sarah_e_orfanedes

Walk-in pantry vs cabinetry?

Sarah R
last year

Hi all,
Given this layout (see photos) what would be preferable and more functional? We can either do a small walk in pantry (5 by 3 feet) or have pantry space inside 36 inch wide cabinetry with the rollout shelves, plus a small pull out on the other side of the fridge. If we do the walk in pantry I think we have more storage space but then it loses countertop space (the kitchen is large so it’s not that we need the countertop space for prep but would it look asymmetrical?) and then there would be some drywall exposed (would be painted but since doing cabinets to the ceiling there isn’t much other drywall) and then there would be a door that wouldn’t match cabinetry (would be white like cabinets but not same extract style or color). Or if we do the pantry storage inside cabinetry, we would have a more streamlined look but then less space for storage and considering the size of the kitchen would it be odd to not have a walk in? Thoughts? Ideas? Thanks!! :)

Comments (48)

  • mdln
    last year

    Very much miss the walk-in pantries I had in previous homes, even the small one that was reach-in.

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  • vinmarks
    last year

    I prefer a walk-in pantry. We store more than just food in ours.

  • GreenDesigns
    last year

    For efficiency of storage per square foot, nothing beats a reach in closet pantry. Walk ins have a much lower storage per square foot because they waste space on walkways. Cabinet pantries are second in efficiency of storage per square foot. Walk in pantries are dead last.


    Only large homes can afford to lose efficiency and storage by creating walkways through storage spaces like pantries and closets. Smaller homes, or those with budget targets, should stick with the reach in.

  • J Williams
    last year

    Depends on what you need to store, ours has the vacuum, a broom, baking sheets, cookie tins, bags of flour, sometimes potatoes etc etc etc.

  • Douglas Parker
    last year

    By looking to the layout I think blank space is quite useful. Well, its actually depends upon your need.

  • Sarah R
    Original Author
    last year

    Thank you all! I agree that the walk in pantry would be nicer, but would it look odd having a door that doesn’t match and drywall? Pictures I’ve seen usually have the pantry door in a corner or more tucked away. Given our layout would I look okay?
    For the other questions— we would only need to store food (maybe also paper towel), since our vacuum etc can be in that closet right around the corner. We will have all pots and pans etc stored in cabinetry drawers.
    For size, the house is 3900 sq feet and the kitchen is 21 by 14.
    Douglas Parker, could you clarify what you mean by blank space being quite useful?

  • MT Castillo
    last year

    My pantry has French doors. I covered the glass with a decorative film. I love them!

  • Sarah R
    Original Author
    last year

    MT Castillo, I love that idea actually! Can you send a picture??

  • shirlpp
    last year
    last modified: last year

    That is a good idea MT Castillo. I know exactly what you're talking about. I might change my door to a French one and use decorative film.........or Frost the Glass.....Thanks.

  • Buehl
    last year

    If it's the door that's bothering you, I've seen people use doors that match their cabinetry. I think they called them "hidden rooms" or something like that. Hidden b/c they looked like cabinets but were really rooms.

    Regarding pantry cabinets vs built-in pantries -- a built in every time! They are better storage b/c

    (1) shallower shelves are best b/c things do not get lost on them -- 12" deep is the "sweet spot"

    (2) you can see everything at a glance without having to open each drawer/rollout tray shelf repeatedly until you find what you want

    (3) you can utilize the entire space, floor to ceiling -- shelves, floor space, wall space

    (4) they're less expensive

    (5) you can make finer adjustments for height

    For a light, put in a motion-detector light so you don't have to turn the light on/off.

    Types of built-in pantries:

    • Reach-in
    • Step-in
    • Walk-in
  • cpartist
    last year

    Is this a new build or a reno?

    Have you considered the fact that neither layout is ideal yet? Would you be willing to listen to other layout ideas?

    As to your question, I agree with buehl

  • Buehl
    last year

    BTW...except for the bottom drawer, you won't be able to reach drawers under an overhang in your island. The overhang will block access. Instead, make them regular cabinets for storage of seldom used items. They probably shouldn't be any deeper than 15" to 18" to be able to reach the items.

