Open Kitchen Pantry Remodel (And How To Keep It Pretty)

Are you ready to look at our progress in the kitchen?

My husband built this open pantry for us, but to fully appreciate it you have to see how the original pantry looked.

When I first viewed the old pantry, I didn’t see green contact paper from the seventies, I saw…

POTENTIAL!

There was enough room in this kitchen to build a wide pantry in the center. Our first plan included pantry doors, but it’s so convenient to just reach in and get what you want that we might leave it open like this. Plus I think the food looks pretty, which is a good thing because everyone can see all of it all the time.

In this post I’ll show you how we built it and how I organized it to keep it looking nice.

We took square footage from the living room to expand the pantry. The living room didn’t need that incredibly useful space.

First we knocked down the wall.

Then my husband framed a new wall and the pantry.

He constructed shelves, and we painted everything white.

Then we moved in our stuff. I had serving platters and bowls that I hadn’t been using on a regular basis, so I took those out of the boxes and employed them full time for pantry organization. The bottles of oil are corralled on a tray that can easily be cleaned.

To make the most of the hard-to-reach space on the top shelf, I put a big lazy susan to hold bottles of syrup and canned goods.

A wooden bowl holds small things that would otherwise be lost.

I mostly use glass canning jars to contain our dried beans, fruits, and nuts. The price of new kitchen canisters is crazy compared to canning jars that you can buy for about a dollar. I like having the uniform size that you can stack or interchange the lids. You can find them at Ace Hardware, Walmart, or even the grocery store. The wide-mouth quart and half-gallon sizes are the most useful.

I usually don’t label the jars because it’s an extra step, and I can see if it’s popcorn kernels or noodles or raisins. But on the top left, some of the baking ingredients all look the same. I label those with a piece of clear scotch tape and a Sharpie marker so that I don’t have to remember when it’s something random like arrowroot.

I found baskets to hold onions and potatoes.

The spices are on full display. (Good thing I decluttered the spices.) The salt and pepper shakers were nearly identical except one had four holes at the top and one had five. How was I supposed to remember that? I took a paint pen and labeled them.

The small trash cans are a throwback to our apartment days. We empty them into the larger bins outside. I labeled those too with a Sharpie marker. Classy.

Clothespins to fasten the chip bags.

The baking mixes are all together.

One concern with open shelving in the kitchen is keeping it clean, but we installed a very effective range hood over the stove that vents to the outside. It works really well, so the shelves stay clean and only need a little dusting every few weeks. Which I probably should be doing anyway, but now there’s incentive.

More home improvement to come!

About Rachel

I write about practical tips that will help you simplify at home. Connect with me on Pinterest and Twitter.

Comments

  1. Great job! It looks wonderful! :) Doesn’t get much better than functionality and beauty!
    I Live in an Antbed´s last post…Ties That Bind

  2. Lovely! Is it possible to have pantry-envy? :-)
    Deb´s last post…Braiding Bread

  3. I love the open pantry concept and even go a little bit further with open shelving or glass doors for the upper cabinets. Its so much more accessible and I personally think kitchen wares, china, etc.. are too pretty to be shoved behind closed doors.

  4. This is so beautiful. I yearn for a kitchen where I can leave apples and onions on display, but to do so invites an infestation of unmentionable unwelcome “guests” in NYC.
    Lissa´s last post…Uniqlo? No.

  5. I am not sure which I am more impressed by: your before and after shot or your incredibly HANDY husband. Wow! Bravo to both design and implementation. Enjoy your new space!

  6. Love it! Looks great.
    anne´s last post…More Things I’m Loving Lately

  7. Your pantry looks wonderful. Thanks for sharing the before and after pictures. It is inspiring to see that with imagination, know how and hard work you can create beauty where there was none.

