You might think that a pantry is something that will only fit in a large kitchen, but nothing could be further from the truth. Our grandparents’ kitchens were mostly small, and they had pantries: in fact the kitchen could be small partly because much of the food and “stuff” was stored in the pantry, not in the kitchen. Given that we have a lot more “stuff” to store now, a pantry can be even more useful.
So, how can pantries be squeezed into small kitchen designs?
First, open your mind to more than one type of pantry. While we often envisage a pantry as a small room we can walk into, with a door and lots of shelves, that’s not the only type.
A “step-in” pantry is like smaller version of a walk in – more the size of a deep closet, you step in and are surrounded by storage shelves, bins or drawers.
A pantry cabinet is not even a separate room: it’s a regular kitchen cabinet (full height, base or wall) outfitted with storage units that make every cubic inch of space usable and accessible. If you don’t want a single full height cabinet, it’s quite possble to have several smaller pantry cabinets in your kitchen, perhaps with each one devoted to a different type of storage.
One more type of pantry is a shallow cabinet, often full height, that makes use of space where a standard wall or base cabinet would not fit.
Including a walk-in or step-in pantry in a small kitchen design will often mean either using an existing or previous pantry space, or stealing space from a nearby room.
If you have an older house with several small rooms in the kitchen area, the trend in previous years has been to knock down the walls and make them into one big kitchen. That may not be the best use of the space, though: consider using one of those smaller spaces as a pantry.
Stealing space from a nearby room may mean a laundry room, mud room, garage or even bedroom, and can be as easy as putting a door in a non-bearing wall and building another short wall section behind it. You’ll need to consult a construction expert before juggling walls around, to decide where the bearing and non-bearing walls are.
Another option is a corner pantry. If you have an L-shape or U-shape work area, one possible use for a corner is a pantry which takes up a little more than the footprint of a regular corner base cabinet, and has a door the goes diagonally across the corner. Inside, the whole space can be shelves and you never have the “out of reach back corner” of a base cabinet. A tall corner pantry like this works well lined up with a fridge or wall oven stack.
Pull out pantry cabinets can be placed anywhere in the kitchen, although if you want a full height pantry you may want to line it up with other full height appliances and cabinets.
Hallways are often good candidates for shallow pantry shelving or cabinets: if you have 6″ of depth you can build a wall of shelving (with or without doors) which will hold an amazing amount of cans, jars and small packets. On an interior wall this can even extend to between-the-studs storage, which again is a great place to store cans and jars. If you are truly stick for space but you have wider-than normal stairways, shallow wall shelves and cabeinst up the stairs or on a landing may be an option.
So, don’t rule out a pantry if your kitchen is on the small side – pantry designs can be an integral part of small kitchen designs and improve the looks, style and function of your new kitchen.