20 Clever Pantry Closet Ideas

Maximize your pantry storage and organization with these 20 clever closet ideas. From custom shelving to specialty racks, these tips will help you optimize every inch of space. Read on for insights from experts and homeowners on creating an efficient, well-designed pantry.

Make Use of Wall Space

Your walls offer valuable real estate for additional storage. Install shelves all the way up to the ceiling on one or more walls in your pantry. Choose sturdy, adjustable shelving units that allow you to customize the spacing to fit various height items.

Consider open shelving to maximize visibility and access. Closed cabinets can also work well for containing messier items or supplies you access less often. Mount shelves a few inches from the wall to allow cans and jars to fit behind.

Wall-mounted rail systems with S-hooks provide great vertical storage for items like pans and baking sheets. Hang often-used pans towards the front for easy access. Use upper rails for large platters, roasting pans or other items used less frequently.

Add Tiered Shelving

Tiered shelving units exponentially expand your pantry’s storage capacity. Multiple shelves let you take advantage of all the vertical space available. Look for shelving units with adjustable tiers to customize spacing.

Narrower shelving units with 3-5 tiers are ideal for canned goods, condiments, spices and other small pantry items. Wider units can hold appliances, bakeware, larger boxes of food and more. Install lighting under the upper shelves to illuminate lower levels.

Consider installing pull-out shelves or drawers for items that get buried on deep shelves. Pull-outs allow easy access to contents without having to reach to the back of the shelf. Some units feature built-in dividers to keep items organized.

Opt for Open Baskets

Baskets offer lightweight, versatile storage for pantries. Look for wider styles that can sit directly on shelves. Crates and open baskets allow you to see contents instead of stacking items inside opaque containers.

Wicker, rattan or wire mesh baskets provide breathable storage for produce. Line baskets with a paper towel to absorb excess moisture from fresh fruits and vegetables. Use labeled baskets to organize and contain specific food groups or meal components.

Plastic or metal bins and baskets are ideal for sturdier pantry items like baking supplies, boxed goods, packaged snacks and other dry goods. Use baskets with handles for easy portability.

Incorporate Drawers

Drawers introduce more compartments to organize your pantry’s contents. Opt for wide, shallow drawers to maximize horizontal storage space. These are great for recipes, utensils, small appliances and divided food supplies.

Deep drawers can contain bulk dry goods like flour, sugar, rice or coffee. Look for stackable styles to double your storage capacity. Install drawer organizers or dividers to neatly separate contents. Labels help identify items in each section.

If space allows, consider installing floor-to-ceiling drawers for a space-saving custom look. This system eliminates the need for countertops and makes all contents accessible. Add handles for easy access.

Utilize Wall Racks

Wall-mounted racks add storage while taking up zero floor space. Hang racks designed for kitchen tools to organize utensils, cutting boards, pots and pans. Opt for durable metal racks that can handle the weight of heavier cookware.

Spice racks are ideal for organizing jars of herbs and seasonings. Look for expandable racks with multiple tiers to display labels. Mount racks near your cooking and prep areas for easy access while cooking.

Tall, thin racks are perfect for baking sheets, cooling racks and cutting boards. Store these vertically to save space. Some racks feature hooks for hanging items. Place racks on the back of a pantry door to utilize all available space.

Try Tension Rod Shelving

Tension rod shelving adds storage potential to unused vertical space between shelves. Install two adjustable-height tension rods horizontally across a shelf span. Rest a flat board or sturdy shelf atop the rods to create an extra storage tier.

Tension rods allow you to customize the height of each additional shelf. Place rods closer together for lighter items like canned goods and boxes. Use wider spacing for heavier dishes or appliances. Change rod placement anytime to accommodate changing storage needs.

Tension rod shelves are an affordable option for expanding storage in pantries and closets. Look for steel tension rod sets that can support the weight of your items. Protect floors from spills by choosing boards with raised edges.

Use Pegboards for Tools

Pegboards provide an organized display for kitchen tools like utensils, whisks, spatulas and more. Mount pegboards to walls or pantry doors to maximize vertical storage space. Choose hardwood boards with sturdy pegs to handle frequent use.

Arrange tools from largest to smallest when attaching to the pegs. Place items you use most frequently within easy reach. Outline each tool’s shape in marker on the board as a guide for returning it to its designated spot.

Add hooks and baskets to hold items that won’t hang from pegs. Purchase pegboard starter kits that include an assortment of hooks, baskets and containers. Keep one section of board open to rotate in less common tools.

Fit In Rolling Carts

Rolling carts provide portable storage that can easily be moved in and out of tight spaces. Look for narrow carts that can tuck into small pantry corners or slide into tight gaps between shelving.

Carts with wire shelves allow you to see contents at a glance. Baskets or bins on the shelves keep items organized. Label baskets clearly for easy identification of foods or supplies.

For larger pantries, consider wider carts with deeper shelves to maximize storage. Some feature flip-up work stations to extend your prep area. Carts on lockable wheels are ideal for adding secure storage.

