How To Add A Pantry To A Small Kitchen: Kitchen Pantry Ideas

How To Add A Pantry To A Small Kitchen

Adding a pantry to a small kitchen can seem daunting, but with some strategic planning and clever storage solutions, it is very doable. A pantry is a great way to increase storage and organization in a compact kitchen. In this post, we will walk through the entire process of adding a pantry to a small kitchen step-by-step.

Assessing Your Needs and Space

The first step is to think through your needs and assess the space you have available. Consider the following:

  • What do you typically store in your kitchen? Make a list of food items, small appliances, cookware, dishes, etc. This will help determine the right size and layout for your pantry.
  • What is the exact size and layout of your existing kitchen? Measure wall dimensions and spaces like corners that could potentially house a pantry.
  • Are there any dead spaces that are not being utilized? Sometimes cavities around chimneys or small closets can be converted into pantries with some shelving.
  • Can any walls be opened up without compromising structural integrity? Opening up a wall, even just a couple feet, can allow for a deeper pantry.

Once you have a good sense of your needs and available space, you can start mapping out pantry design ideas. Even a few square feet of space can be maximized with smart storage options.

Selecting a Pantry Location

The ideal location will make the pantry easily accessible. Corner spaces often work well to take advantage of wasted space. Consider these factors when choosing a spot:

  • Traffic flow – select a location that will not interfere with cooking work stations and routes.
  • Accessibility – if the pantry has a door, make sure it can open fully without blocking anything.
  • Proximity – locate the pantry close to related work areas like ingredient prep zones and appliances.
  • Balance – distribute storage proportionately across the kitchen; avoid congesting one area.

If you are lucky enough to have multiple location options, choose the spot that makes the most functional sense for how you cook and use your kitchen.

Design and Layout Considerations

Once you decide on the pantry location, start planning the interior layout and storage design. Key factors to consider:


  • Default to installing the largest pantry that the space allows. Even just a couple of extra square feet can make a difference.
  • If possible, build it at least 20-24 inches deep. This enables shelves to hold small appliances and deeper food items.
  • Shoot for a width of at least 24-36 inches. Narrower than 24 inches makes interior access difficult.

Door or No Door

  • An open pantry provides easy access from any spot in the kitchen. However, it is less concealed andPRIVATE.
  • A closed pantry with a door hides clutter but needs to be opened and closed frequently. Closed pantries should have a depth of at least 24 inches for the door to clear.

Shelving and Storage

  • Include adjustable shelves to maximize vertical storage. These allow you to customize shelf heights around different items.
  • Consider glass-front doors on some shelves to corral loose items like spices while still making them visible.
  • Use shelf dividers and specialty racks to organize cooking tools like cutting boards and baking sheets.
  • Install deep drawers for bulkier items or storage bins. Drawers keep things tidy and easier to access than deep shelves.
  • Utilize vertical space with slots for baking pans and mounting racks for spices or utensils.

Specialty Storage Needs

  • Accommodate any specialty storage needs like wine bottles, mixers, or small appliances. This may require pull-out shelves, wine racks or specialty racks mounted inside the pantry.
  • Install a narrow floor-to-ceiling rack if you store a lot of large platters, cutting boards or baking sheets. This keeps them upright and accessible but out of the way.

Building the Framing and Structure

Once you have a layout in mind, it is time to construct the basic framing and structure for the pantry:

  • If you are converting a closet or alcove, remove any existing shelving or rods. You may also need to remove baseboards.
  • Construct 2×4 wood framing inside the area to create compartments for the new shelves and supports. Refer to stud spacing regulations.
  • If possible, build the framing so interior shelves are adjustable. Pre-drill holes in the vertical supports every 4 inches to allow repositioning.
  • Frame openings for any doors and drawers, and define the cabinet interior space. The framing will provide anchors for shelves.
  • Run electrical inside framing to power under-cabinet lighting or outlets inside the pantry. Use narrow recessed lighting for interior ceiling.
  • Insulate interior walls for sound dampening. Closed pantries benefit from extra insulation on the door.
  • Install wallboard over framing and finish seams with joint tape and mud.

Following standard building guidelines during framing is critical to create a sound structure for shelves and hardware.

Adding Doors, Drawers and Interior Storage

After framing up the basic structure, the real fun begins – installing storage components and hardware!


  • Pre-hung doors are easiest, offering complete units with hinges and jambs. Order to size or trim down onsite for a perfect fit.
  • For a custom look, order frameless slab doors and install hinges directly to door and interior side jamb.
  • Opt for self-closing hinges if the pantry is deep and the door would be constantly left open.
  • Include soft-close hinges for a controlled, quiet closure.


  • Full extension roll-out drawers maximize usable space, especially in deep cabinet areas.
  • Opt for soft-close drawer glides for smooth, quiet operation.
  • Include dividers in wide drawers to organize contents neatly.

Pull-Out Shelves & Specialty Storage

  • Install pull-out shelves for ergonomic access to items in back.
  • Incorporate drawer organizers and partitions to hold smaller items securely.
  • Use racks or clips to hold specialty items like cutting boards and baking sheets.

Interior Shelving

  • Install adjustable shelves at varied heights to accommodate different items.
  • Glass shelving allows visibility to contents. Solid shelves enable heavier storage.
  • For simplicity, order ready-to-assemble shelf kits with all necessary hardware included.
  • Sturdy metal shelf pins and supports provide flexibility to reposition shelves as needed.

Take time to consider how you use your kitchen and store items when choosing pantry storage components. Optimize the space to suit your cooking style.

Finishing Touches

The final details really elevate the look and functionality of your new pantry:


  • Install crown molding at the top for an elegant touch.
  • Base molding finishes off the bottom neatly. Use extra tall base inside deep cabinet areas.
  • Consider open-backed molding on shelving to allow light through.


  • Pot lights or recessed slim LED lights provide illumination inside a closed pantry.
  • Under-cabinet lighting gives visibility to open shelving areas.
  • Install switches for convenience turning lights on/off.


  • Hooks on the interior side of door allow hanging of utensils and lightweight items.
  • Small bins or baskets corral loose items like spices, dried goods and other kitchen tools.

By incorporating design details like molding, lighting and accessories, your pantry will not just be functional, but an accent space you want to show off!

Final Pantry Organization

Once construction is complete, it is time for the fun task of loading everything into your new pantry! Keep these tips in mind:

  • Categorize like items together – oils & vinegars, baking essentials, drink mixes, etc.
  • Place most frequently used items at eye level for easy access.
  • Put heavy items like cans on lower shelves.
  • Clearly label any bins or baskets so you can easily find contents.
  • Continually evaluate how you use the space and make adjustments as needed. Your needs may change over time.

Remember the goal is not necessarily to fill every inch, but organize efficiently. Some open space allows room to shift things around occasionally. Enjoy your newly maximized kitchen storage!

Adding a pantry to a small kitchen is very achievable with careful planning, a thoughtful layout and smart storage selections. The effort can make an outsized impact, completely transforming how you cook and use your kitchen. Just take it step-by-step during the process. Before you know it, you will have a custom pantry providing daily delight and convenience. Here is to cooking in organized bliss!

If you’re looking to add a pantry to your small kitchen around North and Central Georgia, you can contact Pinnacle Building Group today!

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