How to have a pantry in your kitchen

Take inspiration from old country-house kitchens with wonderful larders and butler’s pantries and hunker down for the coming season with beautifully displayed goods and provisions. Bring a functional feel to a modern country kitchen and celebrate the art of keeping a well-stocked pantry that makes preparing meals a breeze.

A brief history

Today we love to display beautifully designed kitchen equipment and attractively packaged goods on open shelves but in kitchens of the past this was not so. It was considered highly unsuitable to have kitchenware on display so large country houses had specific larders and pantries to keep things neatly hidden away. It was the arrival of the Welsh Dresser in the 18th century which was the first signal of change. These iconic pieces of kitchen furniture were originally made of pine and consisted of cupboard bases with open shelves above. As pottery became more accessible to a growing population, beloved items took pride of place. The dresser was celebrated by the Arts and Crafts movement and became popular in kitchens beyond the welsh countryside.

In large country houses, you will still find a separate larder or butler’s pantry away from the main kitchen. They are used for storing provisions, table linens, large dishes, glassware and china but most of us are not lucky enough to have such luxury.

If you are fortunate enough to have a dedicated pantry room, you can really go to town and make it well-organised, functional and stylish at the same time. Invest in sturdy, free-standing storage units to accommodate all the clutter that doesn’t need to be in the main kitchen.

How can I bring pantry style to a smaller kitchen?

Kitchen companies have become wise to fact that we are cooking and baking more and want storage that reflects this new-found homespun style.  Most kitchen companies are now offering lovely pantry-style cupboards alongside their regular kitchen units which can either be free-standing or fitted into your existing kitchen. They can be painted in heritage colours to make a real design statement and with all your most-loved items in one convenient place, they bring a great deal of practicality to the kitchen.

How can I make the most of my pantry cupboard?

Apart from the obvious aesthetic qualities of pantry cupboards, it’s important to work out a few things before speaking to your kitchen designer. A bespoke piece of furniture allows you to customise the cupboard so it works for you. Here a few point to consider:

  • It sounds obvious, but measure your items so that you know the tallest will fit snuggly on the shelves.
  • Group similar items together and store things in a way that makes sense to you – if you do lots of baking, keep all your flours, sugars and other items on the same shelf.
  • It makes sense to put your most used items in the middle of the cupboard so that things are in easy reach
  • Keep the cupboard clutter-free – it’s good to keep on top of your cupboard and have a good sort out every so often to make sure you are only keeping things that you use regularly.
  • If your budget will allow, invest in a marble cold-shelf to keep eggs, butter and cheese at perfect temperature: these items shouldn’t actually be fridge cold.

How can I make my cupboard look beautiful as well as practical?

Once you have your pantry cupboard, it’s up to you how you organise it and add  your own style statement. Essentially, today’s pantries and larders echo the days of country house kitchens long ago, stocked with chutneys and preserves and other lovely provisions.

If you want your cupboard to be a design feature as well as a storage solution, have a think about using glass doors on a section of the cupboard which will allow beautiful items to be seen. Try fitting the cupboard doors with wire mesh for a real country-style effect.

Painting the interior of your cupboards can enhance your displays and gives a great back-drop for showing off beautiful china or glassware. Wallpaper can also be used to achieve a similar effect.

Add a personal touch by transferring food items into lovely glass jars and for large household items try attractive storage baskets which look great if you opt for open shelving.

Think about vintage and antique items for storage – old, enamel cake tins and bread bins will add lots of charm character to a newly-built cupboard.

Speak to your designer about how you can customise a pantry cupboard – individual features like handles can be added to create the look that best suits your kitchen.

The key to pantry style is careful organisation combined with personal touches to create a storage  system that works well and looks great.