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By Bob Vila

With the exception of appliances, the pantry may be the most frequently used feature of the kitchen. In many households, it’s the go-to place for every meal- and snack-making endeavor. Whether it’s an oversized cabinet, a converted armoire or a generously-sized, walk-in closet, the pantry is expected to store as many staples, canned goods, packaged foods, paper products, cleaning solutions, serving pieces and pet supplies as the laws of physics allow.

But, irrespective of its size, every pantry holds more — and functions better — when there is order to the chaos. Here are 5 easy ways to get the most out of your pantry:

1. Maximize your available space

Use every square inch of you pantry efficiently, no matter how big or how small. That includes shelves, cabinets and drawers, and even vertical space from the floor to the ceiling. If you have an area where shelves are not feasible, put the wall to good use. Consider installing a pegboard to hang pans and utensils, or attaching a sheet of stainless steel for a magnetized spice rack.

Source: Sandra Bird

Source: Sandra Bird

And, don’t overlook the benefit of hanging a pocket organizer on the back of your pantry door to store loose items like seasoning and spice packets, or small bags of rice and beans.

2. Plan for smart storage

Whether built-in or freestanding, the storage components that you have in place will impact organization significantly, so plan smart. Since your storage needs may change over time, consider a system that offers some built-in flexibility, like adjustable shelves. Cubby units that can move to where they are most needed are preferable over stationary ones.

And don’t underestimate the storage capacity of drawers. They are more expensive to purchase up front, but they make storing and accessing everything so easy. Stand-alone metal frame shelving also provides an economical solution for pantry storage, so don’t discount its value.

3. Consider using containers

It may seem overkill, but storing your dry goods such as flour, sugar, rice, and beans in uniform containers will help keep your pantry organized and neat. Square containers use space more efficiently than round ones. And, units that are stackable will make better use of vertical-shelf storage. At most stores and online retailers, you’ll find plenty of containers from inexpensive mason jars to an assortment of colorful plastics to service all of your pantry needs. Baskets and repurposed crates are also great for storing small or miscellaneous items, so see what you might be able to recycle before buying new.

Source: Thea Segal

Source: Thea Segal

4. Go label crazy

Take the time to label everything in your pantry. Doing so will make storing and finding items that much easier, particularly if the pantry is used by all members of the household. Go with traditional, store-bought varieties or get creative with Washi Tape, luggage tags, clothespins or even chalkboard-paint labels.

5. Add some style

Yes, a pantry’s main job is functional, but making it look good will make you more eager to keep it tidy and neat. Paint the walls a cheery color, or give them a makeover with some bold wallpaper. If you’re buying baskets and bins, find a way to coordinate them with your decor. Hang a funky chandelier to brighten the space. Every time you open the door, it will bring a sense of beauty and fun to your meal-making chores.

Related:

Bob Vila is the home improvement expert widely known as host of TV’s This Old House, Bob Vila’s Home Again, and Bob Vila. Today, Bob continues his mission to help people upgrade their homes and improve their lives with advice online at BobVila.com. His video-rich site offers a full range of fresh, authoritative content – practical tips, inspirational ideas, and more than 1,000 videos from Bob Vila television.

Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.

About the Author

Bob Vila is the home improvement expert widely known as host of TV’s This Old House, Bob Vila's Home Again, and Bob Vila. Today, Bob continues his mission to help people upgrade their homes and improve their lives with advice online at BobVila.com. His video-rich site offers a full range of fresh, authoritative content – practical tips, inspirational ideas, and more than 1,000 videos from Bob Vila television.

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