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Pantry Organization Help - Outgrown Pantry

Hi fellow hounds,

I'm hoping you can help me out. I currently rent so there aren't many options for me in terms of storage. I've outgrown my pantry and have absolutely no space to put anything. I've tried organizing it multiple ways to maximize space, and have currently settled on a plastic handled pull-out bin system. But, I need suggestions on how I can either reorganize the space or retool it so that I can fit more than one or two extra cans of goods. I also would like to start canning in the summer and need space.

The door to the pantry is only 8 inches wide, with actual shelf space of 12.5 inches wide. So I can't do rolling shelf inserts because it won't fit through the 8 inch door. The pantry itself is 18 inches deep, but the shelves are only 13 inches deep (previous tenants installed the system and I kept it).

My other cabinets are used by all my cookware, dishware, bakeware, storageware. I've pared down as much as possible; I can't sacrifice any of that space for a pantry. I don't have wall space so I can't install shelving. I don't have much space at all. My counter space to prep food is only 18 inches wide. I don't have space for a rolling/portable island.

Any suggestions as to how I might be able to maximize space for my pantry?

The only solutions I can think of are:

1. Increase the size of the shelves to 16-17 inches deep (providing there are brackets that length) which would give me 3-4 extra inches depth on each shelf

2. Buy an external metal standalone shelving unit that won't fit in the kitchen area, but I'll place in the dining area. It might look a bit messy and out of place.

I'm attaching pictures so you can get an idea of the limitations. Any and all suggestions are welcome. I'm just so fed up with the pantry's small size that I'm willing to try anything.


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  1. Definitely increase the depth of your shelves as much as you can. Instead of brackets, you could use blocks screwed into studs on the side walls to rest the shelves on. Do you have anywhere you could use a slide-out shelf tower like this: http://www.amazon.com/Storage-Dynamic... My DH built a 2-tier one, about 10" wide, as tall as the refrigerator and installed between the refrigerator and the wall. It is amazing how much stuff it holds.

    5 Replies
    1. re: MrsJonesey

      Thanks so much for the suggestion regarding the rolling shelf tower. I really like the idea because it looks very neat and tucked in. I just measured the only space it might fit. I have a sliver of space between the fridge and built in cabinet and it measures a tiny 1.5 inches.

      Increasing the depth of shelves might be the only viable solution that will give me a bit more space

      1. re: daeira

        Sorry that won't work for you. If either your stove or refrigerator has a free side, is it possible to move it away from the cabinet enough to make room for the shelf tower?

        The only other thing I can think of is using a pot rack to free up some cabinet space. Good luck. I know it's frustrating.

        1. re: MrsJonesey

          I was thinking about this last night, in terms of moving the fridge towards the left to create space between a cabinet and the fridge. The only drawback would be that the fridge would then be in the "dining room" (and I use this loosely).

          The other option would be to find a one-sided shelf tower and wheel that on the left side of the fridge so you'd see a solid piece of wood but then roll it out and access the goods. The shelf tower would still be in the dining area, but might be better than having a fridge in the dining area

          1. re: daeira

            If I am following you correctly, you may get away with using a bookshelf-type unit, short in depth, and either use it open with its back to the side of the refrigerator, or put casters on the bottom, with its back facing out. Hope that makes sense.

            I believe you said you're renting, but if you plan to stay there for years and finances permit, you might consider having a carpenter build you a unit.

            As far as your home canned goods, they can be quite pretty displayed.

            1. re: MrsJonesey

              MrsJonesey, exactly what I was thinking from your initial idea. A thin bookcase or even DVD/CD unit might be enough space to hold the canned goods. That way, it would still be narrow in depth, but fill my needs. I attached a photo way up in the thread of my kitchen all drawn up that has your idea there.

              So I'm considering either placing the rolling rack/bookcase there or the standalone pantry on an opposite wall

    2. This may not be a possibility for you, but thought I'd suggest just in case. We have a similar sized pantry in our tiny kitchen - my husband and I rent a house.

      We turned the coat closet by the front door into a pantry. It's very close to the kitchen. We put in a plastic cabinet with shelving, storage baskets, and hung a shoe organizer over the door, which is great for storing jars of condiments and such. If you have a closet that you could convert near the kitchen, it could be an option for you as well.

      2 Replies
      1. re: jw615

        Shoe organizer on a door was also one of my first thoughts, but here I can just "second" it. Holds a lot of stuff.

