Styling a Designer Pantry

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Want a designer pantry? Styling is the key.

Before I tell you about how to create a designer pantry, I want to tell you a little about my friend Arica. She runs a home staging business, and for the last few years I’ve been lucky enough to follow her, work with her, and learn from her as she works absolute magic on her clients’ homes before they go on the market.

Sometimes she styles big, million dollar + custom homes and they’re always showstoppers (seriously, check out her pictures here!). She imports vanloads full of all the furniture, bedding, throw pillows and decorative accessories the team needs to create a picture perfect design for photos. Then her team expertly places everything in juuuust the right place.

It’s truly an artform.

But her most remarkable transformations, in my opinion, are the days she completes “ReStyles.”

A ReStyle is a design job that doesn’t involve bringing in additional decor or furniture; it relies completely on rethinking the layout and design of the the homeowners’ existing decor.

In a span of 2 hours, she moves couches,  rehangs pictures, and styles bookshelves.  She thins out too dense collections, creates a big pile of “things to pack up”. When the session ends, it’s as if a breath of fresh air has just blown through the home.

All without bringing in a single thing.

This magical ability is called, styling.  While it’s true that it comes more naturally to some people than others, there are also basic principles that anyone can learn and implement to create a similar effect in their own homes.

YOU Can Create a Designer Pantry Too!

Part of my goal in this series (and my blog in general) is to empower YOU to be able to do the same thing in your spaces.  You can make simple tweaks to take what you already have and breathe new life into it. Just like the pros do.

If you’ve been following along with my pantry 101 series, you’ve already done the following:

(If you missed any of these, make sure to go back and check those out!).

Today, I’m letting you in on some of the tricks of the trade when it comes to creating a gorgeously styled pantry.  These are all things you can do RIGHT NOW, today.  These little tweaks will make a BIG impact on the look and feel of your pantry (without spending a penny). 

Photo Credit | Design Sponge


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Designer Pantry Styling Tips

Strategy 1 | Conceal

This first strategy is one of the keys to getting a pantry that always looks organized and feels cohesive.  Product packaging has a lot of visual clutter; loud colors and a variety of styles don’t always give off harmonious vibes. 

The secret? 

Hide or remove as much product packaging as possible.  You can accomplish this in a variety of ways:

  • Put the prettiest packaging in the front of clear containers and tuck less attractively labeled products behind them.
  • If you have something you frequently have in multiples (hellllooooo Mac and Cheese boxes), put that in front.  Repetition is pleasing to the eye. 
  • Use “dump bins” to hide the random things that create visual clutter.  Kids’ snacks are frequent offenders (all those little bags of chips and fruit snacks and bars).  Place an opaque bin or basket at eye level and dump individual snacks into them. 
    • Bonus | This is easier for you to maintain as well…kids can have a hard time with keeping things lined up neatly. As do some adults.

  • Decant bulk items when possible.  There  is a reason that Oxo Pop Containers, Anchor Hocking jars, and other clear bulk storage solutions are frequently shown in designer pantry photographs.  They achieve 3 things:
    • 1.| Eliminate packaging
    • 2.| Function as “art”
    • 3.| Keep food fresh. 

Note: This strategy isn’t for everyone, but I always recommend this for things you regularly buy in bulk and baking/cooking staples.  I personally decant pancake mix, oatmeal, rice, flour, sugar, powdered sugar, and brown sugar (to name a few) and those are the basics I advise clients to start with to see if this strategy works for them.

  • Use vertical magazine holders (again, in multiples) to keep cooking magazines, product manuals, recipes, or other paperwork easily accessible, yet hidden from view.

A few great options:

Strategy 2 | Think like a designer

Next up, I’m sharing some interior styling tricks we use on staging jobs. I translate them to the pantry organization design plans that I create for clients. 

Most of the following tips are based on some of the basic design and art principles I’ve learned over the years.

