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.


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.


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 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.


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


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.


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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  1. 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!

  2. 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!

  3. 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 !

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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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