        1. re: jw615

          Great suggestion, but unfortunately not a possibility. I only have 2 real closets in my entire apartment. There's the closet in the bedroom, and the closet in the front hall which currently holds all my jackets, shoes, vacuum and anything else I can cram in there.

          The apartment is so small that I'm seriously lacking for storage, despite my decluttering tendencies. I like the hung shoe organizer idea, but since the closet doors are folding doors, I'm not sure I can do it. Maybe I could attach the hanging shoe organizer to the other side of the fridge with very strong magnets

        2. Do you have any room between the cabinets and ceiling? Sometimes "going up" is a good solution. Years ago, I needed storage for extra towels in a cabinet-less bathroom. Using corbels and a piece of glass, I made a shelf that ran over top of the sink area, wall-to-wall.

          Are there any walls available? A 1 can deep shelf does not take much room and will fit behind a door. Running it floor-to-ceiling will provide room for your canning successes.

          The other thing I remember from rentals is a tall, narrow wall unit that held every kind of small jar - spices, condiments, etc. I put it inside a closet on the door.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Sherri

            There's 6 inches above the top of the cabinet and the ceiling. I considered going upwards, but the only downfall would be that it's not that accessible for me. I would have to pull out a very tall step stool to access anything up there. Plus, I'm a bit worried about the weight of extra things on the cabinet. As my cabinets are already bursting with cookware and bakeware, I wonder if the added weight might cause a collapse.

            I might be able to put a small shelf above the sink area. There's roughly 12 inches between the sink area and the bottom of the cabinets over the sink.

            Other than that, there are no walls available. It's such a tiny space that the landlords have already crammed in as much as possible.

            Since the door to the pantry is so small (8 inches), I can't put one of those over the door hanging systems since usually the smallest is still too big. The only other closets in my space are my front closet with folding doors and my closet in the bedroom, also folding doors.

          2. http://www.rev-a-shelf.com/p-238-pull...

            Would a pullout pantry insert work? Revashelf has one that is 8" wide. You can order it from most cabinet shops.

            1 Reply
            1. re: jmcarthur8

              Great idea and I really like it. Unfortunately, the smallest Revashelf is at 5 inches, but the depth is 22. My pantry is only 18 inches deep.

              I really like the rolling idea as another poster suggested it. I suspect I could cram a lot of canned goods in there.

              It looks like I might have to increasingly go with a stand alone unit

            2. You might clear out a pots/pans cupboard by looking around for a place to hang frequently used ones.


              8 Replies
              1. re: Bada Bing

                This might be an option. I do have a window with a very small ledge. If I run a curtain extender across I could quite possibly hang something there. Or maybe I could put a small rolling can holder on the ledge itself. It wouldn't be pretty, but it would at least allow me to store some things in the window itself

                1. re: Bada Bing

                  Beeeg +1 on hanging as much as you use frequently. OP, what's under your stove? If you don't use your oven much, that can be good pan storage space, too. What's on top of the reefer?

                  1. re: kaleokahu

                    kaleokahu, I have a pull out shelf under my stove which is filled with bakeware. I store all of my cast iron pans in the stove when not in use already. Admittedly, I have a lot of kitchenware, cookware; but I love cooking. I've already pared down and donated quite a bit and can probably donate a bit more.

                    I'm not sure what a reefer is, but if you mean exhaust, I don't have one. Immediately above the stove are cabinets

                    1. re: daeira

                      Maybe a reefer is a fridge? The only reefer I know about is illegal in this state ;)

                      1. re: melpy


                        Yes, a reefer is a refrigerator.

                        1. re: JayL

                          How interesting! Where do they use that term?

                      2. re: daeira

                        Well who knew a reefer was a fridge. I just assumed that reefer was the exhaust since reefer madness, reefer usually has smoke. LOL

                        1. re: daeira

                          Fridges are reefers in SoCal, at least they were among my set growing up there.

                  2. Can you put boots under your couch and slide bins under it? For the important but not everyday pots pans and bakeware?

                    Are you using the space around your kitchen sink pipes efficiently? HD or Lowes had some wrap-around thing designed for under-sinks,

                    Can you put your fridge on blocks? That would buy you the 6".

                    Several years ago I had an IKEA unit on wheels that had wire baskets and drawers [I think you picked the configuration you preferred]. I "hid" it in plain sight and just shoved it as much out of the way as possible when I had company-- it went to the Living Room when we were in the kitchen eating, and from LR back to K when we retired to the couch.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Kris in Beijing

                      I considered this as well, unfortunately my couch is one of those lazy boy types that has all the mechanical stuff underneath, so there's no space to place a bin. I could probably place some bakeware under my bed in a bin and that would free up one cabinet.

