Small pantry ideas – 7 ways to design a pantry in the tiniest of spaces

Even the tiniest of kitchens deserve a pantry, and designers share their smart advice when planning a pantry in a small space

Small pantry ideas. Open shelving in large white kitchen. Inside of pantry, organized with shelves. Slim pantry next to fridge.
(Image credit: Alice Lane Interior Design, Nicole Geralut photography | Studio McGee Design / Lucy Call Photography | Tom Howley)

A well-planned pantry can provide the perfect place to store food, tableware, kitchenware and utensils, and our small pantry ideas will show you how you can maximize storage in areas of all shapes and sizes.

Pantry ideas are often associated with larger kitchens – when many of us think of a pantry, we picture a dedicated walk-in space, filled top to bottom with all manner of produce, but there are many ways you can incorporate a pantry into a small kitchen, too. 

From tall, slim designs that can fit neatly into awkward alcoves, to making the most out of your wall space with shelving, explore our creative, space-saving designs and solutions for a more modern take on small pantry design in the home.

Best small pantry ideas

Kitchen designer, Tom Howley, says, 'there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to kitchen ideas, other than that your kitchen should work for you and your lifestyle. 

Today, pantries are an iconic part of a kitchen design, from slim solutions to our awe-inspiring double pantry ideas, all giving you the flexibility of choosing storage options that work for you. Whether that might involve more drawers, an emphasis on shelving, multiple spice racks, or simply somewhere to close the doors on breakfast mess.’

Explore how you can make a pantry work in your home with our collection of small pantry ideas below; from helpful organization tips to the best pantry shapes and styles recommended by our experts.

Tom Howley
Tom Howley

Tom Howley founded the luxury British kitchen brand in 2004. With showrooms across the country, Tom Howley specialize in fitting beautiful, bespoke kitchen designs crafted from the finest materials.

1. Opt for a tall, slim pantry

Kitchen with dark green cabinetry, slim pantry slide open, sink and kitchen window, wooden flooring.

(Image credit: Davenport)

Instead of going big and wide, opt for tall and slim! There are no rules on how big a pantry should be, so instead of trying to create space for a large design where there is none, choose a more sleek pantry for your kitchen instead. 

Richard Davonport, founder and managing director at Davonport Kitchens says, 'even small kitchens can benefit from a pantry cupboard as the organization it provides helps the rest of the kitchen to remain clutter-free, while also freeing up other cupboard space for other essential items. The trick to utilizing pantries in smaller kitchens is to make sure the layout of the pantry cupboard covers all basics and has dedicated areas for different types of items.'

As shown in this pretty green kitchen, the narrow pantry by Davonport Kitchens fits perfectly into the small space beside the ovens and coordinating cabinets, and has utilized a mix of dark wooden draws, racks and shelves to create multiple storage zones within the smaller-sized design.

Richard Davonport

With a Distinction in Furniture Design and Cabinet Making, and knowledge from his father Aubrey Davonport, an honorary member of the British Woodcarvers Association, Richard went on to set up his own workshops and later, the Davonport brand, who specialize in creating bespoke kitchen furniture.

2. Make the most out of awkward alcoves 

Close up of slim gray pantry in kitchen

(Image credit: Tom Howley)

Whether you're exploring under-stairs pantry ideas or embracing alcove ideas with a small pantry in a little nook of your kitchen, making the most out of smaller, un-used spaces can give you an extra section of storage that often makes all the difference in a small kitchen.

This pantry by Tom Howley Kitchens has been cleverly positioned in the narrow space next to the refrigerator, meaning that dry, fresh and frozen food is all organized and easy to rich within one zone of the kitchen.

3. Keep your small pantry neat and tidy 

Shea McGee's pantry with glass containers and jars with food

(Image credit: Studio McGee Design / Lucy Call Photography)

From grouping food and drinks together by type or expiration dates to incorporating labeled jars and baskets, organizing a pantry and creating an ordered pantry system will do wonders in a small space, helping the design feel more spacious and easy to use – rather than cluttered and confusing!

Below, renowned interior designer, Shea McGee, shares her top pantry storage ideas, and how she keeps the space looking neat, tidy and let's face it, wonderfully aesthetically pleasing.

'To keep everything organized, we incorporated large baskets on the bottom shelf for storage, and a mix of bins, boxes, more baskets, and glass jars to keep all of our snacks, baking essentials, and canned food together.

Using jars and canisters in your kitchen or pantry is a simple way to elevate the feeling of your space and make even the simplest of ingredients worth putting on display.'

Shea McGee
Shea McGee

Interior designer, Shea McGee founded her iconic design firm, Studio McGee, with her husband Syd in 2014. They later launched their e-commerce brand, McGee & Co, and starred in their very own Netflix show, Dream Home Makeover.

4. Embrace a bi-folding pantry design

Close up of gray and wooden pantry with bi-fold doors

(Image credit: Tom Howley)

Annie Tullett, designer at Tom Howley Kitchens says that one of her favorite 2023 kitchen trends is the bi-folding pantry. 

'It’s an absolute must-have in every kitchen. The unwavering, clever versatility of it is hard not to be impressed by; not only do you have the initial ‘Narnia’s Wardrobe’ moment when you open the doors to reveal how much small kitchen storage space is inside, but the functional possibilities are endless. 

