Before and After: Quick and Easy Pantry Makeover
I LOVE working in pantries! Obviously one reason is because I love food. But it’s also because I know that once we’re done, my client is going to save TONS of time and money because they’ll know what they have in there - as well as be able to find it.
In this pantry, there’s the added bonus of it being much more visually appealing. This client doesn’t have a door to her pantry, so it’s important that everything in there be tidy and attractive.
We started by creating some space. We removed all of the expired foods, items that didn’t need to live in the pantry, and anything else that my client didn’t need, use, love, or feel to be fabulous.
Pro tip: there is a lot of advice out there that will tell you to remove everything from your pantry as a first step. DON’T do this. This leads to a way bigger mess than necessary and can easily become too overwhelming. Save yourself the hassle and only remove what you don’t need any more.
To make sure that you hit everything that needs to be removed, work in a systematic fashion. My client and I started on opposite ends of the pantry and worked our way towards the middle. We each started on the top row, touching every item and determining if it would stay or go. Then, we’d move to the next row down. And the next row down from there, all the way to the bottom row.
Through this part of the process we accumulated quite a bit of trash as well as a few stacks of things that would be given away to friends.
Once the weeding out was complete, we sorted like with like. My client worked with the medicines, small appliances, and entertaining items. I worked on the food.
The food was only barely categorized, and space was limited so I did things out of my usual order of sorting like with like, then determining final locations. Having just gone through everything to remove the expired foods, I knew the categories I'd be working with and I did know the overall amount of space that the food took up. So I determined the final spots for each category of food (baking, breakfast, carbs, etc.) first, then sorted like with like, working through all of the food items and placing them on the shelf where they would live. After they were all sorted out, I went back through, straightened them all up and made it look nice. Doing it this way made the overall process a little quicker.
Pro tip: sorting like with like on the shelves saves room and prevents the “stuff-splosion” where everything is all over the place.
The last step was to determine where everything would live. Once all of the like was paired with like, it was easier to determine final homes for everything because I knew how much shelf space it took up.
Pro tip: place things according to use. The more often something is used, the easier of access you should have to it. In the food, I placed main meal items at eye level. Things that were less used went higher or lower. Snacks we didn't want the kids to have easy access to went high. Same with the other items in the pantry - things used only occasionally went really high or low while things that were used weekly or monthly had easier access in the center. Pretty things also went in the center to make sure that was immediately visible from the doorway would look nice.
After I finished organizing the food, I helped my client with the arrangements of the rest of the items in the pantry. Then we made some final adjustments to make sure everything looked nice and neat!
Pro tip: if you have multiple serving platters, sort them by shape: round, square, oval, rectangular. Then stack them by size with the largest on the bottom and the smallest on the top. This looks tidier and prevents a potential platter avalanche.
Before and After:
Total time: 5½ hours
- While the visual difference isn’t that dramatic, the functionality of the space is vastly improved - especially on the food side. With only a quick glance, my client can now see what she has when making a meal or before going grocery shopping. No more duplicate purchases or wasting food because now she can see all of it! Hooray!
- You may also notice that my client didn’t let go of many entertaining items. She didn’t need to. She uses all of it at some point and there was tons of space. By rearranging all of those items by size and shape, we were able to more neatly stack things so that it’s nicer to look at and easier to find what she needs when she needs it. Remember, you don’t have to get rid of everything to be organized.