  8. Denise C. says:

    I am always *smitten* with pantries! Love yours! I also love the chocolate bar next to the heart jar and the little silver pitcher. :)

  9. Things are really coming along! We recently moved and I have been eyeballing my small pantry for possible solutions for making it bigger. This is great inspiration!
    waysidewanderer´s last post…Cranberries, Pumpkins, and Fire Alarms

  10. I love your food.

  11. Audrey Sheppard says:

    I love it! When we were building our kitchen we were without cabinet doors for a long time. I almost didn’t want to hang them once we got them.

  12. Stephanie O says:

    Beautiful! Thanks for sharing. Also – Sharpie will come off of glass with rubbing alcohol, so you don’t even need the tape to label the jars. :)

  13. What a fantastic pantry!
    Your husband did a really nice job – he should be proud.
    And Rachel, your organization of the shelves is very inspirational – everything looks so tidy and so convenient. Love it.
    Thank you SO much for sharing the remodeling progress with us!

  14. YAY. We have an open pantry. I’m totally doing the canning jars and baskets. I can’t wait to see the difference it will make!
    Becky´s last post…Just Gettin’ Started

  15. I love it! And what a coincidence…I just posted today about using mason jars to store my grains!
    Jules´s last post…Day 20: 31 Days of William Morris

  16. You should submit your post to Lydia from http://www.theperfectpantry.com. She does a post every Saturday called ‘Other people’s pantries’. A lot of people get inspired to do over their pantries from the series.
    You did a great job organizing. The glass jars look good and are functional. I love it!

  17. Isn’t it handy to be married to someone who can do all those kinds of projects? I know I’m blessed that my husband is super-handy (I’ve yet to find something he can’t build or fix when I throw random ideas at him)…a far cry from my very non-fix-it family! They ALL love that I married Mr. Fix It! ;-)

    I love the way your kitchen is going – can’t wait to see more!!
    Carrie @ Busy Nothings´s last post…Soup, Deadlines, and Giveaway #3

  18. Its perfect! Your kitchen is lovely!
    Deb´s last post…Wordless Wednesday- Light & Airy

  19. Pretty! I love it.
    Jennie´s last post…Blogs That Make Me Happy

  20. Beautiful! We don’t have the option to expand our pantry (similar to your “before”) but this may embolden me to take off the door. You really have a knack for making everyday things beautiful – and not just pantry staples. Thanks for the inspiration.

  21. I like the way it looks without doors! I just worked on my pantry for awhile last week, and now I have more inspiration, so thanks!
    Emily Joyce´s last post…Inspired

  22. I love the openness. At one time I had upper cabinets doorless – such a favorite. No doors help keep things neat and tidy.
    Leslie´s last post…Today is Shower Day

  23. Beautiful! I’m curious about the high gloss on your painted shelves. How did you achieve that? It looks like white marble!

  24. Rachel Y. says:

    I love a pantry full of gluten-free food. So comforting!

  25. I love it! Those are some great ideas. In the next month we will be moving into a smaller rental house that I won’t see until we move in. I am excited to downsize. Can’t wait to use some of your tips! I also love that you too use clothespins to close bags. Other people think I’m strange, but they work and don’t cost much.

  26. Rachel,

    Where are the “steps” from that are organizing your spices. That little thing is ingenious.

    Thanks!

  27. I love the retro spice jar. We had one when I was growing up. It fits your “old house,” too. :)
    Jessica´s last post…Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting (URS: Pumpkin & Squash Recipes)

  28. I personally don’t like the open-look. I prefer doors; maybe one with glass or tainted glass. It makes things seem more organized for me. Also, with kids I think its better as well. When guests come over I don’t want them ogling to see what I have. Some people are so judging (like my husband’s side of family who don’t understand the value of organic)
    Anyways, I love how such a small pantry got expanded. Wonderful job.

    • When we had house guests it was easy for them to find what they needed, so I liked that they could see it all without having to open cabinets.

