Turning a Closet into a Pantry

We live in a small place right now. The kitchen is especially small – not really big enough to store food for 7 people and the pots, pans, and dishes that I need for our family. In addition to the lack of storage area, the cupboards are a bit too high for me (I’m barely 5′ tall, especially without shoes). Between those two obstacles, I was quite frustrated with my kitchen, so my husband came up with a solution: we turned half of the coat closet into a pantry.

First, let me briefly describe the layout to our home. You come in the front door, which when open blocks off the view of the kitchen. To your immediate left is the coat closet. The kitchen is a galley kitchen, which means it’s open on both sides. One side opens to the foyer and the other to the dining room (which itself opens to the living room). So when the front door is closed, the kitchen is right next to the coat closet.

two shelves with a variety of jars of food on them.

Actually making the transformation was super simple. We first emptied out the closet (except for the shelf up above, which already housed primarily small kitchen appliances). My husband and teenagers then brought in two old bookshelves that we’ve had forever. They had been kept in our tiny outdoor storage unit, just waiting for a decision to be made on them. We’ve talked many times about getting rid of them, but never have for one reason or another. In this home, I’m so glad we’ve kept them! I cleaned the shelves really well and then covered the shelves with contact paper so they would match the other shelves and drawers that we covered when we first moved in. Then Will and the kids tucked the shelves into the closet. They fit perfectly, depth wise, and take up just over half of the closet width wise, so we still have room for coats and cleaning supplies (mop, broom, vacuum).

Knowing my youngest son as well as I do (he is the most difficult of all our children, by far), I nailed the shelves to the wall. I just knew that he would try to climb them – and he has, many times – so it was imperative that they not be able to tip over on him. With that done, we were able to “move in”!

a bookshelf full of foodIt took me a while to get used to the new pantry, so it was weird at first trying to figure out what to put where. But once I got used to the idea, things just really flowed and I was able to fill up the shelves almost like second nature. Now, I don’t even think about the actual kitchen cupboards anywhere when I get home from the grocery store. I put the really tall things on the top shelf – cereal boxes, my spice rack, and bottles of vegetable oil for example. Just below that, on the second shelf, I put the canned goods, organized by type (beans, vegetables, tomato products). The third shelf houses my baking supplies. I filled a mixing bowl with the small items like baking powder and soda, vanilla, cinnamon. Next to that are the bags of all purpose flour, whole wheat flour, sugar, and masa (corn flour for making tortillas). The next shelf down is my favorite one. It’s my “extra supplies” shelf. There live the things that we already have in the fridge, but that I often forget to buy more of. So when the fridge one runs out, I’m sure to have a spare on hand. Think mayo, mustard, ketchup, salad dressing, lemon juice, etc. Things we use frequently but not quickly. The very bottom shelf is where I keep the heavier items, like bags of popcorn and rice.

The second shelf is right next to the other one. Literally touching. It houses the things that don’t quite fit on the first shelf, food as well as non-food kitchen supplies like cookbooks. It doesn’t tend to be as full as the other one, but it’s still nice to have available for overflow.

Have you ever repurposed a “room” in your house?


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