Pantry

Finalized Pantry Plans

I’ve been planning and dreaming about my pantry for almost a year now, and I’ve come up with somewhere around 20 design plans. And yet I’ve never been satisfied with any of the plans I’ve come up with. So last night, I tried to pinpoint the problem, and realized that I was trying way too hard and making it way more complicated than it needs to be.

A pantry, for the most part, just needs lots of shelving, and possibly a few drawers. I don’t need to make it more complicated than that.

I’ve also been way overthinking the whole freezer thing. I had it set in stone in every previous design I’ve attempted that I need an upright freezer on the left wall of the pantry. But that totally gets in the way of upper storage on the left wall, corner storage in the front left corner, and storage on the left wall just inside the pantry door. That’s a lot of storage potential ruined or affected by one upright freezer.

Then a few weeks ago, my brother gave me a small chest freezer. It’s 24″ deep, 36″ wide, and 34″ tall, and I’m pretty sure it’s all the extra freezer storage I’ll need. And once again, I initially tried to design around it on the left wall. And again, it just wasn’t working.

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It finally dawned on me that the perfect place for a 36-inch-wide chest freezer is on the back wall of the pantry centered under the window. That way there’s nothing that will get in the way of the freezer opening all the way, and the freezer won’t have any effect on placement of upper shelves or corner storage.

Once I made that decision, the rest just fell into place. The lower storage in the pantry will look like this…

pantry floor plan - revised 9-2017

The cabinets on the right and left just inside the pantry doors will be closed floor-to-ceiling cabinets. The rest will be lower cabinets with countertops, and upper open storage shelves with adjustable shelves. I’m still considering the drawers. I know drawers are handy, but those areas could easily end up being more open shelving.

And as you can see, I decided to go with the simplest option for the corners and do blind corner storage with no fancy pull-outs or super susans or corner drawers or anything like that. I’ll just use those blind corners to store items that I want to keep but rarely use.

A chest freezer front-and-center in my pantry behind the French doors and under the window isn’t exactly what I had in mind when I started designing this pantry. I had always envisioned some pretty drawers with a beautiful stained wood countertop under that window. But as contrary as it is to my nature, I’m trying to put practicality first here.

But that doesn’t mean it has to be ugly. I’ve been looking at various refrigerator makeovers, and I’m thinking that my little chest freezer could benefit from a makeover to turn it from a plain white rectangle into something really unique like this wallpapered refrigerator.

wallpapered refrigerator

via Farmhouse For Four on Instagram

Giving a chest freezer a wallpaper makeover may seem silly to a lot of people, but this little freezer will be the main focal point through the French doors and under the window. So yeah, I’m gonna make it pretty. 🙂

I’m excited now about getting started on the pantry. It doesn’t feel overwhelming to me anymore. As long as I was forcing the freezer on the left wall, and placing the most emphasis on making the pantry pretty, it just wasn’t working for me. So the thought of actually building the pantry stressed me out. Once I finally let go of that whole “perfect view through the French doors” idea, it all fell into place.



Update:

My pantry is finished! Want to see the entire project from start to finish? You can find every single post about the pantry build right here…

Or you can skip to the end and see how it turned out. Here’s a peek of the finished pantry…

Butler's pantry remodel with dark teal lower cabinets, floating corner shelves, and whitewashed wood countertop

You can see more pictures on the before and after post right here…



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48 Comments

  • Reply
    Rachel
    September 5, 2017 at 10:20 am

    Would hiding the chest behind faux drawer fronts and somehow attaching a wood top to the chest the weird? No one would have to know… except all of us 😉

    • Reply
      Lisa Johnson
      September 5, 2017 at 10:42 am

      I love that idea! Very creative.

    • Reply
      Linda
      September 5, 2017 at 11:05 am

      This was my first thought too.

    • Reply
      em
      September 5, 2017 at 12:28 pm

      Ditto!

    • Reply
      Susan B
      September 5, 2017 at 2:30 pm

      This was my thought too.

