How I Transformed a Coat Closet into a Pantry

Now that it’s fall and that “nesting” feeling is starting to sink in, I thought I would show you how I created and organized my kitchen pantry.

You know that feeling – getting everything ready so that you are all comfy and cozy all winter long. It is kind of like a squirrel gathering as many nuts as he can and safely storing them so he doesn’t go hungry over the winter.  He doesn’t have a pantry -just a safe hiding place for his stash.  I have a pantry to do this, but I didn’t always. I had to make it happen.

This is my mudroom – it is right off my kitchen and it is where my pantry is located.  I consider a pantry one of the best features any kitchen can have – large or small.  You need a place to be able to see and organize all of your food.  A pantry also helps provide  that “nesting”  feeling we humans crave during the winter months.

When we first moved into this house, the double doors you see in the photo used to be  half this wide – it used to be a single door coat closet.  A very overstuffed single door coat closet!

How to create a pantry closet in your home

The house we lived in previously had a walk-in pantry – it was an entire room.  I was pantry spoiled!  The kitchen in this house had a pantry cabinet – it was small and I could never find anything as it was cramped and deep.  I was frustrated until I finally came up with the idea to move the contents of this coat closet out to the garage and extend the closet to make a double door pantry.

We made a coat and shoe wall with hooks and shelves out in the garage.  With two daughters, that space in the garage fondly became referred to as the shoe room :)

Pantry Door

The double doors allow you to see everything in one full swoop when you open them. Big items are easy to move in and out.   Makes it easy to organize, restock, create a shopping list by just glancing, and keeping like things together.

Pantry closet Ideas

I like being able to see everything at a glance, but it did take some work.  This is what I did.

1. I Made a Plan

You can see where the old wall used to be in the photo below.  We filled in the space with some scrap flooring pieces we had left over from a previous project.   As with most DIY projects -we ran into a few problems.  One was the new door I bought for the left side of the expanded closet at Home Depot. When we hung it up the recessed panels didn’t match up with the existing right side door. Ugghhh!   I went to Lowes to see if they had one that would match – they didn’t.   Darn, Darn, Darn – so close to getting  a real pantry. Then I had a brainstorm and it worked. Since the new door was the same overall size as the existing door and all the other closet doors that came with the house. We took the door from our bedroom closet – that matched and hung it here in the pantry and put the new door on the bedroom closet. Easy!  Just took  some “brain time” to come up with that fix.

Wood floor in pantry

We also ran  into the problem of how to keep the doors closed since there would no longer be a door jam.  What we came up with was to add these “male” push ball latches on the top of each door

Pantry Door Latches

and their “female” counterparts at the center top of the door jam.  The doors stay closed perfectly.

Door-jam-stops

The latch function on the two doorknobs that came on the doors became obsolete so I hot glued them to the “in” position so they would not pop out anymore.

Door-knob-fix

2.  Customized It to Fit My Family’s Needs

Since we were constructing this pantry, we could customize it to fit our needs.   I measured the width and height of everything I wanted to store in here. I figured out the space that would be needed between the shelves to accommodate all different heights of items and packages.   The shelves were made with pine boards that are 12” deep.  They sit on 1 x 2 supports that are mounted along the back and side walls.  We painted everything white. I covered each shelf with freezer paper with the shiny side up. It is inexpensive and lasts a long time. It can also be wiped clean which is an added benefit.

Shelf-heights-of-custom pantry

 The closet is 8 ft high by 6 ft wide, and 23″ deep.   Shelves are 12 ” deep.  The doors are regular size doorway doors 30″ wide each.

Note: The “Various” shelf. It used to hold a lot more junk food when my daughters were still living at home. Now it looks a little empty.

3. Organized It

– Group items by size.  It is the best way to use the space efficiently.  Big items go on the floor.  Bulk items from Costco, pet food containers and two baskets that hold cleaning and utility supplies. (Sneak peek at how I made this pantry prettier – more on how I did that coming up.)

Pantry Closet Decorating Ideas

– I use baskets for smaller items and organize them by category  – Baking, Snacks, Etc.  The baskets act as drawers that I can pull in/out to easily find what I need. They also make it easier to move things when I need to re-organize the shelves when something new comes in.

