By Shawna Dillon, kitchen designer, Studio Snaidero Chicago
What we use our pantries for is also an indication of our eating and kitchen lifestyle habits. Over the years, I have been happy to find that most people have started to require less storage for canned and packaged foods, and more storage for concealing small appliances, bakeware, and dry goods like legumes, pasta, rice, and baking ingredients.
Latest trends in high-end kitchen pantry design
The ultimate trend in high-end kitchen pantry design is to set up a very large pantry to use as a full working area for the heavy-duty cooking and clean-up tasks, so that the main kitchen remains clean and beautiful. However, if you are like most people and cannot afford the space for two kitchens, I suggest just focusing on the one must-have for luxury pantries: versatile storage space. This means heavy-duty pull-outs that can hold a lot of weight and allow you to load up storage without losing stuff behind the items stored in the front. This cuts down on waste and promotes efficiency because items that are stored in the back are kept visible and accessible, so you don’t forget you have them.
Another high-end kitchen pantry trend is to include a sink to use the area for light cooking or food prep. A pantry is a also great spot to keep all your small appliances stored and plugged inso the countertops in the main part of the kitchen stay clean and free of clutter. A microwave, a coffee system, a toaster, and a juicer are some of the appliances that it’s nice to keep set up in your pantry. I have also designed second refrigerators and ovens into clients’ pantries (again, when space permits). If there is room for counter/prep space and you host lots of catered parties, the pantry can become a good spot for caterers to plate and prepare food.
If you are designing your pantry storage out of cabinetry in the main part of the kitchen, Snaidero offers a “fully-equipped” cabinet that gives you the best of everything in one cabinet. Large pull-out drawers are designed under a stainless steel countertop that can be used for small appliances. Wire shelves are located above for heavier storage.
Choosing the location of your kitchen pantry
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 (though it’s arguably become less popular than hosting informal social gatherings).
If the pantry space is in the form of cabinetry, I recommend keeping these cabinets grouped together in close proximity to where they make the most sense:
- If they contain mostly auxiliary food storage, they are best placed across the room, still close enough for access, but not in the way or taking up valuable floor space within the main work area;
- If the pantry cabinets are housing small appliances and cookware, it makes sense to keep them close to the main work area so that, if you need to use the food processor, mixer, microwave, etc., these items are close 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. This includes:
- heavy duty pull-outs to access smaller items that get pushed to the back;
- a counter surface with electrical outlets for small appliances and to use as landing space and support;
- a smaller area perhaps for charging mobile devices and keep battery-powered items;
- sturdy shelving for the larger/heavier items we want to store.