Beautiful & Functional Pantry Organization

organized pantry
Julie’s pantry before
pantry organization
Pantry side view before

Neatsmart had the pleasure of working on a fun and challenging pantry organization project. Julie Silber, owner of Décor Joy, a company that provides a turnkey system for running an interior design business, contacted me seeking organization help for her pantry, junk drawer, coat closet, and other storage cabinets. Her family had just moved into a gorgeously renovated home but had downsized significantly so were missing some closets. ;-0

Because all of these spaces were found in public areas of the home, she naturally wanted these areas organized but also to be aesthetically pleasing.

It was a perfect fit for Neatsmart’s philosophy of seeking, preaching, and teaching that organization should be beautiful. It all just needed to coordinate aesthetically since doors would be open and visible. We wanted to make sure it all matched with Julie’s design theme of “beachy and happy.”

Fortunately, Julie and I share a love of baskets which made our collaboration all that more fun. After discussing a few options, we zeroed in on these water hyacinth style baskets. These were great in the pantry because they were open on the top, came in a variety of sizes, and are built with a frame so they are sturdy.

While the pantry shelves were adjustable, it was important to have the shelves the same height so it would be easier on the eyes and a consistent view.  “Measure twice, cut/buy once” is the mantra to learn here. Also, it’s important to create the categories of food that work for the client’s organized pantry to function well. For Julie, it was “breakfast, savory snacks, sweet snacks” and so forth.

We needed to have a section for the dog food and treats to be grouped together, a section for coffee, paper napkins, and plastic ware.

They are big cereal fans and like a lot of variety on hand. So while we wanted to have the shelves all the same height, it made more sense to have a shelf below the counter dedicated to cereal storage. This now needed to balance the other side with the canned goods. We found a balance between function and appearance by using bamboo lazy susans for the canned good storage.  We also used one for storing cooking oils to keep them in easy reach.

organized pantry, baskets
Bread & snack boxes, bamboo lazy susans

Like me, Julie and her family like their snacks so we added the pop of turquoise with the bread and snack boxes. Placed within easy reach, they provide a place to keep snacks, like muffins and cookies, away from the dog, Rocco, a sweet Great Dane, but not completely out of sight where they might be forgotten.

Baskets with chalkboard labels
Baskets with chalkboard labels

And since we were organizing for a family, it was essential to have the baskets labeled with what was stored in each one. We used chalkboard labels, tied with baker’s twine, and paint pens to get the look that was not only easy to read but coordinated with the design. If everything just looks good but you can’t find anything or don’t know were things go, you do not have an organization system; you have beautiful chaos. We wanted everyone to be happy with the organized pantry plan and these tags were a big part of that plan.

Here are the products used for this project:

Container Store:  Water hyacinth baskets

Amazon:  Bamboo lazy susans

Amazon:  Bread & snack boxes

Julie did the beautiful styling of the middle section since this would be visible from the kitchen and other public areas. I especially love her combination of canned goods with mineral water bottles and cookbooks.Even though there is a pocket door that you can use to close off the pantry, in reality it would probably be left open. We were able to combine form and function and make it easy to maintain as well.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this pantry in the comments below. Do you use baskets in yours?

Happy organizing!


Essential Paper Storage

What is the most essential paper in your home? Your child’s artwork, bank statements, your will? No, it’s toilet paper. When you need it, you need it and there is no substitute. Are we seriously going to talk about toilet paper today? What is the world coming to? The movie Psycho was notable for many things but one of those being it was the first movie to show a toilet onscreen and now, 53 years later, you get to read blog posts about toilet accoutrement storage! This actually is important because you know there is nothing worse than needing and not having it. Having an abundance of toilet paper is never a bad thing and it’s actually one of the few things I recommend having in excess. If you’re going to scrimp, don’t do it on toilet paper.

Pretty solution to an ugly problem.
Pretty solution to an ugly problem.

So what is Neatsmart’s solution to a toilet paper storage problem? Why, a basket, of course. It can be a beautiful container for something less than traditionally aesthetically pleasing and obviously functional, too. There’s no question as to whether there is any backup in the cabinet (that you can’t see) and if you’re running out, you know that without having to check another location. Win and win. I would even suggest not having a wall mounted holder if you had that option for maximum simplicity but if you have it, use it. There is nothing more forlorn or sad in a bathroom than an empty toilet paper holder.

Another option is an antique rice bucket courtesy of my sister in law and the happiest place on earth: Round Top, TX. The semi annual antiques events there are legendary and a great source for all kinds of storage.
Another option is an antique rice bucket courtesy of my sister in law and the happiest place on earth: Round Top, TX. The semi annual antiques events there are legendary and a great source for all kinds of storage.

Bathrooms that have pedestal sinks and thus no under sink cabinet are usually the ones that need this most but you could really use it in any bathroom. Where can you find good baskets that are large enough to use? I’d recommend checking your local Home Goods or CostPlus stores and garage sales can be a great source, too. For more inspiration, look at my Pinterest Board on Stylish Storage: Baskets.

So get a basket (or rice bucket) and pile all of your toilet paper there. You’ll always know when you’re about to run out and it’s always within arm’s length. I think I’ve said enough on the topic for a while. 🙂


Happy organizing!