Pantry-Closet Decorating Ideas

How To Organize Plastic Grocery Bags

-I re-use plastic bags and store them in cardboard tubes of all sizes to keep them under control.   I use mailing tubes to store plastic grocery bags and paper towel tubes to hold smaller produce size bags.   The big basket on the floor is for large bags.

-I only transfer long-term dry goods in containers – flour, sugar, dog treats, etc. Everything else stays in its own box. I found that some containers didn’t hold the entire box and I would end up with a storage container and a half filled box – that was just too complicated. I like simple.

Pantry-Organization-Ideas Cardboa

– I hung three racks on one side wall to hold foil and sandwich bags.

Pantry  Decorating Ideas

– On the other side I added hooks to hang a few cleaning items.

How to organize a pantry closet

4.  Label Hidden Storage

I label all baskets and containers.  That way everybody can easily find them. Some are tied on tags.

Pantry-Organization-Tag-Lab

Pantry-Organizing-Ideas

Pantry Label Ideas

Others are attached with brass fasteners or glued on. I make them on my computer using Microsoft Word and a favorite font. I then laminate them with self laminating sheets that I buy at the office supply store.   This way they last longer and can be wiped clean.

To learn more on how I make my laminated labels, click here.

Pantry Organizing Ideas

And yes, I do have an entire basket filled with colored sprinkles. Ya never know when you are going to need a certain color.

Pantry-Baskets

You can click the link to see the tutorial on how I made the Dog and Cat Food Containers.

Ballard Design Inspired Dog-and-Cat-Food-Cans

5. Make it Pretty –  Budget Update

Now that my pantry is customized, organized, and labeled I wanted to make it pretty, but had no budget to do it.  I like the white walls, but wanted to show you an easy way to add some color without the time and expense it would take to paint or wallpaper. This could be as permanent or as temporary as you want it to be.

I went to Walmart and bought 2 rolls of giftwrap and found 3 marked down rolls of black ribbon – exactly the amount I needed to add to the edge of the shelves with silver tacks that I had.  When that happens I always say to myself that is was meant to be.   Cost: Under $10

I attached the giftwrap to the back wall for a pop of pattern and color. I would have loved to have added trim molding to the edge of each shelf, but I am thrilled with my budget ribbon version.

Panrty Closet Decorating Ideas

I trimmed the edge of each shelf with ribbon and silver tacks. Ribbon can be added to any shelf in your home for a little luxe. Look around your home – bookshelves, linen closets, any shelf.  It makes a nice inexpensive option in place of decorative molding.

Pantry  Decorating Ideas - Ribbon on Shelves

Before                                   After

Pantry-Organization-Create-Pantry-Shelf-Organization

Glams it up a bit, don’t cha think?  When I tire of it, I can easily remove it and I am back to my classic white walls.  To attach the giftwrap to the walls, I simply cut each piece to the size of the back of each shelf.  I then attached each section to the wall with GlueDots that scrapbookers use. It was very easy!   I didn’t use a lot of them – only a few to hold it up.  Worked perfectly.

 Pantry Closet Decorating Ideas

Pantry  Decorating Ideas

 Kitchen Pantry

I store mostly food and party supplies in my pantry, but I also store extra dinnerware, trays, cookbooks, candles, and all of my pitchers. I also always keep a bottle of wine wrapped and ready to go to give as a hostess gift when my hubby and I are invited to an impromptu get-together.  Just a plain bag that I guised up with some ribbon and a vintage earring. Ready to grab and go.

Hostess-gift-Idea---have-wi

So I may not have a big walk-in room pantry anymore, but after planning, organizing, labeling, and adding a touch of pattern – I do have a pantry that I am very happy with.

Do you have a large cabinet or closet that can be transformed in your house? If not, how do you store your food stuff – any tips or tricks that help you stay organized in the kitchen?

Pantry-Closet with Gift wrapped walls

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Comments

  1. says

    I love the glue dots idea with the gift wrap. I want to do a similar thing with my closet office and was trying to think of what to use to put the gift wrap up with. Now I know! Thanks!

