Keep stocked with a pantry that fits a home's needs

Raphael Jimenez of Homes by Us in the kitchen of the Sonoma show home in Walden. The walk-through pantry entrance is in the corner of the kitchen. Don Molyneaux / Postmedia

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From cupboard to closet to a room of its own. The kitchen pantry has grown right along with the ever-increasing desire among new home buyers for convenience.

“Everything is evolving. For example, the laundry used to be in the basement, then the main floor and now it’s expected to be upstairs. The pantry is the next thing,” says Raphael Jimenez, project coordinator with custom builder Homes by Us.

A cabinet or corner pantry is a budget conscious option in a smaller space, but builders of larger homes often include a walk-through pantry at the rear of the home between the mudroom and the kitchen. It’s a room unto itself, where groceries can be unloaded from the car through the garage and be neatly put away without traipsing through the house.

Apart from being super convenient, pantries have grown to accommodate evolving shopping habits like bulk buying from big box stores. Open concept floor plans are another reason why pantries are so necessary. With the living area flowing into the kitchen, there’s no place to hide and no tolerance for clutter. No one wants to hang out with crumbs from the bottom of the toaster. The mixers, food processors, popcorn makers, air fryers and instant pots need to be hidden away.

“People have a lot of stuff. We used to put items like these above the cabinets in the kitchen, but now the cabinets go to the ceiling,” Jimenez says.

At the request of buyers, home builders are also transforming that dedicated pantry space in their floor plans into butler’s pantries or spice kitchens.

“The butler’s pantry will often have a bar sink, a wine fridge, coffee maker and even a second oven and a dishwasher,” says Tricha Hamstra, an interior designer with Calgary builder Shane Homes.

Spice kitchens are smaller, enclosed kitchens, usually with a stove, sink, cabinets and ventilation system, where fragrant foods are stored and cooked without spreading the aroma throughout the rest of the house.

Jimenez says pantries can be 32 square feet up to 80 square feet in size — like a small bedroom. Shelving can be open, or the homeowner can request full floor to ceiling cabinetry depending on their budget.

For open shelving, he recommends simple wire shelving, not because it’s the most economical to install but because it doesn’t require dusting. The next step up would be MDF and then solid wood or wood cabinetry.
Standard shelf depth is generally 16 to 20 inches with the exception of higher shelves where a 12-inch depth will prevent items from being pushed to the back and forgotten.

Hamstra says open shelving is the most convenient option but it depends on where the pantry is located and whether it’s an enclosed space.

“If it’s visible from your kitchen or dining area, you might want cabinets for a more uniform look. It can also be an opportunity to create a dramatic space that contrasts with the kitchen. We’re seeing this a lot right now in design trends with bold wallpaper or dramatic cabinet colour,” she says.

If the pantry is enclosed, Hamstra suggests installing a frosted glass door for extra light and to add a motion sensor switch so the light automatically turns on and off if your hands are full while retrieving or putting away items.

Smaller homes with no available space for a fancy pantry will often have the traditional cabinet pantry. It’s usually a taller cabinet, or two, made more convenient with the addition of roll-out hardware. A roll out brings the shelf contents right out to easily find that last can of soup. A corner pantry is an efficient use of space made better with smart shelf solutions such as turntable shelves in the back corner.