10 Ways to Squeeze a Little Extra Storage Out of a Small Pantry

10 Ways to Squeeze a Little Extra Storage Out of a Small Pantry

Tess Wilson
Feb 9, 2015
(Image credit: Faith Durand)

If you're an enthusiastic cook and rambunctious baker, you can never have enough pantry space. Here are 10 ways to make the most of the pantry- or cupboard- space that you do have...

1. Save all of your jars, and ask everyone you know to do the same
Okay, perhaps that's a bit extreme, but I'm a firm believer in "a jar for everything and everything in its jar." I still don't have enough jars— especially large and extra large ones— to live that way, but a girl can dream. Having a wide variety of jar sizes at hand means that you can always scale down your storage as your ingredients dwindle. And where to store all those empty jars? I find that's not an issue since I'm constantly swapping them in and out: as soon as they're clean, they're put right back to use.

(Image credit: Tess Wilson)

2. Corral unruly items in bins
It's impossible to decant every single ingredient into pretty jars, so keep random bagged items from taking over by stashing them in structured containers. You can buy jazzy bins, or just repurpose your extra loaf pans like I did.

(Image credit: Container Store)

3. Drawer organizers make the most of lost back-of-the-cupboard space
My mom gave me a bunch of drawer organizers but I found they were perfect for organizing things like spices and teas in my cabinets. Instead of having to take everything out of the front of the cupboard to get to the back, I just slide one of the trays out for easy access. These trays from The Container Store come in sizes up to 16" long.

4. Shallow shelves are your friends.
Sure, the sliding drawer organizer works, but if you're designing a pantry from scratch, consider going for long, shallow shelves like these from Oh Happy Day. They guarantee that nothing will get lost in the way-back and that you'll be able to easily take stock of your delicious riches. As you can see from the before-and-after photos, narrow shelves wrapping around the pantry are far more space efficient than the deep shelving that previously occupied the space.

(Image credit: Tess Wilson)

5. Choose a secure spot to stack bagged items
I go through a lot of beans, rice, and other bagged staples, and they have a habit of flopping all over the pantry and taking up far more than their fair share of space. Since I don't currently own enough large jars to handle them all, I keep them stacked in a corner of the cupboard— and their more structured neighbors keep them in line.

6. Make the most of the back of the door
This model from Simply Housewares is deluxe, but any over-the-door storage you can squeeze in can make a big difference. Even just a set of hooks (Target has a ton) helps.

7. Make the most of the back of the door, magnetic edition
I Heart Organizing added super-user-friendly spice storage to her pantry by panting the interior of the door with magnetic paint. The magnetic tins are perfect for spices, of course, but could also be used to hold miscellaneous items like birthday candles, rubber bands, wine stoppers, and other kitchen ephemera.

(Image credit: The Kitchn)

8. Incorporate a rolling cart.
In this kitchen tour from The Kitchn, baking ingredients are stored on an easy-to-grab cart that can be elegantly rolled over to the prep area. The same strategy could be used with any frequently-used items, or you could simply use the cart to add storage, and then pull it out when it's in the way.

(Image credit: IKEA)

9. Divide and conquer (your shelves)
My sweet mom also brought over a bunch of kitchen shelf inserts to add usable space. I was pleasantly surprised to see that these humble little shelves now come in pretty colors like rose gold and styles like this sweet perforated steel version from IKEA.

10. Use a few ingredients as style elements
If you display your flours and sugars in big, beautiful jars on your kitchen countertop or open shelves, you're freeing up more space in the pantry for the less display-worthy items. This clean, modern example is from The Kitchn.

What are your best pantry space-saving secrets?

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