  2. says

    I thought I was organized till i started reading your blog. I bow at your awesome ingenuity and resourcefulness. You are an inspiration. I am going to organize my crafts closet following the advice you have shared here. Thank you!

  3. says

    Perfect timing! We are in the early planning stages of adding a pantry closet to our mud room. Yours is Beautiful! Lots of ideas here! Thank you
    Lorrie

  4. says

    I want to say thank you for sharing your organization with us. I found so many useful pantry storage ideas that I can’t wait to get some baskets and bins and start cleaning. Now if only I had a huge armoir in my blog room for crafts, just another reason to keep looking for those perfect antiques to recycle.

  5. Lynne says

    You are AMAZING and give me some ideas. I have never had a walk in pantry. My small narrow pantry is crammed full and deep . . . But I just may be able to come up with a new idea, thanks to you!

  6. Sheryll & Critters. says

    Diane,

    My goodness, your new pantry is fabulous.

    I have tried to do this with a tiny space that contained my water heater that I had moved outside to the laundry room and I am not as happy with it as I thought… I need all the space I can find and so I put two 12 inch boards on some of the shelves, but had to put only one deep in others. It is rather cramped but more space for extra’s and large items. I still have work to do on it as well as the little cubby space it is inside of that stores the portable dish washer…. and mine is no where close to be glammed up yet. I am working on it though and you have reminded me to do more work on it again. Thank you for all your inspirations and the fabulous instructions.

    Sheryll & Critters.

    Did you take any of the depth away from it when you changed it to a pantry?

  7. says

    Simply brilliant! I do have a pantry but it has taken some abuse and neglect since we moved in and rushed on with life..it’s on my list to clean and reorganize. I love all of the baskets and labels..thanks so much for showing us how you did it..it looks fabulous!

  8. says

    I’m most interested in the yummy Bloody Marys that you are going to make with that Mrs. T’s mix!!! lol Seriously, nice project. Great idea. We all need a little more storage!

  9. says

    What great ideas, Diane. I really like hanging things on the wall as I always forget about that. I wouldn’t have had the foresight to measure all of my boxes. You are uber organized, girl!

  10. Susannah says

    Diane. Thanks for sharing… I am in the process of planning one of these myself! :-) I love the labels. How did you make them?

    • says

      Hi Susannah-

      Here is the link to a post I did about how I make the labels.
      http://inmyownstyle.com/2010/01/how-to-make-wipeoff-labels-for-organizing-your-stuff.html

      I made the ones in my pantry a bit differently as I made the labels in Microsoft Word and printed them out on card stock. Just type in the words you want and add a border around each word. I cut them out and then used self laminating sheets that you can get at WalMart or any office supply store to cover them so they would stay nice and clean looking. The tag labels are made the same way – just cut into a tag shape.

  11. Peggy says

    Great pantry! Mine is similar in that it is a reach-in closet in the hallway just outside my kitchen, but yours is so much more beautiful. I need to get to work making my pantry look as beautiful as well. How did you cover the shelves with the freezer paper? Is is glued on or stapled? By the way, I’m a fan of yours from way back. I was never able to buy your book, but constantly had it checked out of the library. Glad I found your blog!

    • says

      Hi Peggy-

      I measured each shelf and cut the length to the exact size . For the width I added around 4″ extra to fold under. I placed the folded edge so it sits along the front of each shelf. It is just laying on the top of each shelf – the items hold it down. Very easy. If something leaks or gets sticky I can easily wipe it down or replace it.

      Thanks for checking my book out of the library :)

  12. Josie says

    I changed my hall closet into a pantry too. We opened up our kitchen so we lost a few cabinets so I missed the storage space. I used ventilated shelves since I live in Florida and I wanted them to be deeper to hold some large baskets. I love the decorated walls and labels. Thanks for sharing!

  13. Linda@Coastal Charm says

    Diane,
    Now this was one super duper ideas…looks great and I know you are lovin’ it…love how you used all the baskets. Today at NIFTY THRIFTY TUESDAY you will see that you have been featured from last weeks party…please feel free to grab my feature button for your blog and thanks so much for coming to my party:)

    Blessings,
    Linda

  14. says

    What a fantastic pantry makeover!