  • Line things up neatly | Seems simple, but people don’t do it.  This is part of the reason for putting pantry items in clear containers.  Doing so forces things to stay neatly lined up!  If you stack cans on your shelves, pay attention to how you line them up.  Same goes for boxes.  Our eyes like order.
  • Odd is good | Odd numbers that is.  Groups of objects with odd numbers (most frequently groups of 3) are more visually pleasing than even number groups.  They create visual interest in your space, and a pantry is no exception.  Try groups of 3 jars, groups of 3 identical bins per shelf, or a stack of 5 cookbooks.
  • Repetition | I touched on this above, but it bears mentioning again.  You want to pick your key elements and repeat them over and over. 
    • This could mean repeating a material (like a seagrass basket or a shiny white plastic) on multiple shelves or it could be a whole shelf filled with the same basket or bin in a row.
    • Try to limit the total # of materials/product styles to 3 to make sure there is plenty of repetition in your space. More than that and things get too crazy!
  • Group like items into collections | Last week I made a plan for a client who had a HUGE pantry with a variety of silver toned appliances and cooking implements spread out over various shelves.  My recommendation?  Pull all of those items to one space to make them read as a collection. 
    • You’re still storing the same things, but when they’re all clustered around a common theme, that shelf seems to have a purpose.  Displaying themed objects en masse is a great tactic for appliances, jars and oils, serving items, and more.
  • Give it some space | It can be tempting to cram objects tightly together on your shelves to utilize every last inch of space you have, especially when you feel like your space isn’t big enough.  But leaving some white space around the various zones gives a feeling of more spaciousness.  And it will give you that aaaahhhhhh feeling every time you open the door.
    • I recommend a 1-2 inch gap between each bin/basket/product group.  You may need to play around with this a bit until you find the perfect combination.
  • ROYGBIV |  This step feels pretty EXTRA, and it’s not for everyone.  But if you love The Home Edit’s signature style (who doesn’t) this is such an easy way to upgrade your space. 
    • Arrange cookbooks, cans, snacks in rainbow order.  And then sit back smugly and revel in this tiny act of frivolity.

Photo Credit | The Home Edit

Strategy 3 |Design Your Pantry Like A Unique Room

Finally, I want to help you rethink the possibilities for your pantry.

I’ve heard designers describe powder rooms as the jewel box of a home… a place where people can feel free to incorporate a little fun and whimsy.

This is because a tiny room can handle bold colors and patterns without feeling overwhelming. 

I’ve been thinking about this lately, and I believe that we’re going to start seeing designer pantries as a trending thing.  People are putting so much time and effort into making these spaces awesome that I think it’s only a matter of time before adding design elements like wallpaper, statement lighting, and bold paint is will become more standard practice.  

Here are a few fabulous examples of what I’m talking about.

Photo Credit | Denton Developments

Everything you love about kitchen design, just on a smaller scale: wallpaper, gorgeous hardware, butcher block, and cool decorative accessories!

Photo Credit | New England Home

See how this basic pantry shelving is transformed with wallpaper, a cool light fixture, and neatly styled products?

Photo Credit | Classy Clutter

Repetition, wallpaper, spacing… all of it! What a fun space!

Obsessing over these gorgeous wallpapers…

By this point, I’ve given you all the tools you need to DIY a designer pantry. I truly hope that this series has inspired you to believe in yourself and your ability to create function and beauty in a little space that will be used in a BIG way.

If you’re still feeling unsure, let’s talk!

I one million percent believe you have what it takes to do this project yourself, but if you’re still not feeling confident, I can help.

My custom DIY plans are currently only $125 per space (a fraction of the cost of my in home design services). I can create an easy to follow plan with all the products, design details, and advice you need to make your project a breeze.

Next week I’ll be back with the final post in my Pantry 101 series (all about how to MAINTAIN all your hard work). Then… I’ll be moving on to a new topic.

What would you like to see me cover next?

As always, thanks for joining me. I hope you learned something you can use.


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