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Tackling My Next DIY Project…The Small Pantry

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After taking a break the past few months from doing big projects around my house, I started one this week.

Pantry Organizing and storage ideas

Meet my pantry closet.  She is small, but I am determined to make her shine.

how to paint over stained louvered doors

You may remember when I painted the stained brown trim and louvered doors, white.

Small pantry closet makeover

My small pantry is not a walk-in style pantry, but a small closet right off my kitchen in the hallway that runs between my studioffice, hallway of darkness, and the foyer.

It is teeny compared to the pantry in my previous house that I wrote about here: How I Transformed a Coat Closet Into a Pantry

We made this pantry by adding onto and doubling the size of a single door coat closet that was in the mudroom. It made for one easy accessible and organized space that stored quite a bit.

I even covered the walls in gift wrap one year to change the look.

Pantry Organizing and storage ideas

Back to present day in the lake house.

There is no way to expand this small pantry, but I am going to restyle it to make it work for me, both functionally as well as visually. Gotta make things pretty :-)  There is HVAC housing on the left hand side that has to stay.  I have learned to live with it as it can’t be moved.

The first change will be removing the bi-fold door and adding a 24″- wide solid wood white door in its place. We may need to cut the sides of the door to fit the door opening since the opening is smaller than 24″ inches. Power tools will help us to customize it. Once the new door is in…


Photo credits: Custom rack – Unknown | Mass made rack: Nina Hendrick

…I plan to add something like one of these racks on the back of the door to hold canned goods and more.  I am not sure which way I will go yet, but having storage on the door will practically feel like I have doubled the space. :-)

Pantry Organizing and storage ideas

As far as making this small pantry closet visually more appealing, I plan to remove the rest of the yellow and white contact paper on the shelves that was left by the previous owner.  Then paint the shelves or install new paper.

Pantry Organizing and storage ideas

I store mostly can and dry goods in the closet. Right now they are a jumbled mess. I need to find shelf racks and organizers that will fit. Adding these will make seeing and getting items in and out easier. I have a few from my previous pantry, but need more.

Pantry Organizing and storage ideas

As for lighting, there are a few puck lights that do help at night to see inside, but they are not ideal. I need to find a better way to add light.

Making the pantry closet over is not a huge project, but one that will surely make a difference.  The hardest part of the project is going to be getting the new wood door home.

When we lived in Pennsylvania, there was a Lowes about a mile away. Getting big items home was easy or we took a few trips.  Here in SC, Lowes and Home Depot are a 25 minute ride on the interstate. We usually wait until we need a lot of supplies and then rent a small U-Haul. For one door though, this seems like an unnecessary expense. Instead we will put the top on Ed’s car down and strap the door into the back seat.  I hope the temps stay warm or we will be in for one chilly ride home. :-)

Small Pantry Organizing Ideas

It was fun while browsing online and in magazines for inspiration. I was dreaming big, but found many ideas that could be incorporated into a my small pantry closet.

The Lily Pad Cottage Butler's Pantry door

Even though I can’t add a rolling door to my pantry closet,  I love the rolling door on this one that Kelly designed for her new house over at the Lily Pad Cottage. If there is wall space on one side of your door, you can easily replace an existing door with a rolling door.  They are not hard to install.


Interior Crowd

This one is pretty sweet, too.  I love chalkboards in a kitchen.  They make the space instantly feel warm and homey. I would like to add one to my closet in some way or form.

Dreamy walk-in pantries

 The Kitchn

This pantry is a bigger than my closet, but I like the fact that it has a counter in it! It is a mix between a butler’s and a food pantry in one.  The bi-fold doors are pretty nice too. :-)

Pencil and Paper Pantry

Pencil & Paper Co.

I love the clean lines of this pantry, but I always wonder what happens to the actual box of cereal, crackers, or whatever when all of the contents doesn’t fit into one of these pretty and labeled glass canisters. Do they have a storage area for boxes that still have contents in them somewhere else?

What inspires me about this pantry though is the high level of organization. What’s not to like, right?  I love the slide-out drawers. I would like to add these to my closet, but sadly, my closet opening is narrower than the closet itself. Sliding drawers would not be able to extend past the door.


Pantry Labels

I know you have seen these labels designed by Jo at Zuer Designs and Cyndy over at The Creativity Exchange.  I love them and just want to eat them up. :-)  They definitely add the pretty factor to a pantry of any size.

Free printable labels to use around your home to help you stay organized

I may use some of them in a different way for my pantry using opaque labels like these .


Here is a great idea for a small closet pantry like mine. Placing a Lazy Susan at the front of a shelf will help corral a few smaller and frequently used items. I like the wire mesh stacking drawers in this photo, too.

pantry organizing ideas that use clear bins and containers

Photo: The Container Store

Currently I use woven baskets to store like items, but after looking at many pantry photos I am thinking that clear see-through containers may be better than using the baskets. They will allow me to see everything inside at a glance.

Large handled storage bins

I like these colorful handled and stacking containers.  It looks like they would make it easy to pull out items like flour and sugar from the closet, plus visually… I love the colors. :-)

There is a quite a lot of pantry inspiration to be found and after viewing quite a lot of it, I have come up with a plan using some of the ideas I have gathered. My goal is to make my small pantry closet the best it can possibly be and… of course, all done on a budget.

I will share the reveal with you as soon as I have it completed.

Do you have a pantry?

What do you use to help you keep it organized?

Pantry Organization Product Resources:

Clear Bins and Containers

Back of the Door Rack

Large Handled Storage Bins

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  1. I’m excited to see what you do. I need extra lighting myself…. in more than one spot.

    1. Hi Sheryll – I need it for more than one spot. Finding something that will illuminate the entire closet will be nice. It is hard since a light from above is only going to light the top shelf or you would need to install glass or clear shelves. :-)

  2. I have a big pantry but it’s not in the kitchen…it’s in the downstairs laundry room. (It was the same in our former home.) Makes for good amount of stair-stepping throughout the day :-)

    I’m glad I saw this post. Gives me ideas for much needed organization in my cupboards where all the spices are.

    1. Hi Connie – So happy to hear that you got a few ideas from my post. This time of year it feels enjoyable to organize a pantry, just like animals that look for places to store their nuts for winter. :-) Enjoy organizing your cupboards.

  3. I have two pantries….I would NEVER EVER move to a house that didn’t have at least one good size pantry. Now….I’m frugal so I find a lot of my bins/baskets/etc at the dollar store and I use lazy susans and spice rack stair step things (not sure what they are called but great for canned goods to see behind. I LOVE an organized pantry.

    1. Hi Sharon – After having a wonderful pantry, a house is just not a house without one. You are lucky that you have two. I think the step racks are called tiered racks? I have a few white wire ones I bought years ago. They do work well to lift things up in the back of a shelf. The dollar store is the best for finding organizers. It can be hit or miss, but when you hit, you can save a lot of money since organizers can get pricey when you need multiples of them.

  4. Hi Diane!
    I have the same problem with my pantry!
    Looks a lot like yours!
    So I am so happy that by doing yours, I can make mine organized and pretty!

    1. Hi Nancy – Even though Pinterest and the internet are filled with large and walk-in pantries, I think the size of both ours is …. real life. :-)

    1. Hi Glenda – Thanks for the link. These light strips may be exactly what I need. The price is right, too. It is funny how we put up with things for years. I bet the first thing you said after the lights were installed… Why didn’t we do this sooner? :-)