                      The space around the pipes is all filled already with everything that currently doesn't fit in the pantry including my bins of rice and other flours, other cooking equipment, handblenders and the like.

                      The top of the fridge is already touching the bottom of the cabinet so no chance of placing on bricks.

                      I checked out the IKEA website for a wheeled unit and they have a decent one that isn't too big I could place at the corner. The only problem, it's only sold in the US and not in Canada.

                    2. What about taking the door off, that way what you do have in the pantry is easier to access, and you could possibly fit in pull out shelves? That type of door is very easy to remove and put back on, and you could probably store it under your bed or behind your couch. You could use a tension rod with a curtain in the opening to keep it more attractive looking.

                      5 Replies
                        1. re: juliejulez

                          I like this idea too and went searching online for pull out shelves that could fit through the 8 inch opening. Since I'm not very handy, perhaps I'm not looking for the right equipment to install. Might you know of any pull out shelves that would be smaller than 8 inches across and 18 inches deep?

                          There was a drawer I found but the smallest was 12 inches, expandable to 16.

                          Then I thought about maybe using track lighting tracks to somehow rig some sort of system. If I use shelving tracks, they would probably have to slide on the bottom rather than the sides as I don't want to give up the 4 inches on the shelf itself.

                          1. re: daeira

                            This one is for lids, but it would work for small narrow bottles, spices, anything small that would probably normally get lost in a deep pantry like that. http://www.containerstore.com/shop/ki...

                            Even if you can't find pull-outs that fit, taking the door off will just make the pantry feel WAY larger. those accordian type doors really do take up a lot of space.

                            Also I really like this line of stuff that hangs on the bottom of the shelf... uses up that wasted space right below th shelves http://www.containerstore.com/shop/ki...

                            Utilizing smaller shelves like this might help free up some space, and again, take advantage of the vertical space you do have: http://www.containerstore.com/shop/ki... I have a large walk-in pantry, but the shelves are pretty far apart, so I use a lot of these shelf type things to avoid stacking boxes on each other, and to take advantage of the vertical space.

                            Also remember whenever a box, container, whatever is getting empty, move it into a smaller container. In your third photo there's a large plastic container of something (maybe juice or oil?). Has a yellow cap and handle. It's maybe only 2/3 full but that giant container is taking up a lot of room. Once a big container gets to that point move it to a smaller container, perhaps one that's more narrow. That would free up a decent amount of space.

                            1. re: juliejulez

                              Also it looks like there's a small wall that is currently covered up by the pantry doors when they're open? By removing the doors, you can hang something like this for spices, oils... the stuff you use often: http://www.containerstore.com/shop?pr...

                              1. re: juliejulez

                                Great suggestions juliejulez. Thanks so much. I didn't even think of the sliding lid shelf as I kept on googling pull-out shelves. This option also looks very doable for a not-very-handy person like myself.

                                I have a few of the shelf extenders so I can make use of the vertical space, but can definitely use a few more on the other side of the cabinets to create more space.

                                I agree, the container in the 3rd picture is oil and it's a rather large container of it. It's bulky and takes up space. I used to keep it on the ground near my juices, but it was getting to be such a hassle to move back and forth to cook.

                                There is a small wall when the pantry door opens. Unfortunately it's wasted space that I can't transform because immediately opposite the pantry door is the stove/oven. That wall you see is directly under a window. The stove/oven is pressed against the wall and so when I open the oven door, it pretty much takes up the entire wall space. So spices and other things are out because the oven door when opened would knock everything off.

                          2. Do you use all of your bedrooms or have guest rooms?

                            We have a stainless storage rack in an unused, guest bedroom. That is our big pantry.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: JayL

                              I do use all my bedrooms. I only have 1. I live in a 600 square foot, 1 bedroom apartment. The kitchen itself is galley style, with fridge, cabinet and oven on one side, and pantry, sink and small prep counter area on the other side.

                              I considered putting a metal rack in the bedroom, but worried about putting food in the bedroom. If they're all canned goods, I suppose it wouldn't matter.

                              1. re: daeira

                                All of our "pantry" food is in cans, bags, containers. Certainly nothing that is open.

                                For open bags of rice, flour, etc, we simply put them inside plastic containers such as Rubbermaid or similar.

                                Works great for us, but we have 1,200sqft & 3 bedrooms (1 for us, one packed to the ceiling used as a storage unit, and 1 for guests and quasi-pantry).