  • PRO
    Patricia Colwell Consulting
    last year
    last modified: last year

    I agree under an island on the seating side drawers do not work and my prefence for food storage are true pull out pantries not the kind with a door and rollouts In your kitchen I would do 2 18” ones organized how ever it makes sense to you. I rarely do walkin pantries for clients IMO they are a waste of space and also always are sort of out of the main work space have door you to open and close usually .I find you get a lot of useful storage with true pullouts they are made to match your cabinets and I like them in a wall with the fridge the under counter ones are great for oil bottles not next to but near the stove spices should IMO aleways be in drawers where you can see them all.BTW your kitchen is large enough to have a fridge column and a freezer column I would advise you to make sure you are prepared for the added cost of venting a 48” range it will cost at least as much as the range and IMO no reason for an average family to have one I run a catering biz and entertain a lot and 36" range is great I do have double wall ovens too since I do a lot of cooking in my ovens like chili, stews soups etc.I a,ways sit down with my clients to get them to make a list of their needs in one column and their wants in another when we start the process also a list of all the things you need to store and appliances and that is where kitchen design should start.I suggest you get an actul kitchen designer at this stage it is IMO worth the money. Not a cabinet maker or a cabinet sales person but an actual KD.


  • cd7733
    last year

    I love walk in pantries. We cook at home 90% of the time and dry food storage is important. For a 3900 sq feet house, I think a walk in pantry would be expected.


  • MT Castillo
    last year

    Facebook isn’t cooperating, so I can’t access my kitchen photos right now, but this is the film I have in my traditional kitchen. They have tons of different options to match your style.

  • ldecor54
    last year

    I know your drawing is not to scale but what size refrigerator are you thinking for The space allowed on your plan.

  • Sarah R
    Original Author
    last year

    Thank you all! Answers to the questions:
    It is a new build so can make changes— any suggestions to layout welcome!

    The drawers drawn on island come out from the sides— one by the fridge will actually be a microwave drawer. The front with seating with have two cabinets in center with two false doors for space behind posts (I just drew it poorly!).

    We will be meeting with our designer shortly— I just wanted to think through everything as much as possible beforehand :).

    The fridge will be a standard depth fridge but we have it bumped out behind so it can look counter depth— it is just under 36 inches wide but I added a little extra space on the drawing to account for the cabinetry sides we are doing.

    I love the idea of doing the French doors! How wide would be appropriate? It looks like we could fit 2 18 inch doors in the space. Is that too narrow?

    Thank you all so much for your help!

  • Sarah R
    Original Author
    last year

    Also, I just realized I literally wrote “drawers on back of island” (now I get why everyone thought I wanted drawers back there!!). Definitely meant “cabinets” not drawers. Whoops!

  • felizlady
    last year

    The doorway seems to be 30” wide, which should be adequate for a reach-in or one-step-in pantry. The door opens correctly in your sketch: it gives you access to the nearby counter for putting the pantry items down if you need more than just two things.

  • Sarah R
    Original Author
    last year

    Okay so I revised it to make the PR a different shape and made the one cab on the end 30 inches instead of 36 so the pantry is now 6.5 by 4 feet— this seems more functional. I included the view from above as well as a sketch from the side— seems like I could either do 24” French doors that are 8 feet tall (other doors on this level are 8 feet tall) OR could do 18 inch wide doors that are 6 feet tall. The 24” doors would allow easier entry with only opening 1 door and also results in less awkward blank drywall space above, but would it be weird that the pantry doors are taller than the fridge which will be a standard 6 feet tall? Any thoughts? You all have been great!

  • cd7733
    last year

    You could also do doors that match your cabinets and dummy doors above to mimic more cabinets in order to eliminate the drywall space.

  • Sarah R
    Original Author
    last year

    The false doors above the pantry is a good idea! And I did ask our cabinet guy about doing doors that match the cabinetry and he said he can’t—we are doing semi-custom and he said that’s a custom thing (and this is the particular line our builder uses). I like the idea about the false doors above though!

  • wilson853
    last year

    I would consider a single pocket door that you can keep open when you are cooking. Otherwise you will be opening and closing two doors when you go in and out. This would also help you avoid a collision with the doors on your French door refrigerator.