Install A Pantry Door Rack

Making use of your pantry door creates bonus storage space. Look for over-the-door racks with sturdy steel frames and adjustable shelves. Door racks are ideal for storing canned goods, jars and other non-breakable items.

Search for over-the-door racks sized specifically to match standard pantry door dimensions. Measure the height and width of your door before purchasing to ensure proper fit. Models with deep shelves allow items to be stacked.

Some racks feature hooks along the bottom for hanging utensils and towels. Choose a rack with at least 4 shelves to maximize vertical storage. Install door racks at the top of the door to keep contents visible.

Stack Slim Storage Bins

Slim storage bins are designed to slide into narrow gaps between shelves and maximize vertical real estate. Look for bins 3-6 inches wide to fit into tight spaces. Stack multiple bins to double or triple your storage capacity.

Clear plastic bins allow you to identify contents at a glance. Bins with built-in handles make it easy to access items in the back. Label bins to keep like items stored together for quick access.

Metal bins offer a more decorative look for pantries with open shelving. Use bins to corral snacks, dried bulk ingredients or packaged foods. Line bins with shelf liner to prevent smaller items from falling through cracks.

Add Appliance Garages

Keep small appliances accessible but out of sight by installing appliance garages. These cabinets have lift-up doors to contain mess. Mount below countertops or shelving.

Look for appliance garages with multiple outlets inside to plug in appliances like blenders, toasters and mixers. Door widths around 18 inches accommodate most standard appliances. Ventilated doors prevent overheating.

For a custom look, have appliance garages built into cabinetry or shelving units. Include lighting inside the garage and mechanisms to hold doors upright when open. Match garage size to the appliances you use most.

Incorporate Deep Drawers

Maximize vertical storage by installing deep drawers to hold bulk goods and other supplies. Full extension drawer slides allow you to access contents all the way at the back of the deep cabinet space.

Look for drawers at least 20 inches deep. Use drawer organizers to neatly divide the large interior space. Label each section for easy identification of contents.

Stack two deep drawers to double your storage capacity. Place frequently used items like cooking oils and condiments in the upper drawer for easy access. Use lower drawers for heavier items or supplies used less often.

Display In Glass Jars

Glass canning jars provide visibility and organization when storing pantry items like flour, pasta, rice, beans, sugar and more. Aesthetic glass jars elevate the look of your shelves. Matching jars create a cohesive feel.

Look for jars with wide mouths and secure lids for easy access to contents. Write names on the lids to identify each food item. Jars containing staple baking supplies can be left on countertops.

Install extra shelving above to display your full jar collection. Place decorative risers underneath jars to add height and allow the contents to be easily seen. Anchor bottom shelves to hold the weight of filled jars.

Add An Island Shelf

A freestanding shelving unit or kitchen island provides storage and countertop space in the center of a walk-in pantry. Look for units narrow enough to allow traffic flow around them.

Multi-tiered units maximize storage with shelves, cabinets and drawers built in. Open shelving allows for display and organization of glass jars and baskets. Enclosed storage contains messier items.

Movable islands with lockable wheels provide flexibility. Rotate the unit to access various sections. Islands with extendable surfaces allow you to expand the countertop workspace as needed.

Opt For Pantry Cabinets

Specialty pantry cabinet systems optimize organization with adjustable shelves, drawers and other built-in storage features. Pantry-specific cabinets maximize space utilization.

Look for pantry cabinets with features like pull-out trays, spice drawers, and slide-out bins. Melamine interiors, adjustable shelving and solid drawer construction provide durability.

Install matching cabinetry throughout your pantry space for a seamless, built-in look. Consider cabinets with finished exteriors if your pantry space is visible from living areas. Pare down decor with an all-white or neutral palette.

Label Everything

A labeling system helps you identify items and maintain organization in your pantry. Label all shelves, baskets, jars, bins and storage containers. Match label placement so items are easy to return to designated spaces.

For short-term storage like bulk ingredients, masking tape with written names works well. Permanent marker directly on shelves, racks or cabinets also labels contents. For reusable containers, choose sticky labels that can be replaced as needed.

Group like items together in labeled zones: canned goods, snacks, baking supplies, breakfast foods, boxed mixes, etc. Consider a color coded system that designates zones by food groups or types.

Install Slide-Out Trays

Slide-out trays make items stored at the back of cabinets easily accessible. Trays pull out smoothly on drawer glides or tracks. Look for trays 12 – 20 inches deep to maximize storage space.

Use slides rated for at least 75-100 lbs to accommodate heavier items. Wooden trays with raised edges contain small spills. Install in lower cabinets to access contents without climbing.

Try stacking multiple slide-out trays to double storage capacity. Place most-used items in the top tray for quick access. Use smooth-gliding full extension glides rated for the combined tray weight.

Add Aaccordion-Style Doors

Accordion-style doors save floor space in a small pantry by folding compactly to one side instead of swinging open. The compressed profile of folded doors allows accessibility without blocking the surrounding area.