                                1. re: JayL

                                  I'm envious of all your space JayL. My 600 square feet also includes the footage of the balcony, so my apartment is probably more like 580 or maybe 585.

                                  The open layout makes it seem bigger than it is.

                                  As you can probably guess, since I'm in such a small space, much of my bedroom space is packed with other things (toilet paper, tissues, clothes, books and books and books)

                                  1. re: daeira

                                    I totally feel your pain. My old condo was 580 sq ft, with NO pantry. While I had an OK amount of cabinets and counters in the kitchen, and both a coat closet and linen closet, it still got tough. I ended up just buying the smallest version of everything... cost more but it didn't take up as much space. Also a lot of my living room furniture was also storage furniture... there was some very random stuff in those drawers... :)

                            2. Option 2: but swap out other items. Pantry items in the dining room may look out of place, but dishes, serving pieces, may not. The sight of plates on a cart (can wheel it closer to the dishwasher when unloading if need be) or a shelving unit in a dining room would look perfectly sensible.

                              11 Replies
                              1. re: wyogal

                                I'm increasingly beginning to think that this is my option. If I bought a unit that wasn't too bulky, and put plates on it and tried to make it artsy looking, it wouldn't look too bad.

                                I could throw a nice potted plant on there and maybe a cookbook or two. That would empty out a cupboard.

                                The other option I was thinking was what if I purchase a thin and narrow sideboard. It's not the best option, as there are two floorboard heaters that wrap around the dining area where the sideboard might go.

                                1. re: daeira

                                  Those wire shelf organizers that juliez recommended also come in adjustable sizes. I use one in my cup cabinet above the coffee station to literally double my storage. If you put plates and bowls on them, too, you could likely free up an entire cabinet.

                                  Consider plate racks on your dining room walls. If you make or buy them in a 4-6" depth, you could store plates and cups for sure, possibly some serving pieces or bowls. Just make sure they have a stop or groove, maybe 1" from the edge.

                                2. re: wyogal

                                  I would also do option two BUT, I would get something more actractive than metal. we bought a "wooden" stand alone pantry for our old house from big lots.


                                  It was attractive enough for the dining area and i used it for all boxed/canned goods. I only had my spices, fridge, bottles, baking staples in my kitchen cabinets. Canned goods can be gotten out once when cooking so it wasnt'a pain to bring them over once. All snack food was in there as well as cereal. There are only two of us so we tried not to keep more than two types of something at a time. Two cereals, two crackers, two cookies (all this stuff is pretty much for my fiance).

                                  1. re: melpy

                                    It's true that when you have a closed case piece, no one needs to know what's in it. I have a large armoire in my living room and I keep linens in it.

                                    I also keep a lot of my dinnerware (most of it) & glassware in my dining room, in a vintage sideboard and built-in hutch.

                                    I got both these pieces from the same dealer (at different times) at a local antique mall.

                                    1. re: melpy

                                      I got something like that, only bigger, for my dining area to store pantry stuff:


                                      Luckily, I have plenty of space in the dining area, but not as much as I'd like in the kitchen.

                                      1. re: melpy

                                        I absolutely agree with the closed cased furniture. It allows for you to be a bit more free with how you place your goods.

                                        One of the problems I have is that this is a rental space and not a very good one. The place where I would place the pantry is directly against two baseboard heaters. If I purchased something closed, I'd be quite worried that the heat in the winter would be blocked, but also burn the furniture.

                                        I also adore vintage teak furniture and I don't have the money to buy a piece that will see me through my lifetime right now.

                                        My reasoning for settling on a wire pantry is that when I move, I can always use it in a cold cellar or a real pantry room later on.

                                        If I had the money and the right space, I'd definitely go for a closed case piece.

                                        1. re: daeira

                                          You can give things boots/legs/feet and use that as a workaround for baseboard heaters.

                                          1. re: daeira

                                            The nice thing about vintage is it's so reasonable. I do buy new beds (usually) and sofas, but other pieces are usually vintage. For my sideboard, which is a beautifully carved and designed oak Deco piece with a Prohibition liquor cabinet in its side, I paid about $400 I believe. The armoire, which is pretty big, was less than twice that. French Deco, also oak, with lovely carving.

