Shelf depth/height for non walkin pantry

debrak_2008January 12, 2013

Our pantry is a space built over the basement steps. It starts at 34" from the floor and goes up to a 8' ceiling. It's 23" deep. What we just took out was 2 wire shelves 12" deep. DH both agree to do wood shelves.

I want 3 shelves the bottom 12" deep, then two shelves above 9" deep. Each shelf about 12" high. Too much got shoved in the back of the deep shelves and I would have to look through the wires to see what was in the back of the top one. The pantry was always a mess.

DH wants to do what we had only in wood.

Considering what I want to store there. Cereal boxes, canned goods, snacks. I think my idea makes sense.

Attached it a web site about pantries and show a diagram where I got the idea of the upper shelves being only 9 " deep.

Please tell me what you think.

Here is a link that might be useful: pantry design

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I have a step-in pantry. My shelves, floor to ceiling, are all 12" deep. It works great for me. I'm 5'8" so maybe my height gives me an advantage with the upper shelves? I don't think so though. I have zero difficulty with the upper shelves at 12" and would do the same depth again without question. Personally, I'd hate to miss out on those etra three inches with my upper shelves. I only keep larger boxes on the top shelf though. No way would I stack cans up there.

Anyway, here's an old pic of my pantry right after DH helped to "rearrange his stuff" in there. All that means is that he shoved my nicely organized items around to make way for his Christmas junk food in 2011. ;) I have less canned food now, also.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2013 at 7:52PM
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Just keep in mind that you will need to reach over the deeper shelves to get to the shallower shelves above. 12" vs 9" shouldn't be an issue, but too much deeper on the bottom shelves could be an issue.

There's a pantry thread on the Gallery - I suggest you check it out.

BTW...I so agree with you about the wire vs wood! I had and hated the wire my solid shelves now!

Here is a link that might be useful: Thread: Pantry photos/ pics of pantries

    Bookmark   January 12, 2013 at 7:54PM
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Maybe this makes a difference, I should have mentioned it. The bottom (lets call it the floor) of the pantry is 23" deep, 34" from the floor. So I have to reach further in. Its also a slight L shape but I didn't think that mattered.

I plan to keep the dog food container and his treats on the floor/bottom. Cereal boxes and snack boxes on the 12" or lowest shelf. Then I canned goods or small items would be on the upper 9" shelves.

Maybe I can post a photo. After looking at yours breezy I realize how different my set up is. Hard to explain so a photo would be better.

Buehl, I'll read over those links tonight. Thanks.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2013 at 8:15PM
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Here are some photos. Not sure how they look on other computers but the colors are really off on mine, not that is matters for this.

This photo looks in at an angle at the top.

This photo looks in show the space that goes behind the wall.

This is the front. Should have put this photo 1st. Door has been removed.

The size of the pantry can't be changed in any way.
I don't know why they are side ways and they are upright in photo bucket.

Any thoughts?

    Bookmark   January 12, 2013 at 8:55PM
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Would pull out shelves work for you? It would save a lot of reaching in and over and you wouldn't lose a ton of storage space. If your husband's fairly handy at these things, he could possible even build them or they may even be available at your local big box store.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2013 at 10:58PM
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I would put at least some of the shelves closer together than 12" apart and squeeze in at least one more shelf in there.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2013 at 11:29PM
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Pull out shelves seem to be a good answer for that deep space. Then you could have full depth storage instead of 12 and 9 fixed shelves.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2013 at 3:55AM
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It's the depth that is so tricky. In order to fully make use of it you have to have layers of storage. You could do pull out storage so that you get access to the stuff in back by pulling it towards you. You could create a layer of space on the back of the door by putting a 6" deep shelf right on the door(they sell wood and wire ones but would be easy to make too) You could also create another layer of storage in the cabinet by having another 6"-8" deep shelf on a hinge that swings out(like a garden gate).
Rev a Shelf sells a unit like this, picture below so you can visualize. You might not be able to use their unit, not sure if shelf height is adjustable and you definitely need some taller shelf space, but it conveys the concept.

