Kitchen Pantries: What to Know Before You Buy

Stylish Kitchen Pantry

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For many homeowners remodeling their kitchens, incorporating a home kitchen pantry is a chief driver behind undertaking the project in the first place. For these homeowners, remodeling the kitchen is all about creating more space.

But unless you're bumping out your kitchen or adding a full-size addition, you're not really adding space. Instead, you're making better use of the existing space. A home kitchen pantry is one of the best ways to maximize space.

The good news is that you don't need to undertake a major remodeling project to add a kitchen pantry. Kitchen pantries certainly can be as expensive and complex as room-size butler's pantries. But generally, kitchen pantries are smaller, inexpensive furniture units that install off to the side in or outside of your kitchen.

What Is a Kitchen Pantry?

Kitchen pantries are separate storage areas primarily for non-perishable food such as canned food, dried pasta, oils, and boxed or bagged food. Pantries also can hold food preparation items such as foil, parchment, extra pans, and serving ware.

Because home kitchen pantries are often enclosed, they even work well for the storage of some perishable food such as potatoes, onions, and other root vegetables.

Larger kitchen pantries sometimes double as storage spaces for plates, stemware, glassware, and china.

Buying or Building a Kitchen Pantry

You can either buy a kitchen pantry or build a unit that custom-fits your kitchen and your needs.

Freestanding pantries can be purchased online in the $150 to $500 range. These units come flat-packed and ready for self-assembly, often with cam-lock systems. Since pantries have few moving parts, they tend to assemble fairly quickly.

Alternatively, you can buy stock or semi-custom kitchen pantry cabinets as part of a larger purchase of whole-kitchen cabinets. In this case, cabinet companies will assemble and install the pantry.

Prices leap upward—but so too does the quality—when you hire carpenters or fine woodworkers to build kitchen pantries from scratch. While costs rise, so too does the level of attention paid to your particular needs. Expect to pay at least $1,000 for even the most basic 15-inch by 80-inch custom-built pantry unit.

If your vision of a kitchen pantry includes a butler's pantry or a corridor pantry, you may want to hire carpenters or a contractor.

Types of Home Kitchen Pantries

Freestanding Kitchen Pantry

A freestanding pantry is your quickest and often the cheapest route to a home kitchen pantry. Freestanding pantries usually come packed flat, necessitating assembly.

These pantries are often truly freestanding, with enough support to keep these tall, narrow cabinets from tipping. Most cabinets of this nature will come with restraint straps to install on the top of the pantry.

These pantries are sometimes called kitchen pantry furniture to reinforce the idea that they are not built-in. Typical dimensions for a freestanding pantry might be 24 inches wide by 14 inches deep by 71 inches tall.

Freestanding/Attached Kitchen Pantry

Freestanding cabinets can easily be attached to the wall for added safety. Two or three screws through the back of the pantry, straight into a stud, will keep the unit secure. However, to keep the pantry flat against the wall, you will need to cut into the baseboard. The best way to do this is to actually remove the existing baseboard and then install two new pieces on either side of the pantry.

Stock or Semi-Custom Kitchen Pantry

Stock or semi-custom kitchen pantry cabinets come from established cabinet manufacturers. Nearly every cabinet maker will offer at least one pantry unit or a similar narrow-but-tall cabinet.

Wider pantries are available, as well as units with more useful features such as slide-outs, pull-outs, and swing-outs.

Butler's Pantry

A butler's pantry is almost a mini-kitchen. Butler's pantries can any type of pass-through, of any size, between the kitchen and dining room. Or a butler's pantry can be dead-end rooms adjacent to the kitchen. These areas can include storage for food and cooking implements, as well as wine storage, counters for food prep, sinks, or even warming units.

Fun Fact

Butler's pantries traditionally were built in the homes of wealthy people as pass-throughs to hold china and silver, as well as acting as staging areas for food.

Corridor Kitchen Pantry

A corridor kitchen pantry is like a butler's pantry, but not as spacious. This can be as simple as a corridor between the kitchen and dining area with added pantry cabinet units. The point is that the pantry units are not in the kitchen but in a separate area.