    I would love for your to post this gem up on my Fall In Love linky party on Wednesday.

    Until then come by and see a spectacular new spice cabinet.

  15. herleen says

    Oh this is awesome, I just moved to a new place and it has no pantry…my previous place did…I am sooo converting my coat closet into a pantry. This is so smart!

  16. says

    Wow! What a wonderful tutorial on your pantry and great organizing! I love the double doors too, how fun to swing them wide open and see everything right there! Thank you for linking up with Roomspirations today!

  17. says

    Oh my goodness. I’m so happy to meet you! I have pinned many of your home features. It’s great to see the blog they come from. :) I am very impressed with your vision of turning the coat closet into a bigger food pantry. It is brilliant, not only that, it is perfectly organized! Thank you for linking this up with Roomspiration today! Love it! Now I can be one of your happy followers!! ;)

  18. says

    For days I’ve been wanting to read this post. What you did is fantastic. Right now my coat closet is a good size but the closet indents on the sides of the doors so there is hidden space. I’m not sure of the width but maybe if I had doors I could do a double door. I’ve been thinking of converting it to some type of storage and a bit of space for hanging. I’m motivated with your pictures. Thanks for sharing how high you did you shelves too. Right now I have a garage cabinets on the wall that is suppose to have a small kitchenette. I have a small table with the leaves down and in the corner I have a tall cabinet and a short cabinet next to it. I have the microwave on the short cabinet. When I move the TV out of the armoire I’m thinking of putting the armoire in the kitchen with roll out shelves. Then I’ll move the other funky cabinets into the garage for my barbies and stuff that I sell on ebay. Thanks for sharing your genius solution.

  19. martha says

    Truly exceptional in charm and function! As always, great photos and clear, sequential directions. You have some very clever ideas I had never seen before. And at 52, I thought I had seen everything. Thank you!

  20. Sheryll & Critters. says

    Yes, I so agree with Martha. Very unique and individual ideas. I know you say you do get inspiration from some sites and stores, but you truly go the step above and for us to be able to afford to copy your ideas and remakes. I so thank you and I feel just blessed to have found you.

    Sheryll & Critters.

  21. says

    Can you tell me where you got the racks that hold your tin foil, plastic wrap, etc.? I’ve been looking for some just like that with no luck! And your pantry is beautiful…so organized and visually appealing! I’ve been on the lookout for wrapping paper to use in my kitchen cabinets just like you did…glad to see someone else do this too! :)

  22. says

    This is a wonderfully organized pantry! It’s also quite inspirational. I have a new pantry and need to find a way to organize it. Thanks for taking time to post your ideas and great photos.

    • says

      Hi Laura-

      As you organize yours just keep thinking about its function. What do you need the space to do for you to make your life easier?. The pretty part is like icing on the cake at the end of your planning and organizing.

  23. says

    So organized and pretty to look at! Spaces like this in my own home make me sleep easier at night. I know you must be proud of your hard work!! Great job :D
    I will be featuring you on this week’s Amaze Me Monday!

  24. says

    I am 2 weeks behind in my emails but I am sooo glad I got back to find this. Diane, you are fabulous!! I just love everything you do and am so glad I’m following you. You are definitely an inspiration to us all. Thank you so much =)

  25. N. says

    Our coat closet just so happens to be our pantry as well. Up until this weekend we had various small bookshelves in there to hold things, but we just put up proper shelves to house everything. I found you through Pinterest and am so glad! I needed organization ideas and this is perfect inspiration!

  26. says

    Would you mind telling me the width and height of your closet? Our kitchen pantry is wide (two folding doors wide), and deep, but yours, even though more shallow than mine, seems to hold more. :) Love the look, the simplicity, the ease. Thank you!

  27. Wilma Culpepper says

    Hi Brenda – it looks fabulous !!! I did my little coat closet by the dining room into a mini bar – It holds my blender, all the speciality drink glasses ( need more cabinet space in kitchen – so This freed up a lot of space !) All my party items, plastic ware and napkins, and you gave me a few new ideas to increase the storage on those latter items ! So thanks so muck! Love your blog !

