Monday, March 21, 2011

Organizing a Pantry with Wire Shelves

Okay, Steph, I need to pick your Mommy Brain. My kitchen pantry is a total mess, and one of the big reasons is that the built in shelves aren't solid. They are those wire things with the plastic covering. They look just like those stackable kinds (wires go from front to back), but mine is the entire pantry. What would you do so that things don't fall through?
-Alicia, on Facebook.

Funny you should ask, Alicia!

I have installed plastic-coated wire closet systems in my kitchen pantry, linen/hall closet, and 2 out of 3 bedroom closets.  I LOVE wire closet systems!

Closets and pantries with fixed shelves often end up with unused vertical space.  Mine are adjustable but Alicia's shelves are all 18 inches apart. That can result in a lot of empty space so the key is to find ways to fill that space but still be easily accessible.

Vertical organizers can help fill the space.

The Neu Home Can Organizer looks like a great way to organize canned goods vertically.  I found this one on the Walmart website.  It's under 13 inches in height and $30 in price.  I'm sure there are similar products from other retailers.

I see that the side supports run the same direction as the wires on the shelves but a hard piece of plastic, or cheap cookie sheet places underneath would solve that problem.


This corner storage rack would also make great use of vertical space.  It's under 18 inches tall so it would fit between the shelves.

I'm not sure how sturdy it would be for canned goods but it looks good for boxes of pasta laid on their side.  And at $13 it's not a bad price.




Hanging baskets also fill vertical space.

I couldn't find an example online but I own 2 of them so I know they exist.  These baskets are made of the same wire as the shelves.  They have 2 firm "arms" that slide over the top of a shelf and the basket hangs below it.  You would need something firm (like a flat baking pan) on the shelf to keep the arms from sliding through.  These would be good above stacked canned goods.

Baskets contain small items.


Canvas bins or baskets are very popular right now.  They come in all sizes, shapes and colors.  The key to maximizing space is to keep the sides as vertical as possible.  Slanted sides will create empty space.

Even though these bins are slanted I like that they have a space for labels.  This can be helpful when organizing pantry items by use.  For example, a bin for baking items (baking soda, baking powder, salt, chocolate chips, muffin papers, etc.) or a bin for spaghetti night (pasta, sauce, mushrooms, etc.) or a bin for various seasonings and spices.




If you prefer the look of baskets, these Hyacinth baskets come in several shapes and sizes.

I think they would be perfect for storing bags of chips, boxes of raisins, or individually wrapped snack foods taken out of their large boxes.



I personally use super cheap (we're talking $1 each) plastic baskets from Wal-Mart.


One basket contains all the small baking ingredients my husband needs for our weekly Sunday night pancakes.  He just grabs the basket instead of asking me what happened to the baking powder.




I use another cheap kind of plastic basket to keep small things from falling through the wires or getting lost.

Items like taco seasoning packets or Kool-Aid packages slip between the wires so a basket of some kind keeps me from losing any.

I also keep my frequently used spices in the basket; such as garlic powder, Italian seasoning, chili powder.


Do you use wire shelves in your closets or pantry?  How do/would you organize for fixed shelves and small items?





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30 comments:

Alicia said...

You R-O-C-K!!!

I definitely have to get the can storage. Believe it or not, I've found one for only $15 at Container Store. I'm thinking it may not be as sturdy as the Walmart one, but I'll try. And thank you for remembering about needing to put something underneath it for stability!

Love the corner storage rack. I will definitely be trying that out!

I know the hanging baskets you are referring to!

And I love the idea of grouping things that you always use together (like Joel's pancake ingredients). And you touched on my needs exactly. I love having all my spaghetti stuff in the same spot, and since I bake SO little all of those items can be kind of put away but altogether when I need them!

I would love lots of ideas from your readers!

By the way, your blog title looks AWESOME! I have been reading your posts through reader and hadn't seen it until tonight. Fantastic job!

Amy said...

Have fun, Alicia!

Vertical space can also be used by laying boxes down and stacking them. Especially cereal boxes. While you can still see the labesl and easily get them out, they often take up less room stacked instead of setting upright.

Small bins with lids could help as well. They can hold small items and stack. We keep individually wrapped snacks in these and then throw away the boxes. They take up less room. I'd use clear and label them. A cheap solution!

Items bought in bags can be transferred to a hard container that will stack. Think squares and rectangles, not circles. For instance, I buy rice in big bags and then transfer it to another container to keep it airtight as well as for organizational purposes.