From [GW Photos](
    Bookmark   January 13, 2013 at 8:01AM
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I agree about looking at pull out shelves, but if you decide to use fixed shelves, I would suggest using all 12" depth. We just moved into our new kitchen space and I have pantry space with 12" shelves and I think they are the perfect depth - I think 9" would be a little too shallow for me in that I would lose some flexibility in how they could be used.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2013 at 8:23AM
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My pantry shelves are 18 inches deep, 55 inches wide and about 13 inches apart (existing when we moved in). There were four shelves here. My husband added a shelf 3 inches below one of the existing shelves that I use for large tray storage (love it!). The top shelf has 20 inches of clearance and the floor has 24 inches of clearance. We recently moved our wine fridge into the pantry floor after my dh added an outlet for it (love that change too!). I added platinum Elfa Door and wall baskets to the back of each double door that I use to store all my "fancy" serving bowls, platters and large dishes. I use plastic desktop file boxes sideways on the shelves to "corral" like items. I use a chalk pen to label the bins. That keeps my pantry looking organized but I can just toss things in the bins. The bins are 13 inches deep, 7 inches wide and 10 inches high. I also use plastic canisters for flours, sugars and other baking supplies. Forgot to say that our pantry is 21 inches deep. I think you would lose too much storage with 12 inch shelves! Unless storage isn't an issue.

This post was edited by karen_je on Sun, Jan 13, 13 at 9:43

    Bookmark   January 13, 2013 at 9:39AM
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karen je -- could you post a photo of your pantry? Your description leaves me intrigued!

    Bookmark   January 13, 2013 at 11:01AM
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I just completed a kitchen remodel but we were over budget and I didn't do the pantry. Instead, I bought Made Smart bins and it has really organized the pantry and keeps things from avalanching. Once I finalize - I plan to label and shopping lists will be quick - just identify what is missing from the bins.

The back shelves are deep - about 18 inches but the side shelves were only 5 inches and no retainer. You could use these in a non-walk in pantry to keep the costs down and organization up.

The top shelf in the back is deep and I store a lot of boxed serving dishes up there that only get used once in awhile.

I do have my toaster oven on one shelf and plan to put some tin above it so I can use it. I did have Sparky power the pantry.

Great article - I will definitely look at this when I update the pantry.

I know this isn't the end solution - but might help as you organize - these are in process and not complete.

Back wall

    Bookmark   January 13, 2013 at 11:18AM
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Thank you for all the great ideas. I'll post the finished product when its done!

    Bookmark   January 13, 2013 at 8:33PM
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I too have a closet style pantry.

debrak- yours I would describe more like a wall recess or niche. I am guessing you will not have a door? I would agree with breezy that I would not want to give up the extra three inches of space especially since you only have essentially 6 vertical feet of storage space. I like how breezy has some shelves closer and others farther apart for taller or shorter items.

Ours will be more like a closet. It will have one door which has to have an angled top as it is located where our roof line slopes down. I tried looking at the links that were suggested but the one with pictures only has two, the other pictures are no longer able to be seen. Would some other GWers with closet style pantries be willing to post pictures of their pantry closets for us to see?

    Bookmark   January 14, 2013 at 3:15PM
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We removed the door for painting. I'm not sure what to call what I have and I've never seen a photo of one like it!

I've been measuring everything I keep in there. All the cereal boxes are less than 10". I hesitate to do 12" shelves for those as I don't want anything to end up behind them.

I don't keep everything in here, some items are in kitchen cabinets.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2013 at 3:49PM
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Here is the finished product. All the shelves are just over 11" deep. Did you know that 12" finished boards are less than 12"? Who knew.

The bottom shelf is L shaped.

Is there some dead air space in there? Yes. What I got instead was a pantry where I can see everything without moving anything. I can do a quick scan when making a grocery list. Its been great! When cleaning out the pantry I found lots of things I didn't know I had. I also realized that buying some things in quantity is not practical. So I'm trying to use up things, like instant potatoes that take up space but that I don't really have need for anymore. I caught DH moving cans looking for something and had to explain that if you don't see it we don't have it! DH is going to clean off a bookcase at the bottom of the basement stairs that I can use for overflow if needed.

We may add something to the back of the door but DH wants to keep it light weight as what we had was putting alot of stress on the door.

Thank you all for your help!

    Bookmark   February 11, 2013 at 8:25PM
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Looks great and being able to see everything is a great feature, no more items that are ten years old lurking in the back!

I think something on the door would be a good way to use the dead space in the front but understand your door stress dilemma. Any chance adding an additional hinge would help to alleviate the problem?

    Bookmark   February 12, 2013 at 7:30AM
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