Large Pantries Are Trending—Here's How to Fake It in Any Space

A well stocked and organized kitchen pantry

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Whether your home is designed to prioritize food storage areas or not, there is one thing that many of us can agree on—having a pantry space is a definite perk. But in smaller homes, storage can be scarce. More often than not, you’ll see shelves and cabinets stocked with necessities—all organized in a way that only the homeowner understands. In larger spaces, pantries are typically present—again, organized with intention, and perhaps a bit more wiggle room.

Large pantries are becoming a big trend as people redesign and renovate their kitchens. But what if you're not renovating, or just don't have the space? As with any trend, there are workarounds that you can adopt for your home. So, regardless of the size of your space, a large pantry is possible. We talked to home design experts to find out how you can fake it (and why you should). 

Meet the Expert

Why Are Large Pantries Popular Right Now?

Different homes have different styles—and, of course, the way areas are spaced out say a lot about a particular homeowners’ preferences. However, one thing is clear as of late: pantry spaces have jumped in popularity and size.  

Anna Franklin, interior designer and founder of Stone House Collective, notes that the demand for larger pantries has increased over the last two years as people began to cook at home more regularly. “The additional time spent in the kitchen has made homeowners realize that their pantry may be lacking in size and/or organization,” says Franklin.  

As people shifted to working-from-home, there was a lot more cooking, eating, and snacking from home, making larger storage and supply areas not only convenient but a necessity. For those with larger pantries or storage spaces, the solution is easy: design with a purpose.

“Larger pantries can be designed in a few ways,” says Franklin. “For instance, a walk-in pantry with open shelving, or with shelves and drawers to store food and an extra countertop space inside.”

However, not every space is conducive for the oversized pantry. “To make the most of your small pantry, organize it and come up with a system for its layout that makes sense for your needs and functionality,” she says.  

Tips For Faking A Large Pantry

When it comes to designing and organizing your pantry, not everyone has the luxury of something large. However, there are several solutions to make it work (even if your home is on the smaller side). Here are a few suggestions:

Add Storage Baskets

“If there is wall space without shelving, etc., install storage baskets on the wall for extra storage, and add a storage rack on to the back of the door to maximize the otherwise small space,” Franklin says. While this may be a no-brainer, storage baskets aren’t just for the organization—they’re for looks, too.

Consolidate Your Items

Consolidate and separate,” says Marty Basher, Organization Professional with Modular Closets. “Instead of those four half-full jars of cinnamon you keep buying because you cannot remember if
you have any… Marry those jars into two, and keep one where you can see it, and the other with other ‘refillers.’” 

According to Basher, refillers are the new, untouched containers of items you already have on hand. This way, you can have your display items and your backup items (and you’ll know how much you have or when you’re close to running out). Similar to the practice of decanting (gradually pouring one liquid into another, generally with the idea of saving space), your refillers can help you maximize visual space while creating a separate ‘home’ for your surplus. 

Sort by Item Type

Whether you agree with the practice of sorting or not, it can be a game-changer in a crowded pantry. “Sort the pantry by sections and dedicate specific areas to different types of food,” Franklin says. “For example, a shelf down low for kid-friendly snacks, a dedicated shelf for grains and pasta, and another space for storing canned goods together."

Add Risers

“Use shelf risers and bins to make your ingredients accessible if you have a narrow pantry,” suggests Basher. While this only works in spaces that have extended vertical height, it’s a good idea to maximize space. “On deep shelves, the risers will help to elevate the cans and/or jars that may be situated in the back rows,” he says. He also recommends adding a tiered shelf to utilize the full range of cupboard space. 

Incorporate a Turntable

Adding a turntable (or more than one) is a great way to improve accessibility,” says Basher. Rather than navigating through shelves and potentially moving and/or knocking down items, a turntable can be a great solution. “These are great for jarred or canned pantry items, cooking spices and oils, and more,” he says.  

Add Back-of-Door Organization

In smaller spaces, it’s important to take advantage of all usable areas—this includes the back of the pantry door. “Installing a back of door shelf with a guardrail will keep items from falling over each time you open and shut the pantry door,” Basher says. “Or, if shelving is not an option, over-the-door organizers are perfect for pantry items or cleaning supplies thanks to their many durable pockets.” 

He recommends using the back-of-door storage for canned food items, grab-and-go snacks (like granola bars), seasonings, or spices. 

Consider Custom Lighting

As a final touch on your pantry, you may want to consider adding lighting. Not only will this help you to visualize your space (which may be a little more packed than it was before) but it also makes the space look and feel more extended, too. 

“Custom lighting elevates the look of your pantry and creates the illusion of it being bigger,” says Andra DelMonico, Lead Interior Designer for Trendey. Plus, the lights create a fun aesthetic that can transform any old space into something new.