                                            Before I bought my house, I lived in a 599 sf apartment for 7 years. It did have a huge kitchen though (priorities!) ... made up for by a very small living area. It certainly encourages you to figure out how to make your next move ;)

                                        2. re: wyogal

                                          This is a great idea. It doesn't even need to be a large cabinet or metal shelving. Target's Threshold Windham line has some very cute, but smaller, cabinets that dishes would be great in: http://www.target.com/s?searchTerm=th... Even if it just holds your set of dishes, it would free up a lot of cabinet space.

                                          1. re: juliejulez

                                            The more I think about it, the more I'm liking option 2, if only because it seems the easiest to do without a substantial cost. I was trying to price adjusting my pantry shelves (brackets + wood + pull outs) and the cost would be roughly the same as buying an inexpensive hutch/cabinet.

                                            My only problem is now trying to find one in Canada that's affordable and looks just as good.

                                            The reason I was thinking metal shelving (a bit like metro shelving) was because it would look invisible. It wouldn't be as heavy as a full piece. Maybe I could place various metal baskets or wicket baskets on the shelves to hide the goods. And should I have any successful canning products this summer, I can place them directly on the shelves as a bit of colourful decorative look.

                                            I definitely agree, just moving a few dishes (or more of my bakeware and corning ware, would free up so much shelf space).

                                            1. re: daeira

                                              If you have Ikea in your area, they have tons of really cute and inexpensive shelving units. In fact, their "Billy" line of shelving is customizable, lots of sizes, and you can add doors etc.

                                        3. http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/pro...

                                          Magentic spice canisters that attached to the walls of your refrigerator? My daughter uses these. Many versions exist.

                                          If you move some of the spices contents from bottles into these canisters you buy some real estate shelf space for the canning jars and new spices.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: HillJ

                                            Great idea HillJ. I considered sticking spices to my fridge but then read about how spices can go bad with heat. Then I considered painting the inside of the pantry with magnetic paint so I could stick it there, but given how narrow it is, it makes spice retrieval awkward.

                                            Instead, I've settled on placing all my spices in hexagon jars that abut each other in a plastic bin. I can fit roughly 48 jars in there and buy spices frequently to replenish. (I posted a photo of it in the thread "how do you store your spices")

                                            1. re: daeira

                                              The heat is certainly a point of consideration. If you go thru spices quickly though, and use the coolest point of your fridge, it wouldn't interfere. I actually use the same canisters in my pottery studio for glazes. Works great!

                                          2. I suggest buying a chest/bureau/chifferobe - as tall as possible. Put it in the living room and fill the drawers with cans (lay them on their sides so labels are visible), boxes, and cooking utensils. Think things out so the things you most ofen use remain in the kitchen.

                                            I remember some TV design show in which a woman who lived in a teeny studio put pieces of fresh fruit, and attractive jars filled with pasta, rice, cereals,etc., on the edges of her bookshelves. This freed up kitchen space for the unsightly stuff.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: greygarious

                                              I haven't even thought about this. I do have one corner beside the tv that currently has a DVD bookcase that I could move and place a large chest there to hide the canned goods I might use.

                                            2. Do you have a dining area? It's my opinion that there is a goldmine of space under a table. Could you swap out a regular dining table with, say, a DIY hack of a couple of table height shelf units and a tabletop set across? Throw a tablecloth over and no one's the wiser? Swap out the dining chairs with a stacking stool, like IKEA's FROSTA, so you don't have to worry about under-the-table space for chairs not in use. Also, if you have space for a coffee table in the living-room area, consider trading that for some sort of double-duty item, like a trunk, to store less used kitchen items.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: cayjohan

                                                In a reply I just posted, I was considering folding down my table into a half table and pushing it against the wall. Then I could put a pantry somewhere.

                                                As it stands, I currently have some bakeware in the section where the chairs would normally fold up and fit.

                                                I like the trunk idea. I have a coffee table with a shelf on the underside with two baskets. But if I had a large trunk, I could really cram a lot of the cookware in there.

                                              2. This may be of no help to you at all, but I just remembered-- our family moved often when I was little, and when we moved after my sister started school, my mom put the fridge IN MY Sister's Room [she, btw, still needs a white noise machine to sleep well].
                                                Into that HUGE empty space, Mom put a rescued dresser, which then held plastic baskets full of containers, canned goods, utensils--> 2/3 of the stored items in that kitchen were "in the dresser."

                                                My fridge is currently in the dining room, adjacent to my galley kitchen, so I can have more "visual freedom" in my kitchen -- without the fridge, oven, and DW all dominating the entire space past the sink.

