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Walk-in pantry: advice for designing yours

Now we've been in our renovated home for a week, we've picked up on some minor issues that anyone considering a walk-in pantry or butlers pantry may want to consider. I think we got ours right, and the minor issues are ones we'll correct ourselves, shortly, at low cost.

 Our pantry is exactly that on most days - a pantry. There's no sink, no oven or hot plates, and no exhaust fan. It does have a microwave and a milkshake maker, storage for irregularly used appliances, and a bench top that can be worked on. We could fit plumbing for a sink later, but can't see a need right now.

Big cost savings can be made with a walk-in pantry. By having a separate room and door, there's absolutely no need for cupboards and cabinet doors within the pantry. Think of the pantry as a cupboard!  Bench tops can be practical and not showy - you don't need Corian or Caeserstone surfaces. A walk-in pantry is a separate room, so soft-close drawers to keep noise down aren't necessary either.

Ours has a two-way swing door, which we love. We probably should have bought a door with a window to avoid the risk of bumping someone with the two-way swing action, but we'll live without it. There's also an electronic "instant on" fluoro light, with sensor and timer, so that there's no need to be scrambling for the light switch when entering or leaving it.

Having moved in only a week ago, we propped the swing door open on many occasions when stocking the shelves, so in hindsight a hook or magnetic door stopper would have been handy to hold it open when constantly accessing the pantry. We're using an ornamental door stopper.

Our pantry has quite high shelves. I'm 5' 11" and can only just reach the top shelves. All our shelves are adjustable, but we still have high ones and a step ladder is handy. If you'll need a step ladder, give some thought to its size and where you will practically store it so that it is handy when needed.

We have two double power points (GPO) on the bench, and will have a third fitted shortly.  Although we don't need it, at the same time as the extra power point is fitted we're also having a power point for (LED) under-shelf lighting fitted, over the work bench. We're finding that with the long fluoro light, white ceiling and white shelving, the pantry is quite bright. However, if we change our mind we'll have provision for the LED lighting over the work surface later.

Finally, think about shelf depths.  Shallow shelves mean it is easier to see what is stored on them - no more losing items at the back.  Our wide shelves are being used for appliances, bottles, etc and the foodstuffs are on the wall of narrow shelves.

For more views of our pantry see this post.

I wish we'd also bought the book The Pantry: Its History and Modern Uses for about AUD$12 (+ postage) before we designed ours because it might have been even better!

If you have any other thoughts about the design of walk-in pantries then please leave comments using the comments link below.


  1. Hi,
    Thanks for sharing this article and pictures, can you please tell us how wide your pantry is, wall-to-wall, and also how wide the "asile" is between the shelves ?
    Also, you mention that consideraion needs to be given to shelf "depth".

    How wide are your wide and your not-so-wide shelves ?


  2. Hi Steve,
    the whole pantry is 1,780mm wide - it was designed to fit within the walls of the existing house, and was narrowed from the original design.

    The aisle is 900mm wide.

    All the narrow shelves are 285mm deep. Allow 300mm because the back of the shelf units is 15mm chipboard.

    The wide bench is 580mm across the surface. There isn't a splashback in ours. The shelves beneath the wide bench are 565mm (plus 15mm backing).

    The walls of the original house aren't 'square' so there's some variation along its length.

    The narrow shelves, from floor to ceiling, seem about right to me - you can see most items without losing them behind other items. The width is about three jars or cans deep, or one row of canisters.

    I hope this helps. Please ask any other questions you may have when you think of them.

  3. It was nice to receive many useful facts in this review.


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