Aisle width in a walk-in pantry

mrsmortarmixerMay 16, 2014

We are planning an addition to our house, but I'm having a few issues with space constraints downstairs. To get a decent sized walk-in pantry, I'm almost certainly going to end up without a master walk-in closet or with a tiny master bath, neither of which I would enjoy.

The only way I can make it work and get a decent amount of useable storage is if I can get away with a 30" walkway between counter edge and wall. The top is 7'9" wide, the bottom is 3'11" wide, from door wall to back wall is 10'2" and from doorway to basement door is 4'6". With this setup, I can get 15" deep cabinets on the left with 12" open shelves above and 18 or 24" deep cabinets in the back with 12-15" shelves along the back wall. Ceilings will be 8'6" and I'll take shelves all the way to the top. I'd like a mixture of open and closed storage, and at least a small amount of useable counter space to set down groceries. I do not plan to do any work in here, so I'm thinking the 30" is workable.

And how it lays out with the rest of the addition. Don't mind bathroom arrangement or furniture in this picture. I was just blindly moving things around to see if things would fit.

If I can't get away with the 30" walkway or if anything looks terribly wrong here, I'd like to know now before I get too attached to any layout. There is a good chance I'm overlooking a simple solution. I've been working more on the upstairs layout in the bathroom forum, but I thought I should probably start figuring out the downstairs as well.

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If you are a relatively slim person you could get away with this. A 30 inch doorway is not uncommon in many homes!

The most difficult access will be in the "notch" lower down where you have to squat to get to things, particularly on the side wall, but WHAT you store there can help out here, and also if you have longer arms or even a grabbing tool. If you are slim it's likely you can squat front on and still get to those shelves, although not ALSO be carrying a large, bulky item, so you would not want to store your kitchenaid mixer or roaster in those parking places.

A ten foot width on the closet is actually generous and a bit of wasted aisle space, actually. I'd split a little of that space into pantry and bathroom and close down the closet maybe 18 inches in width. 6 1/2 feet internal width is ample for a closet with a his and her wall and room for walkway (if you are using hanging racks and shelves, but you'd need to reassess this if the walls would include cabinetry that is deeper than shelves and racks). Anything above 6 1/2 feet internal width is generous walkway. If you want a central rack (so his and hers walls and central rack down the middle) and TWO walkways, then it's different, of course.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2014 at 10:03AM
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MrsMortarmixer -
Welcome back. I believe it was your DH who surprised you with a kitchen - so this time you get to plan the changes.

I just measured my pantry. I have a pocket door and the space between the shelves and wall is 30 inches!

It was the original pantry sans the pocket door. The shelves are not very well designed and I hope to update them in the future.

My shelves are quite narrow (and obviously can't be any deeper) and my equivelant shelves on the left are only 8 inches deep and my back shelves are 16 deep on the bottom and the upper shelves drop to 12 inches deep.

With the tight quarters -I would recommend no doors on the cabinets or just use shelving - you can still have a counter for your bags. I think cabinets will just be harder to use and limit flexibility.

If you want a cabinet -maybe the back wall would work best.

I did not plan to work in my pantry but did power it and keep my DeLonghi countertop oven in there on a large tile. I have used it inside the pantry but leave the door open and make sure nothing flammable is around.

I also store my stick vacuum on the opposite wall (near the top of your stairs) and I keep it plugged in to make it easy to use (LOL)

Someone had a great Super Susan design for the corner - I can't remember who it was but look around or maybe they will pop in. I can't use it in mine as I have a silly angle wall to the closet behind the pantry.

I will be watching for ideas for our pantry.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2014 at 10:52AM
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was it beagles with a pantry corner susan that you were thinking of a2? Almost half way down, Beaglesdoitbetter.

Pics of Beagles Pantry

    Bookmark   May 16, 2014 at 1:03PM
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beautybutdebtfree- we're all pretty thin here now, but I certainly don't know what the future will hold, nor do I want to limit who can use it. The master walk-in is only 7 ft. wide, but 10 ft deep. I could shrink it down to 6.5 ft if someone can figure out how to stick a w/d in there. I'm only planning for a central walkway and the most amount of storage in the least amount of space possible.

a2gemini- yep, it was mr. mm who did the surprise kitchen. Still unfinished, of course! He's leaving the addition up to me as long as I can keep costs within reason.

It's sounding like I can get away with 30". I don't want to make it inconvenient, but I also don't want to waste sq. footage that could be better used elsewhere,like a master bath that doesn't require locating the toilet in the shower. I suppose you could accomplish more in less time that way...