                                                5 Replies
                                                1. re: Kris in Beijing

                                                  Interesting idea. I'm not sure it's feasible because my bedroom is on the opposite side of the apartment. To get it there, would mean pushing the darn thing over and it would scratch up the wood floors terribly. Plus, I think the breaker in my bedroom isn't meant for the fridge. I'm afraid it would short everything out.

                                                  Kris, what did you put in place of the fridge now that it's in the dining room? Is it just space?

                                                  1. re: daeira

                                                    I dessssssperately want a hutch type thing [a mini-Hoosier], but the space isn't quite wide enough for the ones I've seen so far.

                                                    Currently, in the space is my step ladder, 2 catfood bowls, and a bowl of water for the cats. With the ladder, I can use the cabinets that were over the fridge and the ones over the range hood.
                                                    My hesitation with adding a piece of furniture into the space is that the LIGHT is so different now that the fridge isn't hulking over there in the corner--> I'm sure you can imagine the space constraints that only allowed ONE door to be open at a time -- "pantry," DW, Oven, or Fridge.

                                                    I, also, have to admit that I initially had to get the fridge Out Of There because There Was A SMELL. I discovered that when the landlord had the kitchen "floored" in laminate, they didn't do under the fridge OR under the oven. In 16 months, I haven't had the willpower to drag out the oven yet. But there's no smell from there.

                                                    1. re: Kris in Beijing

                                                      I know what you're feeling Kris. I'm lucky in that I have a window right in the middle of the alleyway of the galley kitchen I have. But when I moved in, it was like they hadn't even cleaned the fridge. I pulled out all the drawers and there was still food left over from the previous tenants stuck underneath.

                                                      I always wonder who designs the kitchens in these apartments. It's like they don't realize people need a functioning kitchen with adequate cabinet and storage, plus space. I'm a bit envious of your DW to be honest. I'm my own dishwasher and I only have one sink.

                                                      1. re: daeira

                                                        No DW means you have one more big cabinet than I have.
                                                        I have
                                                        4 drawers, vertical
                                                        2 under cabinet drawers above a big size under cabinet door
                                                        2 under counter doors [the big size], 1 under the sink
                                                        3 under counter doors [the small size],
                                                        2 double-door half-height ceiling cabinets,
                                                        1 double-door full-height ceiling cabinet, and
                                                        2 full-door full-height ceiling cabinets,
                                                        1 "pantry" unit that has 2 doors.

                                                        Typing that out, it makes it seem like a lottttt. But bring in one bag of non-fridge groceries and you're scrambling for space.

                                                        1. re: Kris in Beijing

                                                          I think you still have more storage than me. Without the DW, I do have the space where it would have gone. But the piping under the sink is so intrusive that there are limited options to place things

                                                          3 drawers vertical (for utensils etc)
                                                          4 under counter doors (medium size, 2 of the 4 which are under sink)
                                                          4 double door half height ceiling cabinets (2 of these are over the fridge and oven, the other 2 over the sink/prep area)
                                                          1 pantry unit that has 8 inch door

                                                          I'm really struggling for space. It's been a nightmare trying to balance space with needs. Recently I pared down so much of my cookware, it was tough to say goodbye to it.

                                                2. Hi all,

                                                  I thought I'd try to include a bad drawing of my kitchen to give a better idea of spacing. It's not drawn to scale at all.

                                                  So based on ideas, I'm thinking of the following:

                                                  1. I would move the dining table closer to the kitchen area so it's maybe 12 or 15 inches from the counter

                                                  2. I would put a stand alone pantry either in the L shaped corner where the baseboard heaters meet or at the foot of the table where I've drawn it in red. I've seen standalone pantries with a width of 36 and depth of 15. It would make it doable but tight. This would get some of my bakeware/cookware onto the rack and free up cabinet space

                                                  3. Or, I could put a rolling rack inbetween the fridge and patio door. It would allow me to put lots of jars and cans and keep the existing configuration.

                                                  4. Or, my dining table is a folding leaf table. So I could conceivably fold down half of one side and eat off the folded up side. Push the table all the way to the wall where the baseboard heaters are, and somehow put in a pantry. I can't quite conceptualize this yet because this would leave a large empty space between the edge of the table and the countertop. Or I push the folded half table under the window and that would open up a wall for the pantry.

                                                  What do you think?

                                                  9 Replies
                                                  1. re: daeira

                                                    Can a weatherproof bin live on the Patio?

