• Michelle Foley

Pantry Organization in a Nutshell

I don't claim to know the most about organization; in fact I probably know the minimum amount that makes it acceptable for me to write this blog post. However after we finished our house my sister-in-law introduced me to the lovely ladies from The Home Edit, and after reading their book I organized my new home. While I am not trying to pretend I know anywhere near as much as them, I did learn a lot from organizing my 6' x 13' pantry. And since I realize that not everyone has the time to sit around and read a book on home organization right now (what with trying to work from home, be the sole care takers for our children, while being their best friends and their teachers) I figured I would wrap up what I learned from reading their book, and from organizing my own pantry, into a quick blog post so that anyone looking to get organized during this extended time at home has some tips on how to do it quickly, make it pretty, and make it stick.

I also want to add that as someone with aesthetics on the forefront of my mind at all times, I probably did this a little different than The Home Edit ladies, but for me this was the order of my priorities and how I went about the process of organizing my pantry after reading their book.

  1. Pick a look that you love! I searched Instagram and Pinterest for pantry ideas before we designed the layout of our pantry and so I knew before starting organizing what look I was going with and so when I was ready to get organized I already had an idea of what I needed. I.E. glass or clear items with wood accents, light colored storage bins, wooden labels etc. Anyways I highly suggest taking a look at pantries that you love and copy their aesthetic while making it your own. Seeing what other people did before you should be the first step to get your wheels turning. I also think for a project like this motivation is important to see it through to the end (because it can be a lot of work) and so seeing what your pantry COULD look like at the end, should be pretty motivating for you to get through this!

  2. Take everything out and put it into logical groups. This is one of the biggest tips from The Home Edit and I also think its very important in getting started.. A lot of this should be obvious I.E. Kids Snacks, Pastas, Cereals, Oils, etc. but you may struggle on a few items. Don't be afraid to get creative; on the items I struggled with I made groupings of breakfast food items, lunch items, and dinner items and that seemed to cover most of the stuff that needed a home. Also toss anything you haven't used in the last couple years.

  3. Take things out of their boxes. This may seem basic to some but I never thought about it until working on our new pantry and so I thought it was worth mentioning. I used to store items like my KitchenAid mixer, or my crock pot, or serving dishes in their boxes. But by taking them out you are totally upping the aesthetics of your space! Even if you don't have a massive pantry from which to display,taking those items out of their boxes really adds a nice touch to your space and takes it from a storage space that you want to hide and turns it into a space you love to share with people. At least it did for me...

  4. Symmetry! I'm a BIG fan of symmetry and my pantry is no exception. So when I went to buy items for this organization project I knew I would do everything the same on both sides, and so I ordered accordingly. Example :

Oats and Chai Seeds with wooden bowl on the left side.

Brown Sugar and Flour with a wooden bowl on the right side.

I positioned the wine rack (which is never full btw because I either drink the wine too quickly or it's in our wine fridge waiting to be consumed) in the middle of the pantry as the focal point when you enter, and have everything symmetrical off of that. If you take a look at the panoramic picture of my pantry above, you can see a little better how everything I did one one side, I did on the opposite side as well. It just really makes the space flow nicely, even among all the cluttered mess.

5. Start with the basics when purchasing items. When you're ready to start ordering, start with the basics. I ordered my clear storage containers first and got a couple of big sets to get me started (linked below). Pastas, Cereals, Beans, etc. will take up a lot of containers, but I'm telling you that they make everything so much prettier (and they stay fresher longer) than just storing them in their original packaging. One of the main staples of The Home Edit is that you're more likely to keep a tidy space if you love the look and don't want to mess it up and I can 100% vouch for this. I didn't go this route in my last house and nothing ever stayed looking organized in our pantry (my mother in law can attest to this!). But now that I spent the money, and invested my time to make the pantry look this nice, I do go the extra mile to keep it looking nice. AND it's actually a lot easier than it ever was before when I kept things just stacked on the shelves.

6. Buy things in rounds. You could buy everything at once, but I guarantee you that the things you need will change as you get going. I bought my pantry items in 4 rounds. After the plastic food storage containers I went onto my storage bins and labels. I suggest measuring first to make sure you're buying the right size, and I suggest buying more than you think you will need and returning the rest if you don't end up needing them. I definitely ended up adding on a few more, and changed up a couple to add tops to some of them because I liked the look for storing things like Teas, Herbs, etc.

7. Think about your lingering specific items that are still a mess. I had a bunch of stuff that still needed to look more organized after the first couple rounds of purchasing. For instance my spices (which I still haven't transferred over to the pretty jars I have for them btw.), all my Tupperware, and kids cups, plates etc. So I searched The Container store for specific fixes for each and came up with some good ideas. With the spices I liked having them in jars that all look uniform and also the clear glass shelf so that the ones in the back are elevated and easy to see what is what.

And with the Tupperware and kids items I found these white wire racks to help organize the pull out shelves I had installed in the pantry and I truly love how easy it makes it to keep those items that are usually impossible to keep organized; even my husband can keep it neat!

8. Label and organize by color. This is probably the part I'm the worst about, but I do think its important for keeping everything looking nice. I tried buying some of the printed labels from The Home Edit, but I found that a lot of my items were too specific (I.E. Chai Seeds) and so I ended up getting a white chalk marker to draw directly on the containers or wood frames. I really dislike my hand writing though so I'm really looking forward to having someone come over and do it for me. And organizing by color, especially with kids items, really makes a difference in making the space look pretty and uniform. If you have kids you know how hard that could be to maintain but it's a nice and simple thing to go back and fix when you feel like your pantry starts to look messy.

And that's pretty much it in a nutshell! (Maybe a large nutshell but I think a little easier than reading an entire book at least.) Although if you have tricky spaces or extra small spaces, The Home Edit book has a ton of ideas on how to maximize those types of spaces as well so definitely check it out if you have the time. And any items I used in my pantry organization you can shop below!


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Rockville Centre, NY, USA

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