Our current temporary shelves could have been better planned, but we threw them together in about an hour without much thought to what would be stored where. They are working so far, but I could have a lot more storage in a lot less area had we measured a few things.

Regarding cabinets, do you think I could do at least one shallow drawer base cabinet along that back wall? And possibly one more right as you walk in to the right? I have some plates, cups, and dishes reserved for family gatherings that I'd prefer to have tucked away. I'd like to prevent a ton of dusting of rarely used fragiles and to keep them safe from kids, unbalanced washers, the rare earthquake, etc. I could easily lose the back corner storage area or do a blind corner with an 18" deep drawer base to store them. I could stick stock pots in the blind corner. I rarely use them, but I don't want to buy a new one every time I go on a soup/stew binge or need to cook enough chicken noodles/chilli for a small army.

I'm thinking I could almost get away with a ton of drawer storage at the bottom in the entire back of the room. You couldn't stand in front of the drawer, but could stand to the side and easily access everything in them and limit the amount of kneeling in a narrow aisle to find things in the back of shelves at floor level. If I didn't do drawers, I'd likely end up with a lot of wasted space below 20" or so. I can plan all I want for floor to ceiling storage, but if it's not handy, I will avoid it. Surely a 12-13" drawer could still be at least semi-handy.

I don't have any small appliances that don't get used in the kitchen, although it would be nice to have an area for the crock pot. I will run power to at least two outlets plus another at the top of the stairs. I have a stick vac that I use daily and, like you, leave it plugged in all the time to clean up dry messes. We have several a day, like this morning when I was attempting to console a grouchy toddler while making biscuits and gravy and dumped an entire measuring cup of flour on the floor. Watching the tornado brings grouchy toddler immediate happiness. I think there will be plenty of space between the doorway and the top of the steps to leave the vacuum without it getting in the way. We do have to access the basement at least twice a day to fill the wood furnace. We're hoping to do an outdoor boiler in the near future to avoid it, but it won't be until after we finish the addition and can save up again.

I like Beagles corner susan, although I avoided everything corner-y and susan-y in our kitchen. Our corner susan was a nightmare in our old cabinets.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2014 at 9:04PM
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So the drawing is not correct? It shows the master closet 15-1 x 10-2 feet.

Sliding shelves might be even better than drawers on the sideways lower down.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2014 at 9:40PM
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Since you don't plan on doing any work in there, why do you need cabinets with their space-eating doors and a counter top which restricts your storage choices? 24 inch shelves on one wall, 30 inch shelves on an opposite wall, put a drawer unit floor to ceiling at the end, and there's 2 feet left to walk around in. Drive to Costco.

It's not a design room, it's a utility room, just a closet.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2014 at 9:56PM
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I would consider doing narrower shelves toward the top of the long wall with gradually deeper ones below.

12" is a bit deep for some pantry storage, and there would be less bending because part of the deeper lower shelves would be exposed.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2014 at 10:02PM
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beautybutdebtfree- I didn't realize the drawing was not correct. That 15'1 is the width of the bath and walk-in together. Not sure why it's including them as one with the wall in between.

cold_weather_is_evil- as stated in my last post, I have some serving dishes, plates, and cups reserved for family gatherings. I prefer not to leave them on open shelving where they could be damaged with regular dusting or because a child tried to reach for something and knocked them over. I'm not looking for a designer pantry. I'm looking for safe storage for fragile dishes. I can almost everything that comes out of our large gardens. Last year I had over 450 jars after canning season was over. With all the kids in school this year, I plan to do more. This doesn't include dry or canned goods I purchase at the grocery which isn't just a short walk down the road. I find it wasteful to drive if it isn't necessary, so my husband picks up milk once a week on his way home from work and we make a monthly trip to a large grocery once a month. It's not common, but it's how we choose to do things. I need storage for our life.

ineffablespace- I could do 8" deep on the upper shelves pretty easily. Quart jars are a hair under 4", so I could do two deep that way. I'm going to need a step stool for anything over 7', so as long as I keep everything organized, I shouldn't have a problem.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2014 at 11:19PM
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It strikes me with all of the canning you do, that needing to figure out what is in your cans, might be a non-issue. For instance, if you can 20 jars of beans, you'd just stack them all up and you wouldn't necessarily need to "see" all of the labels. As you used them, you would pull them forward but burying them behind eachother might not be such a negative as it would be if you were not storing so many multiples.

