An overcrowded closet becomes a snack station full of storage

With three hungry teenagers in the house, Katherine and Steve Bayens knew their inefficient kitchen cupboard wasn’t working for the family. With the help of designer Cathy Kramer, they transformed the pantry into a combined storage space and snack prep station. Now the space has a handy counter top; trays for utensils for making snacks; concealed pull-out trash and recycling bins; sockets for commonly used small appliances; and deep, adjustable wire racks. The new setup makes preparing and cleaning up food easier for the teenagers. And if they do leave a mess, their parents can just close the doors to hide it from view.

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

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

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 space.

Labels on the top shelves help everyone put items back in their proper place. Clear acrylic risers make rear cans easy to see and reach. Favorite family recipes take pride of place on the pantry wall.

Marty Baldwin

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

Cathy Kramer, designer and professional organizer

“With open storage, closed storage, and a counter for preparing food, this pantry fits a lot of functions into a small space.”

—Cathy Kramer, designer and professional organizer

Marty Baldwin

Deep drawers under the counter provide easy access to mixing bowls and other baking essentials. Quilted drawer liners add softness and style.

Marty Baldwin

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

Previously, the shallow solid wood shelves of the pantry made it difficult to see and access items in the back, or to adjust the storage space to accommodate items of different sizes.

Favorite snacks are stored in clear acrylic containers so everyone in the family can find what they need and know when it’s time to refill.

Marty Baldwin

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

Place individually wrapped snacks such as granola bars in clear plastic containers that are kept at eye level. Children can grab their own snacks and you can see at a glance what needs to be replenished. Plus, snacks take up less space without all the extra packaging.

Marty Baldwin

A drawer of deep-frying tools and cleaning supplies may seem unusual, but the three teenage boys in this family love to make their own meals — and their parents appreciate a tidy workspace.

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

In the previous layout, freestanding waste and recycling bins were unsightly and took up valuable floor space. Now they are tucked away behind a pull-out closet.

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