Everyone has a kitchen wishlist, and we can bet that a stunning kitchen pantry idea is pretty high up on it. The pantry is having a serious trending moment right now, offering ample storage and in-the-know design points, so you're going to want to take notes.
Not only do pantries happily satisfy our constant search for more kitchen storage ideas but, let's face it, they look damn good doing it. The essence of all pantry designs is to showcase the best of bespoke cabinetry packed full of innovative storage options - such as spice racks, deep shelves and sockets for appliances, and neat baskets for fruit and veg. Plus, they come in shapes, sizes and styles to suit every scheme.
'A truly great kitchen will include great storage for all your family food preparation, cooking and entertaining requirements,' says Keith Myers, Director of The Myers Touch. 'We love the re-emergence of the pantry; that tucked away place to arrange and carefully store food, from flour and potatoes to hams and jams. Away from the harm of underfloor heating and tempted pets, these well-ventilated rooms can be as simple as a dark cupboard or as elaborate as a glass-framed mini kitchen.'
Kitchen pantry ideas
Storage is arguably the most important thing to think about when designing a kitchen, once you've figured out the general aesthetic you want to achieve. It will make or break how you use a cooking space, so incorporating key pieces of storage such as a pantry is essential to ensuring your kitchen is as practical as possible.
'There is something very luxurious about pantries, even though they are essentially an area or overlarge cupboard to store food items. While their main purpose is to offer homeowners a practical solution, the design element and how they look has been one of the main drivers in them being on everyone’s wish list,' says Richard Davonport, managing director at Davonport.
'When it comes to kitchen design, we’re seeing the biggest demand for cabinets that are devoted to staples, rather than dedicated walk-in storage, unless it is a full renovation or new build project. At this stage, people can create smaller rooms that function as a pantry. Even small kitchens can benefit from a pantry cupboard as the organisation it provides helps the rest of the kitchen to remain clutter-free.'
1. Design a space for everything
If you're going the bespoke route for your kitchen pantry ideas, make sure to really consider what items you need to store. Once you have these in mind you can design the space to suit your needs exactly. For example, if you're an avid spice lover, make sure to incorporate racks to fit your herb and spice jars.
Think about the non-food items, too. Appliances vary wildly in size, so measure up for your kitchen shelving ideas here accordingly - especially if you're using this space as a prep area. Since you, unfortunately, can't plan for everything, make sure to add in a pole so you can hang extra items as and when required.
2. Save space by going narrow
'If you don’t have large areas to play with, incorporate slimmer, tall pantry cupboards around the room,' advises Tom Howley, design director of Tom Howley Kitchens.
'Position narrower designs in key areas of your kitchen, for example, frequently used appliances and ingredients in main prep zones and dishware or glasses close to social spaces.'
3. Create an appliance garage
Appliance garages are the latest must-have kitchen feature and it's easy to see why. Small appliances such as a toaster, kettle, and coffee machine can easily clutter up a counter, but you need them close by for daily use. Enter the appliance garage.
This essentially means using the base of the pantry as a spot to plug in your small appliances so that they're all organised in one spot, and you can close the doors on them when they're not in use. If this is something that would be useful for your home and routine, then it's important to plan in adequate sockets when designing your kitchen.
'Sockets are a must, both pantries and larders are the best places to house appliances such as a toaster or a coffee machine and integrate the microwaves so that all small appliances are together. Sockets in the rear would be very common and useful as all appliances can be used then and there,' advises William Durrant, owner of Herringbone Kitchens.
4. Work in warm wood interiors
It's what's on the inside that counts, and that extends to your pantry design. It's easy to focus on what is visible when you enter into a kitchen, or what guests will see, however, making sure the interior is just as pretty will make your pantry a delight to open up.
'A trend that will always be a firm favourite, particularly going into 2024, is designer pantries. These spaces go above and beyond traditional storage by incorporating high-end design elements and customisation, providing a functional stow-away space that is also the focal point of the kitchen,' says Jessica Inglis, consumer marketing manager at 1909 Kitchens.
'They cater to those who value both organisation and design aesthetics and are often coordinated with the overall kitchen design, creating a seamless flow between the pantry and the rest of the kitchen.'
With this in mind, consider mirroring the material of your worktops to that of the pantry drawers for a cohesive look that looks expertly designed.