    • Reply
      Elisabeth
      September 5, 2017 at 3:27 pm

      That was exactly what I thought, too! That way you could just have a continuation of the cabinetry look, with a lift up bench top over the freezer, and the ‘drawers’ you wished for.

    • Reply
      LoriA
      September 5, 2017 at 5:45 pm

      Me as well, first thought when I read this 🙂

    • Reply
      Rebecca Neustel
      September 5, 2017 at 7:48 pm

      I thought the same — panel it somehow!

  • Reply
    Justin
    September 5, 2017 at 10:21 am

    I’m SOOOO glad you went with functionality. It’s going to serve you so much better in the long run. The more flexible the space is, the better. Speaking of which, if you can’t decide between drawers and shelves, why not split the difference and do roll-out shelves? That way, if you ever want to reconfigure the locations, you can.

    I’m pretty sure I mentioned this before… Make sure you have a landing area (even just an empty shelf) to one side of the freezer. I’ve had a chest freezer for awhile in my basement and every time I go digging through it, I’ve needed a spot to put stuff as I dug to the bottom (and the basement floor is not a good option in my case).

    Also, I was thinking about the freezer disguise. What about a wooden apron that matches your cabinetry? Or even has some neat artwork on the front? Kind of like what you’d do for the front of a tub. Although, I kind of like the wallpaper idea too.

    One thing I didn’t see in your plan is tall storage. Are you ever going to need to put something tall in there like a vacuum, broom, pet food containers, etc.??? Perhaps one of those closed storage areas towards the door could be a tall cabinet.

    This is going to be awesome. I’m so jealous of your pantry.

    • Reply
      Chris
      September 5, 2017 at 12:08 pm

      These are some good ideas and thoughts from Justin. I like the wallpaper but there are some great ideas out there for disguising chest freezers and kegerators to look like cabinetry; you just have to observe the minimum clearance requirements. You might wind up with a slight bump out but look how nice that looks on the back wall of your kitchen.

    • Reply
      Jae
      September 5, 2017 at 2:24 pm

      I really like Justin’s ideas too – we can’t completely forget the practical side, but who says it can’t be cute!

    • Reply
      Marianne in Mo.
      September 5, 2017 at 4:30 pm

      Her tall storage will be on either side of the entry doors to the pantry.
      Personally, I wouldn’t do drawers at all in a pantry. I would do step-back shelving where the drawers are. This would allow easier access to the shelves along the back wall. You could still have the counter continuity by just narrowing the counter an inch or so deeper than the shelving I mention. The counter can be integrated into the shelving. Otherwise, I think the plan is awesome, and so much more functional then the original plan! It won’t be hard to “pretty up” that chest freezer. I may have to do that for mine – a great idea!

  • Reply
    Carol F
    September 5, 2017 at 10:21 am

    I love the idea of decorating the freezer! I was thinking the same thing about it being front and center. I think you should concern doors on the cabinets that flank each side as well.

  • Reply
    Judy J
    September 5, 2017 at 10:24 am

    It’s funny how overthinking can cause us so much grief! My phrase is “It shouldn’t be THIS difficult!”

    Maybe pseudo cabinet doors on the front of the freezer… or a great canvas for one of your fabulous paintings? You are very creative and I know you will find a solution to this!

    • Reply
      Patricia
      September 5, 2017 at 11:11 am

      That’s a nice idea!

  • Reply
    Diana
    September 5, 2017 at 10:25 am

    Kristi, love this plan. Could you have a wooden countertop extending all along the back window wall with the part over the freezer on hinges that would lift up when needing to access the freezer? That way you could put a fabric curtain on a rod underneath, similar to what some add under apron sinks. It would look great from the French doors and add a touch of softness to the area.

  • Reply
    Elle
    September 5, 2017 at 10:34 am

    Go with the wallpaper. I wallpapered my used refrigerator in 1975. It looked great.

  • Reply
    Karen H
    September 5, 2017 at 10:49 am

    Kristi, if you don’t want to do the drawers, you could always just use baskets. Anything you would put in a drawer would likely fit in a basket as well (unless you were talking about deep drawers – that might be different). Plus they would look great and add some texture, too boot! Win-win!

