The secrets professional organisers use to make a pantry look expensive

Decant with caution

Kitchen with a pantry in the background
(Image credit: B&M)

In 2023, the infamous ‘shelfie’ - a picture of a shelf with your prized possessions, traditionally beauty products, perfectly organised - expanded into the kitchen and pantry realm. We’ve all been captivated by the meticulously organised pantry cupboards, fridges and freezers of Instagram and TikTok, giving us plenty of kitchen ideas to mull over. But can you organise a pantry on a budget and still make it look expensive? Organising experts say you can. 

According to research conducted by home improvement retailer, Wickes, more than one in five Brits consider the pantry to be the most desirable item for a kitchen. So making the said pantry an enjoyable and functional space within the home should be a priority. And here are the pro tips to do just that.

How to make a pantry look expensive

Pantry shelves with jars of food

(Image credit: B&M)

1. Treat your pantry as any other room

‘If you want to achieve an expensive look in your pantry, treat it like any other room in your home and consider the end result from an interior design perspective,’ says Jaime Frow, Professional Development Director of the Association of Professional Declutterers and Organisers (APDO) and founder of Thoughtfully Organised Homes. ‘Gone are the days when pantries were a dingy afterthought with a single hanging bulb.’

Specifically, Jaime suggests choosing a colour palette like you would in any other space in the house, or putting up wallpaper, adding baskets and carefully choosing counter tops.

2. Choose uniform storage containers

Kitchen with a pantry in the background

(Image credit: B&M)

Clips, shorts and reels dedicated to unpacking groceries and decanting them into assigned containers? Organising different shapes and flavours of ice into separate trays? Sign us up. But all those uniform jars and containers the TikTokers and Instagrammers use can add up and end up not as cheap as we would like them to be. 

But with the likes of budget variety store B&M offering affordable storage options as part of its new kitchen storage line you can recreate the social media kitchen storage trends for very little money. The retailer has everything from airtight rectangular containers to clear jars with wooden lids or an elevated variation with a round cork stopper for as little as £2 a pop.

We also love these Kilner jars, available in a range of sizes as part of Dunelm's food storage range, and starting at just £1.75.

But before you decant everything you own, it's important to know how to store different foods properly to make them last as long as possible.

3. Lay out your pantry based on what you use the most

Pantry shelves with jars of food

(Image credit: B&M)

Whether you have a pull-out larder or a walk-in pantry, the way you can go about organising a pantry and make the space look and feel more luxurious is creating a sense of uniformity and tidiness. Placing your most used items front and centre and labelling your jars will help with keeping it neat.

‘It’s not about the expense of the items you have within your pantry, it’s often how they are laid out that can make it look more expensive than it is,’ says Siân Pelleschi, professional organiser, owner of Sorted! and APDO president. ‘Decanting food into containers that are the same shape and size would also provide a uniformity to the space. Label areas or containers so that everyone knows where to find or replace them.’

‘Rallying up items by theme or activity works in a pantry too,’ chimes in Katherine Blackler, CPO® certified professional organiser and founder of SortMySpace. ‘E.g. all your jams, nut butters, honeys and spreads can be in one container that can be lifted out onto the dining table or kitchen counter in one manoeuvre, you can easily look down as to what you fancy on your toast that day.’ 

Portrait of an expert
Siân Pelleschi

Siân Pelleschi is the owner of Sorted!, a Cheshire-based home and office decluttering and organising service, and the current President of APDO - the Association of Professional Declutterers and Organisers. With Sorted!, she aims to take away the stress and hassle that everyday life can sometimes bring, both in your home and working environment.

4. You don't need to spend a fortune

While Simon Glanville, managing director at A Place for Everything, admits that ‘filling the shelves with jars and containers bought for the purpose rather than reused pasta sauce or preserve jars’ will make your pantry look instantly more expensive, he adds that it’s not the only way.

‘You can – and should – make your pantry work for you without costing a fortune! A great way to do this is to use transparent stackable storage so you can easily see what you have (and are not then tempted to overstock!) or lovely wood options that include low-level boxes or with turntables so you can access jars and bottles.’

5. Don't decant everything

Pantry shelves with clear containers of food

(Image credit: B&M)

While decanting undoubtedly looks more aesthetically pleasing than most of the original packaging foods are usually sold in, you have to ask yourself whether it is something you can stay on top of. As the added task of decanting on top of everything else is not sustainable for everyone.

‘Decanting into beautiful glass jars always looks picture-perfect on social media but isn’t always as neat in reality. It’s an extra task in the process so won’t suit everyone’s natural tendencies,’ explains Katherine. 

‘Grains and pastas don’t always come in matching volume sizes so you still need to have an overflow area for the opened packets. And you need to decide whether you always empty a jar fully before topping up to ensure you don’t leave very old produce at the bottom of the jar.’ So much to think about!

Katherine’s solution? ‘You may find you just have a few jars out on display with bright and cheerful contents solely for aesthetic purpose to skip these dilemmas.’

We love the idea of focusing on a few statement containers, like these aesthetically-pleasing finds.

Portrait of expert
Katherine Blackler

Based in London and owner of SortMySpace Ltd, Katherine is the first CPO® certified professional organizer in the UK. She is the past President of APDO (Association of Professional Declutterers and Organisers) in the UK and a Golden Circle member of NAPO National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals based in the US.

6. Reserve space for leftover stock

‘You need to be aware that there is a likelihood of there being stock left over so you’ll need somewhere to keep excess and refills,’ Siân advises. ‘Lentils, pulses and dried goods are great for decanting both for their look and ease for pouring and seeing what you have.’

But if you do decide to give decanting a go to make your pantry Instagram-ready, make sure you opt for airtight containers and avoid transferring any liquids and canned goods as that could get pretty messy.

Content Editor

Sara Hesikova has been a Content Editor at Ideal Home since June 2024, starting at the title as a News Writer in July 2023. Sara brings the Ideal Home’s readership features and news stories from the world of homes and interiors, as well as trend-led pieces, shopping round-ups and more, focusing on all things room decor, specialising in living rooms, bedrooms, hallways, home offices and dining rooms. Graduating from London College of Fashion with a bachelor’s degree in fashion journalism in 2016, she got her start in niche fashion and lifestyle magazines like Glass and Alvar as a writer and editor before making the leap into interiors, working with the likes of 91 Magazine and copywriting for luxury bed linen brand Yves Delorme among others. She feels that fashion and interiors are intrinsically connected – if someone puts an effort into what they wear, they most likely also care about what they surround themselves with.