting from scratch can be slightly more challenging than using existing plans because it’s easy to miss something or make a mistake when creating your design. If you decide to go with your design, double-check all your measurements and innovation at the very least.
- If you’re doing this yourself, getting help from a friend or family member familiar with basic construction principles is a good idea. Make sure to lay out all your materials and tools before you begin building so you can easily find what you need.
- Also, make sure that someone else will be there for support if you have any problems or have a question about what to do next. If you are inexperienced, you never want to be left alone when working with tools or power equipment. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if things aren’t going smoothly.
Setting up your work area
Clean, orderly, and clutter-free workspaces are ideal. This will help you find everything and know what to do. Also, everything in your workspace should be visible, so you know what to do. For example, if you don’t have a place for a workbench, a drawer-filled desk may suffice.
Set up your work area, so it’s easily accessible rather than lying on top of other things like an old or dirty carpet or carpeted floor underneath the desk. If you plan on storing power equipment or tools, keeping them in a dedicated space will be best, so consider looking for an old dresser or another large piece of furniture and building a desk to hold everything around it.
The Storage Dilemma
Depending on your pantry size, you’ll have different amounts of room to store supplies and groceries, and bigger storage spaces will take up more room. Make sure your pantry has adequate room. Depending on how many people use your kitchen, you may need two or more pantries.
If you have enough room, consider creating a shelf across the back of the pantry to store larger, bulkier items. This way, you won’t be running in and out of the pantry all the time when you need something. It will also make it easier for other people using your pantry to see what’s available and where things are, so they don’t have to dig around too much to find what they’re looking for.
Keeping the pantry organized
- Using baskets or plastic boxes will keep everything organized and easy to find. You can use a rack or shelving system to arrange your items so that everything you need is within easy reach.
- Consider having a small open area where you can store smaller items like canned goods, fruits and vegetables, and other smaller bags of food.
- The proper organization will help speed up the time it takes to get things and make them easy to find when cooking. Organize all your pots, pans, knives, utensils, and other kitchen supplies promptly so they are always within reach whenever you want them when cooking or preparing food for the family.
Working with your kitchen area
Ensure that youngsters and dogs can’t get into the pantry or kitchen. Ensure that your pets are kept away from your food storage area as much as possible. Wasting food because your pet got into it and you didn’t realize it will likely make you feel crappy once you start looking for something else to deal with.
You’ll also want to keep an eye on your children in the kitchen so they are not tempted to eat something dangerous or harmful or reach into drawers and cabinets without asking first.
Teach the children the basic kitchen rules to respect these things and ensure they know about important things like not eating poisonous items. If you’re worried about toddlers sneaking their hands into drawers or cabinets and reaching in for food items, you can use a cabinet lock to ensure they don’t do this while playing around.
You will also want to protect your pantry remedies and spices so that they don’t become spoiled due to moisture at some point or because of pests. Please keep all your spices in airtight containers with lids so they won’t be affected by humidity and insects like ants. Cover these things with sealed plastic bags if you store them in an outdoor cabinet to prevent moisture and bugs.
Using the right cleaning products
You will want to use the right cleaning products to keep your kitchen area clean.
- You’ll need all-natural cleaning supplies like vinegar and baking soda to prevent mold, mildew, and other foul odors.
- You’ll also want to use other natural household products like essential oils to keep your kitchen smelling nice.
- You will also want to check out specialty cleaning products that can kill mold and other nasty things. These products are also great for sanitizing, cleaning, and disinfecting. If you use these kinds of cleaners, you’ll be able to keep your kitchen area clean and fresh when you want it to be clean.
It’s also essential to be sure that you’re using good quality cleansers that are safe on all surfaces. This will safeguard your food from hazardous germs, mildew, and other things that might cause food-related diseases.
Being prepared and keeping safe
Always think ahead when preparing your food, so you’re not caught off guard by last-minute preparations or unexpected guest arrivals. You’ll also want to protect your food from pests like ants, pantry moths, and other insects. It’s also essential to be sure that your pantry is protected from moisture, mold, mildew, and other nasty things.
You won’t have to worry about food poisoning or your family becoming sick from improper cleaning or storage if you can accomplish all this. It is easier to combine safety and prevent future illness.
If you have a new pantry archway, consider hanging a mirror over it to lighten the room. This will let you see inside your pantry.
Consider saving cleaning products, bleach, and other items in your pantry in an emergency. Store items like these in watertight containers so moisture doesn’t affect how they operate afterward.
A pantry can be a great place to store just about anything. It can also serve as an excellent way to get organized if you’re the type who loves organization and having everything in order. When it comes to your pantry, you’ll want to ensure that you have the right kinds of products for cleaning it and keeping it safe for your family at all times. It will also help if you have the proper organization so that everything is easy to find when it’s time to make a meal or cook something.
Keeping your pantry organized, clean, and protected will make monitoring things like pests and food-related illnesses easier. This will allow you to keep your family safe from any issues arising from improper food storage or having a nasty bug inside the pantry or kitchen area. In addition, keeping everything clean, sanitary, and protected is essential for food preparation for the family.
Keeping a clean and organized pantry will help you to avoid spending a ton of time cleaning your pantry once things get out of control with mold, mildew, and other bad stuff. You’ll also want to ensure that your pantry area is well ventilated so air can move around the space quickly. This will help keep things fresh and smell good while cooking.
Important storage tips
- You’ll want to be sure that you’re getting rid of old food or items that have gone bad, so they don’t make you sick later.
- Good water bottles, alcohol, bleach, and other cleaning goods should be on hand for emergencies so that you never find yourself without them.
- You should store food in tiny containers to save pantry space. This will create more great storage space.
- Making sure you’re using the right-sized containers or bags for the items you need to store will help keep things looking well organized. This can keep everything neat and clean without having many different pieces of a specific type of food stored on top of one another.
Pantry storage etiquette
It’s essential to ensure that you follow some basic food storage rules. This will help you avoid incorrect storage and prevent others from becoming sick.
Some of the most important things you can do include:
- Always be sure to store food in a well-ventilated area. Doing this will allow the air to circulate the space efficiently, making it easier for your food items and other items to retain their freshness and odor when preparing them for the family or guests visiting.
- Clean your pantry and other storage places periodically to smell and look great.
- If you can’t clean it regularly, consider unplugging the area while cleaning things up, so they don’t get any moisture buildup later.
- Don’t keep food in garbage cans, wine bottles, and other items that take up too much room.
- You’ll want to ensure that your pantry is somewhat organized when it comes to the items you have stored inside of it at all times. This will keep things stored neatly and well-organized in the most efficient way possible.
- Don’t keep old food items in your pantry for too long. If you don’t use an item for more than a month or two, you’ll want to eliminate it. This will help prevent illnesses from spreading from old food that has gone bad and doesn’t have much flavor left in it anymore.
- You’ll also want to ensure that you are using suitable types of containers for the foods you have stored in the pantry so that no one gets sick from them later.
A pantry can be a great place to get organized and have a good time. However, when it comes to keeping things clean and safe for the family, it’s essential to keep an eye on your food storage habits to avoid any nasty issues.
The best way to do this is by keeping your pantry clean and free of clutter while also protecting your food by storing it in small containers, monitoring how long you’re storing food items, and ensuring that everything is well-ventilated in the area.
This will help keep things fresh, smell better, and keep everyone safe from illnesses that could arise from improper food storage or unprotected items in this type of space.