10 small kitchen pantry ideas for stunning storage — you won’t want to miss this

These these small kitchen pantry ideas will make your shelves look like your own personal grocery store

Our small kitchen pantry ideas will transform yours into one like this mini pantry with items stored in wicker baskets and uniform glass storage
(Image credit: The Container Store)

Create an Insta-worth storage space with our small kitchen pantry ideas. It might feel easy to dump your groceries in a cabinet and shut the door behind you, but having an organized pantry can make a world of difference in creating a kitchen that works for you. 

Establishing some organizational methods around your kitchen pantry will also serve to make breakfast, lunch, and dinner time run a bit smoother.

Whether you‘re embarking on a culinary journey, or just want to make lunch without feeling overwhelmed, here are our professional organizers’ best small kitchen ideas for creating the sleek, functional kitchen pantry you deserve. 

Small kitchen pantry ideas

When it comes to organizing your kitchen pantry, compact doesn't have to mean limited or chaotic. These 10 experts ideas and tips will help keep your pantry feeling organized not just now, but keep it that way for the long run. With so many small kitchen organizers and other products available, there are plenty of ways to revolutionize your small pantry space.

1. Use clear bins

Clear storage bins on shelf with onions, garlic, and condiment jars

(Image credit: West Elm)

The best way to avoid over-buying groceries or losing pantry items to spoilage is creating a system where everything is on view. This is why clear plastic storage bins, like these clear bins available at West Elm, are popular organizational tools. A great tool for managing inventory, clear bins are also helpful in making use of vertical space that would otherwise be wasted. 

"Bins and baskets can redefine your small space by creating categories for like items in your pantry," explains professional organizer and owner of Space Restored, Renee Wright. "They also serve as a makeshift drawer, making it easier to access the back of your pantry, rather than having to shuffle things around to get to what you need." 

Renee Wright / Space Restored
Renee Wright

Renee Wright is the owner of professional organizing company, Space Restored, based in Austin, TX. Her passion for helping others and love for organization helps her create custom systems catering to each client’s needs. 

2. Store dry goods in containers

Dry foods in glass jars with wooden lids

(Image credit: Urban Outfitters)

Most pantry goods today come in a variety of styles and packaging, making organizing everything in a uniform way a bit more difficult. 

Instead of feeling cluttered and mismatched, consider decanting dry goods in their own separate clear glass containers, like these Starside glass jars from Amazon

The less visual clutter in your pantry, the more organized it will feel and the more  pantry storage you’ll available. Glass containers also serve as great visual reminders for when things need to be restocked.

3. Try an over-the-door caddy

White metal organizer on back of door

(Image credit: Wayfair)

A simple way to add a lot more space to your small kitchen pantry is with over-the-door hanging shelve, helping you to store many types of foods in one organized area and making use of otherwise dead space.

This nifty, damage-free over-the-door organizers can increase the space in your pantry by plenty, and are a great way to group foods in categories and avoid over-buying.

We love this ClosetMaid over-door organizer available on Wayfairas the baskets are adjustable to fit any space. With a 4.6 rating and over 800 reviews, it's also well-loved by customers.

4. Install shelf lighting

Lit-up pantry with open doors and food inside

(Image credit: Wayfair)

Often, kitchen pantries are dark places set away from lamps or natural lighting, and that darkness can make the space feel cramped. 

For better pantry navigation, under-the-shelf lighting allows you to see everything in view, even in the dark. It's the perfect tip for those midnight snackers. 

It’s also pretty easy to DIY and inexpensive too. Just pick up this pack of two sensor lights from Amazon and attach them under your shelves with a Command Strip (also from Amazon)

5. Try a produce cart

Black cart on wheels filled with fruits and vegetables

(Image credit: Wayfair)

If your pantry doesn't have enough space even after incorporating organizational tools, a rolling cart (like this 6-tier one from Wayfair) can be a great way to increase your storage options. 

Especially fantastic for storing produce (which tends to spoil faster than other pantry items), rolling carts can easily glide into pantries for quick storage when they're not needed. 

This is also a smart option for keen bakers who want all of their baking ingredients and tools stored in one space. 

