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walk-in pantry design ideas

Run, Don’t Walk: Six Suggestions for Designing an Ideal Walk-In Pantry

Two years into a global pandemic and the end, thankfully, is in sight. Regardless of how you and your family were impacted, just about everyone spent extra time inside, including preparing more home cooked meals than ever before. That trend has inspired thousands of homeowners throughout Birmingham, Bloomfield, Bloomfield Hills, Pleasant Ridge, and Metro Detroit to remodel their kitchens, with a special emphasis on designing beautiful, functional walk-in pantries.

Pantries are hot, and now is the time to add or upgrade. According to HomeLight’s Top Agent Insights Survey of Q4 2020, 62% of agents ranked walk-in pantries as one of the top upgrades of the year, nipping at the heels of kitchen islands (64%). Even more importantly from a resellers’ point of view, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) revealed that 83% of buyers think a walk-in pantry is a must-have or highly desirable home feature for buyers.

Given their demand and ever-increasing value, walk-in pantries are the rage. But how much do they cost, and how long will it take? How should you go about designing and building one? How do you choose the right remodeling company? Which materials are optimal, and will you have to make any structural changes to your home? Questions abound, so here are six suggestions that guide you step-by-step through the process, and ensure you’ll get the most value. 

Tip 1: Design to Your Family’s Needs

walk-in pantry with barn doorGreat kitchens are an optimal blend between form and function, appearance and utility. Same rules apply for your new walk-in pantry, which should blend seamlessly with the style of your kitchen but also solve challenges and improve your quality of life. Their primary purpose is to provide additional storage space, so first determine what you’re going to store and how much room you’ll need. Based on that assessment you can design an appealing and functional pantry. 

Pantry sizes vary from 25 to more than 100 square feet, and can be designed and built as a separate space, or blend into your existing layout. Roll out shelves, custom cabinetry, and other features add both style and functionality. Once you have a general vision, partner with a trusted design-build firm to bring your dream pantry to life. Costs vary based on surface area, materials, and whether you make structural changes to your home. Plan first and in detail.  

Tip 2: Ensure Accessibility

The most efficient pantry varies shelf heights based on the dimensions of common items. For example, canned goods required 6 to 7 inches; cereal boxes 14 to 16 inches; and larger items from 18 to 24 inches in required space. Make sure to add a couple inches for each, and ensure that the shelves don’t go too deep, creating unused space or “lost food” you’ll forget about. The trick is to determine what and how much of each kind of food item you’ll store before you build. 

Another excellent idea is to install pull-out cabinet organizers and lazy susans to maximize both space and ease of access. These additions are especially useful for organizing smaller items like condiments and spices. If your shelves go deeper than easy reach, try including pull-out racks on hinges or tracks to slide rows of goods toward you and when done back into the recessed areas. Whatever design element you choose, remember it’s all about convenience. 

Tip 3: Combine Open Shelving with Cabinets

Shelves are ideal for quick and easy access, but many items are used less often and look less appealing, perfect for tucking away into cabinets. Partner with your designer to figure out the best mix of shelving and cabinetry, and choose materials that blend with your pantry and the rest of your kitchen. Cabinet materials vary tremendously in quality and cost, so work backwards from your budget to ensure you stay in range and add the most value possible. 

In addition to cabinets, artfully woven or colorful plastic storage bins are a sassy and creative option. Great for tucking away less frequently used items while keeping them close at hand, storage bins add a rustic and natural look to your pantry, and are great for safely storing anything, including more delicate items. A tasteful combination of shelves, cabinets, and bins can transform an otherwise dull pantry into a space that’s both functional and fun. 

Tip 4: Spice Your Pantry Up 

Paint and wallpaper go a long way in a pantry, especially with creative flair. Partner with a great design-build firm to bring out the best in a small space, and let the creative juices flow. Some homeowners prefer a more conservative approach with a single color or pattern, while others love to experiment with varying shades in different areas of the pantry, and even shelf-to-shelf. The sky’s the limit in your new pantry, even if it all happens within a few dozen square feet. 

Crown molding and other extras you’d normally not think of in a pantry also add luster and zing. What about custom lighting? New LED technology can bring smart illumination to any area, and can create a stunning experience without too much hassle or additional cost. These moody lights are ideal in strips and suspended from the ceiling, and can even be motion-sensitive to activate automatically whenever anyone enters the space. A little goes a long way in a pantry. 

Tip 5: Add Amazing Extras

Why stop at shelves, cabinets, bins, and lights? “Our clients are increasingly creative and bold with their pantries,” smiles CKD Christine Ramaekers of Mainstreet Design. “We’re adding built-in wine and beer fridges, coffee stations, custom appliance areas, and room for bulk items, too. Going beyond basic storage areas, today’s walk-in pantries are seamlessly extending kitchens, offering sophisticated value and utility, with optimal convenience and access.”

Other fun and functional options include installing a grocery list board, wall racks, and even an insulating door to maintain the ideal temperature of 50 to 70 degrees to keep items fresh. “Don’t forget to install electrical outlets,” cautions Christine. “Your chilled wine rack sounds amazing, but if you can’t plug her in then it’s just a rack. So plan ahead, and work with your contractor to ensure everything is prepared – including running any water lines for fridges and appliances.” 

Tip 6: Partner with MainStreet Design Build

Look no further for a trusted remodeling contractor. MainStreet Design Build is a full service, design-build remodeling firm dedicated to creating a luxurious end-to-end experience through personal care, accountability, timeless design, and exacting attention to detail. For over 30 years their in-house design team, staff of carpenters, and deep bench of skilled tradesmen have made the process comfortable, enjoyable, and safe. Explore their kitchens and bathrooms.

Having produced elegant results that transform remodeling dreams into gorgeous and functional spaces like pantries, MainStreet Design Build is the #1 choice for discerning homeowners in Southeast Oakland County who value a high level of comfort and trust in knowing that their home remodeling project will be done RIGHT. Browse our luxurious gallery of award-winning local renovations, and quickly schedule a virtual design consultation. Let’s partner today! 

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