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The demise of the pantry


lperry
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Don't blame the architects. Some of us cook. My circa 1916, 750 sf house had a lovely walk in pantry with a window, electricity, and lots of shelves. My 1948 house - no pantry, but a bigger kitchen and more cabinets. The corner lazy susan unit does better than I would have guessed. We do without, though some storage is relegated to the basement.

For apartment units, it is almost impossible to get the developer to listen to anyone but the marketing people. They will tell them what people like - I counter that they are judging from what people appear to like based on what choices they are given. So if an open kitchen with no pantry or a closed kitchen with no pantry are the choices, concluding that renters don't want or need a pantry is poor logic.

Most custom homes I've worked on in the past 20 years have included a pantry - if not a walk-in, then some of those nice floor to ceiling (or at least 7' high) cabinets that either have pull-out drawers inside or that have bins attached to the door itself, so everything is visible when you open the door (like a giant drawer face.)

If you have the opportunity to redo your kitchen cabinets, but don't have a place for a walk-in pantry, this is a great solution. You can fill one wall or block of cabinetry with a tall solid surface incorporating the fridge, oven stack, tall storage - nice clean look - then a wall for the sink and dishwasher, trash, etc, and a clear counterspace. Cooktop - island or third wall area. A little bit of upper units for display. Looks great, functions great.

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Currently, I have some storage space in a porch-converted-to-a-laundry-room at the back of the house. We live in a 1957 tract house, and I treasure the small amount of cabinet space I have. I discovered tonight that I can store my LeCreuset pot on top of the cast iron pot I bought to bake bread in, and I was so excited I nearly called my mother. But I do have a large area with shelves in the laundry room; it's not too convenient, but it works. And Fat Guy is right, it's got a lot of stuff in it that needs to be thrown out. It very easily becomes a home for things I've never gotten around to cooking. While there is quite a bit of space in the laundry room, it's inconveniently arranged, and I always have to look for stuff. A lot of trays, cake pans, canning kettles, etc., currently live in the garage.

We'll be building a new house in a couple of years, and the plan we've chosen has a pantry. The pantry was the reason we chose the plan. The builder tells me that this particular plan is 'hot' right now, because of the pantry, and I take that as a good sign. Fortunately, he's become a friend, and very soon he and I will be sitting down for a brainstorm session on how we're going to squeeze every possible square inch of storage space into the kitchen that we can.

My friends laugh at me, because during an open house, I took comprehensive pictures of the kitchen when we were in the model home. I know exactly what's going to be stored in each and every cabinet and drawer. I also have the pantry pretty well figured out, as to which items will go on which shelf. The house will be a little over 1,400 square feet, and will have a basement of the same size, so I'll be able to store items I use infrequently in the basement.

I'm looking forward to moving, believe me!

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I am about 2/3rds from done with an entire house remodel and still my marriage is intact and no one has died ...we are going to begin the new kitchen in the fall ..I want a pantry ..not a huge one just a functional one ...(I need ideas! hope it is ok at ask here?) so if anyone wants to share pics of their pantries and how they created them I would be so grateful as it is even hard to find plans or picture ideas anymore ...like you said ..they are just not popular!

my friends have used closets to makeshift pantries but food gets lost in there from what I can see if your shelves are too deep ...

why am I always at the bottom and why is everything so high? 

why must there be so little me and so much sky?

Piglet 

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my friends have used closets to makeshift pantries but food gets lost in there from what I can see if your shelves are too deep ...

This was a problem in our house, so we retrofitted the too-deep closet with drawers and wow, what a difference. While we were at it, we did drawers in the under-counter cabinets, too.

It was an inexpensive and easy fix (yes, did we the work ourselves) and just wondered why we didn't do it when we first moved in.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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Our current house was built in '64. There is no pantry, but a deep closet in the laundry room, with wire shelves from TCS is barely sufficing for now. We moved in a year and a half ago. Last month we bought a table saw and wood to build a nice floor to ceiling pantry off of the breakfast nook. I really miss the walk in pantry we had in Chicago. It was perfect!!!

