Feng Shui Friday—pantry organization

It's been a long time since I've posted a Feng Shui Friday post. Never fear, my organizin' heart still yearns for order and peace, even if actually getting there takes me a lifetime to attain.

I thought I would show you my pantry cupboard today—not because it is so amazing, but because I did actually put quite a bit of thought into how to organize it.

Remember this? On the left, the pantry of my dreams. On the right, the reality (I lived with this metal shelf in the corner for quite awhile before we purchased the pantry cabinet we have now). 

image: Emerson Fry


The pantry space I had to work with was pretty small. O.K., some small home and apartment dwellers would consider this ample, but my previous home had an entire closet devoted to a pantry. So to me it was downsizing. Before the remodel we had a slightly narrower cupboard, but it was 24 inches deep and everything would get lost in the recesses. I hated having to dig for everything. 

There are some pretty impressive pantry options with fancy pull-out racks and such. It seemed to me though that those racks took up a lot of extra space. Plus they were expensive. My original plan was to have 12" inch deep storage here, to alleviate the digging. Then I thought 18" would work better to accommodate some appliances. When I priced 18" cabinets, however, they turned out to be more expensive because essentially I would be buying a 24" deep cabinet and cutting it down. So, I decided to go for the deeper cabinet and just try to be smart about the organization.

Here are my pantry organization rules:

1. Everything has to have "street side property"—meaning, I have to be able to see everything in my pantry. I use the depth for storing multiples behind, and for overstock. If the space behind is wasted, so be it. For example, behind the cereal containers on the top shelf and store the extra boxes and bags of cereal. Behind the grains I have ice cream buckets filled with extra. (The peas, lentils and wheat are straight off the farm! Some of the others I buy in bulk). The canned food might only have 1 or 2 in the row and others go all the way to the back.

2. I have to use every inch of vertical space possible. I actually set everything up as tight as I could and then purchased an extra shelf to fill the void. Therefore, everything is organized according to height.

3. Decanting into uniform containers may seem like a pain, but it really helps the visibility issue. I also like that it gives everything a tidier appearance.

4. The smaller and irregular shaped items go into bins. The green bins hold my onions and garlic, pudding and jello mixes, and a variety of granola bars and fruit cups for kids snacks. I fill them as full as I can and stock the extras behind. The plastic bins on the row below hold rice (left), pasta (middle), and potatoes and squash (right). The bins act like drawers. Grouping these items really helps me to see how much I have on hand.

5. Finally, label everything! (I haven't gotten to this step yet, clearly. I wanted to test my system and leave time for a little rearranging before I committed with labels.) This can seem a little obsessive, but the biggest reason for this is restocking. A, it helps my family put things away in the right spot. B, I can see when I am out of something. If there is an empty spot, I automatically know what to add to my shopping list.