One thing I would add is that counter space within a pantry is somewhat overrated IMO if you are not using it as a workspace. If I needed the space, I'd only do half the long wall as counter. Also, I would deepen the back nook and use pull out shelves so that you aren't wedging yourself in that small nook.

I LOVE Beagles round nook but you can do that with lazy susans too if you don't want to pay for a specialty built shelving unit. Just place a susan in the corner, even one that is oversized, and it will do the same thing.

Here is a link that might be useful: Corners in Pantry

    Bookmark   May 17, 2014 at 12:31AM
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firsthouse_mp- I do keep multiples together, so I can arrange them several deep without issue. I just try to label each jar with a year and what's in the jar if it's not obvious.

As far as counter space, I've been playing around with some drawings, and I was thinking maybe just 2 or 2.5' of 15" deep counter about 15-18" tall. Just enough that I could set down a bag or two of groceries or a crate of jars to unload. I definitely don't want to waste space, but with the small walkway, I'd rather not have to set down a bunch of groceries and end up tripping over everything either.

How deep would you pull out the nook? Maybe 24"? I figure that area is a good place to stick things I rarely use. Like the roasting pan and stock pots.

I'm pretty sure we could figure out a lazy susan setup for corners pretty easily. I've seen the hardware for sale multiple places, so we could build something that fits without spending a small fortune.

If I do mostly shelves, I can move things around as necessary once we start filling it up. It's pretty easy to raise or lower a shelf to make things fit.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2014 at 4:28AM
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Try divvying up the space a little differently.

I suggest making your walk in closet wide and shallow, placed along the entire length of the bedroom wall to the right side of the bathroom door.

Then, put the pantry in the top half of the space, running the wall between the pantry and the closet horizontally, approximately from the location of the stairwell entry all the way to what you have sketched as the sink wall of the bathroom.

This will help keep both the closet and the pantry from feeling like long, narrow tunnels. You also could notch either the toilet or the shower into one of those storage spaces, which would make your bathroom feel a little bigger. It all depends on where you want to "go big". : )

    Bookmark   May 17, 2014 at 5:49AM
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laughable- I tried laying it out like you described. My biggest concern is closet door placement and the width and shape of the bedroom. We push our bed to the wall, but it looks like there would be adequate space for a queen with 3' between outside wall and bed and between the corner of the closet and the other side of bed. It would probably be pretty cramped with a king. We are debating on whether we will stay here forever or whether we will try to sell in the near-ish future, so I'd like to keep resale in mind. Can you just stick a door wherever on a closet or should I move some walls around and try to get it to the left wall? Is it even big enough for a w/d? I'd really like to get a set in there if possible. We would probably end up doing the outside of the wall sliding doors (not sure on the proper name) rather than pocket doors

I didn't draw in any storage for the pantry. I'd probably still try to stick a drawer cabinet at the left wall and do open shelving everywhere else.

It's also possible I completely botched up what you were trying to explain, and this is all wrong.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2014 at 4:10PM
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You have a lot of potentially wasted space in the master bathroom. The "standard" bathroom template that was used for years was 5x7 for standard sized tub, toilet and vanity. 6x7 got a large vanity. It worked because the clearances and standing space were all centralized.

You can't really design a bathroom from the outside in, you have to design it from the fixtures out, so making it a certain size and then seeing if things fit is backwards.

Your first design, which you said to ignore, wastes space to the right and left of the vanity and across from the toilet, and still leaves two people potentially standing in the aisle space between the shower and vanity--one of which may have to move for someone coming in and out of the bathroom or the shower. The second design wastes a lot of space getting to the toilet compartment.

Get the bathroom layout you want in the least amount of space and then expand it a bit where it makes sense. Then plan the pantry and closet. A large bathroom with a bad layout won't live any larger than a small bathroom.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2014 at 5:27PM
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palimpsest- I appreciate that advice! I definitely see where it would be easier to work from the inside out. I think my brain is trying to overcompensate on bathroom size because I'm so used to a cramped bathroom shared between 5 people, but in the grand scheme of things, it's at the bottom of the totem pole on my list of priorities. I just want a shower, toilet, and sink with a place to put towels and toilet paper. I'm probably over-compensating on the closet as well.

I'm not sure if this layout is any better. It feels like the space is more efficiently used and leaves the pantry more open.

This post was edited by mrsmortarmixer on Sun, May 18, 14 at 2:19

    Bookmark   May 17, 2014 at 7:24PM
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