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Beautiful & Maintainable DIY Pantry Organization in 5 Steps

Have you been dreaming of a Pinterest worthy pantry, but don't know where to start? Have you tried organizing your pantry a million times, and it never seems to stay in tact? Before you start pulling all the bags, boxes and canned goods out. Before you run to your favorite home goods retailer to purchase baskets and bins. There is a proven method and order to taking on a home organization project, and I'm here to share the 5 steps so that you can execute to completion and expectations!


Pantry Organization Organized Pantry Sort & Soul Columbus Ohio Professional Organizer Getting Organized How To Organize My Pantry

5 Steps to Pinterest Worthy DIY Pantry Organization


STEP 1: PREPARE

I'm going to say the thing you don't want to hear, but you need to know, creating systems and organizing your pantry for good won't happen in one day. And ending up with your dream pantry only happens if you commit to the process and spend the upfront time defining what your desired results actually are. So if you aren't easily discouraged and are feeling motivated, let's get started!


  • Set Goals > How do you want the space to function? What are your current pain points? Are you focused on eating healthier in the future? How will you know if the end result is successful? Do you have a product budget in mind (pantries are one of the higher cost spaces we organize because of the quantity of products needed at the desired aesthetic)?

  • Involve Others > Do you want help during the process? Let your family know why you want to organize the pantry so they can provide inputs too, and be on board with maintaining the space once it's finished.

  • Schedule Your Time > Block off sections of time for each step on your calendar, like you would for any other appointment. Each step (except for this one) could take between 2-5 hrs as a frame of reference. Steps 2 + 3 should be done together, ideally on a full day when you can free yourself from distractions.

  • Gather Basic Supplies > tape measure, pen, paper, sticky notes/painters tape, trash bags, boxes/bins, computer.


Pantry Organization Organized Pantry Sort & Soul Columbus Ohio Professional Organizer Getting Organized How To Organize My Pantry

STEP 2: SORT

When you've blocked off enough time and/or phoned a friend to help, it's time to see what you're working with. It can feel wasteful getting rid of items during this step, but keep in mind once you get your pantry organized, you will be much more mindful of what you bring into your home, what you need to finish up, what you're running low on, etc. One of your goals/success metrics might even be to reduce waste (expired, stale or half eaten foods).


  • Empty + Categorize > Clear some working spaces (countertops, tables, even the floor works) and take everything out of your pantry. Group like items together as you go (baking, breakfast, snacks, etc). These groupings will be refined later, so broad categories are fine at this time.

  • Make Decisions > After all the shelves and drawers have been emptied, it's time to walk your categories and make disposition decisions. Should the item go back into the pantry, does it belong somewhere else in your home, can it be donated, is it trash? You can do some of this as you go, like if you find an open bag of pretzels that have definitely gone stale, but to keep your momentum, it's best to walk the categories once they are all complete.

Keep in mind as you go, your pantry is prime real estate and not everything that came out of it needs to go back. Refer back to your goals as a reminder of how you want the pantry to function.
  • Take Inventory + Notes > If you're noticing an over-abundance in a certain category, if your only bag of flour was left open and it needs to be replaced, if you're running low on applesauce pouches, etc. These notes will help you later!

  • Tidy Up > Before moving to step 3, get your work space pared down so you're only left looking at what needs to go back into the pantry. Take any donation items to your car, and even schedule it in your calendar so it actually gets dropped off! Take the trash/recycling to their receptacles, and items to be relocated in your home should be moved somewhere to be dealt with later that night or week (again, schedule it if you feel you need that extra reminder/accountability).


Pantry Organization Organized Pantry Sort & Soul Columbus Ohio Professional Organizer Getting Organized How To Organize My Pantry

STEP 3: PLAN

Here you're going to set the foundation for your final system and product shopping list. This step is best done directly after the Sort, because all those items have to get off your countertops, tables and floors!

  • Measure + Clean > Take this opportunity to vacuum and wipe everything down. You'll also want to grab your supplies to measure the shelves and drawers now. You want to capture all dimensions (L x W x H) and pay attention to any obstacles that could affect the dimensions in some areas. This could mean things like support posts, brackets, hinges or hardware.

  • Create Zones > Now you'll refine your categories based on what you have determined should remain, and how you want your pantry to function. Write all of your desired pantry zones on post-its/painters tape and start mapping them out in the pantry. Common zones include breakfast, snacks, baking, canned goods, meal prep, etc. You'll want to take into consideration factors like how frequently you use the category, what categories you want easily within reach and not, what categories make sense near each other, etc.