  • Reply
    Susan
    September 5, 2017 at 10:50 am

    We have a couple of fridges at work with skins on them that make them look less boring. Our print shop at work make them. Check with one of your local print shops to see if they can make one for you out of a “fat head” type vinyl sticker. They peel on and off easily and won’t have the seams that wallpaper will.

    • Reply
      Marianne in Mo.
      September 5, 2017 at 4:37 pm

      That’s a thought! My sister in law works for a company here that makes things like that. I’ll have to ask her if she’ll do one for our freezer! I think we have the same kind as Kristi’s brother gave her, a small chest freezer.

  • Reply
    Debra
    September 5, 2017 at 10:50 am

    I would love to have a be a pantry like this. Instead of wallpapering your freezer you could put some faux drawer fronts wit a nice wood countertop

  • Reply
    Karen
    September 5, 2017 at 10:53 am

    Bifold type doors in front of the freezer. The only time you’re use them is if you need to pull the freezer out. Make a thin wood top for the lid. If it’s thin it won’t as a lot of weight. A little 1×2 front edge would cover the lid and make it look like a wood counter. Just my 2 cents.

  • Reply
    Eileen
    September 5, 2017 at 11:01 am

    The above comment about having a place to put items from the freezer is a very valid point. Making an empty staging space for that is a great idea. Chest freezers have always turned me off because of the digging you have to do to find anything. My sister has one and it’s difficult to use. This is an idea for “inside” the freezer. Use square containers with handles that hold something specific, ie chicken, beef, or small items and you can lift them out to get to the stuff on the bottom. It make the “layers accessible. Just a thought. Your pantry is working out so well. It’s wonderful to have good storage space. I have a pantry “area” and used giant lazy susans for the inside corner part. The top shelf has cans of soup, stacked up and all I do is turn the lazy susan and have access to everything. I still have space along the right and left to put small items. It works well.

    • Reply
      chiflipper
      September 5, 2017 at 12:01 pm

      Vinyl coated wire freezer baskets are the bomb. I have two chest freezers and the baskets make sorting /locating items MUCH easier. Available at Walmart, Amazon, etc. For can storage on shelves I also like the wire racks that load from the top and dispense at the front bottom.
      Your local LDS community has lots of great storage ideas…and cookbooks…and opportunities for canning. I am not a member but have always found them to be very welcoming and helpful.

  • Reply
    terrillr
    September 5, 2017 at 11:38 am

    Your plan sounds great, I’m envious! My first thought for hiding the freezer was a faux front similar to your hall bathtub (which I saw again this weekend on Pinterest!). And adding a wood “countertop” would finish it nicely. Wallpaper, fabric, vinyl sticker would all be good too.

    Can’t wait to see your progress.

  • Reply
    Sharon
    September 5, 2017 at 11:39 am

    I love the idea of papering the freezer to disguise it. And would use the top of the freezer to set a pretty potted herb container–nothing too big or heavy that would be hard to move when you need to get into the freezer. Maybe some rosemary and basil plants.

  • Reply
    Jamie
    September 5, 2017 at 11:44 am

    So many great ideas! I love the idea of a wall to wall wood counter top with a hinged section that fits over the freezer. Also, as others have suggested, I have one lower cabinet in my kitchen that I put a curtain on with a spring rod and I love it. I have a modern kitchen and yet it works with the right fabric. Can’t wait to see the progress.

  • Reply
    Julie Stewart
    September 5, 2017 at 11:46 am

    Love the layout and I think the practicality of it all will be perfect for you. As for the freezer + wallpaper .. have you considered printed vinyl? You can get printed vinyl in all kinds of colours and designs now. And you can just take it off when you decide to change things. Try searching for Lilly Pulitzer printed Indoor Vinyl. Can’t wait to see more progress. Just beautiful!

  • Reply
    Lisa E
    September 5, 2017 at 11:53 am

    Coming along nicely. I had that same pic of the wallpapered frig saved. Love it!