5. Upcycle a bookcase
Upcycling a bookcase to become one of the new kitchen pantry ideas is perfect for DIY lovers, as well as if you're lacking on space. Since you'll be tight on shelf space, make sure to consider how your items are displayed.
'Why not decant dried goods into stylish containers?,' says Tom Howley. 'This is a great option if you have glass-fronted or open storage as it keeps everything looking beautiful as well as being easy to find. Storing items in containers allows you to throw out bulky packaging and free up some room.'
6. Opt for bifold doors
Countertop, half-sized pantries are ideal for many sizes of kitchens, but you can go further with your space-saving. Instead of using standard doors on the cupboard, utilise bi-folds. Not only will there be more drama and style when you open it up, but you don't risk hitting anyone with an open door or blocking another area of the kitchen.
This is especially useful if the pantry is used as a prep space or breakfast nook as you will want to keep the doors open for extended periods of time.
7. Create a herb garden
A pantry can be whatever you make it - so forget using it solely to store pasta and rice, and instead create a mini herb garden in the comfort of your kitchen.
If you have a countertop pantry that primarily stays with the doors open (essential for light that keeps herbs alive) it can be a convenient place to store and access fresh herbs while cooking. Plus, it creates a design feature that you won't want to close away.
8. Make it a feature with glass doors
Pantries don't have to be shut off from the rest of your kitchen, although we can see why it sometimes helps to keep clutter behind closed doors. Instead, glass doors can turn a pantry into a chic design feature which also helps to add light to a room.
'If you do have enough space to create a larger pantry, you can either have it closed but with beautiful touches such as engraved detailing or use glass to partition the space,' says Richard Davonport.
By either styling up interior shelves with decorative accessories or painting the interior in a playful colour you can create an eye-catching pantry design that isn't just used for practicality.
9. Go for a Scandi scheme
While pantries are a more traditional kitchen feature, there's no reason why you can't incorporate one into a contemporary Scandi scheme. Sleek slab doors are the perfect way to hide a pantry in a design, creating necessary storage that looks unassuming.
A door with integrated handles or even a slimline pocket door will make pantry goods easy to access while limiting how much space the pantry itself takes up.
10. Use both sides of shelving
Naturally the top side of shelves are the natural place to think about when searching for storage space, but you're missing a trick by not looking beneath.
Add hooks to the bottom to hang utensils, mugs or teatowels. Attach metallic strips so you can hang metal-topped storage herb jars. Another way to use this space is by adding a rail beneath to store your kitchen roll or baking parchment.
11. Turn a small room into a walk in
One of the most classic pantry designs is, of course, the full-blown pantry room. But even with loads of space on offer, it's important to learn how to organise kitchen cabinets and the rest of the area properly so you make the most of every inch - both in terms of storage as well as worktop breathing space for food prep.
'Getting the shelf spacing right can maximise the room you have for storage,' says Tom Howley. 'Large, deep cupboards with integrated workspace are ideal for storing appliances you may not want on your kitchen work surface. The easy-to-reach middle section of your kitchen pantry is perfect for tins and jars. Use dividers or shorter spacing to keep foodstuffs separate so you can see everything you need at a glance. A handy storage basket at the bottom of your kitchen pantry is ideal for storing fresh bread or veg.'
12. Utilise pull-out versions
'If space is not an option, then don’t worry, there are pull-out storage solutions that are perfect to maximise small kitchen ideas,' says Karl Andrews, design expert from Benchmarx Kitchens. 'If you often find yourself awkwardly stretching to the back of your cupboards to reach items in hard-to-reach areas, for example, then a pull-out pantry offers the perfect solution.
Metal wired baskets and trays are the perfect shelf additions here. 'This feature allows easy access to your ingredients with all-round accessibility. Each basket provides clear visibility and an impressive capacity – making it the perfect pairing for even the busiest of kitchens.'
13. Mix and match your storage
One size - or shape - most certainly does not fit all. Include a mixture of open and closed shelving or drawers for ultimate flexibility. You can get away with a bit more clutter in the tucked away portions, and keep the open sections styled to perfection, or at least until the usual chaotic breakfast rush. Minimise mess by keeping the most used items to hand and in sight.
'Visibility of goods, and easy access are crucial, as is flexibility, allowing for those 3-for-one offers on extra-large boxes of cereals!' says Keith Myers, director of The Myers Touch. Even better if you can include a fair-sized worktop for storing plated buffet food when entertaining.’