You could use it as a breakfast bar each morning, neatly tucking the mess of coffee machine and toaster away, yet, at the next evening soiree, it can transform into a cocktail bar – simply line the spirits and mixers up, stack the glasses and jars of garnish ingredients above and let your guests help themselves!'

The sleek, smooth doors of a bi-folding pantry are a great design feature to consider for a built-in pantry in a smaller space, such as a galley kitchen, and can cover the contents of your pantry with ease, helping to make your small pantry appear less cluttered.

Annie Tullett
Annie Tullett

A graduate from Arts University Bournemouth, UK, Annie Tullett has worked as a kitchen designer at Tom Howley since 2021, and was previously a designer and British interiors brand, Neptune.

5. Utilize your ancillary rooms

Modern kitchen and utility room, dark wooden flooring, white cabinetry, marble countertop

(Image credit: Margaret Ash)

If you can't find any room for a pantry in your small kitchen, then utilize the ancillary spaces in your home, such as a utility room – or even a laundry room, and create an additional area for food storage – it will feel like you're very own walk-in pantry!

Tom Howley explains, 'busy lifestyles can be challenging. Work, leisure, and family life have never been more demanding, meaning any help we can get to make things easier can come as a welcome relief. The so-called engine room of the home is deserving of its name. A well-designed small utility room can include a washing machine, tumble dryer, sink, a place to store clothes maidens, the ironing board and iron, extra storage for shoes and even additional pantry space.'

6. Keep it simple with shelving

Modern kitchen with kitchen island, wooden shelving, dining table with seating

(Image credit: Alice Lane Interior Design, photography by Nicole Geralut)

In this neutral kitchen, designed by Alice Lane Interior Design, we love how a unique, open pantry design has been created in a slightly separate space away from the main area of the kitchen.

The use of wood for the shelves and countertop not only establishes a warming contrast with the cool color palette and beautiful marble design, but it helps to zone the pantry area, and shows how simply placing some kitchen shelving on a wall can transform the look and function of your kitchen.

For some further inspiration, explore our pantry shelving ideas.

7. Design a pantry that suits your routine 

Light green pantry with glass window, wood exterior

(Image credit: Davenport)

This may sound simple, but when planning a pantry for your small space, work out exactly what you need this area of additional storage for. Is it just for dried food? Kitchenware? Breakfast food? Or for tableware and accessories used when entertaining? If you have a small space, chances are, you're not going to be able to fit all of the above in your pantry – sorry to break it to you! So working out your pantry's purpose is key.

Once you've narrowed down exactly why you need a pantry, and what will fit neatly into the space, it will help to create a more organized and functional pantry design that meets your needs and day-to-day routine.

'A modern family kitchen demands plenty of storage. A breakfast pantry can be incredibly valuable when designed and arranged to suit your routine. They can incorporate your entire morning, from a professional coffee machine, and toaster, to storage for everyday crockery and a whole host of cereal options for the kids. The best thing is that once you’ve had enough, you can close the doors behind you, concealing all the mess and clutter until it’s time to tidy,' says Tom Howley.


Where should a pantry be placed in a small kitchen?

As we have explored in this piece, a pantry can fit into all manner of small spaces in a kitchen – and beyond!

Thinking about how you will use your kitchen and pantry day to day will help with deciding on the right location.

Placing your pantry beside other cupboards filled with food or areas such as the refrigerator will help to zone your kitchen and keep all of your food items in one section of the space. 

Or, if your pantry mainly contains spare food items that you're not using day to day, then placing it in a separate space, such as the utility or laundry room, or away from the main hub and preparation area of the kitchen, may be best – freeing up space for other kitchen items used more frequently.

Should a kitchen pantry have a window?

Not necessarily! There are no rules to say that a kitchen pantry should have a window.

Pantries without windows can create a more neat and streamlined look, however, pantry door ideas that feature elegant glass panels can create a more decorative, layered design.

A pantry in a smaller space may benefit from not having windows as it will hide the contents within, and help to make your kitchen feel more spacious, neat and tidy, but of course, it is completely up to you.

What should you never store in a pantry?

  • Foods with high oil contents, like nuts
  • Open bins of food
  • Perishables, like dairy and meat
  • Kitchen appliances
  • Expired spices
  • Household cleaning items
  • Dish towels
  • Excess food you won't get through
  • Lidless containers
  • Cookbooks and manuals
  • Maple syrup

Pantries – both large and small, can help free up space in a kitchen, provide useful additional storage and create a beautiful design feature in the home, and as we have shown, they do not only belong in larger kitchens.

Zara Stacey
Managing Editor

Zara is the Managing Editor at Homes & Gardens. She joined the brand in February 2022 as an Interiors Content Editor, specializing in writing content on interior color trends, decorating ideas and design inspiration. After studying English Literature at University, she worked as an Ecommerce Website Editor, Content Writer and Buying Intern at multiple independent businesses within the luxury retail and lifestyle sectors. She enjoys nothing more than discovering new trends, brands and products, whether that be in fashion, interior design or lifestyle.