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How I Transformed a Coat Closet into a Pantry

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How to make a large pantry in your home so that you can organize and store more food, plus see everything at a glance.

Now that it’s fall and that “nesting” feeling is starting to sink in, I thought I would show you how I transformed a coat closet to create a kitchen pantry and custom organize it for my family’s needs.

how to create a large pantry using a coat closet

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.

How to turn a coat closet into a pantry

This is the mudroom in my previous house – it is right off the 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. 

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

The house we lived in previously to this home 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.

DIY: Organized Pantry closet

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.

DIY: Make a large pantry

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

How To Create a Pantry in a Coat Close

This is what I did to transform a coat closet into a pantry.

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.

DIY Large Pantry: Wood floor in pantry

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.

Then I had an idea and it worked. Since the new door was the same overall size as the existing door and all the other closet doors in 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.

Pantry Door Latches

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

Door-jam-stops Pantry DIY

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

Door-knob-fix

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 the new pantry. I figured out the height 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.

Pantry organizing ideas

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.

3. Organized The Items

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.

Pantry 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 shelf ideas

How To Organize Plastic Grocery Bags in a Pantry

  • 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.
Organizing ideas for a pantry

  • I hung three racks on one side wall to hold foil and sandwich bags.
Organizing a pantry ideas and tips

  • On the other side I added hooks to hang a few cleaning items.
Label making for pantry organization

4.  Add Labels to Hidden Storage

Pantry labels and tags for food

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

This top shelf is where I store my 30 Minute Party Supplies – accessible but out of the way.

Make a pantry ideas

Free printable pantry labels and tags

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, find them 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

When I tire of the pattern on the paper, I can easily remove it and I am back to my classic white walls.

  • To attach the gift wrap 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

I store mostly food and party supplies in my pantry, but I also store extra dinnerware, trays, cookbooks, candles, and all of my pitchers. 

Pantry Decorating Ideas

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.

Kitchen Pantry

Just a plain bag that I gussied 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.

Want More Pantry Organizing Ideas?

Pantry-Closet with Gift wrapped walls

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?

Build a kitchen Pantry in a coat closet

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100 Comments

  1. 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.

  2. 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

  3. 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!

  4. 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!