Last weekend, I decluttered my pantry. I’ve been putting this one off for a couple of months as I know it involves a lot of work sorting through out-of-date spices and general bric-a-brac.
Since moving into my house a couple of years ago, I didn’t take the opportunity to properly expel those items I should have. I am fortunate to own a walk-in butler’s pantry after years of pokey cupboard pantries (or none at all!). Being quite a large pantry, it was both a blessing and a curse. While I had space, I tended to store a whole lot of stuff and hide it away in all the spaces available. Now was the time for a complete decluttering!
First, the ‘before’ pictures …
As you can see, there are loads of containers, jars and even non-pantry items (hello gym bag!) that have crept their way into this room. I admit that before I even took the ‘before’ photos I guiltily removed two full washing baskets of laundered clothing. Yes, I was using up my floor space with non-pantry items and dumping paperwork on the working benches. Things were getting out of control.
First things first – remove and clean everything! Every shelf was cleaned thoroughly and only then did I pause to think about how best to re-organise my pantry.
Top shelves were cleared of all the empty boxes and recycled. I took down filled boxes of fine bone crockery (which I still need to find a spot for) and removed another set of (unpacked) crockery from the bottom shelf.
Crockery needs to be accessible. Even fine crockery should be available for use otherwise it’s never used. I emptied one of my cluttered drawers and stored some of my ‘good’ crockery in there. Now it is much easier to use than digging around under the pantry bench!
Already, clearing these shelves made the room appear a lot bigger and airy. I decided that the top shelf should be reserved for more decorative but least used items. Here, I thought, was the perfect opportunity to dig out a beautiful melamine display plate and use a cookbook holder to prop it up so that it was visible from the kitchen as you entered the pantry. Pretty, decorative teapots were carefully displayed, as well as artful bowls and a large glass vase that I had previously hidden right at the back behind some cushions on the floor of the pantry. I intend to buy some lovely fake flowers to place in the glass vase, which will add some more vibrant colour to the room.
Middle shelves were the grottiest, as they were the ones that had spices and condiments that had spilled over and left stains on the shelving. I was a little ashamed at how grotty everything was when I removed it all from the shelves but began the process of cleaning it all.
I view the middle shelves of any pantry as high-use areas and ones that should be both visually appealing and cleanly displayed (only one layer here!) for quick and easy accessibility. My major issue with herbs and spices is that a) I collect a lot and b) I tend to stack them behind one another so I am constantly wasting time trying to find the one I’m after. I was strict this time and ruthlessly threw away out-of-date spices or spices I would no longer use. Dirty spice jars were cleaned thoroughly in the dishwasher and old labels removed. I intend to print out some labels for these jars to make it all look more polished, but for now, it’s enough that they are organised in order of jar size and type.
Cookbooks also featured prominently on these middle shelves, as well as stationery and bric-a-brac. I removed the stationery but kept the cookbooks, as this was always a handy place for storing these resources.
Lower shelves and the floor (under-shelf) was a repository for fine crockery (awkward to access), stray cushions, large bags of protein powders, disused pots, cat carriers, unused tableware and a myriad of entertaining paraphernalia. Taking all of this out enabled me to re-think this space and finally throw out those old table runners and pots that I had been carrying around for years. I figured if I hadn’t used them in 20 years, I wasn’t going to now.
Again, I was strict in what now sat on these lower shelves. The lower shelf sits below the overhanging bench so whatever was stored here should not be difficult to access but would hold non-pretty things. Perfect for all those Tupperware storage containers stacked up with lids neatly stored upright in a basket.
I decided to use the under-shelf storage on the floor, even though my first preference was to keep it entirely free. As long as the items were neat I saw no reason not to utilise this valuable space.
The end result was a far cleaner and prettier pantry. It probably took me the better part of half a day to do this job and I still have some miscellaneous items to find a spot for (although that will not be in the pantry).
I’ll be looking into some clever storage ideas shortly and will post some of them soon. One of the things I’m still looking to improve is my spice storage. Even though they are clearly visible, they take up a whole shelf and there is too much wasted space behind them. Still, I’m pretty pleased with the result.
How do you organise your pantry?