A Pantry Makeover: From "Disaster" to "What's for Dinner?"

I’ve worked for California Closets for almost 9 years. While I’ve redone several closets in my home to make them more efficient, I hadn’t really thought about the pantry…. Until a few weeks ago.

Pantry Before 1

Sagging shelves: Never a good sign.

My almost-5-year-old son is trying to be more self-sufficient.

He likes to fetch cereal boxes from the pantry for breakfast, or be able to get his own granola bar or juice box for a snack. Every time he would open the pantry door, I would worry about him trying to climb over the dog food container or scale the shelves to reach what he wanted.

And here’s why:

Our pantry was a disaster.

The previous tenant’s DIY shelves were 18” deep and 46” wide - just resting on cleats on the sides and back – and starting to sag in the middle.

There was no way to keep small food items neat on shelves that deep. Everything was always in chaos. We were forced to stack things three or four items deep, making it difficult to see what we had in there.

With a lot of wasted space below the bottom shelf, above the top shelf and in the space between the shelves and the door, everything was stacked on top of each other to try to use the space.

We decided it was time to design it more efficiently and maximize what we had.

Remodeling Our Pantry

After carefully measuring large items, like our 40lb capacity dog food container that lives in the pantry, as well as the height of our bread machine, crock pot, serving bowls, and pretty much everything else (have you ever measured a box of foil or your cookbooks? I have!), I came up with a design that would utilize the limited pantry space to its fullest.

Even in a small space, a good design can make a big impact.

Next came emptying the pantry.

I tossed everything that had been lost in the wasteland of the back and had expired.

I sorted everything by item and size on my kitchen table, anxious for the new system to be in place so I could put everything in its new home. I did this while my kids napped, because as anyone with kids under five knows – their idea of ‘helping’ is not always helpful.

California Closets Pantry After - Shelving

Smart shelving for better organization (and no sagging!)

The new crisp, white pantry storage system was installed quickly.

I spent some time adjusting the shelves and deciding which items would go where – for example, a low shelf dedicated to crackers and fruit snacks for my kids, higher shelves for the appliances and large serving bowls that are not used that often but still need a place to ‘live.’

The bottom shelf even holds our mini hibachi grill and charcoal that only makes an appearance in the summer.

We also included more shelving on the previously unused space by the door. Living in an apartment, you have to make every inch of space count!

I couldn’t be happier with my newly remodeled pantry.

Everything is organized and neat.

It’s easy to make a grocery list now that I can see what we have and what we don’t.

My kids can both reach their favorite snacks without me helping them and quite often when they are playing hide-n-seek, their first choice for spots is in the pantry.

What do you think of my new system?

Are you ready for some pantry organization?


Melanie Schuetz California Closets New Jersey marketing manager

Melanie Schuetz

Melanie Schuetz is celebrating 9 years with California Closets North Jersey, with the last year as the marketing manager. She is a mom of a 4-year-old son, 2-year-old daughter, and has a baby boy on the way. She's been known to rearrange entire rooms of furniture while her husband is out.

Tags: before and after, California Closets, California Closets North Jersey, closet organization, custom pantry, kitchen, makeover, Melanie Schuetz, North New Jersey, organization, pantry, pantry organization, pantry organizers