  • Stage Your Pantry > Once the flow feels good, start putting your items away in the zones you've just outlined, utilizing any existing containers to help keep items contained. If you discover a zone needs more/less space, just re-adjust those post-it notes until you feel like you've given each zone the appropriate amount of space. Note: you may determine that you don't really want to give an entire shelf to snacks just because that's how much you have today.

This may be a lightbulb moment identifying a behavior change for the future space!

Pantry Organization Organized Pantry Sort & Soul Columbus Ohio Professional Organizer Getting Organized How To Organize My Pantry

STEP 4: SHOP

Now that you've had some time to live with your pared down and zone planned pantry, it's time to assess what products will maximize your space, best contain each category and tie together in a cohesive manner. It's helpful to look at your pantry, zone by zone as you work on this next step.


  • Determine Aesthetic Preferences > Do you want to easily see what's inside each bin (clear/wire) or would you prefer the contents are concealed for a cleaner overall look (woven/wood)? Is there a color palette you have in mind? How much decanting do you want to see and maintain? What type of labels do you like, and are they easy to replace as needs change?

  • Create the Product List > Pantries generally are made up of just 6 types of organizing products, each in a variety of quantities (bins, canisters, turntables, risers, drawer dividers and labels). Going zone by zone, determine if the category of items would be best contained by a bin, canister, turntable, riser or drawer divider. Write down the quantity needed for zone and then tally them up at the end. Then, determine what type of label you'll need for each supply and tally those up too.

  • Source your Products > Now that you have a shopping list, grab your pantry measurements and computer, it's time to find and purchase the products! I recommend online shopping because a lot of the time you are not going to be able to find 12+ of the exact bin/canister/etc. you need at this moment and settling for what's in the store is not necessarily going to yield your desired outcome. Be sure to refer back to your measurements when you start to find products you like, and determine how many can fit on one shelf/drawer. Does this jive with the amount you had planned for that shelf/drawer?

I'm not going to sugar coat it, there are a lot of possibilities out there and this is an easy place to get overwhelmed! So to make things a little simpler, I've created a Pantry Product Guide that shares some favorite products at various price points, sizes and aesthetics.
  • Overbuy + Plan to Return > Before you place your orders, you may want to add a few additional quantities/sizes of your organizing products to give yourself some wiggle room when it's time to put everything away. When we're on a project, we always come with more than we'll need, because you know what they say about the best laid plans!


Pantry Organization Organized Pantry Sort & Soul Columbus Ohio Professional Organizer Getting Organized How To Organize My Pantry

STEP 5: ORGANIZE

Your organizing products have arrived and it's time to bring all of your hard work and planning to fruition. This is by far the most fun and rewarding step of the process, so let's get to it!


  • Ensure Fit > Place the products you've purchased for each zone on the shelf/drawer they're mapped for. You can either take the items off the shelf/drawer to do this, or kind of hover/eyeball the products in the space. Troubleshoot with some of your additional products if something isn't fitting quite right, or try placing it in a different direction. This step is like a game of tetris sometimes, so be prepared to make adjustments to your master plan.

  • Fill + Label > Once you know the products are going to fit where you want them, it's time to decant and fill your producs with their respective categories, and finish it off with a label.

Take a picture, you did it!! You organized your dream pantry and you should feel such a sense of accomplishment and pride in your new space!

Pantry Organization Organized Pantry Sort & Soul Columbus Ohio Professional Organizer Getting Organized How To Organize My Pantry

Are you inspired to create and organize your Pinterest worthy pantry for good?! No matter how big or small your pantry is, these 5 steps should help you feel ready to start planning and making your dream pantry a reality!


Or if this has done the exact opposite, and made you realize there is just too much time and planning involved, that's ok too! Creating beautifully organized systems that won't fall apart after a few weeks takes commitment and investment, in both time and money, which you may not be prepared for now.


If you live in the Columbus, Ohio area and would like some help, we're just one free phone consultation away! Organizing is our passion and "day job". We love to create aesthetically pleasing systems that transform day-to-day life for busy families so you can spend your time where it matters most.



Pantry Organization Organized Pantry Sort & Soul Columbus Ohio Professional Organizer Getting Organized How To Organize My Pantry

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