Asked on Apr 03, 2012

Pantry Problem - or Problem Pantry!

Jo S
by Jo S
I thought I would run a question by y'all and see if anybody can help me with my pantry. I've hated this pantry since we moved into our home 6 years ago. It's always been a problem and I just don't know what to do with it. If I had it my way, I'd tear the whole darn thing out and put in open shelving. But my husband is very much against that idea. Probably because he'd be doing most of the work. :P

The pantry is fairly deep and quite wide. However, the door to the pantry is very narrow. So about half of the pantry is pretty inaccessible and unusable. To make matters worse, the part of the pantry that I can't get to easily, has an odd-angled wall, so the pantry isn't even rectangular, making it even MORE difficult to use! This is why I can't enlarge the door - because there are only a couple of inches to the left of the door, before the wall angles back-and there are only a couple of inches to the right of the door also. AND there is a lot of wasted space above the top shelf - again, space I can't really get to. The space is, of course, much taller than the door. This is very hard to describe but I don't have any pictures right now! :(
I would like to use containers to organize everything, because it helps keep things from falling all over the place. But I'm still looking at all that wasted space to the left and above - space I desperately need! Can some of y'all give me some ideas on how to deal with this? Thank you so much for any ideas you can give me!
  14 answers
  • Check out this website, They have a lot of great ideas for inaccessible areas. You may need to have a contractor purchase the materials though as they are wholesale only. Hope it helps!

  • Designs by BSB Designs by BSB on Apr 03, 2012
    Do you have Container Stores there? I have seen pantries like you describe. Im sorry for you! Unfortunately there are not alot of great miracles for you here other than getting some really like containers to organize it. Every shelving system that I am aware of is for a straight sides - its just near impossible to fit angled walls. The only other option would be to hire a local carpenter/cabinet builder to construct shelves/pull outs to fit your unique application. Good Luck!

  • 3po3 3po3 on Apr 03, 2012
    Could you take out the door or maybe replace it with an accordion door or something like that? It sounds like the door is a major part of the problem.

  • Jo S Jo S on Apr 03, 2012
    No, the door itself is not the problem. There are only a couple of inches on either side of the door, the left side is where the wall angles backwards, so enlarging or removing the door won't do any good. I still wouldn't be able to access the far left/back side of the space! I think I'm going to have to tear the whole darn thing out if I can convince my husband of that.

  • Jo S Jo S on Apr 03, 2012
    Maybe these pictures will help show it better than I can describe.

  • 3po3 3po3 on Apr 04, 2012
    Sorry, the way you were describing it, I was picturing something completely different. This is tricky, but I think you can work with the space. Here are some good tips from Real Simple, complete with a photo much like your pantry space:

  • Lulu Dubin Lulu Dubin on Apr 04, 2012
    Is there a beam running through the center of the pantry? Doesn't look like it's helping the situation. I think your best bet is doing what you suggested in your post - just tear down the door and its wall. Though I think an accordion door like Steve suggested is better than open shelving. Or even better, maybe put up double doors. I had open shelving in my kitchen at my last apartment and it always looked like a huge mess. Good luck!

  • KMS Woodworks KMS Woodworks on Apr 05, 2012
    My pantry is basically just an over sized "base cabinet" and is rather deep at a full 24" deep like a regular cabinet. I have found that organizing inside is the best way to "use" the space. The most commonly accessed items need to be in the most accessible location. Top right in my case, this is where we store our soups and canned veggies that see regular use. The angled back corners you have do indeed reduce the usefulness of part of it. I would replace the shelving inside reducing or eliminating those over-sized center supports. Removing the whole front wall part and installing a wider bigger door or a pair of french doors would open up access to some of those wedge shaped back corners. In the mean time store "bulk" back up supplies . As an example when we make a large Costco run I get Olive oil in big twin packs. The one that is being used is stored in an upper cabinet by the point of use near the stove. The "extra" one is stored in one of the back corners of my pantry. It only gets put in and pulled out replace the day to day one. This holds true for other "bulk" type items that get moved to there normal use location when opened or when they start to be used. (spare condiments to the fridge etc). Shelving heights should be set at about the height of a paper towel roll. I stack bulk can good 2 high in rows, this allows me to see what is there easily.