  • Reply
    KathieB
    September 5, 2017 at 12:11 pm

    Funny, isn’t it, when we find that one key question to ask ourselves? Congratulations once again for figuring it out. Here’s to one hell of a fabulous, functional pantry in your future!

  • Reply
    barb
    September 5, 2017 at 1:27 pm

    Try looking into vinyl to cover your freezer 🙂 It’s a “thing” us Silhouette Cameo users like to do!

  • Reply
    Sharon C
    September 5, 2017 at 1:50 pm

    So happy for you Kristi that your pantry design is now clear to you. It also doesn’t seem so over whelming but very manageable to build and install and I know with your creativeness that you’ll find a way to jazz up the front of the chest freezer. I’m very envious that you have created this dedicated room for your pantry storage. You’ll love it. Looking forward to following the process and progress!

  • Reply
    Mrs Mike
    September 5, 2017 at 3:22 pm

    very nice layout! I’ve seen some bloggers do incredible things with vinyl, as someone else noted. The wallpaper could be fun too, given that you wouldn’t need a lot to do something fun and decorative.

  • Reply
    Nicole
    September 5, 2017 at 3:47 pm

    I would agree with the others. Creating faux cabinetry in front of the freezer would look awesome. I also think the drawers would look better on each side of the freezer. The view through the french doors would just be cabinets and a wood counter top. Open shelves are nice too but would need to be highly organized if they are going to be seen through the french doors. Having them on just the left and right walls would allow them to be functional, not aesthetically pleasing. Just my two cents.

  • Reply
    Genelle McDaniel
    September 5, 2017 at 7:07 pm

    I think I might move those drawers to each side of the freezer and then have open shelves on the end of them. You will always be seeing what is in those open shelves as you walk by the french door or are setting to either side.

  • Reply
    Devra
    September 5, 2017 at 8:22 pm

    Don’t forget to recess the electrical outletbehind the freezer. It can save you 2-3 inches. The pantry sounds great!!

  • Reply
    Pat @ Life At Lydias House
    September 5, 2017 at 10:01 pm

    Kristi, I used 1/4″ plywood to cut panels and strips to make faux cabinet panels and glued them to an old refrigerator that I didn’t like. You can see it here:
    https://lifeatlydiashouse.blogspot.com/2015/01/how-to-customize-old-refrigerator.html

    I am sure that whatever you come up with will be wonderful.

  • Reply
    Sue
    September 6, 2017 at 8:19 am

    I think you will like having your freezer in the easiest place to get to it. I’m sure you use it as a ‘splash of color’ in your pantry and it will be great! (Does your pantry get sun? You could use your windowsill as a small herb garden.)

    I like the layout of your pantry and it looks to be very practical for storage and isn’t that what a pantry is for? Can’t wait to see your room come into reality.

  • Reply
    Judy
    September 6, 2017 at 9:10 am

    I too like the drawer sections moved to either side of the freezer with open shelving for the rest and pretty baskets for more corralling if needed. And you may not need anything on the front of the freezer. It is a pantry after all, but the drawer sections against the far wall might give a more structured cabinetry look when viewed through the French doors.

  • Reply
    janpartist
    September 6, 2017 at 10:22 am

    I’m sure it will be great regardless of your choice. If it were me I would put curtains on your doors like you would a french door to the outside (In some cases). I like a little mystery.

  • Reply
    Kathryn Griffin
    September 6, 2017 at 11:20 am

    I’m looking forward to watching this unfold. Love the idea in one of the comments to have baskets with handles that you can put in the freezer to separate your meats, fish, chicken and frozen snacks. I think it will save you some annoyance later on. Thanks for sharing your plan. Toodles, Kathryn @TheDedicatedHouse

