Efficient pantry in 22-inch space?

maydlAugust 14, 2007

My existing pantry is in an open space that is 22 inches wide and 30 inches deep, and it rises vertically to 14-foot roof rafters. The original owners installed five stationary shelves, to which DH and I later added Container Store pullouts. The upper 6 feet or so of the space, above the top-most stationary shelf, is just open to the roof. The front of the space is "finished" with the face frame and doors of an 84-inch inverted utility cabinet that matches the kitchen cabinetry. The space "works" but looks like h-ll.

I feel that the face frame, doors, and stationary shelves limit the most efficient use of the space. In our kitchen remodel next year, I'd like to empty the space and reconfigure it to

(a) use all or most of the space, at least up to a reasonable height, with the kitchen floor extending into the pantry space (meaning no toe kick, as I have now);

(b) have pullout shelving that is completely adjustable vertically, preferably every three inches or so;

(c) have a door style that will maximize the opening to the space (current face frame shrinks the opening from 22 inches to about 13 inches!)

(d) be readjustable once it is inside the pantry.

I added (d) because the Elfa "wide" (22-inch) runner frames and drawer baskets could be built and inserted before the door was attached and would fit perfectly EXCEPT that afterward there would be only 10 inches of space between the front of the drawers and the pantry door opening (which would be less than 22 inches with whatever door is installed)--potentially not enough room to lift out a drawer basket from one runner and replace it in another.

Dear Organizers, can you help with ideas? Thanks so much.

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My vote: Get a frameless cabinet (a diagram of the difference here) and here made for there, no matter what you do in other places in the kitchen; paint it as if it's wall, and give it a slab door, also painted to look like wall. Make the cabinet go all the way to the ceiling. You can even skip the toekick on that cabinet if you want (a local unfinished-furniture place can make this for you if nec.--it is essentially a bookcase with doors, just leave off the plinth on the bottom. The flat wood door(s) can go ALL the way up, pretending to be wall. You might want a fixed shelf halfway up--just at eyebrow height, maybe--to stabilize it; you might also want the door to break halfway up so you don't have a weirdly overtall door.

Pullouts will be crucial, w/ that 30" depth. And I agree w/ you on how important it is to have them be adjustable once they're in.

The frameless cabinet is crucial to that.

Here's the best way to get them adjustable. use those slotted shelf standards they use in bookcases, and buy these clips that you can attach drawer slides to

Then get either drawer boxes (from some place like www.maplecraftusa.com or TapeEase.com or many other places you can find online; I personally think dovetail is overkill, and would try to find some place that will use a rabbet or dado joint) or pullouts (from some place like www.shelvesthatslide.com which will make them to the size you need) to be your pullouts.

You might be able to find a local woodworker who will make the drawer boxes for you, or the pullout shelves. You could even make pullout shelves out of 3/4" plywood w/ lattice nailed and glued to the sides as rims.

You can get tallish drawer boxes to hold a lot; ShelvesThatSlide.com has a deep pullout w/ a slanted side--taller toward the back, to keep stuff from falling out; shorter toward the front, so you can see in.

I did once buy a SINGLE drawer slide for Elfa baskets--you could mount them on the cabinet wall, or under a shelf. But my vote would be, if you can swing the

    Bookmark   August 15, 2007 at 10:10AM
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You can have an efficient pantry in a 22" space. But with the 30" depth-- it will take some serious pull-outs. Can you post a pic? Most pull-out are going to be 22 1/2" deep.


    Bookmark   August 15, 2007 at 11:56AM
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You could use the standard depth of pullouts, and have some serious back-of-the-door pockets (they can hold lightweight stuff like cereal and chips).

Or you can have the pullouts custom-made which ALL those sources I gave you will do. (As will a local woodworkers)

You'll want full-extension slides, of course; fortunately, the full-extension type that work w/ those brackets come in 28" lengths, $25 per pair, if you buy 5 or more pairs, (and 26", if you like).

You'll lose about an inch at the back of a cabinet just for the back itself.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2007 at 1:56PM
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Talley_Sue_nyc: Thanks so much for your incredibly detailed response. I wasn't aware that full-extension glide hardware for shelf standards even existed. I used those standards in my closet. Your response set me to thinking: I could attach full-extension pullouts to sturdy shelves and then set the shelves into those standards using normal shelf brackets. The shelves would take up a bit more room but might add a lot of bottom strength to each pullout. It's a thought. I wonder if standard shelf brackets could support a lot of weight....

clink: I don't have a photo to post (don't even know HOW to post yet!), but just imagine a 22-inch-wide coat closet that is 30 inches deep: three walls and a door opening, only the space goes up 14 feet. That's all there is to the space.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2007 at 8:22PM
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I don't think you need to double up by putting each pullout on top of an additionalshelf. That seems like a waste of money and time--plus, most pullout glides (most drawer glides) are designed to attach to the SIDES of drawer and cabinet, NOT underneath. So it would be hard to get the shelf to actually support the pullout.