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  • PRO
    Anglophilia
    last year

    I had a small walk-in pantry in the kitchen of our first house and I loved it. It held the huge bags of dog food/cat food/kitty litter on the floor, plus my trash can (had to find a way to keep children and Golden Retriever out of the trash plus no real space for one in the kitchen). I'm not a fan of those pull-out pantries - lived with two in a London rental for a week and hated them - very limiting where size of things is concerned and very heavy when fully loaded.


    A corner pantry is useless and just looks horribly awkward. If space is limited, a reach-in pantry may work best. It's all about space available what what one stores...

  • Sarah R
    Original Author
    last year

    I like that idea of a pocket door a lot! However I can only seem to figure out how it could be done to be a 30 inch door (24 inch depth of cabinets to the side, then 6 inches of molding/border like the picture you shared—included below for reference). Unless we have drywall on the side, I think then we would need to shrink the pantry by a foot. Unless there is another good want to do it that I’m not seeing? Perhaps having cabinet guy do 12 or 18 inch false door over drywall that would be between fridge and start of pocket door if we kept bigger dimensions? I also attached how wide it would be with 2 24 inch doors, for reference. Love the idea of pocket— if you can help me see a solution for keeping the larger pantry size and doing a pocket I would be most appreciative!

  • wilson853
    last year

    The architect shared the size of the door and the pantry - "The pocket door is 2'-6" wide x 7'-0" tall. The closet itself is 4'-8" deep x 5'-4" wide (excluding the built-in shelving and cabinetry)"

    Show your builder the picture. They will be able to figure out the spacing for the door and the inside width that you want. Notice that they trimmed out the space between the refrigerator and door. If you loop through the pictures, you can see that they extended the kitchen counter into the pantry.

  • Sarah R
    Original Author
    last year

    I love that idea of extending the counter into the pantry! I wonder if a toaster and coffee maker could be then placed in there on the countertop? Would that be odd? Thanks for all the inspiration!

  • wilson853
    last year

    Not odd at all. Here's what the architect had to say.

    https://www.houzz.com/discussions/954800/placement-of-micro

  • Sarah R
    Original Author
    last year

    You have been so helpful! I have lots to think about now!! Thank you!!

  • tangerinedoor
    last year

    As far as I can tell, if you have a pantry, there’s no place to load and unload stuff from the fridge because there’s no countertop next to it.


    This would drive me batty.


    So, you bring home sacks of groceries, and the cold stuff has to go in the fridge. Where is it going to be while you unload? You have to sort the veggies you got from the farmers’ market, and where are you staging them while you do the sorting? You need to pour milk for a child. Do you do this on the island, with a trip to and from from the fridge?

  • cpartist
    last year

    One other question. Do you have another powder room downstairs?

    I ask because if it's your only powder room do you want guests going to the bathroom in your mudroom? (This answer depends on you and your family. My mudroom is also our friends entry and is always kept neat and clean. YMMV)

  • wilson853
    last year
    last modified: last year

    You're welcome Sarah. Here's a couple of other things to think about. I read many threads about two DWs and most said it was best to flank the clean up sink with both of them. That's what I did and I put the secondary trash under the sink because it is really only used for scraping dishes so no need to give up a whole cabinet. I would also move the island prep sink over so that you have landing space on the left for items coming out of the refrigerator. I have a four-drawer base with spices and prep tools to the left of my prep sink and trash on the right side. Next to that is a two drawer base which are used for my chef's and baking drawers.

  • jpp221
    last year

    I find walk-in pantries embedded amongst cabinetry look bad. It’s as if someone plonked a closet door and drywall into the middle of a bank of furniture (think if your kitchen cabs as furniture). So if you do do a walk-in, front it with cabinet door (like a secret passage).

    However, in your case, I’d think you’d want the counter space next to the fridge so I’d not go for walk-in (but make sure you incorporate a broom closet into the cabinetry somewhere).

  • wilson853
    last year

    With a French door refrigerator the logical landing space is on the island.

  • tangerinedoor
    last year

    Too many steps to that island, and it seems to be an eating area.

  • shirlpp
    last year

    Good question, cpartist. I was deciding whether to take down a wall and gain 7 feet to create a mudroom, however, it would mean that when you open the door to it, it would contain laundry and a door to my powder room. I could not stomach looking at a washer and dryer every time I had to use the powder room....thus...decided against it.

