Organizing DEEP shelves - help!

oceannaMay 7, 2008

My only pantry consists of wood cabs in one corner of my kitchen. It amounts to six fixed shelves (floor to ceiling) that are 23" deep and almost 19" wide. The height of the areas range from 9" to 16".

I have yet to figure out a really good way to utilize this space. Right now I just have to dig and stuff is piled all over itself. I have a couple of larger bins in there that help some as they slide easily in and out like a drawer with no track -- so I know I don't need any expensive sliding gizmos. The bottom one holds all my tupperware type stuff so it's no problem. The upper one gets to weighing a ton.

Any inexpensive solutions would be very appreciated! How have you coped with too-deep shelving? Tearing it out is out of the question and I'm fairly carpenter challenged.

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pullouts!!! They will make a huger difference that those bins do.

Because they're supported on drawer slides, you can put heavy stuff on them, so it won't matter if you're pulling out something heavy, even if it's over your head. And you don't need two hands to get whatever is on the very back.

You can space a couple of them close together and lay the canned goods on their sides (so you can see the label)

Definitely put one in the uppermost part, so you can pull it out and access the potato chips or whatever from the SIDE of the shelf.

Otherwise, trays, or boxes.

Back-of-the-door storage as well; not just spice racks (in fact, don't bother w/ them in this deep pantry.

Get something bigger, like this one or maybe like this one, or recruit someone to make one even deeper.

You won't want to put a lot of heavy stuff ont he door--hard on the hinges.

But you could have it made deep enough to hold the cereal boxes (going sideways), or chips, or any other sort of lightweight thing. Esp. anything used often.

Then, you can cut the shelves down a little bit to make room for those racks, and since the shelves won't be as deep, not as much will get lost in the back. And maybe even you can make some of the more closely spaced for smaller stuff.

But seriously, pullouts. Having those drawer-like things supported on drawer slides it amazing.

If you think you can't afford to buy them, then go get particlewood cut to fit, and buy cheapo drawer slides (but try your best to get full extension), and use that. You can put a lip around the outside by getting lattice cut to fit around the outside (just be sure to leave enough room for the drawer slides and the lattice itself, when you're calculating the base shelf).

Also, I have found that it is smart to insist on front-to-back rows of identical things. Let's say you put soda in there; make it all go front-to-back, don't let it slide around. Then you can take the front one out and use it.

This is MOST useful when the stuff is identical--let's say you stock up on chicken broth, or tomato sauce. Put it in the cabinet in a single row, f-to-b, and then you can just take the front one off, and the ones in the back won't be in any"body" else's way.

Also, if you do like those bins, get SHALLOWER ones, and get an extra shelf or two or three (they'll cut you something to size at Home Depot), so you don't have to put quite so much in each bin.

Maybe you can't MOVE your shelves, but you can certainly add shelves.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2008 at 8:56PM
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Talley Sue thanks so much! These are some great suggestions. I need to sit and think a lot about what I have stored on each shelf, I think, and design something for each. I'm thinking an extra shelf, or even a U shaped extra shelf might really help for a second row of stuff.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2008 at 11:16PM
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I like the U-shaped shelf (though you'll need not to put little things UNDER it.

I know your shelves are fixed, but you might be able to cut them away to make room for pullouts, or cut a U-shaped area out of the front of them to accommodate baskets on the back of the doors (if it turns out that it's wasteful to space them so the baskets just slide over each shelf).

If you CAN space the back-of-the-door baskets so they slide over each shelf, you might want to paint the area where the baskets go, so you know not to put stuff there.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2008 at 9:17AM
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I like your thought about the back of the door baskets because that would cut down on the amount/weight of whatever I put on the shelves, kind of divide it up. But I also hear you about not putting heavy stuff on the door/hinges. The carpentry is kind of above me... but if I think up a good plan I might be able to con my son into doing it for me for a birthday, mom's day or Christmas present some time. :)

    Bookmark   May 8, 2008 at 7:06PM
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If you don't want to install fixed pullouts, I have had fair success with using plastic containers and wire Elfa baskets. I use these in similar shelving areas as you describe. You can get a shallow plastic box (ditch the lid) in almost any dimension now, so by checking a few typical places--W-M, K-M, Target, etc, for different brands that come in different dimensions (I look for the perfect fit to maximize the shelf space) you can hunt for one that is almost exactly your shelf width and depth and however deep is the space between shelves; shallower works okay too since things can stand up or stick up. It's surprising how well a plastic sweater box or similar will slide on a shelf. Wire Elfa baskets will also slide fairly well, but not as well as plastic, if the basket has no runner frame.

For higher shelves, I try to store light things and then just pull the box down. For the lower shelves, I just slide the box toward me and pick out what I want.

I have also used narrow plant containers like window box liners--sometimes 3 side by side--for taller narrow items. or to sort items, or just one if I wanted to store larger bulky items on the shelf itself but a group of smaller items in the narrow, deep container. Again, you can find these in a variety of depths. The drawback on these is they often have a lip that takes up lateral space.

So, this is not as much of a custom solution as the pullout racks, but it is easy and costs just a few dollars per bin (for plastic).

    Bookmark   May 8, 2008 at 8:59PM
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actually, I have seen runners you can install on the underside of a fixed shelf, or on the wall itself, to slide the Elfa baskets in and out. I thought I saw them at the Container Store, but I can't find them on their website.

If you could find one of those, you could maybe put two flattish baskets between a pair of shelves, without having to do the WHOLE thing in Elfa.

I *like* those narrow plant containers--that combines oceanna's current strategy of corralling w/ my idea of making deep, narrow sections for same-sort of things.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2008 at 12:25PM
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Could you make use of some large lazy Susans? I know they are frequently considered space-wasters, but it would allow you to see what you have with just a spin and free you of having to pull a bin out.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2008 at 5:26PM
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pammyfay, I'm glad you mentioned that; I also use several of the largest (I could find) lazy Susans in these same shelves; they're not that helpful on the highest shelves, but do work up to eye-height or so. I put cans and jars and try to go "front to back" of same-thing items as noted by Talley Sue, even though it's in a wedge shape. You don't make perfect use of all the space, but it can help, so that is another option for oceanna on at least some of them.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2008 at 7:02PM
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