  29. I love the open look. I don’t know if I could deal with something that required me to be this organized, but it looks awesome.
    Elizabeth K.´s last post…Zombie Love

  30. Oh my, how pretty! You should see our “pantry”–everything’s in ziploc bags to protect from ants that we can’t get rid of!

    I love all the white in your house. Looks so “kitchin to” (Japanese!). Can’t think of it in English – maybe organized/neatly aligned/just so.

  31. Love the pantry makeover! You have such vision to see past the old limited space with green contact paper… not everyone can do that. The open concept is wonderfully simple and looks great!
    Amy @ Homestead Revival´s last post…Raising Boys To Be Men In Today’s Culture

  32. Terrific. I love to see that you’re using a lazy susan for the oils. I’ve found that a lazy susan is a perfect solution for corner cabinets too.

  33. That is beautiful! I wish we could do something like that…although my pantry would need somE serious reorganization to be on view for the world to see. :)
    Jessica @ Quirky Bookworm´s last post…The Daughter of Time

  34. I like it! It would be a good incentive to keep it clean and organized since its always visible! I’m not sure I would be up to that, lol!
    Kait Palmer´s last post…Tatum’s Eleventh Week and TLC’s Biased Baby Story

  35. Well done on the pantry remodel! I love how everything is easy to get to – all of your ingredients are within arm’s reach and no dusty corners at floor level.

  36. I count the pantry my husband designed and built as one of the most valuable spaces in our house. Originally, it had bi-fold doors, which were cheap and ugly but were what we could afford at the time. After several years when one broke beyond repair, we removed them and ordered new, high-quality doors, which were going to take some weeks to arrive. I ended up loving the open space so much I convinced my husband to let me cancel the door order — and pay a 10% fee — but it was worth it to me to have what I really liked. I made curtains out of two flat twin bed sheets, although they are pushed open most of the time.

    I only wish I had been so creative when we first remodeled the kitchen and skipped those creaky, irritating bi-folds all along. :)
    Lori´s last post…Wise Words Wednesday: Understanding My Mother and Myself as a Mother

  37. Open pantries are so good, you just have to be tidy…looking great x
    Tasmanian Minimalist´s last post…Food Waste Friday

  38. Pantry love :) I’ve been having a hankering to redo our very messy, cluttered small pantry… you’ve officially been pinned to my “organization” board! I have that EXACT wooden bowl that we don’t use often for salad, but I really like… I’m totally using it in our pantry. And, we have tons of baskets I could use. Ours isn’t an open pantry, but I would love it to make me happy when I open it! Thanks for posting.
    Kendra´s last post…Pantry love

  39. I love it! It makes it so much easier to see what you’ve got and would give me the incentive to keep it organized!
    Kim @ Eat What You’ve Got´s last post…Candied Sweet Potatoes

  40. The ‘steps’ for the spices can be easily made by painting blocks of wood, can be bought for pennies (or using leftovers from your stud wall work!). Just use 2 blocks stacked for your back tier.

  41. Beautiful, Rachel! A pantry project is on our up and coming list and this is very inspiring. I see there are white cabinets and black counters now, too. Very pretty! Can’t wait to see the whole kitchen!
    Emily@remodelingthislife´s last post…The Little Things Day 20: Indirectly

  42. I love it! And I have a question – are you, Doug and the kids living in this house you are remodeling? I don’t remember if you mentioned this in your other post. My husband and I want to do some rewiring and put new walls up in our house, but he thinks we will have to basically gut the home and therefore move in with my family if we go through with it.

    • For the first six weeks we didn’t live there, but then we moved in when the demolition and construction was done. We still have some finish-out tasks to complete.

  43. Great! That looks terrific, and so many smart storage ideas. I love the canning jars for all the grains and things – I’ve been exploring more and more strange new grains and that is a great way to keep them from spoiling, plus it looks a bit reminiscent of a country store or kitchen, filled with home-canned goods. Even if you’re not into canning, I love when the food, rather than its packaging or branding, is what you see.

