Create an Organized Pantry Out of a Coat Closet

When it comes to adding storage in the kitchen, sometimes it's helpful to think outside the box. Or even outside the kitchen. Here's how we turned a useless cluttered coat closet into an organized pantry.
Do you have a cluttered coat closet that looks like this? Or worse? And do you wish you had more storage space in your kitchen? This trick will help you solve both those problems!

First remove all the contents of the closet and dispose of them properly. I was tempted to burn mine, but I relented and spent some time finding appropriate places for the jackets, hats, and other random items that we'd thrown in there and forgotten. Most of the coats and hats went to the laundry room (our mudroom) to be hung on hooks for easy retrieval. Everything else was mostly junk that had accumulated and just needed to be reorganized into each family members' own closet. This closet had never been useful as a coat closet and I was excited to redeem the space.
We used a Closetmaid shelving system from Lowe's made up of four vertical supports and four shelves on the bottom for heavier items, and two supports and one shelf on the top, where we store lighter items.
First, measure and mark where the vertical supports should go. We located ours on studs, but you can also use anchors if your studs aren't in the right place. Screw the vertical supports onto the wall.
Pop the shelf brackets in place on the vertical supports.
Cut the shelves to the width you need inside the closet, using a hacksaw or bolt clippers. (Or bring your measurements with you to the store when you buy them, and have an associate cut them to size for you.) Then simply slide the shelves onto the brackets and snap them into place by catching them on the hook at the back of the bracket.
Be sure to use brackets and supports on the outside edges of the shelves if you are storing heavy items, so they don't sag under the weight on the edges. Also, consider putting the shelves at different heights to accommodate different sized items.
Stock your shelves! I used cardboard cases from when I bought canned vegetables by the case to organize and corral my cans and jars. You could use all sorts of fancy containers, but these were cheap (free!) and they work great.
Add some handy details to keep you organized, like chalkboard vinyl for grocery lists...
...A cute chalk holder made from decorative duck tape...
...An apron hanging from a command hook, so it's close by when you start cooking...
...A clipboard for keeping track of loose papers and odds and ends...
...And for a final fun detail, I used some jute twine and a mini-whisk I found in my junk drawer to upgrade my light's pull switch.
Ahhh, much better. And way more useful!
Meredith Wouters
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!
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3 of 8 questions
  • Two7361002 Two7361002 on Aug 31, 2016
    Hi, what a marvellous job you have done to create such a wonderful pantry. Very clever, an excellent use of waste space, because that is what it was really. And if one was storing nice plates/ serving dishes etc the doors could be glass to " show off " your nice items. Tempts me to do something with my pantry - organise, and more shelves. 🤗

  • Sferchak Sferchak on Mar 12, 2017
    I love it I think it's great idea Where did you put the coats? I need a really easy way to organize my coats thank you

  • Andrea VanDreumel Cain Andrea VanDreumel Cain on Mar 12, 2017
    Where did you get the chalkboard paper?

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  • Nlippa Nlippa on Aug 01, 2021

    I love this idea. But my coat closet is in the hallway by the front door.

  • Laura A Crawford Metz Laura A Crawford Metz on Jan 12, 2022

    This is exactly what I need. I just moved into a small apartment with little to none cabinet space. I need a pantry desperately! I’m going to make my hall closet into a pantry that I can remove when ever I decide to move. Thank you so much for your idea 💡.