                                                    Here's a "cabinet" idea:

                                                    1. re: Kris in Beijing

                                                      The weatherproof bin on the patio/balcony is a great idea! We do similarly during high-volume cooking/stocking times with coolers on the back stoop (and not just for things that *need* a cooler, just as storage). Dependent on weather and what one is storing, of course, but I would imagine there's a lot of potential in a bin-on-the-patio.

                                                    2. re: daeira

                                                      Can you just rotate the table 90 degrees? That way you could fit a larger "pantry" on the wall.

                                                      Also this is probably too extreme/expensive but a round dining table would fare a lot better because it doesn't take up as much space.

                                                      Also what about a shelving unit with the bottom shelves taken out, and place it OVER the garbage can? Even one of those storage cabinets that are meant to go over a toilet would help. Along these lines, only instead of toilet, it's your garbage can: http://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/1/1/4...

                                                      1. re: daeira

                                                        Also another idea, what's your backsplash like? Can you attach a stainless steel type sheet like this? http://www.potterybarn.com/products/s...

                                                        You can install it with non-permanent double sided thick tape, and then you can use it to do spice storage and add a strip for knives... even put magnets on baskets to hold little utensils etc.

                                                        1. re: daeira

                                                          Some good ideas. For the ones that don't involve buying anything new, try each idea out for a few days and see what works best for you.

                                                          I thought of a couple more things. I don't know how feasible any would be for you. If your patio door is a double door with only one side that opens, you could put a waist-high shelf or even a small piece of furniture in front of the side that doesn't open.

                                                          As for storage above your cabinets, perhaps you could store lightweight but bulky items such as Tupperware containers up there. Use one of those extendable grab-it doohickies to reach them. http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_...

                                                          If a new table isn't out of the question, this style would give you additional storage. http://furniturefromhome.com/products...

                                                          1. re: daeira

                                                            Some great ideas and thank you so much for everyone's input. I've definitely gotten such good ideas. Here's what I've tentatively decided to do for a few days to test it out.

                                                            Since I can't afford to buy a new table, I'm going to decrease its size by folding down a leaflet. You're right that the table is too cumbersome and big. Instead of pushing it against the wall, I'm going to hide the two extra chairs inside the table (there is a built in space for this), and cover the entire table with a table cloth to hide the folded down leaf. This way, I can hide a few other things (like cookie sheets etc) under the table and nobody will see it.

                                                            I've moved the table closer to the kitchen by a few inches to centre it under the light. This has really opened the space. If I'm entertaining, I'll open up the leaflet and pull out the other two chairs. But otherwise, on a daily basis, I only need the smaller table.

                                                            Instead of the outdoor patio cooler (I have squirrels that always dig through my planters and are persistent creatures), I'm going with a stand alone pantry unit against the wall near the baseboard heater inside the apartment. I'm about 80% decided on a wire one simply because I want it to blend into the space rather than a bulkier unit. Also, the wire one will allow for air flow near the heater. I'll place baskets on the bottom of the unit to store bulkier items like sodas, juices. And I'll place extra cans in other baskets on other shelves, mixed in with a few cookbooks, a tiered candy tray, and some dishes (I think). Obviously I'll organize it when (or if) I buy it.

                                                            In terms of the garbage can, I hope I can place it under the sink, once I open up some space by placing things on the rack. While the shelving unit idea is good, it would visually block the kitchen.

                                                            I like that backsplash idea a lot. Instead of the back of the oven, I might try to place it on the right side of the oven beside the window, or behind the sink on the opposite wall.

                                                            Unfortunately, my balcony door is a single door, so placing anything there isn't feasible. But, I could probably put a small little end table under the window for some storage.

                                                            I'm going to sit on this for a few days. Right now I have a box mimicking the rough placement of where the rack will go. I just want to see if I'm happy with the physical flow of the space first before investing in the pantry.

                                                            I wanted to extend my thanks to everybody. You have all had such awesome ideas shared here that have really motivated me to think outside the box for what my kitchen can do for me. Thank you so much.

                                                            I'll keep you all posted on what I end up doing after I've lived with this configuration for a few days.

                                                            1. re: daeira

                                                              So many great ideas! I love those chrome wire shelving units and use them in several areas of the house. Just be sure to get one with wheels as it makes cleaning and rearranging very easy.
                                                              I am looking forward to reading your report later on. :)

                                                              1. re: bonoeuf

                                                                The wheels are a great idea. Originally I wasn't going to get one with wheels, but having the option to wheel around if only to clean makes good sense.

                                                                1. re: bonoeuf

                                                                  Also if the shelves you purchase don't come with a thin sheet of plastic to sit on the shelves themselves, you will have issues with cans/bottles staying sturdy.

