How to Organize a Pantry With Deep Shelves So You Can Actually See Everything
No more losing items to the wild, wild back.
Updated Sep 29, 2021 6:09 AM
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Jars of honey constantly disappear into the depths of pantries with deep shelves. Not to mention, the abundance of surface area encourages endless, unhelpful rearranging—one person sticks the balsamic vinegar on the top left, the next puts it back on the bottom right.
Here to explain how to organize a pantry with deep shelves once and for all are Pamela Meluskey and Larisa Bright, founders and principal organizers of New York City–based home organization firm Settled. (They also happen to be veterans of the Home Edit.) You’re six steps away from being able to see everything you’ve bought and never letting a long-forgotten potato rot again.
Step 1: Think Strategically About Placement
Work with your kitchen pantry’s deep shelves, not against them. Everyday items, like olive oil, to the front; overflow products, like a Costco-size container of chicken stock, to the back. “You don’t need two of the same items in prime real estate,” says Bright.
Step 2: Stock Up on Bins and Baskets
Containers serve as makeshift drawers; you can easily pull them out to note how many fig bars you have left without having to get on your tiptoes. Meluskey and Bright swear by iDesign’s 16-inch-deep drawer bins, which come in a variety of widths (4, 6, and 8 inches), so you can mix and match them to fit your pantry’s exact dimensions.
Step 2.5: For a More Permanent Solution, Install Pull-Out Drawers
With a few screws and an hour or two, you can swap out a couple of your pantry’s deep shelves for true drawers on tracks, which take advantage of the whole space, back to front, without you having to move cans of tomato paste to access the chickpeas behind them. Meluskey and Bright recommend either stainless steel or wood options; both offer a high-quality, bespoke feeling. Sarah Sherman Samuel’s approach: installing ones with shorter fronts, so every bag of chips and box of crackers is visible even when the drawers are closed.
Step 3: Lazy Susans Are Your Friend
There’s nothing lazy about a lazy Susan. It’s the ideal home for easy-to-knock-over bottles (we’re looking at you, hot sauces) in hard-to-reach corners. “Just give it a spin and play kitchen roulette with your condiments,” says Meluskey.
Step 4: Elevate Your Kitchen Staples
“Think: auditorium seating, but in your pantry,” says Bright. Shelf risers solve the pantry organization problem of not being able to spot what’s lurking in the way back. The Settled ladies suggest the iDesign expandable three-tier shelf riser to elevate cans of soup, boxes of pasta, or rows of spices.
Step 5: Take Advantage of the Back of the Door
Don’t forget about the valuable, and oftentimes overlooked, back of the pantry door. A narrow over-the-door rack, which won’t damage the wood, allows you to stock products you grab on the daily—like vitamins, cleaning supplies, and baking ingredients—at eye level.
Step 6: Stack Your Snacks
Sleek and stackable pantry canisters, which you can fill with grains, snacks, or tea, make the most of your pantry’s height, Tetris-style. However, consider how often you’ll need these ingredients; stacking containers, which aren’t as accessible as, say, open baskets, are best used for overflow.
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