  44. Simply stunning – you guys are so inspiring… Well done on spotting the potential!!!
    se7en´s last post…Sunday Snippet: Why Take Your Family on a Mission Trip…

  45. Love.
    We just did Metro shelving and I couldn’t be happier with open shelving. I still have a pantry for food. But, the open shelving is for pots, pans, bowls – stuff I want easy access to everyday.

    So much less bending and lifting.
    It’s made me kitchen so much more efficient.

    I headed off to your link about cleaning out the Spice Cabinet. (I recently did a post like that, too!) And, you are right, if you find a spice from 5 years ago, it prolly doesn’t need to be replaced – afterall you weren’t using it!)

    I just love your posts.

    One of these days I’ll finally get around to blogging our whole kitchen re-do. But, until then, you can see pics of our new open shelving at
    http://www.cookingatcafed.com/2011/10/31-days-to-more-organized-life-day-14.html
    Dana @ Cooking at Cafe D´s last post…31 Days To a More Organized Life: Day 20 – Wish and Gift Lists

  46. So pretty! I’m definitely going to have get some canning jars…we’ve been married over two years and I still keep sugar in its bag…

    Wow, did I really just admit something so embarrasing on the internet? Yikes!
    MK Jorgenson´s last post…The Book Is Now Available!

    • I keep sugar in its original bag too. It’s down there on the shelf with the baking mix packages. What goes in my glass containers is the food I buy from the bulk bins that come in flimsy baggies from the store.

  47. Love, Love, Love.. My favorite part is that it is real not some over containerized,over labeled pantry. I think there is real beauty in the food we eat why not use it as a focal point in our kitchen.. Very nice..

  48. Oh, Rachel, I love it! My hubby has wanted to open up our cabinets, but I have been hesitant. After seeing this, I feel just maybe a twinge of envy and might consider it now!
    Bernice
    Successful Woman’s Resource Center´s last post…How to get more done in a day

  49. Love the open-ness! Thanks for supplying before and after pics. It helps give perspective to your hubby’s hard work. He should be proud of his talents! Thanks again for posting this.

  50. I love the pantry! We have Elfa shelving for an open pantry and it has been a mess. I love th look of the glass jars. I will get myself to the store to buy a few!

  51. I just LOVE your new pantry! It’s amazing how something so simple can be so beautiful! I am becoming a minimalist and I love all your ideas, they are so great! If you don’t mind, I’ll take some ideas into my own pantry – first, declutter; then, organize! Thank you so much for keeping sharing your ideas with all of us.

  52. What a lovely pantry you have. Canning jars are great for storing stuff — while the contrast between the food and the white backdrop just makes everything pop. I’m smitten with Doug — give him a big hug for me :D

    You’re half-way decent yourself, Rachel :D

  53. I love what you’ve done. We have a teeny tiny pantry in the kitchen and when our 4 kids were growing up my husband got tired of “fixing” the door to it so he finally just took it off and we painted the shelves white and I like it so much more. It motivates me to keep it tidy and organized, and also makes the grocery list so much easier because you see everything at a glance. With the beautiful job you guys did it becomes so much more of the “decor” and then you don’t feel like you have to buy cutesy kitchen stuff to decorate it and let’s face it, it all goes in the donation bin after a few months. Can’t wait to see more, thanks for sharing!

  54. It looks beautiful. I love the picture of the kids in it, kids always seem to gravitate to little nooks and hidey holes. I also love the idea of keeping the microwave on a shelf rather than using up valuable counter space.

    We switched to glass jars while living in our previous rental where I had to use a bookcase as a pantry since our kitchen had so few cupboards I could barely keep the essential cooking/eating wares in them. I keep thinking I should label them, but I’ve found over time I use them for different things, like I just finished a jar of mini pasta shells and won’t be replacing them as they were there for quite a long time, but I just bought some new granola and will probably store it in the now empty jar. Labels just seem limiting now, unless they’re necessary to prevent unpleasant cooking mistakes of course!