  • tcv322
    last year

    I’ve had both and I’d go for the walk-in pantry any day; I use mine not only to store food but also keep smaller appliances out of sight that I don’t use regularly. They’re easier to get to in the pantry versus storing them in a cabinet.

  • Sarah R
    Original Author
    last year
    <?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?><md>I definitely agree that a regular closet door in the middle of island cabinetry would look bad— that’s why I was thinking about doing the cabinet pullout until someone suggested doing French door look. I’m hoping that the French door could look like it complements the windows and doesn’t look like a random closet door— thoughts? Also thinking of trying to do it as a single 30 inch pocket door (a single French door style (with the window panes) slab with frosted glass. That way it could be left open during prep time and wouldn’t have the risk of banging into the fridge door if both got opened. What do you think about that? Also hoping to do paneling/false doors above/on sides so there isn’t drywall. I will see what our cabinet maker says— he couldn’t do the full door with the paneling since he doesn’t carry it that size and we are doing semi-custom, not custom, cabinetry (so are more limited).
    That’s a great thought about moving the sink over 2 feet to have landing room from fridge. Would it look odd for the island sink to have 2 feet to the left and 4 feet to the right? (Be slightly but not completely off center).
    I too have read the threads about flanking the two DWs and have debated about this greatly— still not sure what to do. I feel like I could easily fill up the DW with all of the prep bowls and pots/pans and wouldn’t it be better to have it where the food is being prepared as opposed to moving the dirty dishes across the room? But everyone seems to say flanking is better so not sure!
  • Allison0704
    last year

    A 3x5 pantry is more of a reach-in than walk-in, and 48" for entrance is wasting interior space. Our last home had a double door pantry entry that was just outside of the kitchen. I would do a 30" or 36" pocket door for your floor plan.


    Here is my pantry, which was larger. I had our trim carpenter build a table based on a garden workbench. Great for using appliances and setting down grocery bags. Stored drinks and bulk/extra items below (this was when we first moved in, so not much below). No cabinets in the kitchen were used for food storage (only spices and oils).



    The shelves on this side are deeper, and worked around an HVAC return. Pantry held more than it appears. The trim carpenter built them to my specifications.



    Here is an article with more pantry ideas (several are corner pantries).


    The current floor plan is a bit spread out (fridge is SO FAR from main sink!). Do you want to use the corners for storage? Personally, I dislike (okay, HATE!), lower corner storage and did away with it in our new kitchen. One suggestion, slide sink to the right, leaving a drawer between it and turn (if you don't like lower corner storage).


    I don't believe you will have room above the fridge for double cabinets, even with a 10ft ceiling.


    What style is the house? Are you going for a traditional kitchen? What stage are you in design wise - Architectural plans? Or are you just starting out designing on paper before approaching an architect?


    Is there a reason you need two benches in the mudroom? That's a lot of wasted space that could be better utilized.





  • wilson853
    last year

    I also debated splitting the DWs and decided that a DW door would be an obstruction as I was moving about between my refrigerator, prep sink and range top no matter which side I put it on. When I am loading both, I find that I move things between the two to get everything to fit, so having them near each other works out better that way. You would have a direct path to the DW on the right side of your clean up sink and could leave the door down which you likely wouldn't do if it is next to the prep sink. I have three feet to the left of my prep sink and seven to the right. I would not want the sink on the edge of the island. The three feet is where I stage items from the refrigerator. going into the prep sink

  • suezbell
    last year

    Agree that the corner pantry will be more reach in than walk in. Do remember to add a light inside, overhead just inside the doorway or over the door IF you go that route. If all your doors are either white or the same wood or the same color as the walls, a pantry door wouldn't necessarily need to match the kitchen cabinets.


    Your mudroom will be the first thing you and your family and your "back door guests" -- closests friends and family see regularly -- consider making it something to be proud of instead of something to be hidden behind a sliding door..


    Would definitely move the door to the to the mud room from the outside/garage so that it is across from the entry to the mudroom from the kitchen -- clear straight walk path equal less wasted space, putting the hinge of the exterior door on the powder room side of the wall. You could do away with the bench along the left side of that walk path because the entire wall between your mudroom entry door and the powder room could be usable, uninterrupted, by your bench wtih hatrack/backpack storage, keeping the clutter contained and "hidden" behind the door as it opens. Your powder room door would also be "hidden" by the mujd room entry door as it opens.


