6 Lessons to Steal from This Unrealistic Container Store Pantry

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: The Container Store)

Look, I love The Container Store. I could spend hours wandering the aisles thinking about which bins would be just the right size for my many disorganized zones. But sometimes their idea of how organized I could possibly be is so far off from my reality that I have to chuckle. Take this pantry, for instance: It’s modeling an elfa pantry kit that comes with all the shelves, brackets, and accessories you need to replicate this pantry in your home. But when I see this pantry, I don’t think about how it would work in my home — I mainly wonder, who has this many cake stands?

Once I get past the many pastel-hued serving pieces and enviable square footage, there are actually lots of good lessons to steal from this configuration. Even if the whole thing isn’t realistic for you either, try incorporating some of these tips to make your own pantry just a little bit better.

1. Adjust your shelves.

We’ve talked about it before, and it holds true: Adjust your shelves to fit your needs. Take stock of what you’re storing (like that three-tiered serving dish), add a couple inches for clearance, and give yourself a spot to put them.

2. Mix clear and opaque storage containers.

Some items are pretty enough for display — like sprinkles, serving bowls, and flour — others aren’t as cute. Use clear containers for items that look good or that you use up quickly (this way, you can see at a glance what you need to stock up on) and opaque ones for the others. And choose a storage vessel that’s the correct size for the amount you usually store: No need for a gallon container of quinoa if you only sometimes prepare it.

3. Install some drawers.

The standard reach-in pantry is usually all shelves, but incorporating a few drawers like they did here can make storage a lot easier. They’re great for things that get floppy or messy (like table linens) or oddly-shaped items that don’t nest or stack easily (like seasonal bakeware or candles). If you don’t have drawers, get the same utility by placing deep freestanding bins on your shelves with handles that allow you to pull them out.

4. Think vertically.

Shelves are horizontal, but they’re best utilized when you store things vertically. Use a rack to file muffin tins and cookie sheets on their sides, and magazine files to keep cookbooks and food magazines upright and tidy. Use a shelf riser to double your storage space when you’re stacking smaller items like preserves or cookie decorations. Keep cooking utensils upright in a couple narrow containers. And opt for tall, deep containers over short, squat ones so your dry goods can span the full depth of the shelf.

5. Thoughtfully arrange your goods.

Your most-used items should be stored between waist and eye level, because that’s the most ergonomic for grabbing stuff. Store heavier items like mixing bowls and baking dishes lower down because it’s safer to lift them up than to reach for them on a high shelf. And consider placing your tidiest, most attractive items in the pantry in the first spot you see when you open the pantry door (like against the back wall). While this doesn’t do much for utility, you’ll feel happier if you open the door to see a tidy display of serving pieces rather than a messy shelf of canned goods.

6. Get more cake stands.

Okay, that’s a joke. One does not need this many cake stands!

What do you think? Is this totally unrealistic, or does it inspire you to rethink your pantry?