  55. I wish I could do this! I know I would be able to, but my husband would make a big ol’ mess out of it. Do you have any tips for keeping the family on board?

    Jenna
    callherhappy.com
    Jenna@CallHerHappy´s last post…Custom Letterhead Giveaway Winner!

    • It’s pretty easy for them to put something back where it goes because everything is spread out. We just have to be considerate when we bring home a bunch of groceries and not just toss it in there.

  56. Love it! I think you have a real talent for taking things and making them both nicer to look at and nicer to use! I have a habit of going through my things to organize them and can make them look beautiful on a shelf…but usually render them useless by how I arrange them. Oh how much I am learning from you!

  57. Gorgeous! I don’t think I will ever be brave enough to do an open pantry but you’ve done such a beautiful job with yours! Especially love the jars for dried goods — ingredients can be beautiful to look at.
    Michelle´s last post…Spookify Your Smartphone — Useful apps for Hallowe’en

  58. I am totally torn about open shelving. We have had both. I LOVE the look and it is efficient when cooking. BUT…I find that the additional dusting makes it not worth it for me. It may be different with food, but I got so frustrated with having to wash the dust off bowls or glasses every time I used them.

    Everything looks amazing though!! Great job making more space in the kitchen. I can’t wait to see the rest!
    Michelle´s last post…Doodlebug’s Fall Adventures

  59. I love this! There’s something welcoming and familiar about open shelving, particularly an open pantry space. We have a big closet pantry space and I keep contemplating taking off the door so it is just open.
    Katherine´s last post…Things I Feel Guilty About Saying to My Children

  60. *small* reminder about the baskets. Potatoes aren’t good once exposed to light for too long. I use a covered basket for my potatoes. Safer unless you’re using them in a day flat. :D

  61. Love the jars! I use Trader Joe’s canned fruit jars to store popcorn, chocolate chips, salt, etc. (They’re also the perfect size to use as a water bottle — the glass keeps water fresh and cool, and they fit in most cup holders.) It feels so good to re-purpose, and it looks pretty, too!

  62. Wonderful job!! I love your organization and your hubby’s craftsmanship. You guys really work well together.
    Donna´s last post…Boxed Mug Rug Gift Set

  63. LOVE it!

    One thing, though – you shouldn’t store onions and potatoes so close to each other. They both give off gasses (natural, harmless) that cause the other to go off quickly. Alton Brown covered it. So maybe just give them some more elbow room…?

    How lovely to have a handy husband, though. I’m jealous!
    Emily´s last post…The Autonomous Child

  64. It looks so lovely! How do you keep track of cooking instructions? E.g., how long to cook barley, wheatberries, lentils, brown rice, instant rice, etc. When I have used glass containers, I’ve cut the original wrapping from the original packaging, but don’t like how that looks. Thanks,
    Amy

    • A lot of those things I don’t even use the directions on the package because they’re just… wrong. Like the brown rice I had that said to use a 1:2 ratio of rice to water same as white rice, when you get much better rice with 1:3 cooked on a slightly higher temp or just longer; or the pasta that says to cook for 11-13 minutes but it’s reliably cooked perfectly in 7 minutes.

      Since I write on my jars in sharpie if the glass is textured (comes off with rubbing alcohol) or window crayon if it’s untextured (comes off with hot water & soap), I have written some basic directions on the jars as I’ve discovered them. (Like, “1r:3w, simmer 40min” is written on the glass lid to the brown rice jar, so that my partner can remember how to cook it.)

    • you can always just look it up online. That’s what I did when I forgot the ratio for couscous and again when I forgot it for millet :) Plus, using the online directions means realy people can review it and say which way actually works, just like Heather says.

    • I usually follow a recipe and not the bag’s instructions, but I mostly cook the same things over and over again.

