8 Steps to Building a Smart, Organized Pantry & Mudroom
It’s a new year, which means transplanting “get organized” from your 2018 resolutions to your 2019 hit list, just like you did last year… and the year before. (Tell me I’m not alone here?) Despite being increasingly allergic to “clutter body,” piles of assortments to be sorted just seem to accumulate. Last year, thanks to the gallons of brain juice spilled on planning the Mountain House and Portland Project, I found a new appreciation for some simple design systems. So, guys, 2019 is our year! Here are a few things I learned or relearned while designing the Portland mudroom and built-in breakfast pantry.
Getting organized means making a storage plan. Each space should have a purpose and everything needs a home. In Portland, the mudroom was a transition between this little patio side entry, the garage and the kitchen, so it could quite easily be a multipurpose mess. But by sorting like items with like (you heard it first here, folks) and delegating space by activity/purpose while considering proximity to the other rooms, we kept this in-between room highly functional and clean.
Now that that’s established, let’s dive in a little deeper and break down the 8 steps to organizing your mudroom and pantry areas (and thus…your life).
Designate Open and Closed Storage.
The section nearest the patio entrance provides a landing pad for coats, bags, shoes etc. through flexible open shelving that can hold large items or be divided by bins, baskets or trays. And a very practical, integrated bench positioned between the patio and garage entrances hopefully begs, “sit here and lose those muddy shoes!” Open shelving is often more flexible and is definitely easiest to access when coming and going.
Add Plenty of Hooks & Bins.
Large, sturdy hooks were needed for heavy bags and these were so pretty. Of course coats, scarves and such could live here, too. Or if extra space was still needed for storage, hanging bags and bins could serve the job. Hooks are so flexible.
Create a “Command Center.”
Some families barely even use a front door for everyday in and out, so if this rings true to you (i.e. you run in and out of your garage/side door/mudroom more often), setting up a “command center” for easy grab and go is going to save you on those rushed mornings. Here, we just set up a tray to catch things like keys, sunglasses, outgoing mail and beyond.
We also dedicated another shelf cubby to all things pets (outdoor toys and treats). Really, the key to a storage set up like this is a place for everything and everything in its place. Take the time from the get-go to “dedicate” each shelf to something that makes sense for your life to avoid otherwise impending chaos.
Keep utility items tucked away.
Across from the open storage, we created a work/wash space, flanked with floor-to-ceiling closed storage, opting for doors here to hide ugly cleaning supplies. A space to clean up after outdoor activities is a useful luxury if there’s room and the durability of the Cambria countertop (which is nonporous, nonabsorbent and less likely to scratch or stain) has already proven necessary when we used the surface as a worktop during gardening and styling.
Hooks, again, came in handy to utilize vertical space within the tall cabinets for things like brooms (ugly brooms need not apply, thanks) and dusters, then the rest of the cleaning supplies that you use on a regular basis can be placed in a caddy that you can quickly scoop up to bring to whatever room needs sprucing.
Can we stop for a second to talk about that faucet though? We worked with Kohler throughout this project on all the fixtures, and this is from their Purist line, which I love for how sleek it is. We could have easily done a deck mount here, but the height and all around space the wall mount gives us works so well for tasks like gardening and cleaning where sometimes you just don’t want something in your way.
Pull-Out Shelves to Create More Real-Life Usable Space.
The overall style of the space matches that of the kitchen and dons the same mixed-finished fixtures; brass hardware from Rejuvenation with a polished nickel Kohler faucet. It’s visually and functionally a kitchen spillover, which means space for food! The tall cabinet nearest the kitchen became a larger storage pantry (as opposed to the breakfast bar we’re about to get to INSIDE the actual kitchen), with adjustable, pull-out drawers that customize to different needs and make food in the back accessible.
Clear, canister storage in the pantry not only looks better than original food packaging, it saves space and keeps food fresh (airtight). And baskets are great in a cabinet…okay, anywhere! They’re basically the cowboy of organizing… super sturdy and great for corralling. Yet another quick tip for you, if you store onions and potatoes in a cool, dark space, they’ll last at least twice as long.
Changing spaces here from the mudroom to the kitchen…
…See you wouldn’t even know it…What seamless design! To keep countertops clutter free, we snuck a hidden breakfast pantry into the cabinet plan. Here, everyday small appliances like the toaster or espresso maker can be hidden (let’s face it, they’re not usually as sexy as these Smeg gadgets). And everything you need for using these contraptions is within reach.
Make Use of Vertical Space & Dead Spaces.