Oh, how pretty your pantry is going to look! :)

J.Lynne said...

Stephanie all those ideas are awesome! I read on the Facebook thread that Alicia's wire racks are 1 inch apart. Yikes! At Jo-Ann Fabrics you can gt clear vinyl to line the shelves with. I just bought some for a project that will be up on my blog soon. i believe it was $2.98 a yard. It's clear too, not opaque and there are varying degrees of thickness to give you more support if you need it.

Stephanie's Mommy Brain said...

Great ideas, Ladies!!

I didn't think of the cereal boxes because my shelves are adjusted to just fit them. Although I will add that cereal boxes tend to be close in width so I lay them on their sides - not on the front where the big picture is but on the side where the ingredient list is. They aren't stacked but take less space on their sides.

Walmart has great flat, clear stackable plastic tubs with lids. I use the small ones for the kids' toys. You can see a picture on Facebook of one in the boys' closet with cars and trucks in it.

I completely agree about pouring items into other containers - rice, flour, sugar, powdered sugar, brown sugar, tea bags. They all work better in other containers. Square or rectangle containers are best for organizing because you can stack them or line them up and they don't leave any dead spaces. I noticed my local Walmart has square, clear plastic cannisters.

As for grouping items, you just have to figure out what works best for your family. The same for what shelf to put things on. I keep cereals on the bottom shelf so my kids can reach it and extras of things like jelly and mayo on the top shelf out of the way.

Stephanie's Mommy Brain said...

Alicia, thanks about the new header. It's not perfect but I like it. If you use Firefox for your browser there's an add-on you can download that allows you to view blogs in Google Reader just as they look if you went to the actual webpage. That's what I use. I don't remember what it's called but it's something about Google Reader.

Jenn said...

Ohh I love this post... it has the type a organizer in me chomping at the bit to get home and organize my pantry!!! I am going to look for the can organizer and the corner thing. Maybe I will have time in the next few weekends. Thanks for the inspiration!

Stephanie's Mommy Brain said...

Me too!! Looking at all the organizing gadgets has me wanting to clean out a closet or something. :)

Alicia said...

We need to all link our completed projects (however big or small) to this thread whenever we finish them because this is SO inspiring! I just can't wait!

Cereal is definitely an issue for me. I've already put 2 cereal containers on my "to buy" list because the most inexpensive way for me to buy cereal is the kind that comes in bags. That's a total pain to pantry organization. It's hip to be square!

Thank you, J. Lynne, for the vinyl tip! That's cool, and I have some Joann's coupons I can use as well!

Thank you everyone!

Rawben said...

In my pantry, I have two of these shelving units. The only differene between the Costco and Lowes Home Improvement were Costco's unit came with casters and Lowes you needed to purchase them sepearately.

http://www.costco.com/Browse/Product.aspx?Prodid=11539244&whse=BD_827&Ne=5000000%204000000&eCat=BD_827|11116|28341&N=4033466%205000014&Mo=0&No=0&Nr=P_CatalogName:BD_827&Ns=P_Price|1||P_SignDesc1&lang=en-US&topnav=national


Now, I also have one of these four tier units (http://dealnay.com/1291284/4-tier-chrome-shelving-unit-metro-collection.html) and right now this is the only photo I could find, but mine is actually the exact same height as the larger unit above. So, basically my entire wall are these units.

I was lucky to find a chrome shelving unit attachable basket that I use for potatoe storage. It mounts under one of my shelving unit shelves. Sorry can't find any photo of this.

Then I added this type of rack (also chrome, though the photo isn't the exact one I have, but gives you the idea - http://www.organizeit.com/chrome-lid-rack-organizer.asp). I use this for holding my cookie sheets, pizza stones, cutting boards, etc.

Love the ideas being posted. I just found another rack that I want DH to zip strip to a higher shelf, under the shelf so I can store my aluminum foil, wax paper and plastic wrap. I have a wall mounted orgainzer for these, but would like to free up other space for the "stock pile" of foil, wraps, etc.

Stephanie's Mommy Brain said...

Rawben, using a lid holder for pizza stones, cookie sheets, and cutting boards is a great idea! Thanks for sharing!

Sarah said...

I think these are the under-shelf baskets you were referring to:
http://www.containerstore.com/shop/kitchen/cabinetOrganizers/upperCabinets?productId=10000700

I have a couple in my pantry, some in my laundry room, and one in my bedroom closet. They're great!