  65. Oh, I think it looks fabulous! I’m a huge fan of open pantries.

  66. Love the pantry project. Having things out in the open makes you keep them neat and organized. I also like the canning jars and was wondering what types of things can you store in them? Are they airtight enough to keep things fresh (other than dried beans and the like)??

    • They’re not vacuum sealed, but the rubber gaskets on the lid keep them pretty sealed. The raisins always stay moist.

  67. I love how it looks: real, yet beautiful. I’ve had a open shelving pantry for the past few years because we redid our kitchen, but couldn’t fit 2 things into our budget. (I don’t have a dishwasher either – don’t mind). Parts of my shelves look nice, but it does get VERY dusty (and we have a good vent hood too – but no carpet, so there’s nowhere for the dust to hide). My husband is planning to build a pantry cabinet for me – hopefully before Christmas. Thank goodness for a handy husband.
    Margo´s last post…Reading Recently

  68. Looks great! I love that you kept the old double stove too, rather than replacing it with stainless steel. Question – where do you do most of your grocery shopping, particular for the bulk bins you mentioned and gluten-free foods? I’m assuming you’re pretty good with budgeting – do you spend a little more on better food, clip coupons, have a grocery budget? When organic foods cost sometimes 3-4x more, it’s hard to think of buying (some of) it over the non-organic food.
    finley´s last post…Weekend in review

    • I do most of our shopping at Whole Foods, Central Market, Sprouts, and Wal-mart, depending on the product, and I go to about two stores a week. I don’t clip coupons, but I do keep track of prices (I do that pretty well in my head so I know when to stock up a little). To buy dried fruit and nuts from the bulk bins I tend to shop more at Sprouts, but I completely avoid the aisle where they keep the wheat flour in the bulk bin to avoid cross contamination. I get the Sprouts weekly sales flier emailed to me and watch for their sales on bulk food and gluten-free food. I care more about ingredients in a product (simpler ingredients, fewer chemicals) than whether something is organic. We spend a lot on groceries and little on eating out.

  69. Since glass isn’t porous you can write on them with dry erase markers.. it’ll come off easier than sharpie.

  70. Yes, it’s beautiful….. but I double dog dare you to take a picture of it in 2 months… without straightening up first. =) There’s no way most people I know could keep their pantry that pretty for long, but I’d love to see if it’s really possible…

    • The photos that I shared in this post are of the pantry almost two months old. It still looks pretty much the same. The trick is to put new groceries away where they go instead of throwing everything in there.

  71. I really like this. You could just add pretty simple curtains that you can leave open except for company. I think doors would get in the way in this space.

  72. I LOVE that heart container and lid with your chip clips. Where did you get it??

  73. Laura Anne says:

    I noticed your GF mixes in the pantry. I have been GF for about 8 years – I make my own flour mixes after buying in bulk as it is much less expensive. We have a yummy, and very easy to make, pizza crust recipe if you need one!

  74. Great job! I love it when people “re-use” a house instead of building a new one. So much more creative!
    Lisa´s last post…Weekend of Organizing Part V:The Rest of the Story or "We’re Livin’ Small!!"

  75. Thank you for sharing! I am obsessed with pantries. One of your readers shared a website I’ll be heading to next…so excited.
    I love that you use Sharpies! I think it’s such a great idea to personalize things and cut out the guess work. I’m also glad a reader mentioned that it comes off glass with alcohol…because I’ve been doing the tape thing too.
    And, don’t you just love when a brand new visitor gives you advice? Someone already mentioned not leaving potatoes in the light…..I will mention that the off-gassing of onions is harmful to potatoes. (harmful in that they spoil more quickly.) But! Maybe you already knew that, and in such a beautifully open space they can share the same air.
    Thanks again for sharing!

    • That’s good advice about the potatoes and onions, but there are so few of them, and we use them before they have a chance to spoil.