There are many different pantry designs for different types of pantry, and each needs a slightly different approach. Butlers’ pantries, kitchen pantries, cold storage rooms, larders, pull-out cabinet pantries and walk-in pantries have different requirements and may serve different purposes.
A butlers pantry is usually set between the kitchen and the formal dining room (or the place where you do your entertaining) and it’s where the heat and rush of the kitchen becomes calm, cool, elegant food service. Fine china and glassware is often stored there, sometimes with a sink and dishwasher so the dirty dishes never even reach the kitchen.
A pantry for dry goods and bulk foods is best if it’s as dry as possible, and ideally reasonably cool, although not as cold as a traditional larder or cold room. A north wall location for coolness, and top and bottom ventilation for the chimney effect will help. However, you definitely need metal screening over the vents to keep out insects and rodents. If your north wall is exposed to high winds or rain, you may need more protection for the vents in the winter.
A walk-in pantry can be ideal if you have a lot to store. You can see everything at a glance, reach things easily, and if it’s right off the kitchen it’s very convenient. It’s also much cheaper than the same amount of storage in the form of cabinets, because you don’t have to buy fancy doors and drawers, just plain shelves.
If there’s no space for a walk-in pantry, a pull-out or unfolding pantry cabinet can store a lot of stuff in a small space. Most are full height, so they blend well with fridges and wall ovens in a full-height wall when you’re designing your kitchen. However, they also come as wall cabinet or base cabinet units, in many widths as small as 3″!
Many of your pantry design decisions will depend on what you plan to store there. General categories of items which make good pantry storage candidates are:
Bulk items – paper goods such as bathroom tissue, paper towels (but consider using rags instead) and facial tissue, dry goods like pasta, sugar and flour, canned or packaged goods, home-canned food, home-dried food, pet food, etc
Seldom-used or “extra” equipment – small appliances and large pots and pans, the canner, fish cooker, pressure cooker, big platters and serving bowls, extra china and flatware, plastic containers, and empty canning jars plus spare lids and rings.
Fresh food – food which doesn’t need to be refrigerated but takes up too much space in your kitchen cabinets might include potatoes (if you can provide cool and dark storage), onions (cool and dry), winter squash (cool to warm and dry), ripening fruit for eating soon, nuts in the shell, etc
Some people store cleaning supplies in the pantry, but I’d recommend separate storage for that if at all possible. Mops and brooms are not the cleanest things in the world, and cleaning fluids, detergents etc often smell – you don’t want your food picking up soap or detergent scents!.
If you do have a walk-in or step-in pantry, the door can be a real decorative accent in the kitchen if you wish. There are some beautiful etched-glass pantry door designs here: