Pantry Ideas and Organization

Claudia Veihl Marketing Director, Designer and CAD Developer at Connecticut Closet & Shelf.

January 25th, 2018 No Comments

Now seems to be the perfect time to talk about pantry organization after just having spent three days of cooking for Thanksgiving and more holiday cooking to come!

A Short Pantry History

The preservation of food and its storage has been around since ancient times and depending on climate different techniques were used. During medieval times pantries were used in European castles, manor homes and estates where food items were stored in different rooms. Meat was stored in the “larder”, beer and ale were stored in the “buttery” and linens, grain and bread were stored in the “pantry”.

The origin of which is the Old French word “paneterie” meaning “bread” and related to the Latin “panis” (bread).

During colonial times the pantry called a “buttery” or “butt’ry” made its debut in America. This room was mainly used to keep and store dairy products. During the 1800-1900s and the boom of grand estates in England and America butler pantries became the norm. A pantry that was located centrally, connecting the kitchen and dining room and used for storage of linens, silver and china. Meals were also plated here before being served by staff. By the 1850s butler’s pantries became common in middle class homes as well.

In the early 1900s the invention of the Hoosier cabinet in New Castle, Indiana (a pantry cabinet that featured sugar and flour bins, storage jars for spices, tea, coffee, biscuits and salt) meant that women no longer had to walk from the kitchen to the pantry but had all the necessities at hand. In the 1920s built-in cabinets replaced the Hoosier cabinet and with an increase in prepared foods, refrigerators and freezers in the 1950s and 60s modern pantries became floor-to-ceiling built-in cabinets right in the kitchen and the stand-alone or butler’s pantry became obsolete. During the 1990s a pantry revival happened in North America and more homes are built with pantries again despite the fact that modern kitchens are larger than ever before.

Current trends show that more homeowners and families are buying their groceries in bulk and Millennials value quality food and home cooking. Kitchen and pantry organization play an important role in creating efficient storage solution for staple items. The butler’s pantry is experiencing a huge comeback as more and more people are entertaining in their kitchens and want to relegate some of the food preparation to a different room. So, the modern butler’s pantry is here again, usually a room that connects the dining room with the kitchen, that is functional and pretty, used for storage and preparations.

Connecticut Closet and Shelf’s company motto is “Life Life Organized” and what better way to demonstrate this than by keeping an organized pantry. Regardless if it is a small reach in or a big walk in pantry the advantages of keeping it simple and well organized are:

  • Items are easier to find
  • Money and time savings by not buying redundant or already owned items
  • Meal planning and shopping is simplified
  • Easier overview of expiration dates for items
  • It may even inspire more cooking

Different Solutions:

Large Walk-In Pantries

Often a standard item for high-end homes with an ideal location near garage and kitchen area. Walk-in pantries can range from rooms with standard shelving to pantries that double as second kitchens with custom build-in cabinetry, appliances and sinks. If money is not an issue some high-end homes tout pantries where the actual prep and cooking is happening out of sight of guests!

Advantages of walk-in pantries are huge volume of storage space for food and appliances and therefore easier organization. Disadvantages are reduced efficiencies because items are not right at hand, pantries require upkeep to stay organized, and they take up a lot of space. Often pantries are underutilized and not practical – while shelves are great for storage most of the time only the front part is used while items in the back are “lost” or forgotten.

Butler’s Pantries

One of the most requested feature in new construction the butler’s pantry is making a comeback. The advantage of a butler’s pantry is that it can be situated in a “hallway” that connects the kitchen and dining room and does not need as much floor space as a stand alone pantry. The disadvantage of butler’s pantries are that they are visible from other rooms and take more care to keep organized, clean and presentable.

Regardless if you install a walk-in or butler’s pantry there are some items and rules that apply to both:

  • Consider a mix of deep and shallow shelves for large and small items
  • Vertical storage for trays, cookie sheets, etc
  • Height adjustable shelves for flexibility

  • Baskets or pull-out bins for storage of loose items like apples, potatoes, onions, etc
  • Drawers for silverware and small items
  • Storage areas for bottles
  • A counter for food preparation, storage/usage of small appliances

Houzz article:

Forbes article:

Better Homes and Garden:

NAHB Data:


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