Edited by nessa (log)
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My house (built in 1963) has a very good sized pantry that I've managed to fill to the bursting point. With me- it's a case of 'I'll fill up whatever space I have no matter how big or small'. Every house I've been in here has a pantry space, whether is a walk-in as mine is, or just a closet with shelves. Mine is tucked under the stairs. The biggest gripe I have with it is that the some of the shelves are very widely-spaced. I've had to buy additional shelves and put in to help eliminate wasted space. Not that it's a crisis or anything, just irritating. There is no reason to have that wide a space between shelves.

Stop Family Violence

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my friends have used closets to makeshift pantries but food gets lost in there from what I can see if your shelves are too deep ...

This was a problem in our house, so we retrofitted the too-deep closet with drawers and wow, what a difference. While we were at it, we did drawers in the under-counter cabinets, too.

It was an inexpensive and easy fix (yes, did we the work ourselves) and just wondered why we didn't do it when we first moved in.

I would just love to see this if you have a picture?

why am I always at the bottom and why is everything so high? 

why must there be so little me and so much sky?

Piglet 

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We're in a small sixties-vintage ranch house with a good-sized kitchen for its overall size.  The kitchen was my highest priority when we were house-hunting, and this one was bigger than anything else we looked at in our price range, with lots of cabinet space, relatively speaking--but it's nowhere big enough for all my stuff! 

We've started talking about building a custom home next time around, and I've been with looking at plans with a nice big walk-in pantry.  I think that's going to be a requirement, no matter where else we have to cut back!

A walk-in would be nice but in the meantime you might consider what I did. We too are in an older ranch home with a fairly large kitchen space. Normal top and counter cabinets on three walls but no real pantry. We have a tiny scullery with the washer/dryer off the kitchen however and I put a floor to ceiling bookcase in there. Then I built two more bookcases of the same height but 1/2 the width, and about 6 inches deep. I attached these with long piano hinges to the bookcase as doors, effectively almost doubling the shelf space. I put a heavy-duty swivelling ball caster under these doors to prevent sagging and firmly attached the bookcase to the wall to avoid any possibility of tipping.

I would post photos but I don't know how!!

O.k. I think I've got it. Here are two photos of my constructed pantry-Doors closed

gallery_50527_4885_15022.jpg

Doors open

gallery_50527_4885_51790.jpg

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I try to keep a reasonable sized stock of pantry staples on hand. Family of two.

We typically go through a 10 lb bag of flour in a month or two. I stock the kind we use most, and don't worry about special flours because it is perishable, I've seen weevils before and they're Not Fun. Rice is properly stocked in 20 lb bags, which last a month or two. I also keep a pasta stash, usually in the 5 lb range. Pasta is Food Of Last Resort for when we are brain fried and can't do "real" cooking, so I try to keep the stock small.

Condiments (soy sauce, dark sesame oil, olive oil, butter, neutral veggie oil, pepper, salt, dried peppers, cumin, ketchup, 2 kinds of mustard and mustard powder, 2-3 sorts of vinegar, sage, rosemary, thyme, and chile powder) usually last somewhere in the 2 month to a year range. I tend to aim for fast turnover, since fresh tastes better.

The remainder of my pantry stock never actually lasts long enough to get called pantry stock.

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Our house has a hall closet near the kitchen that we use as a pantry of sorts. This closet works well for dog food but is otherwise fairly useless. The closet is narrow and deep so things get lost, and opening the closet door blocks the main hallway (through the double doors on the right of the picture).

When we renovated our kitchen we stole two feet from the narrow end of the dining room and installed Ikea cabinets with pull-out drawers. These cabinets hold a ton of stuff – dry goods, canned goods, small appliances, serving trays, and cookbooks in the glass-fronted upper cabinets. The countertop also works well for dinner parties.

Shallow cabinets and/or pull-out drawers are the most efficient way to store things.

gallery_28660_4106_19165.jpg

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Shallow cabinets and/or pull-out drawers are the most efficient way to store things.

I agree. I think that's why I've been pleasantly surprised by the functionality of my "armoire." It's about four feet wide, five feet tall, eighteen inches deep, with two big drawers in the bottom.

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