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How To Organize A Reach-In Pantry | Our New Pantry Closet & A Super Easy DIY!

A few weeks ago I showed you our new pantry doors that I gave an antique mirror finish to. Today I want to share with you how I packed this closet with function! Our pantry is the real deal – it’s not all that fancy or beautiful, but it functions HARD for our family. Towards the end of this post you can find a quick, simple and inexpensive tutorial for a DIY that maximizes the space.

Come take a peek into our customized and organized reach-in pantry!

You might recall that this wall used to have two small pantry closets with 16″ of dead space between them. When we remodeled the kitchen we talked about installing floor to ceiling cabinetry here but honestly, the reach-in pantries functioned pretty well, I just wanted to take more advantage of the space – so we tore out the small pantries and our contractor reframed this wall for larger double doors, with sturdy new shelving for food storage and paper goods, plus a side area for the vacuum and broom – all the essentials that I want to have easy access to.

The pantry is right next to the countertop where we plunk our bags of groceries and unpack, and I love that we can swing these doors wide open and get everything put away in no time.

The 16″ we salvaged from between our old pantry closets gave me the space for our vacuum in here which is great – before this renovation the vacuum was shoved in our foyer coat closet along with boots and shoes and drove me crazy.

 I broke down what I wanted to store in here into sections on paper first and then played around to make it as functional as possible. This is what I ended up with. 

Organizing a reach in pantry

I place the items we use most on the most easy-to-access shelves, with items we don’t use as often up top. After doing a ruthless clean out, we ended up with tons of space – I could easily fit a crock pot, our panini press and other small appliances on the top shelf too!

With a few simple ideas the pantry has managed to stay pretty organized all summer long we’re actually using all the items in here because we can see them now! 

Here are a few of my favorite ways to make the most of a reach-in pantry closet.

• ONE • A roll out bin for fruits and vegetables is easy to access and keeps everything corralled. We cook a lot and there’s usually a big bag of onions in here too. The green bin keeps the onion and garlic skins from making a mess. I have a big bowl of fruit on our counter but excess can live in here for a day or two until needed. 

• TWO • A designated space for snacks and lunch stuff make mornings a little easier. My kids all packed lunches for work this summer and having everything right here makes it a breeze.

• THREE • Baskets and bins keep the shelves tidy and organized. Bread, pita and tortillas are all in in one basket. I also take snack packs out of their boxes and put them all into one bin as soon as they come home from the grocery store – easy access, plus they take up so much less room this way. 

You may have noticed I don’t “decant” our cereal – we’re a big cereal family and it goes fast around here (it’s like Seinfeld’s apartment with all the boxes!). 

•FOUR• Risers make the contents of a pantry easier to see.

DIY pantry risers


The risers are where this month’s At Home DIY Challenge comes in! The theme this month is to build something with a 2×4 and I was up for that challenge with this pantry in mind!! 

At Home DIY Challenges

This might be the easiest DIY I have posted on this blog in nine+ years and one that can be done by anyone even if you have zero DIY skills and are limited on tools!

One of the absolute best ways to optimize a reach-in pantry’s storage is to add risers so that your canned and dry goods are on tiers. Our pantry shelves are not that deep but STILL I was buying multiples of the same items because it was hard to see what was in there.

This is the before…..

Pantry shelf before adding riser

….and after adding simple 2×4 risers. So much better! And who knew there were five boxes of elbow macaroni lurking in our pantry before this project!

Pantry shelf with risers

These simple risers add enough visibility that I can take a quick glance into the pantry and see what we need when I’m heading to the store. 

2×4 risers are so easy to make! This one below I made to span the entire shelf that our canned goods, pasta, rice, condiments, etc. are on. 

The back tier is raised up with blocks on each end.

The risers are made out of cheap 2×4 lumber. For less than $6 I made risers for two shelves in the pantry.


This is how easy it is to make these simple tiered pantry risers.

To make two risers, cut your 2×4 board into (2) pieces at your desired length for your shelf.
I have an older version of this compound miter saw but a simple miter box and saw would be absolutely fine for this easy project! You can also ask your hardware store to cut the 2x4s for you if you have your measurements handy. 

Cut (2)  3″ support blocks for either end and screw these into the bottom of one riser. 

You’ll end up with this little platform. That’s it for the “building” portion of this DIY! 🙂

Then add another piece of 2×4 in front of raised riser and now you have three tiers. 

I didn’t even attach these risers to my shelves or to each other – they stay in place fine once you put the pantry contents on them.

Also noteworthy – I stained these risers so they would blend in with our wood shelves, but you could leave your 2x4s natural or paint them! You can’t see much of them once your goods are put away.

I love that everything is easy to see and find in our pantry. I also love disguising the contents behind the antique mirrored French doors!! 


Be sure to check out the
 At Home DIY Challenge
 site for more beginner-to-more-advanced ideas of what you can build with inexpensive 2x4s


Have a great day friends!

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Saturday 2nd of January 2021

Lisa, this is amazing! I have a similar setup in my kitchen (two closets/pantries that I plan to make into one). It is EXACTLY what I’m looking to do! I am so happy I found this!

If you don’t mind, what are the dimensions of your pantry?


Sunday 7th of February 2021

Hi Samantha, so glad you found this post! My two pantry doors are 68" wide. By taking out the wall in the middle of my old doors I reclaimed 16" of space and we use every bit of it! Best wishes with your pantry project!


Thursday 17th of September 2020

Beautiful. Where did you find those baskets?


Friday 1st of January 2021

Most of the baskets are from Homegoods or Marshalls!


Tuesday 8th of September 2020

this is a great idea. how deep are your shelves in this pantry?


Friday 1st of January 2021

They are 14" deep.


Wednesday 26th of August 2020

Do you have a source list for your baskets?


Friday 1st of January 2021

They are from Homegoods and Marshalls Aimee!


Friday 30th of August 2019

Such a good idea!! I can't stand when I can't see everything lol :)