                                                                  You can easily cut a piece of 1/4" plywood or FRP to fit the shelves. This will give you a solid base for your storage.

                                                                  We have 5 or 6 of these shelves (the large ones).

                                                            2. I just wanted to provide an update on my revamped space. Instead of sitting on the physical configuration for a few days, I just went out and bought an external unit; I tend to be a bit "go-go" with my need to do (and complete) things.

                                                              I'm really pleased with the results. I genuinely like the space, feel good in it, and am excited about being able to purchase more than 1 can of food on sale. Having taken all of your wonderful suggestions into consideration, I decided on the following:

                                                              1. As stated in an earlier message, my table is reduced in size, folded, and now covered with a tablecloth to hide other things. It is still rectangular, but much smaller than the previous table. Between the stand alone unit and the table is about 2.5 feet.

                                                              2. Four tier wire chrome shelving was purchased as a stand alone pantry unit placed on the opposite wall of the kitchen. Baskets were placed on shelving and appliances placed on the top tier. Most if not all unopened canned, boxed, bottled food is now on the stand alone unit, and my narrow pantry is reserved solely for opened products in bottles and tins, flours, sugars, oils etc. These are things that I would like to have within reaching distance when I cook.

                                                              I wanted to place a stick-on vinyl chalkboard beside my shadowbox, but since my walls are painted plaster, I'm not certain the vinyl will stick.

                                                              I'm also considering putting a stainless steel (or aluminum) backsplash and on the walls of the kitchen. I'm leaning towards aluminum because it's cheaper. I can buy some inexpensive roof flashing from a construction store and use double stick tape and apply it to the walls without too much damage. I also thought about adding some self-adhesive tiles on top of the aluminum backsplash for a faux centrepiece type look.

                                                              I'm attaching some pictures of the new redone pantry and wanted to say a big thank you for all the great suggestions. I'm still organizing the layout of the stand alone unit, so things will probably move a bit in time. But so far, I'm liking the accessibility. Thank you

                                                              6 Replies
                                                              1. re: daeira

                                                                Good solution, and genius to keep the opened items in the kitchen pantry. My 'system' is similar in that I have an extra set of tall pantry shelves in my garage. Like you, the excess goes there, with opened and oldest in the kitchen pantry.

                                                                In a related vein, I've been going nuts trying to find a good solution for pool towels. With 4 grandsons we use a lot of them. 2 years ago we used a bookshelf on our lanai, but summer (when we need them most) thunderstorms had us grabbing stacks of towels to bring them inside. Last year I stored them on top of our washer and dryer, but I didn't like having no room there for pre-treating clothes before tossing them in the washer, plus the kids simply won't remember to grab a towel when they grab their suit (from a basket in laundry room). This year I'm going to try baskets on the lanai, which will be easy to pick up and bring inside as needed.

                                                                The search continues! :)

                                                                1. re: daeira

                                                                  I love it! You've gained a lot of storage space without making it feel heavy or crowded.
                                                                  Really nice, Daeira!

                                                                  1. re: daeira

                                                                    Look for Mavalus Tape -- probably at teacher supply stores-- for easy on/ long lasting/ good hold/ gentle off.

                                                                    Your setup looks GREAT -- and you have Wheels!

                                                                    1. re: daeira

                                                                      Looks great!!

                                                                      I used these Command picture hanging strips on my old apartment's plaster walls: http://www.amazon.com/Command-Medium-... They worked out great and removed cleanly when I moved out. They held even heavier framed pictures.

                                                                      1. re: juliejulez

                                                                        The Mavalus tape or command strips is a good option for a stick on blackboard. I wonder if the tape would also hold up for a stainless steel backsplash without damaging the walls. I'm a bit worried that the double stick tape won't be so easily removed.

                                                                        The wheel suggestion was a fantastic one. I can roll it out of the way when I need to clean.

                                                                        1. re: daeira

                                                                          Mavalus was designed for teachers who had walls that were of allllllll sorts of materials that teachers Could Not Damage [without getting into serious trouble].

                                                                    2. If you live near a Container Store, check out their Elfa shelving products...it requires minimal drilling into your walls (unlike a lot of wire shelving products) and they have baskets that attaches to a bracket clamped to the inside face of your pantry door. Worth a look. FYI...I do NOT like all of Container Store's products. Many of them are over-priced junk. However, their Skandia and Elfa product lines are excellent...they have semi-annual sales which are worth waiting for.