Coming from the Old French word “paneterie” (meaning from “pain” the French word for bread) the pantry has changed greatly over time. Generically, a pantry is a room adjacent to the kitchen where food, provisions, dishes, or linens are stored and served.
Older homes were designed with a butler’s pantry, and in fact at one time the butler slept in the pantry to guard the silver from theft. Over time, that space became a general storage area for the homeowner.
More modest homes began adding a closet-like area to serve as a pantry, and many homes have these today. Today, pantries range from fairly small closet-like areas to room-sized spaces designed to accommodate food, wine refrigerators, microwaves, and more.
The trend, according to the experts, is toward a pantry that also serves as a staging area when preparing a big meal.
Pantries seem to be getting larger and larger, according to Charlie Rose of Shelf Genie. “More thought is being put into not only the food storage but also space for other items such as small appliances, overflow, and bulk items. Homeowners also want easier access to the entirety of the space they have, from the floor to the ceiling, in some instances.” Shelf Genie specializes in gliding shelves, revolving, and divided shelves for convenient storage.
“We do a large variety of pantries,” says Sandra Sokol of Closets by Design. “In smaller pantries the most important factor is to make the space as functional as possible. In larger pantries we are seeing vertical tray storage, shelves for canned goods, drawers, chrome baskets, wine storage, pull-out trays, trash/recycling bins, and more, all while allowing for adjustable shelving.”
Jennifer Jones of Jennifer Jones Designs, Inc., says, “A service pantry is wonderful. It should have a stainless sink, granite or quartz countertops, floor to ceiling shelving, peg board for extra pans, refrigerator drawers, and a dishwasher. This functions well for someone who needs extra prep space, for example for caterers,” she says.
Reporting that walk-in pantries often feature cabinets with doors while upper storage is open, Jones adds that some people incorporate glass doors on the top shelves to make the space easier to maintain.
Many new homes are planned with a “fun” hidden pantry behind what appears to be cabinet doors, says Sokol. These pantries allow for a great storage space that is a little more special than a classic pantry. “Also new construction frequently includes a butler pantry for serving areas or drink mixing areas.
In addition, today’s home often include separate areas within the kitchen or pantry for coffee pots, toasters, and other appliances to keep them convenient for easy access,” she says.
All of these trends are geared toward easy access and a more content-centered design approach with consideration for organizing items based upon frequency of usage, size, weight, and cooking preferences, says Rose.
Although there is no rule of thumb for the location of a pantry within a home, the room or cabinet must be designed to be easily accessible from the main kitchen/work area. If the space or storage is a pain to get to, it will lose its efficiency.
A convenient solution is to have the pantry room or cabinet acting as a “hyphen” between the kitchen and the main dining room. This setup provides useful landing/prep space between the two areas, which is especially useful for formal entertaining.
If cabinetry is serving as the the pantry space, keep cabinets grouped together in close proximity near an area where they make the most sense. If they contain mostly auxiliary food storage, they are best placed across the room from the work area, still close enough for access, but not in the way or taking up valuable floor space within the main work area.
When pantry cabinets house small appliances and cookware, it makes sense to keep them close to the main work area so that the food processor, mixer, microwave, and so forth are close at hand and ready to use quickly, which makes clean-up easier as well.
If the architecture allows it, one of the most efficient and beautiful layouts is to group together a long wall of all your tall cabinetry and tall appliances and place a seamless island in front of it, with ample counter space, sink, and cooktop.
A good pantry, no matter the size, will have flexible storage. High-end kitchen pantry design means not just elegant aesthetics but also optimal functionality.
Functionality should include heavy duty pull-outs to access smaller items that get pushed to the back; a counter surface with electrical outlets for small appliances and for use as landing space; an area for charging mobile devices keeping battery-powered items, and sturdy shelving for larger/heavier items. u
There are a number of sources for pantry design in the Greater Nashville area: including
Closets by Design
French’s Cabinet Gallery
Jennifer Jones Design, Inc.