4 Little Ways to Make Your Pantry Feel Bigger, According an Expert Home Stager

published May 3, 2021
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Spices and various cooking ingredients organized in pantry
Credit: Joe Lingeman

The kitchen in my apartment is small. Because of that, I have what I fondly refer to as a “pantryette” — a single cabinet acting as my pantry. As you can probably imagine, using a cabinet as a pantry can make storage a bit of a challenge. But if you’re like me, or even if you have an actual pantry that’s just on the small side, there are little ways for making it seem bigger. Here’s some pantry-maximizing wisdom from an expert home stager.

Lay off the bins and baskets.

It’s the standard pantry-organization advice: If you sort things into bins and baskets and label them, your pantry will look both cleaner and larger because nothing loose will be spilling out anywhere. But, if you’re like Kate Touhill at Seattle Staged to Sell and Design, all that reboxing and labeling might be a bit much.

“That’s a bit fussy for me,” she says, suggesting that instead of taking everything out of its original packaging, to take a different tactic — like organizing packages by food type.

Separate loose items into categories.

Group your boxes of cereal together, group your cans together, and group your snack bags together, Touhill says. This kind of organization helps when you just want a quick snack, because you’ll know exactly where everything is without different varieties of things being scattered around the pantry.

Or, if you want to take organizing to the next level, try grouping your meals together as an extension of meal planning. “Group the ingredients that you need for a recipe ahead of time,” Touhill says. “So if you’re making something that has a couple cans and some spices, pre-measure the spices, put them in little baggies, and put them with the canned items that you need. Prepackage everything so you’ve got all of the goods ready. Whenever you’re going to be making it the meal, you can just throw things into the mixing pot or crockpot. It makes things go faster to have your pantry function that way.”

Credit: Joe Lingeman

Work in some add-ons.

Utilize in-pantry organizational hardware to make the most of your space. Touhill uses stands or wire racks that tuck into the space between shelves, effectively doubling your space for smaller items. Plus, you can put things on top of the rack and below it. You can also get a lazy susan for increased storage, or pull-out drawers that can be affixed to existing shelves.

“Out of sight, out of mind,” Touhill says. “If you are storing an overflow of items, you can label them, pop them in there, and have them tucked away. Then, you can easily pull them out.”

Think outside the pantry.

Don’t be afraid to expand beyond the confines of your pantry or cabinet. Some dining room tables have shelves built into the legs or sides, so you can store some things there. Or, just make the pantry item a statement piece on your countertop.

“If you don’t have pantry space and you have [big] things to store like flour or sugar, you can always find some decorative glass containers that have a seal and put them on your countertop,” Touhill says. “Then they just become a design feature of your kitchen.”