    Haven't yet taken the time to read thru the other comments but, in case it hasn't been mentioned, you might seriously consider using that corner you're currently considering for a reach in/walk in pantry as a part of your powder room (toilet nook): have your toilet and sink face each other, preferably with a small high window in the exterior wall between them). This would mean the powder room would be wider but would not need to be as deep (no need to walk in front of, only between toilet and sink).


    Changing the powder room would also mean that your toilet would not be visible if the powder room door is open and it would increase your mudroom storage space by however much space you had planned to allow you to stand between the toilet and wall -- you'd also actually end up with more space for standing because, instead of separate space, the standing space would be shared -- nearly doubled.


    Along with changing the powder room, You could still add a deep refrigerator height vertical drawer next to the refrigerator -- between refrigerator and powder room wall -- to be used as a pantry (better yet a pair of vertical drawers, upper and lower) -- as wide as you need for whatever you intend to store there.


    You could also create a modified kitchen style cabinet at a right angle to the refrigerator -- facing where you walk between mud room and kitchen -- to store most cleaning products and any other non-kitchen items. This could be a cabinet that matches the kitchen cabinets in style and materials but is designed for storing specific items. At least the half near the refrigerator could have a counter top accessible from the kitchen. The base cabinet beneath it could be accessible from either the kitchen and/or the "hall" between the mudroom and kitchen.


    You could still make the mudroom half of this cabinet a floor to ceiling cabinet and/or you could still create a tall open broom closet (with the kitchen wall as the back wall, between the powder room and the cleaning product cabinet) for your tall items -- broom, mop, vac, irning board. Across from that broom closet, between the powder room and the exterior door against the exterior/garage wall, you could put your bench, hatrack, coat rack.


    If your refrigerator is, as it appears, going to be a single rather than double door, you need at least one countertop beside your refrigerator.located on the side opposite the refrigerator door hinge. You want to be able to lift items out of the fridge and set them on the countertop -- especially if you're moving items around to reach something in the back of the fridge. The kitchen side of your modified kitchen style cabinet for your cleaning products could be used for that purpose in addition to being a charging station for cell phones..


    Personally hate "dead" corners -- those hard to reach base cabinet places beneath a corner countertop. they're only good for storing stuff rarely used. Not a fan of the turntables -- stuff inevitably falls off. You might want to consider corner drawers for your base cabinet in the other side of your kitchen near the sink. Did see a kitchen (Houzz site) a while back that had corner drawers beneath a countertop corner -- still likely had some "wasted space" on each side of the drawers unless the adjoining cabinet shelves were designed specifically to use that space.





  • suzyq53
    last year

    There could be a way to move the fridge down and put the walk-in pantry on the end of the run. Then you would have counter space in the corner. That is what we have with a hidden pantry that is about 5x5. I really love the storage of a walk-in. The hardware for the pull-outs aren't that great and over time they can sag.

  • GreenDesigns
    last year

    A pantry deeper than 2’ but not as deep as 6’ wastes a lot of space with walkways that could be given over to some other function. A walk in needs to actually be walked in. Otherwise a step in is still the best choice. A 6’ deep pantry is deep enough to have storage on multiple sides. 5’ can work in a pinch, with only a 30” walkway, and 15” shelves on both sides.


    It’s the same math math as a walk in closet. Just putting a walking path inside the storage area wastes space. It adds zero storage. You have to have the depth to get storage on two or more sides before it becomes “worth” having a walk in pantry.


    Thats why a pantry cabinet is often the better choice. There is no space wasted on walkways.

  • suzyq53
    last year

    I took some pictures to show my layout. Don't judge my messy pantry.





  • Sarah R
    Original Author
    last year

    Thank you all so much for all of the ideas! I have a ton to think about. We are meeting with our designer on Wednesday and I certainly have lots to ask/comment on! I really appreciate all of the help everyone! :)

  • Allison0704
    last year

    This kitchen has several details that would transfer to your kitchen. To the counter storage (hidden small appliances), hidden pantry (last photo) and more.


    Modern Farmhouse Kitchen, East Sussex