6. Utilize adjustable shelves

Light blue kitchen wall with white freestanding shelves

(Image credit: Wayfair)

Smaller shelves more narrow in both width and height allow you to best utilize your wall space. In order to create pantry shelving that works for you, adjustable height shelves can be used. 

"Small pantries with slim tall shelves leave an open space and help you to store more goods in less area," interior design expert Artem Kropovinsky explains. "Adjustable shelving can fit changing storage needs."

After taking stock of what needs to go in the pantry, including small kitchen appliances, measure each item and adjust the shelves accordingly, leaving a couple of inches as a margin of error.

Artem Kropovinsky
Artem Kropovinsky

Artem Kropovinsky is an interior design expert and founder of Arsight, an award-winning interior design studio based in New York.

7. Learn when to add more space

Kitchen with microwave on freestanding metal and wood shelving and plant

(Image credit: Urban Outfitters)

If your pantry space is simply still too small, even after incorporating more pantry organizers to save space, sometimes you have to borrow space from elsewhere.

If there's no more cabinet space available, a great option is to opt for a standalone renter-friendly shelf unit that can fit into a corner, or near your pantry door. 

Shelves, like this pantry unit available at Wayfair even provides extra counter space, aiding you to keep everything more organized in your kitchen. 

8. Try pull out drawers

White kitchen storage unit with pull out drawers

(Image credit: Hammacher Schlemmer & Company)

In small kitchen cabinets, especially cabinets that are deep, pull-out shelving can be a game-changer. 

There's no better feeling than knowing where everything is located, and these shelves provide a great way to keep your pots, pans, and small appliances out of the way and organized. 

"Pull-out drawers are especially useful for heavy appliances like food processors or stand mixers that may be difficult to maneuver," says Artem.

9. Keep it neutral

Off-white neutral pantry with open doors, filled with food

(Image credit: Wayfair)

When in doubt, neutral small kitchens always look pulled together and polished. Painting your cabinets a light color and organizing with clear or neutral-toned bins can help alleviate any visual clutter in your pantry. 

By painting your cabinets or shelves a brighter color, such as white or beige, you can more easily see your pantry items to, allowing you to keep everything a bit more organized. 

This soft warm white paint color from Lick will do just the trick.

10. Use hangers

Large kitchen shelving unit with bags hanging on side

(Image credit: Wayfair)

There are plenty of kitchen hangers and hooks on the market, which are perfect for keeping your favorite items out of the way, but still easily accessible.

Too many shelves can cause items, especially pans, to get lost in the pile. Hangers allow everything to be on view and to hand. Just hang up your hangers and drape bags for storage around your pantry. 

An easy and cost-effective solution, you can pick up this pack of 40 hangers from Amazon. Or for something smaller, you can grab this 20-pack of S hooks from Amazon, too.

Best products for your organized pantry

FAQs

How should I categorize items in my small pantry?

White some categories might feel like common sense — for instance, lining up all the dry cereal in a row — other goods might not seem like they have a category. To save time after shopping, consider grouping items that you regularly use together in the same space. For instance, if you love making chocolate chip cookies, consider placing those dry ingredients together in the pantry so that they are easy to find. 

Why is it so hard to keep my small kitchen pantry organized?

Once you've put the work into organizing your pantry, the last thing you want is for it to descend into a disorganized mess once again. The best way to combat this is by creating a post-shopping routine. After returning home from the grocery store, set aside time to immediately unpack everything and place categorize. Another tip is to always use the "first in, first out" rule to reduce your food waste. 


There are plenty of ways to create a food storage space that works with your day-to-day. From creating better organizational systems to understanding how to group items together, this expert-approved guide will help make sure you’re getting the maximum square footage out of your storage space. 

Kate Santos
Contributor

Hello! I’m Kate Santos, a writer and photographer based in Los Angeles. In the design world, I got my start working as an Editorial Intern for Dwell magazine in San Francisco. Since then, I’ve written about design and architecture in many national magazines and online publications, including Playboy, Hunker, and The Culture Trip.


I grew up in a very old house in North Carolina and am still influenced by the rustic, charming, antique and aged elements of a home. Sustainability and longevity is extremely important to me and I believe learning to reuse materials or purchasing items you’ll love forever goes a long way. I also lean towards the Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi when designing my own home, embracing the perfectly imperfect items I can find. 

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