Bathroom & Kitchen Guide

Your complete guide to remodeling, design and new products.


Perfecting a Pantry with Cabinets

Have you ever considered converting from existing cabinets to truly flexible storage — a back-of-door pantry.

Tall kitchen cabinets do two things well that other cabinets cannot: (1) They store unwieldy items such as brooms, mops, yardsticks, ironing boards and upright vacuum cleaners; and (2) they provide maximum storage space within a small footprint.

But many tall cabinets are fitted out in ways that keep them from living up to their full storage potential. For example, a tall cabinet fitted with full width shelves from top to bottom will accommodate a great many cans and boxes but won't permit storage of tall, clumsy items like mops and brooms. And even though a cabinet with many shelves might be able to hold many small items, such shelves are deep and dark, making it hard to reach or even see things stored toward the back.

The standard broom closet — 12 to 17 in. wide with one shelf way up at the top and then one huge cavity for a few mops and brooms — is another space waster.

Pantry outBaskets

Customizing tall cabinets is the best way to maximize theirvaluable space. In that way, you can provide for specific storage needs, arrange a cabinet for your personal convenience and enlarge storage capacity by as much as three times.

RightManufactured storage systems offer a wide array of space-organizing aids, including shelving, rods, racks, bins, baskets and accessories. They make it easy and relatively inexpensive to customize tall cabinets and broom closets.

You may hire a professional planner to assess your storage needs, design the layout and install a system; or buy stock components and install them yourself. Either way, ventilated wire systems offer effective storage solutions.

Standard wire shelves and hanging rods come in 18-, 30- and 42-in. lengths. Stacking baskets come in single, double and triple-drawer depths. Choose from open (1-in.-square) or tight (½ × 1-in.) mesh construction that prevents small items from slipping through the cracks. Accessory items also include small door/wall racks in assorted sizes, including one deep enough to hold folded paper grocery bags. Costs for outfitting pantries vary, but a typical 18-in.-wide pantry can be equipped with four linen shelves, a deluxe basket system (a three-basket stacked unit), and a floor-to-ceiling door/wall rack.

Pull-out drawerPlanning is the key to truly effective customized storage. The procedure is simple: Measure every item you plan to store. Then, using these dimensions, sketch your storage plan on graph paper. You'll be able to see where and how everything will fit and plan for the exact amount of shelving, baskets and racks that you'll need. For most satisfactory results, don't try to shortcut the process. It gives you time to think before you buy.

Planning should take into account family needs and the actual sizes of items to be stored. To hold some canned goods, along with boxes and cartons of foods, cleaning supplies, light bulbs and so forth, 16-in.-deep × 33-in.-long linen shelves would be a good plan to be installed in the top of the cabinet.
Floor space on the right-hand side of the cabinet could be allocated for an upright vacuum cleaner (12×15×45 in.), a mop and a broom. The vacuum handle leaves plenty of space for a wire rack for recycled paper shopping bags to be screwed to the backside of the cabinet.
On the left-hand side of the cabinet try installing a seven-runner medium mini-basket system. The baskets are for sorting and storing a week's collection of glass bottles and cans for recycling. On recycling day, either individual baskets or the entire unit can be removed and carried to the curb for pickup. There's room atop the stacking baskets for a rack that holds newspapers (tabloid size or broadsheets folded in half). This type of rack, too, can be carried to the curb.
Assorted tight-mesh racks on the other side of the door can keep bottles of cleaning and other supplies handy. On the right-hand door of the cabinet, there can be a handy rack that could be used for mops and brooms or a luggage caddy for an iron and ironing board. What was once a relatively useless cabinet is now transformed into a very useful storage.

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