14. Add a blackboard to your pantry door
If space doesn't allow for spice racks or storage on the inside of your door, make the surface work harder in a different way. Attach a slimline blackboard or create one using blackboard paint. This is the ideal spot for shopping lists, as you can add to it as you discover that your favourite biscuits have somehow disappeared (again).
15. Save costs with a freestanding pantry
You can still have the dream pantry without blowing the budget, simply go for freestanding kitchen ideas rather than built-in. Opting for a freestanding pantry solution will keep costs low, and provide flexibility on positioning. A freestanding unit is also ideal to take with you should you ever move. Win, win.
16. Set the scene with statement finishes
Make your built-in pantry design a showstopper with a splash of colour and decorative detailing - think colour and materials. Try using contrasting shades on the interior and exterior for stylish impact. For a contemporary addition, incorporate on-trend materials like fluted glass doors and brass fixtures and fittings.
17. Add a splash of colour
As the new hero of the kitchen, a pantry shouldn't be hidden away, it should be celebrated in all its glory. Pink kitchen ideas are a dreamy place to begin. Soft pastel shades enhance the beauty of cabinetry and perfectly organised cupboards.
18. Conceal goods with on-trend fluted glass
Open up the look of a pantry cupboard by choosing glass doors. On-trend fluted glass is the most popular choice right now, helping to blur the lines by concealing more than plain glass panels. This stylish solution allows just enough insight into the pleasing pantry design behind the doors but the obstructive glass helps to keep it slightly more hidden.
19. Allow a preparation station
Create a kitchen pantry that caters for your dedicated needs. This hot drinks station is ideal for storing everything needed to prepare and serve the perfect blend of tea and barista-style coffees.
The high level shelving allows for storage without taking up valuable counter space, which is left free to act as a preparation station – where the coffee machine can live, hidden out of the way.
20. Make a statement
Use a bold-coloured wallpaper choice alongside your kitchen pantry ideas to make a style statement. Choose a base shade to match or contrast with a painted standalone pantry for ultimate impact.
'Even in the smallest of kitchens, it is easy to insert a freestanding pantry, meaning you don’t have to commit to a total kitchen refresh if a pantry is what you’re after,' says Nerine Vacher, kitchen designer at Neptune Fulham. 'By including a single piece of furniture you can completely transform your kitchen.' A freestanding coloured piece is also easy to change using painted dresser ideas, meaning the piece can evolve as your taste does.
21. Dedicate a cupboard to creating a DIY pantry
Rather than fill a cupboard with a mishmash of bulky household items, like the vacuum and other miscellaneous items, use the space to dig out your own DIY pantry.
Clear out the space and start from scratch, adding carefully planned shelving to fit your appliances, cookbooks and food items.
22. Add lights for ease of use
One of the - many - annoying things about badly planned kitchen pantry ideas is the lack of light. Save yourself from squinting at your jars with the addition of simple strip lights or spotlights. Consider adding lighting to each individual level of shelving if you're in a space seriously lacking in natural light.
Remember to include task lighting if you plan on using the pantry as a mini prep kitchen too.
23. Corner off an area
If you have the space, corner off a dedicated area. And we mean that literally! Create a circular pod with sliding doors to allow the area to feel less shut away, while keeping it very separate from the rest of the kitchen layout – as and when suits. Creating a walk-in space without the need for permanent structure. Painting everything in the same shade, from doors to walls and shelves, will help to unify the space. While also providing a canvas of colour for stored cupboard goods to sit against.
24. Keep it compact with a countertop design
Kitchen pantry ideas don't need to be a walk-in wonder or even a whole cupboard, it simply has to be a space dedicated to the function of keeping stored cupboard goods and essentials. Clever compact cabinet design allows for even the smallest space to be utilised, above wider storage for pots and pans.
Include smart storage in the doors and multiple shelves for dried goods, all in labelled jars to add to the scheme.
25. Squeeze in a vertical version
No matter how small your kitchen, you can still utilise any space to fit in pantry-style storage. Think vertically to allow for maximum shelving, because most items for a pantry will be taller rather than bulky – think along the lines of storing bottles and jars. A slim cupboard won't take up much dedicated kitchen space but if it scales from top to bottom it can provide plentiful space for all your pantry needs.
'If you have space, include a rack for spices on the inside of the door – it’s convenient if you’re cooking and need to go straight to the ingredients,' advises Tom Howley. 'Think about the weight of the items you’re storing as well as height. Lighter racking is perfect for cereal and bread while sturdy oak shelving is a good option for holding the weight of jars and tins.'