Look for accordion doors constructed from panels of sturdy polyethylene for durability and easy cleaning. Some styles fold in the middle to save even more space. Install handles for easy opening.

Consider transparent accordion doors to provide visibility into your pantry interior. Opaque doors help conceal mess while closed. Measure the width carefully to ensure proper door fit and full closure.

Install Pull-Out Towel Bars

Pull-out metal towel bars maximize space in narrow pantries and eliminate bulky towel rods protruding into walkways. Retractable bars tuck into the wall when not in use.

Mount horizontal bars near sinks or workstations to have towels handy where you need them. Vertical mounted bars keep dish towels accessible by stoves and refrigerators yet out of the way.

Look for solid steel telescoping bars with rubber bumpers to protect your cabinets. Choose lengths approximately 24 – 30 inches to accommodate standard towels when fully extended. Select bars with a sturdy spring retraction system.

Hang Pots And Pans

Ceiling-mounted or wall-mounted pot racks provide vertical storage for bulky pots, pans and lids. Racks help free up shelf space and keep cookware visible for convenient access.

Look for sturdy racks with multiple hooks and chains to hang pots. Position racks above islands or peninsulas to allow pots to hang freely without bumping walls. Install over prep or cooking areas for efficient workflow.

For wall mounting, vertical rack styles conserve floor space. Opt for heavy-duty metal racks with removable hooks that can be repositioned as needed. Install high enough overhead to allow room for lifting pots down.

Consider Glass-Front Cabinets

Glass-front cabinets provide both open visibility and closed storage in pantries. Tempered glass doors secure supplies neatly while allowing you to survey contents.

Illuminate glass cabinet interiors with built-in lighting to showcase serving ware and dishes. Use glass doors on wall cabinets to break up high shelving and add visual interest.

Etched glass provides obscured visibility for a soft, decorative look. For durability, choose cabinets with thick tempered or laminated glass doors and shelving. Install child safety locks if needed.

Add Adjustable Spice Racks

Dedicated spice racks keep seasonings organized and within easy reach. Look for racks with adjustable shelves to accommodate a range of bottle heights and maximize space.

Mount racks on walls, cabinet doors or inside cabinetry. Position near cooking areas for convenient seasoning while you cook. Opt for metal racks with durable shelves that allow spilled spices to be wiped clean easily.

Rotating racks save space while making all spice labels visible at a glance. Multi-tier designs double your storage capacity. Install lighting above racks to illuminate labels and enhance visibility.


Optimizing your pantry storage requires thoughtful organization and purposeful use of the space available. Focus first on installing specialized shelving and racks to maximize vertical storage on walls, doors and cabinets. Incorporate rolling carts, drawer systems and other storage elements customized to your needs and supplies. Label everything clearly and maintain organization for an easily accessible, functional pantry. With these clever ideas, you can store more supplies using every inch efficiently while adding style with a customized look. A well organized pantry saves time and makes cooking easier.

Frequently Asked Questions About 20 Clever Pantry Closet Ideas

What are some tips for small pantry organization?

  • Install tall, narrow shelving units and sliding storage bins to utilize vertical space. Stack baskets or bins to double storage. Use wall-mounted racks and tension rod shelves. Add a rolling cart for portable storage.

How can I add more space to my existing pantry?

  • Remove any shelving clutter or unused items. Add extra shelves installed up to the ceiling. Incorporate vertical storage with wall racks and over-the-door racks. Install stackable drawers or slide-out trays. Use open baskets to maximize visibility.

What types of shelves work best for pantries?

  • Adjustable shelves allow you to customize spacing as needed. Opt for sturdy metal shelving with heights that maximize your vertical room. Open wire shelving provides ventilation and visibility. Solid shelving contains small spills.

Should everything be stored in cabinets or containers in the pantry?

  • Not necessarily – open shelving or wire baskets allow you to easily see contents. Use lidded bins and cabinets for messier bulk items like flour and sugar. Keep snacks and highly-used ingredients visible for convenient access.

What are some ideas to make a small pantry feel bigger?

  • Paint the interior walls white to reflect light and feel more open. Incorporate mirrors or glass cabinet doors to add visual depth. Ensure adequate lighting with several light sources. Keep surfaces clutter-free and organized.

How can you add more counter space to a pantry?

  • Install pull-out shelves under existing wall cabinets to temporarily extend your work area. Mount fold down workstations on cabinet doors. Add a kitchen island or rolling cart with countertop workspace.

What are some ideas for decorating a pantry?

  • Paint the walls a cheerful color and display decorative containers like matching glass jars. Add artwork like framed prints, chalkboards or pegboards. Incorporate baskets and fabric bins for texture. Use battery-operated string lights for a cozy accent.

What are some tips for organizing a disorganized pantry?

  • First empty everything out and wipe down the interior. Toss old food and donate unneeded supplies. Categorize remaining items and group together. Assign spaces and use bins and baskets to contain items. Label shelves and storage areas, then return contents.