  • Pat S Pat S on Apr 05, 2012
    I wish I had a 'pantry" but use two cabinets. To me, it looks like the door and it's opening are too small. My thoughts would be to either widen the door and hang a light inside and a screen door OR take the door off and hang coordinating curtain panels or material over till you can square it off. Organize inside so one shelf (high) just paper goods, shelf of boxes, shelf of cans... that way you know what should be on a shelf and what if anything may have wiggled into those corners. I'd look (if you keep the door) at over the door pockets and closet maid products that will make your life easier. good luck... now I'm going to reorganize my cabinets.

  • Jo S Jo S on Apr 05, 2012
    KMS - do you have a system for remembering what you have stored in hard-to-get-to areas? We shop at Sams a lot and end up with bulk sizes/multiples, and I like the idea of storing the extras in these odd spots. But I think I'd forget what I have and go buy more before I need to!

  • Sharon A Sharon A on Apr 05, 2012
    I would open the doorway to an open you have room for Pocket doors? Also, the space you have that is 'uneven'...I just saw a program on tv where the people had the same problem...they made shelve up to the widest part and put a 'ledge' on the top, then the narrower part above it they left with hooks to hangs some the things that needed hanging...on the bottom they stored stuff (like can goods) on the ledge they used storage baskets there as well as on the very bottom where the floor is (so they could pull it out, for stuff like Potatoes or Onions...or Bags of Potato Chips in the bin.

  • KMS Woodworks KMS Woodworks on Apr 06, 2012
    Jo S...Our Costco is a bit over an hour away so we only get down there every few months...we normally make a run when our TP runs low...(Yes the 3 females in the house like an endless supply of that). Before we make the "big supply run" I do a quick inventory. In many cases a lot of the canned goods have run out (case lots of peas, corn, tomato sauce etc) Things like the olive oil are 6 to 8 months out. One thing you need to be aware of is shelf live and use rates. A two pound jar of garlic powder or some other spice may be a good deal but not if goes stale in 6 months and your left with a 2 year supply.

  • Sharon A Sharon A on Apr 07, 2012
    Was looking at the pics you posted, see your delema...was wondering what is on the other side of the narrow point...stairwell,? And also to the far right (by what looks like a hallway with an electrical outlet, was wondering if you couldn't 'open the wall on that side, close up the other where the doorway is and put the outlet there. Then have a door and shelves put in on the right side, blocking off the little narrow points. As you have more space going up, I had a simular problem at my place, except that it was a hall closet...and the only thing to do with it at the time was to keep stacking things on top of each other (which was a mess, and always had to pull everything out to get to something) My dad, son, and I 'brain-stormed' the possiblilities, and came up with this idea...put another shelf at the doortop level...OPEN up the wall above it and put a small cabinet door over the top. Extra storage for stuff you don't use that often ( in my case, games and some candles that people keep giving me!)...My kitchen pantry also has a 'wasted' space area as I call it, also to the left...It's dark there and no room for a light to be put it was all dark shelves...and, get this, a clothes rack in there...why? Good question!, but as I have limited space to begin with and needed a pantry so bad, Dad and I came up with the idea of storing stuff (some dishes, light bulbs, things I needed to have access to but didn't use often) and put them there. Then, for the area where the clothes rack was (there was already a shelf above it) we got some MDF boards and made a open shelving unit and secured it to the walls...we could've gone down further than we did, but I had acouple of large things I use quite often, and needed them there, as well as needing a place for Potatoes, and a Trash can. This has worked out great for me...the doors that I have on it are the louvered door (wooden so it can be stained or painted to go with the rest of the kitchen. Good Luck!

  • Jo S Jo S on Apr 08, 2012
    Except for the pantry in the middle, the living room, dining room, and kitchen are all open to one another. There's also this dumb partition there that messes with everything. I've done up a quick and dirty floor plan for you guys. Got some good ideas going here, though, so thank you so much! I think we will take the door off, as soon as we can find another place for all those spices! lol I was thinking maybe we could just square off the pantry, but I don't know how difficult that would be.