26. Pack in all your storage needs
When choosing a built-in bespoke design you can go to town with the elements. Work with every inch of space to pack in maximum storage potential into one space. In addition to door racks, add rustic wicker baskets on rails to store fresh fruit and veg.
However, if you're not going for bespoke or built-in storage in your pantry, there are kitchen organisers out there that can play a key part in our lives. For categorising foods and keeping things looking neat and tidy in this room, whether that be ground coffee on your countertop or flour in your pantry.
27. Stack crates for hearty storage
If you need a pantry that maximises your kitchen storage needs, choose to fill the space with more plentiful solutions such as crates. Stacked from top to bottom on door glides that allow for easy pull-out access, they cater for all manner of food supplies. This pantry idea is less about show, more about smart storage to make the most of the space.
28. Carve out a space near the cooker
When designing the layout it's always important to consider how you use your kitchen while cooking. It makes more logical sense to keep your supplies of spices and dried goods near the stove, to make them easily accessible to grab as you prepare delicious dishes.
29. Create a slimline walk-in wonder
Make the most of a narrow space with a walk-in pantry. Effortlessly create the effect with simple wall shelving stocked with tinned goods and jars of pasta and dried grains. Use the floor space beneath to house wicker baskets with kitchen essentials. On the opposite wall, hang a rail to store kitchen linens, to prevent the main kitchen space from looking cluttered or untidy.
30. Add a ladder
Make the most of every inch of space of your walk-in kitchen pantry ideas by reaching right to the top. A library ladder and rail add a chic, classic touch, while also being an incredibly practical addition.
It means you can store more things up in your highest cupboards without dreading standing on a rickety kitchen chair to retrieve them.
What's the difference between a pantry and larder?
'Although there are differences between a larder and a pantry, we find that the words are often used interchangeably and tend to generally refer to a storage space designed for food and occasional crockery,' says Karl of Benchmarx Kitchens. 'Traditionally, a larder refers to a purpose-built, cool space for storing food that needs to be kept chilled, whereas a pantry tends to be a cupboard which can store anything from dried foods to beverages.'
Therefore, essentially a separate walk-in pantry combines food storage and prep area, keeping the main kitchen clear for cooking and entertaining. A larder is typically the same premise but at a lower temperature for keeping ingredients cooler, not refrigerated - just cooler.
What is a good size for a kitchen pantry?
A good size for a kitchen pantry is one that works within the space, no matter how generous or how small. A successful pantry is not just about the size. 'Kitchen storage is personal,' says Alex Main at The Main Company. 'Every household will differ so it’s important to firstly consider what you will be storing before you design your larder or pantry.'
'If you need space for wine, for example, think about integrating some dedicated wine shelving into your larder. Or if you would like to keep your small appliances out of sight, consider space for your toaster, kettle and coffee machine to be neatly tidied away.'
For kitchens slightly more limited on space, consider opting for a breakfast pantry which can be easily adapted to fit in most sizes of kitchens. 'Smaller than a walk-in pantry, a breakfast pantry is a great place to hide all the everyday chaos,' says Tom Howley. 'Choosing doors with bi-folding action gives neater, more usable access to the contents of the cupboards without blocking other cabinets. The space inside is expansive, often with work surface space for smaller appliances such as your kettle and toaster. It’s also a great place to store your cereals, crockery, tea, coffee and cookbooks.'
Where should a pantry be placed in a small kitchen?
With small kitchen layouts, a slim, vertical pantry is best. This gives the freedom to slot a small pantry in beside the fridge or between supporting walls and cabinets. If you wish to create more of a larder feel, choose a colder area of the kitchen. Consider a countertop design when space is tight. Or go for freestanding to allow for movement.
‘Even in the smallest of kitchens, it is easy to insert a freestanding piece, meaning you don’t have to commit to a total kitchen refresh if a pantry is what you’re after,' says Nerine from Neptune.
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Tamara was Ideal Home's Digital Editor before joining the Woman & Home team in 2022. She has spent the last 15 years working with the style teams at Country Homes & Interiors and Ideal Home, both now at Future PLC. It’s with these award wining interiors teams that she's honed her skills and passion for shopping, styling and writing. Tamara is always ahead of the curve when it comes to interiors trends – and is great at seeking out designer dupes on the high street.
- Holly CockburnContent Editor
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