  28. Theresa Andersen says

    I just found your site on Pinterest and love your pantry! Are you having any problem with the shelves bowing? I noticed in one pic that you have a little cube of wood in the corners under the shelves. Is that for more support? Also, is there a reason for cutting the wrapping paper just the size of each space? Love the Glue Dot idea. We need creative people like you to think of these things! The reason for my questions is that I’m lucky to have a small room in the basement just for food storage, small applicances, etc. I want to redo it with your cute ideas. The shelves are ugly 2×4’s supports and look like they should be in the garage! Love, love your site!

    • says

      Thanks Theresa –

      There are supports that run all along the back and the sides of the pantry. They are painted the same color as the wall. They are what hold up the shelves. It gives the shelves something to lay on. The wood cubes are just for a bit of extra support.

      I cut the wrapping paper to the size of each space because the shelves are nailed into the supports and I could not remove them. I posted about the pantry this year, but it was done many years ago. I added the gift wrap as a way to change it up a bit. If the shelves were not in, I would have hung the gift wrap in sheets like I was wallpapering.

      We used poplar wood that doesn’t have any knots and doesn’t warp. We have had no bowing at all and I used to have a lot of heavy stuff on the bottom shelf.

      I hope this helps.

  29. Kari says

    Love, love, love your pantry! The wallpaper in the back is beautiful, and you came up with a great solution for keeping the doors shut. That might also work for bi-fold doors that have been converted to open like a regular door.

  30. Jen says

    Loved the way your pantry turned out. I have been wanting to do this to my pantry and you gave me so many great ideas. I thought about putting sliding doors from IKEA but thought it would take room from the middle. The double doors seem to work better. Thanks again for the tips.

  31. Deb says

    Dog/cat food containers… when I made mine using the old popcorn containers, i put handles on the lids. Drill hole, use old kitchen knob, with screw and a washer or two for support. Now i can open with one hand.

  32. says

    The one basket with sprinkles is funny. Don’t tell anyone but I have two HUGE baskets with sprinkles. Ya just never know! lol My little cottage isn’t big enough for a closet pantry like this, but I wish it were! Thanks for sharing.

  33. says

    I really liked your planning, the ideas, and all the little details of how you organized this space. The background gift wrap idea is great, really does pop. I also loved how you have the wine bag ready – last minute gifts turn out so expensive, at least some things can be prepared beforehand. This is a great post. I arrived here via Pinterest.

  34. Lori says

    This is great! I am doing exactly the same thing (with bi-fold doors) and am having a hard time designing the interior. This has given me so many ideas. Yours turned out great! Looking forward to finishing mine.

  35. Jenna Jacobsen Toeono says

    You are a genius!!
    I was trying to explain to my husband last night how I envision doing a pantry for our ‘galley style’ kitchen in our first home. It’s a small kitchen but with the pantry layout you have like this, storage sorted. Thank you all the way from Auckland, New Zealand.

    • says

      Hi Jenna – So happy to hear that the post helped you get your idea for your pantry across to your husband. I hope it comes out beautiful. Would love to visit New Zealand someday – looks like an amazing place to live.

  36. says

    I know that I am late to the pantry party here, but I would just like to say that you are awesome. I am so jealous.

    I just bought an old house with a tiny kitchen and no pantry to speak of. I hope to have a small cabinet-pantry built in an empty corner but it would never be as nice and large as this. Green with envy, my friend. Green with envy.

  37. Cherie says

    This is great …however might I make a suggestion before your pantry falls apart on you? You need to put in some support boards in between the shelves…how do I know??? I’ll give you one guess! The 2 shelves I did not have supported fell inward! What a mess! I also have one of these pantries for all my appliances …it’s so nice to see and be able to just grab what I need when I need it. Then I can just return it all nice and clean to it’s home!
    Please do consider supporting those shelves.

    • says

      Hi Cherie- Thanks for the tip. Each of my shelves does have support – it runs along the back and sides of each shelf. I created the pantry over 15 years ago and wrote the post 3 years ago to show readers what I did. My dad was a wood worker and I learned early on to only use strong wood – poplar instead of pine boards. I love this pantry. It keeps me so organized. I would love to have one for all my appliances like you. Maybe someday :-)

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