Turn a Closet Into a Storage-Packed Snack Organizer

Keeping an organized pantry can be hard when three teenagers are involved but functional fixes optimize this pantry's storage capacity.

With three hungry teenagers in the house, Katherine and Steve Bayens knew their inefficient kitchen pantry wasn't working for the family. With designer Cathy Kramer's help, they transformed the pantry into a combination storage area and snack-prep station. Now the space boasts a handy countertop; drawers for snack-making utensils; hidden pullout garbage and recycling bins; outlets for frequently used small appliances; and deep, adjustable wire shelving. The new setup makes food preparation and cleanup easier for the teens. And if they do leave a mess, their parents can simply close the doors to hide it from view.

The small kitchen lacked adequate counter space in the main work zone. Freestanding garbage and recycling bins were awkwardly located in the pantry, and narrow, fixed pantry shelves made for inefficient storage. Dated bifold pantry doors created an unattractive space.

The former pantry was overstuffed, making it difficult to find and access items. New cabinets and blue French doors pull in colors from the kitchen's existing tile. With their favorite ingredients at eye level and 4-1/2 feet of countertop displaying frequently used small appliances, the resident teens have a one-stop shop for healthy snacks and meals.

organized pantry closet
Marty Baldwin

Adding countertops and outlets to the pantry was a game-changer. Small appliances can be left out for effortless access without taking up valuable kitchen real estate.

Labels on the top shelves help everyone put items back in the right spot. Clear acrylic risers ensure cans in the back are easy to see and access. Favorite family recipes get a place of honor on the pantry wall.

dry ingredients in labeled containers
Marty Baldwin

Clear stackable canisters maximize available space and show off the supply of baking ingredients. Labels help distinguish look-alikes, such as baking powder and cornstarch.

Cathy Kramer, Designer and Professional Organizer

"With open storage, closed storage, and a counter for food prep, this pantry fits a lot of function into a small space."

—Cathy Kramer, Designer and Professional Organizer
drawers with organized dishes
Marty Baldwin

Deep drawers under the countertop offer easy access to mixing bowls and other baking supplies. Padded drawer liners add softness and style.

drawers with dividers and utensils
Marty Baldwin

Acrylic drawer dividers, keep rolling pins, measuring cups, and spatulas tidy. Choose a drawer divider that expands and locks into place to fit any size of the drawer.

Previously, the pantry's shallow fixed wooden shelves made it difficult to see and access items in the back—or to customize the storage space to fit items of different sizes.

Favorite snacks are kept in clear acrylic bins, so everyone in the family can find what they need and know when it's time to restock.

dried noodles in plastic container
Marty Baldwin

The family buys protein ramen noodles in bulk. Kramer suggested storing them in stackable clear plastic bins. A baggie attached to the lid holds cooking instructions for the current brand—but can be swapped out for different instructions later.

Place individually wrapped snacks like granola bars into clear plastic bins stored at eye level. Kids can grab snacks for themselves, and you can see at a glance what needs to be replenished. Plus, snacks take up less space without all the extra packaging.

drawer with cleaning rags and utensils
Marty Baldwin

A drawer dedicated to air-frying tools and cleanup supplies may seem unusual, but the three teenage boys in this family like making their own meals—and their parents appreciate a tidy workspace.

Boxes and bins tossed haphazardly on the floor were a sure sign that this pantry needed more shelf space and smarter cabinets.

In the previous layout, freestanding garbage and recycling bins were unsightly and took up valuable floor space. Now they're tucked behind a pullout cabinet.

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