Shallow, vertical storage on the cabinet door (that “dead space” we just referred to) provides extra space for making sure everything has a space to belong. This shallow storage is great for spices, jars/cans…or more clear canisters! Notice the adjustable shelves we used are also shallow (as most ‘uppers’ are) which accommodates the storage on the back of the door and spares knocking your noggin’ when you reach for that needed morning coffee. 10-15″ is a decent depth for upper shelving.
Drawers (especially divided ones) are most functional for organizing, so we squeezed one in if you can. To carry through the same materials as the kitchen, we echoed the Bedrosians stone in here, and the solid surface makes for easy cleanup, though trays can help with containing spills/mess, too.
Don’t Forget the Outlets!
ALSO! Don’t forget if you’re integrating appliances into cabinet storage, you’ll need electrical outlets! Seems obvious, but the space is out of sight, out of mind and easy to forget, so be sure to make that part of your initial design so it can be planned for BEFORE the electrical work is done and cabinets go in.
Use Varied Sizes of Like Containers for a Seamless Look.
Doesn’t this make you breathe just a little deeper and easier? Aaaaahh! It’s what my brain needs this year. A place for everything and everything in its place—brilliant…someone write that down. 😉 Clear storage items that are easy to grab-and-go make it simple to take stock of supplies (for non-light sensitive goodies…dark storage for the tea and coffee). Jam, bread, sweeteners, stir spoons, cereal… basically, breakfast is neatly hidden away yet so easy to see and access. I’m so happy.
Oh, and when the packaging of your coffee and teas are this beautiful, there’s no need to decant it into anything else (unless your coffee is open, in that case you’ll want to make sure it’s in an airtight container). Speaking of tea…we went the same route here as we did with the art and makers we use in the project…kept it close to home with Portland-based brands like Smith Teamaker. Not only is the tea in a beautiful box (and yummy), we can get behind the small-batch process and the highly curated varieties. If you prefer your cuppa to be via tea leaves instead of beans, check them out. Beautiful for your pantry, beautiful in your mouth!
Look how clutter free the kitchen is with small appliances and all the associated supplies out of sight. It’s enough to give me an adrenaline rush. If you’re an org junkie like I am, you’ll definitely want to hop on over to Instagram (or Facebook, pick your poison) after 11 am PST to see a special Style School video we put together with the 5 steps to building the perfect breakfast pantry.
So guys, if “get organized” fails this year, screw it…we shift gears in 2020: “just find new places to hide things.” But hopefully, something here inspires you along in your storage plans. Happy 2019!
1. Cabinet Maker | 2. Drawer Pull by Rejuvenation | 3. Knob by Rejuvenation | 4. Serving Spoons | 5. Bowls | 6. Towel | 7. Backsplash Tile by Pratt & Larson | 8. Countertop by Cambria | 9. Switch Plate by Rejuvenation | 10. Faucet by Kohler | 11. Sink Drain by Kohler | 12. Sink by Kohler | 13. Pitcher | 14. Twine | 15. Scissors | 16. Jennifer Urquhart Painting | 17. Large Glass Jar (similar) | 18. Mini Glass Jar (similar) | 19. Basket | 20. Faux Leather Storage Bin | 21. Dog Leash | 22. Tray | 23. Dog Toy | 24. Tennis Balls | 25. Farmhouse Caddy | 26. Backpack | 27. Hook (similar) | 28. Duster | 29. Broom | 30. Sunglasses | 31. Wood Tray | 32. Tote (similar) | 33. Hand Broom | 34. Dustpan | 35. Woven Baskets (similar) | 36. Tray | 37. Dog Bowl | 38. Floppy Hat | 39. Hand Rake | 40. Hand Trowel | 41. Garden Gloves | 42. Pewter Green by Sherwin-Williams | 43. Pure White by Sherwin-Williams | 44. Oyster White by Sherwin-Williams | 45. Wood Flooring by Hallmark Floors | 46. Crown Moulding by Metrie | 47. Baseboard by Metrie | 47. Door Casing by Metrie
1. Cabinet Organizer | 2. Food Storage | 3. Tea | 4. Basket | 5. Wood Tray | 6. Handmade Creamer | 7. Mug | 8. Dish Towels | 9. Coffee Scoop | 10. Espresso Machine | 11. Stoneware Mug | 12. Soup Mug | 13. Basket | 14. Can Organizer | 15. Café Clip | 16. Coffee | 17. Napkins | 18. Serving Fork | 19. Serving Spoon | 20. Pie Server | 21. Toaster
1. Dutch Door by Rejuvenation | 2. Door Hardware | 3. Lounge Chair by Room & Board | 4. Window by Milgard | 5. Outdoor Sconce by Rejuvenation | 6. Striped Pillow by Jillian Rene Decor | 7. Planter by Room & Board | 8. Floor Tile by Clé | 9. Hunter Boots