Probably 90% of what I save to Pinterest is pictures of pantries, laundry rooms, broom closets, and potting sheds. There is something so beautiful about them… places that say dedication to the home, organization, attractive utility. I have always dreamed of a walk in pantry, to go in and be surrounded by glowing home canned jams, baskets or potatoes, braids of onions, and bunches of herbs drying. It was the number one thing I wanted when we were planning our new house.
Our original plan had a 9×9 room with two windows, off the kitchen, facing northwest and northeast. One wall was a step in pantry with three walls. The other wall had a broom closet and a built in desk for me to lovingly craft handwritten notes and meal plans. Well… through a series of events, my laundry room got turned into my husbands office and the washer and dryer had to be moved into my pantry room. Fine. Broom closet was taken away, and we planned on a stackable washer and dryer going in its place.
Then, the house had to be angled differently than we envisioned because of the slope of the land, and instead of pulling up at the front door, you would pull up at the side of the house. So a door was added where a window once was, and my pantry
room became a laundry room/ mud room/ pantry. The lovely desk with a window above became a bench. Sad. I always had wanted one well used entrance instead of a front door no one used. Oh well. We decided to tile that room instead of using hardwood and I consoled myself with pretty mudroom pictures.
And then, most horrible of all, it was discovered a washer and dryer wouldn’t fit in the footprint of the broom closet, and they would have to go on the long wall, side by side, where the pantry was supposed to be! My old washer and dryer! No new ones. No pantry. No broom closet. No desk for my, um…. correspondence.
So I got my broom closet back! But it was now a pantry. And because of where the light switch had to go the door is too small for it and one side is impossible to get to. And it bumps in to the mudroom door. And there is no coat closet. I don’t mean no coat closet in the mudroom. I mean none in the whole house. So coats and backpacks are on hooks, shoes are piled up in front of the bench that no one sits on, cans disappear in this odd, deep pantry closet, and I must correspond using the kitchen table!
And guess who goes in the office that was supposed to be my laundry room? No one! No. One.
I feel better now.
Anyway, one year after moving in it was all driving me a bit nuts. I had recovered from the loss of the special dream room. But there was too much going on in this actual room. The coat situation was awful. So two days after Christmas, in a fit of aggravation, I took all the food out of the pantry and shoved everyone’s coats and bags inside. And there they remain. (Except for my husbands, which seem to prefer… the kitchen island.)
And do you know what I realized? Storing your food in a room other than the kitchen does not make a lot of sense.
I took my own advice and put the food stuffs throughout the kitchen, where they are used. I have a corner of the kitchen with my mixer with the spice cabinet above. In the corner lazy Susan went all the oils and vinegars, different kinds of flour and sugar. Cornmeal, molasses, honey, rice, oatmeal, things of that nature. Everything fits, even Costco sized oils and ten pound bags of flours. Frequently used dry ingredients went in canisters on the counter. Why would one want to go another room to get ingredients for a baking project, and then back again to put them all away? Oh I need a teaspoon of vinegar. Let me shuffle into the pantry. It is as silly as a cleaning closet.
Canned goods, dry pasta, and extras of things like salad dressing went in one 36 inch lower cabinet that used to hold my canning jars. Everything fit, and I have many duplicates. The canning jars went on an upper shelf on an upper cabinet. I will need to use a step stool to get them, but I can handle that.
The upper cabinet above the “can cabinet” holds snacks. Any extras go above the fridge. Fruit in a bowl, cookies in the cookie jar. Bread in a drawer below the toaster, next to the fridge. I do not buy cereal. If I did I would put it near the fridge or the cereal bowls. Coffee went in the cabinet below the coffeemaker.
I do have a large unfinished basement where I can store home canned foods,extra paper towels, ziplock bags, and things that I buy in bulk. But I treat the basement storage as my own little grocery store. Anything that I would need in moment is in the kitchen, where I need it. When I run out, I go down to the basement to restock.
The vacuum lives at the top of the basement stairs where there is a large landing. It is centrally located so works out fine.
And now I have a super useful laundry room/ mudroom. When dirty children come in from climbing piles of dirt (yes, this actual thing they do) they shed their clothes to be dropped right in the washer. The broom closet, then pantry, now coat closet holds coats, snow pants, boots, old towels for cleaning off mud, kitty treats, birdseed, sunscreen, a first aid kit. The shelving above the washer and dryer holds laundry stuff. I would love to have them redone to be a bit more attractive and have two rows of shelving. But I don’t really need more storage.
It is not what I imagined, and we now have an office and a large foyer that go largely unused. But I am hoping to turn the office into a small sewing room, and the foyer would be nice open floor space for board games and puzzles. And visitors do tend to use it.
So my point is… pantries are dead to me. Beautiful in pictures. Not practical unless they are truly in the kitchen, and are nice and shallow so nothing gets lost. A twelve inch deep cabinet, floor to ceiling, would be ideal. I am glad I did not waste a whole wall on one. But I still long for that desk.