The organization craze is real these days, and impeccable pantries seem to be leading the charge. It’s obvious why — what’s more satisfying than having every bean, chip, and soda lined up and labeled in a massive kitchen closet? The thing is, though, not everyone has a pantry to call their own. So while all that inspo is helpful for some, many others need very different kitchen storage solutions to make up for a pantry that’s lacking in space — or even completely nonexistent.
Fortunately, those do exist, though, and the options are aplenty. In fact, you don’t need an inch of pantry space at all to restore order in your kitchen. According to organization professionals, all that’s required are a few clever additions and some strategic use of your space to fit everything you own into its own designated spot.
Yep, it’s true: A pantry isn’t required to make clutter a thing of the past. Whether you’re working with a minuscule Manhattan kitchen or an average-sized space with a less-than-ideal setup, simply use the expert tips ahead to help you maximize whatever you have and say goodbye to messy countertops and overflowing cabinets for good.
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Make The Most Of Existing Pantry Space
If you’re lucky enough to have at least a sliver of pantry space, it’s important to squeeze as much storage out of it as you can. To do this, mDesign’s resident organization expert and head of product design, Jodi Heyman, advises buying extra shelves to incorporate. “An over-the-door storage bin, wall-mounted storage basket , and/or wall-mounted spice rack is perfect for creating extra capacity in your small pantry,” she tells TZR. These, she continues, are great for holding items that are hard to find a place for.
And for shelves you already have? “Another great product to create more space is an under-shelf hanging basket or drawer,” Heyman explains. “When you have dead space between shelves, these slip right onto the shelf with no installation required and instantly give you more storage.”
Create A “Faux” Pantry
No pantry at all? “Storage shelves are your best friends,” shares Heyman — not only because they increase storage by maximizing the use of vertical space, but because they also make for easy access. “Their slim design is perfect for small apartments and great for storing food and other kitchen pantry items.”
If you want to spruce up the space, this can also be an opportunity to add a beautiful piece to your kitchen. “There are so many different options out there to create a faux pantry depending on your style,” Marissa Hagmeyer, co-founder of NEAT Method, tells TZR. “You can go with an open shelving option like a bookshelf or a closed door option like an armoire to create a stylish pantry.”
According to Heyman, practicing smart storage actually starts at the grocery. In other words, only get what you need. “Avoid overbuying by creating a grocery list of essentials and try not to splurge on random items that look good in the store,” she advises.
It doesn’t stop there, though. Once you get your food home, make sure it’s stored well to make future shopping trips easier (and less frequent). “Another simple and easy alternative solution is keeping your food in sealed plastic containers or airtight canisters,” she says. “Not only do you save space and keeps foods fresh longer, but you always know exactly how much food you have and when you may need to buy more.”
Use *All* Your Cabinet Space
So you’ve added shelves and cut down on excess food. Now what? According to Ashley Murphy, the other co-founder of NEAT Method, one of the best solutions is repurposing cabinets or drawers. “Sometimes this means paring down and getting rid of some items or moving less frequently used items to another area of your home to store until needed,” she explains. “Our favorite products are divided baskets in a cabinet and expandable dividers in drawers.”
Heyman also recommends getting every inch out of your kitchen cabinets, which she does through the use of lazy Susans and raised shelves. “Lazy Susans are especially great for inside corners and hard-to-reach places, while raised shelving is a great way to maximize vertical shelf space that already exists in your kitchen — why not use every inch of storage opportunity?” she says.
Use Counter Space — Carefully
Turning to your counters for storage may seem like an obvious solution, but Hagmeyer suggests avoiding this if it’s possible. “One of the most common mistakes we see people who don’t have adequate pantry storage do is to use their kitchen countertops for storage,” she tells TZR. “We try to keep countertops as clutter-free as possible, so your space feels larger and tidier.”
That said, Hagmeyer does explain that the co-founders approve of setting out pretty canisters to keep some essentials close at hand. Heyman, too, shares similar advice for using your counters to free up cupboards: “If you have extra counter space, there are some elegant options to storage specific items in plain sight, such as stylish spice racks, wine racks, bread boxes, and canister sets.”