A well-made pullout will hold a LOT. Like, a hundred pounds or more. A well-made drawer/pullout won't have the bottom drop out of it (that's all a pullout it--a shallow drawer). (it's only the crappy ones in assemble-it-yourself furniture that give way--the bottom is too thin and flexible, and it's set in too wide of a dado).

I think those slotted shelf brackets will hold a lot, as well. They'd be more than sufficient for a pantry.

Think about it--they hold up books, which are VERY dense, and very heavy. They're attached snug to the wood (sometimes set into a groove) at SEVERAL places.

So especially if you laid canned goods on their sides, and therefore only had a single layer of cans for each shelf, and spaced them close together (more shelves = less stuff on each shelf), there would be no weight problems.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2007 at 9:45AM
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Those adjustable clips won't work. If you set a fully-loaded pull-out shelf on them, and then pull out the shelf, the back end will tip up, spilling everything.

In addition, the entire weight, front-to-back, would be on the front 2 clips. They are not designed to carry that much weight.

You can get bottom-mounted Full-Extension pull out shelves at slidingshelf.com or kitchenslidingshelves.com . Many different shapes, shallow or tall. These would install on top of the permanent shelves you invisioned. (not adjustable)

Here is a link that might be useful: slidingshelf.com

    Bookmark   August 17, 2007 at 11:27PM
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talley_sue_nyc and sliging_specialist: Thanks so much for your very detailed responses once again. I have to tell you that I spent three hours in The Container Store in San Francisco this past weekend, and I think that the simplest solution for me will be to use their Elfa runner frames and drawers in the "medium" width (18 inches). I will be able to stack one 10-runner and one 7-runner frame, giving me the possibility of 17 drawers that are about 17 inches wide, 20 inches deep, and 4 inch high on the sides. Placing as many things as possible on their sides, like soup cans/boxes, pasta boxes, etc., should make this work. I would have two inches on either side of the frames to hang things on the side walls of the pantry or to rest them on the floor, such as a stepstool I recently saw that folds to less than two inches thickness.

All of this hinges on making sure that my builder can put a door frame and door on this space that leaves me with an opening that is at least 18 inches wide. So I will be pursuing that question with him.

Thanks again, everyone, for all your ideas and concern.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2007 at 11:49PM
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Those adjustable clips won't work. If you set a fully-loaded pull-out shelf on them, and then pull out the shelf, the back end will tip up, spilling everything.

This is NOT TRUE!!

If you look at the drawings of those clips, you'll see that they are designed to be *BOLTED* to the drawer slides (and the drawer slides are FASTENED W/SCREWS to the sides of the pullout--the shelf is not simply " set on" the drawer slides). Then the clips slip into the slots of the standards. When you pull out the drawer/pullout, the last section of the drawer slides REMAINS FASTENED to the clips, which will remain in the slots of the standards.

There are people on our own kitchens forum who have kitchen pantries w/ these adjustable clips for their pullout shelves/drawers, and like them a lot. I've posted over there to see if we can find someone w/ first-hand experience w/ them.

Those clips & standards hold BOOKS in libraries--so they can certainly hold the weight of a single kitchen-pantry pullout. How much do you think a pullout holds? Not enough stuff to weight more than 100 pounds, probably. a *BIG* can of beans weigh 16 ounces; how many can you fit on a pullout shelf? Not 100, that's for sure!

And if you were going to give up the adjustability, and use bottom-mount slides to fastene them to permanently mounted shelves, why not save yourself a ton of trouble, and simply use SIDE-MOUNTED DRAWER SLIDES? Why go through the *extra* step of installing permanent SHELVES?

Also, bottom-mounted drawer slides are more limited in selection, and can be more expensive--so bottom-mounted slides attached to permanent mounted shelves is just silly.

sliding_specialist--do you have a business connection w/ the "sliding shelves" link you posted? Or is that similarity in naming a coincidence?

    Bookmark   August 20, 2007 at 10:45AM
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