Stephanie's Mommy Brain said...

Sarah, those are the exact under shelf baskets I meant! I have a couple of them but put them in storage after we installed new shelving in our linen closet last summer. Thanks for taking the time to find the link!

Karen Cook said...

I would install the shelving with the lip up for earthquake proofing.

Stephanie's Mommy Brain said...

Karen, that's a great idea! Growing up down South and now living in New England I've never experienced an earthquake so I hadn't thought of flipping the shelves over. Thanks for sharing!

Rawben said...

I'm so EXCITED! I've seen the white covered metal shelving (the kind you hang in a closed) at our local church thrift store and never bother to look through the items. We'll this trip I did and to my SURPRISE I found two FIFO can racks. I was so HAPPY when I came home and they worked!!! Yea!!! Plus, I had room the the top of the unit to place smaller cans. Now, one one chrome to match my shelves and one white, but that's ok. It was cheap....$2.00 and $2.50! Can't beat that. Plus I brought home another "holder" that I had my DH zip strip to a the bottom of a shelf (that's taller than me!) and I was able to place my extra wax paper, plastic wrap, foil, etc. *happy dance*

Stephanie's Mommy Brain said...

Yeah!! Organization and frugal - 2 of my favorite topics! :) Good job!!

Morgan said...

Those are actually the shelves I have and now I have a few more tips on how to use them better. Thanks!

Enjoy your SITS day! :)

Heather Shalhoub said...

I am liking this organization idea. We have a tiny pantry and have to use shelf pantries in our kitchen. It would be great to get more use of the one with a door so our kitchen looks less cluttered.

sheri said...

Great post - love your suggestions, am always looking for ways to stay organized! Found you over at SITS - great blog! :)

Stephanie said...

Morgan and Heather, I LOVE my pantry shelves. When we bought our home almost 9 years ago, one of our first projects was to pull out the ineffective fixed wood shelves and install adjustable wire shelves. I have very little cabinet space in my kitchen and don't know what I would do without them.

Thanks, Sheri!

2busy said...

Hmmm I love some good home organization. I've done a bit myself.

Zeemaid said...

I have fixed wire shelves. I like your first suggestion of a vertical stacker for those pesky cans. To help with smaller items falling through, I had hubby cut sections of some left over lino flooring we had to fit on the shelves. Nothing falls through and very easy to wipe clean.

Zeemaid said...

I have fixed wire shelves. I like your first suggestion of a vertical stacker for those pesky cans. To help with smaller items falling through, I had hubby cut sections of some left over lino flooring we had to fit on the shelves. Nothing falls through and very easy to wipe clean.

SHARM said...

I Love your organizing tips... I have a come up with some creative ways to organize as well. I am counting the days to see if I can keep up my stuff the same way at least for a month.
Then I can say I have had success with the way I am doing it right now.

OneMommy said...

Some great tips! Right now my pantry is a mess b/c I haven't gotten last week's groceries put away yet... I use diaper boxes to store extra canned goods underneath my shelves. (I need to pull out the oldest to put on the shelf and put last week's stuff in the boxes...)

Amanda Sage said...

I love this post! We have quite a large pantry, but at the moment it is being used as a storage space for things that don't seem to belong anywhere else. :( We are somewhat lacking in storage space elsewhere... small closets, no basement storage unit, and so forth. Another thing is that a lot of our storage is too high up for me to reach (i'm only 5'4" and it's hard to lug around a stepstool all over the apartment).

I'd love to hear any other storage and organization tips you might have for those of us living in small spaces. Thanks!

Rachael Heiner said...

We have wire racks in our pantry, and the hanging baskets are very useful. I use large sized tupperware and take my kids fruit snacks & granola bars out of the packages so they can get them by themselves easily.

Rawben said...

I was fortunate to pick up Shelf Reliance FIFO can organizers (to replace a few of my others I mentioned on her already)almost two for the price of one. I'm so happy with them! It's amazing how many can they hold! There's no lost space above the organizer - basically the top of the organizer meets right where my chrome-metal shelving begins. Any empty space is valuable!

Tricia O. said...

I use baskets on my wire shelving in my pantry, and it is so helpful. I love the idea of the shelves for the canned goods.

Thanks, and Happy SITS Day!

Marie said...

I don't have any wire shelves in this house, I have in the past though..I personally don't like them but that is just me. :)

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