  • Reply
    Connie
    September 6, 2017 at 1:59 pm

    You have lots of great ideas for decorating the freezer in the comments. My comments are regarding storage.
    (1) Drawers and slide-outs: as I have gotten older, I find I really like drawer storage more and more. Whether they are built in cabinet style or the roll-outs attached to shelving, I get more frustrated with deep shelves and having to dig behind them for things. Or, simply forgetting what’s stored at the back. Also, it would make it easy for Matt to retrieve items when you aren’t around should he need to.
    Also, their may come a time when getting on your knees to reach things stored at the back of a cabinet may not be as easy as it is now. A knee, back, or other type of injury may be the cause or it may be “age” as it is for me.
    (2) Blind corners: lots of the same reason as above. Even it it is for items infrequently used, please rethink leaving the lower corners blind. I had them in an earlier home and, as time when on, found them more frequently causing “anger moments” than at first. I finally blocked off the dead space I had quit using so nothing could inadvertently fall back there. I really got tired of having to move everything in front to access anything stored in the black limbo.
    (3) Tall storage: Unless you planning on storing brooms, mops, Swiffers, vacuums etc. in another area, then do consider storage for taller items. I’d love to have a designated area for all those items. Then closest I have is some wall space in the laundry room which, thank heavens, is off the back hallway so not visible to most visitors.
    Can’t wait to see your finished product.

  • Reply
    Stephanie
    September 6, 2017 at 2:17 pm

    In my kitchen remodel I built deep drawers for the lower cabinets and I love them (good for pots and pans and small appliances) – just be sure to get heavy rollout hardware. Before I had cabinet doors that opened with shelves that pulled out behind and the doors were always getting scratched up. I also put big lazy Susans in my two both upper and lower corner cabinets where dead space once was. One is full of dry baking items and bottles (wine, vinegar, oils, ect). Makes it very handy to find something. You might also consider pullout trash containers built into one of the cabinets. Our double front-to-back bins are good for trash and recycleables. Since you eat mostly fresh vegs, etc have you considered a place for compost collection while you food prep? Also, what did you decide about the Sonic ice machine?

  • Reply
    Barbara
    September 6, 2017 at 3:34 pm

    Kristi, I am so happy you chose a chest freezer!
    The energy savings will be substantial and the great thing about this type of freezer, is that if you lose power, things will stay cold in there for a long, long time. Opening it quickly will let in such a small amount of hot air compared to opening an entire door of an upright freezer.

    I resisted having a freezer, other than the tiny one at the top of my fridge, for a long, long time. Even with 3 kids…..But when my little girl was diagnosed with Celiac disease and then my husband, I knew I needed a freezer to store the gluten free baking and the supplies.

    I bought a little chest freezer like your one and put it in our garage. So the look doesn’t matter and it is only a few steps from the kitchen. Keeps very easily at minus 20 C (you want at least 0 F).

  • Reply
    Mark E Tisdale
    September 6, 2017 at 4:24 pm

    I like the wallpaper idea, but with your skills at applying wood molding, I’m honestly surprised you’re not going to glue molding to the front of it to give it a cabinetry look? Or maybe create a whole faux paneled piece of plywood to apply somehow? I know you’d have to be sure to leave room for air circulation but I bet you could figure out a way to give this a pretty upscale look!

  • Reply
    Jen at Endowander
    September 10, 2017 at 7:04 pm

    My suggestion for the chest freezer that has worked well for us – reusable shopping bags from the grocery store to sort and organize. They are more flexible than most bins, have integrated handles, and the coldness doesn’t bother them like it does some plastics. We usually have one for breads, one for cheese, one for meats, one for pizza dough, and one for frozen veggies. I also second (third?) having a landing zone.

  • Reply
    Alma
    September 14, 2017 at 4:54 pm

    Magnetic fridge covers come in a myriad of colors and designs and they can be cut. are

  • Reply
    Cindy
    March 26, 2018 at 7:51 pm

    I’m really looking forward to seeing how your final pantry looks. We are rebuilding a small house we bought….literally one piece of lumbar at a time it seems like. We are doing all of it ourselves, but one thing that hubby has promised me is a huge pantry….8′ X 12′. I have wrestled with the freezer conundrum….and I think I will purchase an upright for the new pantry….the current chest freezer can go in the laundry room or in the garage as a spare. I can’t wait to see how yours turns out as it looks like it’ll be about the same size.

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