I love to organize… for other people… for myself it’s a struggle. Not sure if it’s the accountability, the indecision or something else… but I do better when I have someone helping me.
I’ve been working with the incredibly talented Barbara Reich from Life Organized for the past few months streamlining different areas of my home and life for efficiency and creating systems that work. This week, we decided to tackle the pantry.
Since I am always cooking, entertaining and styling food, my pantry is probably the most visited room in the house. A walk-in pantry is a huge luxury that I don’t take for granted. I used to have small cabinets in my kitchen and then a reach in pantry in the basement until 4 years ago when we moved into our new home. A walk-in pantry was one of my big wish list items that we were able to incorporate.
While my pantry may not have looked so bad, it wasn’t so functional. I was wasting time and energy looking for things because they weren’t in the right places. I was also wasting money buying duplicates because I couldn’t see what I already have.
We spent the day taking everything out and putting it all back in a way that made it much more functional.
Here are a few takeaways from our session together that can be applied to many different spaces in the home.
Create Zones & Group Like with Like
We created specific zones for genres like baking and breakfast.
Group like with like; all grains go together; sauces and condiments together.
Function Over Fashion
Some of the bins and jars I was using weren’t making the most of the space nor were they working for the food they housed. Some bins were pretty but not practical. I.e., open sides look messy or things can spill out if a bag isn't fully closed.
Use as few types of containers as possible to keep it clean looking. Different items require different containers. I.e., nuts are different from larger bags but we used a combination of these that worked best. Flours & Sugar require a wider mouth to get a scooper in.
Some of them we were able to repurpose – i.e., cereal containers are a perfect size for dog food.
Sometimes bigger IS better (for labels at least)
Get yourself an XL label maker – easier to see, easier to read (for aging eyes… or for young eyes).
It may not be the cute handwritten chalk style, but it is helpful for anyone helping in the kitchen to find what they need and put it back.
This is the one we used.
Location, Location, Location
Real Estate Rule #1 applies to your pantry as much as it applies to your home. Give prime real estate / easiest access to the things you use most. We reach for crackers & rice cakes so that needed to be accessible. The smoothie ingredients are right above the blender.
Also, location for the things you don't want to access so easily, ie, my husband's stash of his favorite chips that he doesn’t want finished by other pantry visitors before he gets a chance to eat them.
Make it pretty – if it looks good, you’re more likely to maintain it.
It also feels more inviting to walk into an aesthetically appealing and homey space.
Add some personal touches, like this tray (which was an amazing gift).
Flowers or a plant brighten up a corner; succulents and orchids don’t need sun. I’m thinking about adding a fun wallpaper.
Stay tuned for part 2 - When we tackle the rest of the kitchen.
If you’re inspired to do your own pantry refresh, you can shop the products we used below.