Behind The Design: Organizing My Pantry
This is a long LONG overdue post so be prepared for a lot of back story and information…
You’ve been warned lol.
When we moved into this condo in Spring 2017, one of the very first things we were thrilled to have was an actual pantry! Prior to this, we’d had really good storage in our kitchens — our studio apartment in NYC had WAY more cabinets than we ever used and our first apartment in WA had a tall pantry cabinet — but this was the first time we had an actual step in pantry and we were geeked! My husband cooks, I clean, and it’s a glorious arrangement for us. With that, it meant he now had a place to hoard store all his culinary things, while for me it was a place to organize… a win-win all around.
We moved in and quickly just put our things in the pantry — so many things! — without much rhyme or reason.
FACT: like a bedroom closet or bathroom vanity, your kitchen pantry is a place that you have to live with for a while, so you can tweak and repeat as you go before you really nail what works for you.
About 7 or 8 months after we moved in, I decided I was not a fan of the lack of systems in our pantry… because that’s what getting organized is all about — creating systems! Everything was contained but there was zero method to the madness, and it was driving me mad. First thing I did was purchase containers for our dry goods (ie. rice, pasta, flour, oats sugar.
If you followed my bathroom transformation from around the same time, then you know I am a huge proponent of decanting products for more uniformity. I even went so far as to use my chalk pens to label the jars for easy identifying. Doing this in the pantry made a HUGE difference in how we functioned!
After getting the containers and liners for the shelves, I slowly introduced additional containers in the pantry — for snacks and packets and things — from one of my favorite Amazon resources, Stori. These changes were minimal but as weeks turned into months, they helped me assess what worked, what didn’t, and what to do next.
Admittedly though, as much as the pantry “bothered” me, it wasn’t a design priority and so it always fell to the back of my mind… “I’ll get to it later” as I tackled our master bedroom, our daughter’s room, the bathroom, and the balcony.
Browsing pantry organization on Pinterest and Instagram one late night, I found myself triggered — NONE of the pantries I perused were relatable! They were all these large, sprawling walk-in pantries, curated down to the studs with expensive storage, and very little in the way of actual food.
But then it forced me to realize that my pantry wasn’t even actually organized!
So halfway into the year I decided it was time I wrap this ish up and finally get it down. After weeks of purging, rearranging, purging some more, and shuffling a few more things around, I had nailed a placement system that really fit the way we used the pantry — lower shelf for our daughter to get her snacks, eye level shelves for spices, and some other more intentional moves throughout.
And that was the major key — being intentional! I couldn’t relate to any of those pantries because, even though they were pretty, they in no way reflected our lifestyle and would only irritate the hell out of me!
So now here I am, finally prioritizing the pantry — getting it organizing AND pretty in a way that will serve our family, still keeping into account that we are renters in this small condo. Organizing the pantry has been a culmination of purging, being honest about our needs, creating systems, and shopping with intention.
Quick Shop my pantry organization
Here’s how far I’ve gotten:
be it dry goods, small spices, or liquid condiments, just about everything has been decanted… this on the heels of a massive purge
simultaneously tackling the fridge and cupboards — we can talk about those later though — I was able to free up space and create designated spots for pots and appliances
the shelves are getting recovered with contact paper, a la my bathroom makeover, because y’all know I can’t resist a quick peel and stick makeover
I am pleased as punch with not only the transformation that has taken place thus far just from purging and decanting — my husband is obsessed with sauces and spices so we accumulated A LOT over time! — but with how it’s actually improved our day to day. Is that what I wanted? DUH! But to actually see how we’re no longer shuffling things around to find one item or how my little munchkin can serve herself really just makes me pat myself on the back.
What left to be done?
A lot of progress has been made — so much so that I even finally invested in proper labels for the canisters and jars — but there’s also still a lot to be done. There are still shelves to resurface, a few more canisters and containers to purchase, and maybe one more round of purging before I am fully satisfied.
I wish I had started documenting this from the very beginning — two years ago! — but just take my word for it that the pantry is a bazillion times better than when we moved in. I’ve been sharing my progress, as best I can, over on my Instagram stories, so if you’re not already hanging out with me there, you should change that so you can keep up in real time.