Before and After: A Small Pantry Gets Smart, Functional Storage Solutions for $2,000

published Dec 24, 2022
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Before: a small pantry with white bins on shelves and the floor

Sometimes pantries are created from tiny or oddly-shaped spaces. These nooks and crannies, even more than a standard pantry, must make especially strategic use of the amount and kind of space that’s available. 

Professional organizer Marie Jackson of Organized Marie knows this well. She took her client’s tricky pantry — it was small and featured an angled wall — and maximized the space with smart storage solutions

“It wasn’t functional,” Marie says. “It was frustrating getting out bins to find what was needed. The shelf unit was limited and there wasn’t enough room to store items.” 

She explains that the client was motivated to do this project because “she wanted to be able to maximize the space the best she could.”

With a budget of $2,000 and the goals of maximizing layout through easy access to items, Marie set out to turn this frustrating pantry into a good-looking and functional hideaway. A major component of this pantry transformation was the installation of the Elfa closet system from The Container Store.

This was Marie’s step-by-step process: 

  • Step 1: Empty everything out of the current pantry. 
  • Step 2: Install the top track, the main piece of the Elfa system.
  • Step 3: Complete the remaining installation by hanging the standards and installing the brackets, shelves, and drawers.
  • Step 4: Decant the items the client wants to be seen into containers, like this 5-Piece Modular Canister Set in graphite.
  • Step 5: Organize. Each drawer was its own category, mostly for the kids so they had access to their snacks. Up top are labeled Light Gray Nordic Storage Baskets with Handles as well.

“The easiest part was installing the closet,” says Marie, “[and] the hardest part was getting the odd-shaped items to fit in the right locations by zone. The goal of every project is to make things functional, so sometimes you have to move certain zones after everything has been organized because something isn’t fitting.”

Marie’s favorite part of the project was right in line with the goals. “My favorite part was seeing how much more we were able to fit in there and maximizing the space at the same time. I love being able to see everything without it feeling or looking cluttered. I wouldn’t change anything with this project — I really liked how it turned out.”

Marie makes an interesting point for anyone considering a similar project: “This is an investment in your mental health. The way to wrap your mind around the cost is to think of it as saving time and money because you’ll find what you need with ease. The cost of duplicate purchases goes down as well as your stress level.”

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