Home>Discussions>KITCHENS>Should I forget my dream of a kitchen pantry?
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Should I forget my dream of a kitchen pantry?

We have a bungalow built in 1930 and finally after a couple of hiccups will be going ahead with the kitchen remodel. Just off the kitchen is a "room" about 4' x 8' which may have at one time been an "old fashioned pantry" and I would like to turn it back into that. Right now it holds the refrigerator, a cabinet which will go and some functional but unattractive Home Depot type of shelving with metal brackets.

Pantries can be fancy but this one is going to be very simple, in fact all I want is open shelving, maybe 5 shelves from top to bottom, most of the way around, BUT (and this is the part I can't seem to get anyone to understand) I want them to be made out wood and with wooden brackets AND I want it to look nice, not like a closet. Here's one I just found on pinterest. This gives you an idea; ours of course will be the shelves only, not the cupboards.


People I've talked to give me blank looks and act like I'm asking for roses to bloom in December. Then they try to talk us into something else that we don't want (such as vinyl shelves or wire shelves). Please tell me, is what we are wanting too much? Is this a difficult project? I admit neither of us have much experience in the kitchen remodeling field so maybe this isn't done anymore. Is this considered custom work for the pro and therefore cost prohibitive? We went to Lowe's today looking at lumber to see if they even sell boards in this size. Most of what we saw was thicker and too heavy. I'm thinking we want 1/2" thick and what we saw was 1.5".

You pros reading this please enlighten me as to why we seem to have a problem finding someone who can do this. Are there any easy alternatives that we should be looking at? Our goal is to have it look as it might have at the time the house was built, but of course staying within the budget.

A. Spruce
Re: Should I forget my dream of a kitchen pantry?

Your image doesn't work, though I assume by your description that you're talking about shelf corbels (wooden brackets ) to support the shelves. These should be readily available items, though if you can't find something you like, you can have some made by just about any cabinet shop.

Do a google image search for "wooden shelf corbel", see if there is something you like. Next time you're at a home center, take a stroll down the shelving aisle, if they do not have anything, then try a large craft supply store. Between these sources, you should find enough ideas to be able to either buy or have made what you are looking for.

Lastly, because of the weight involved with canned goods and appliances, make sure that the corbels are installed into the wall framing, drywall anchors will NOT be enough. Again, because of the weight, you're going to want to use more corbels to support the shelves than you would for decorative trinkets.

Re: Should I forget my dream of a kitchen pantry?

I hate wire shelves in general. Too much trouble getting things to stand up or not fall though. Probably cheaper though, but not so much to make wood shelving prohibitive.
Wood shelves should be at least 3/4" material and properly supported with brackets or supports. 3/4" plywood with edge banding can look nice and can support a lot of weight.
Any good carpenter should be able to do what you want if it's beyond your abilities.
BTW- I had roses blooming this past December. I really like a pantry too. My current one is fashioned with millwork shelving units from a doctors office that were only in use for a year before being repurposed in my house.

Re: Should I forget my dream of a kitchen pantry?

Hi and thank you for your responses. I never heard of shelf corbels so just did a search and yes, that is exactly what we are looking for. Now that I know they can be bought off the shelf like that it seems much more doable. Neither my husband nor I are DYI'ers when it comes to things like this. He can handle a hammer and screwdriver but beyond that forget it and I'm afraid of hammers, haha. Both of us are much more handy outdoors in the garden.

I think we may end up having someone do the kitchen cabinetry and counter install, floor install, plumbing etc, and someone else do the pantry shelving. We were hoping to have one person do the job from start to finish but based on the few we have talked with none seem to be willing to do what we want.

Another question - the pantry walls are plaster. Does this make things more difficult or are there things we need to be cautious about? From the shelving that is in there now all appears to be okay but anytime I have tried to do something simple like hang a picture seems I've head all kinds of things falling behind the wall.

Spruce - when you say " . . . installed in the wall framing" does that mean studs?

A. Spruce
Re: Should I forget my dream of a kitchen pantry?

A general contractor should be able to handle every item you've mentioned, either being able to do the work himself or manage the subcontractors to take care of what he can't. Anyone who doesn't see your vision is NOT the person for you. That is not to say that some of your ideas shouldn't be challenged, but that it is your house, you should be getting what you want, not what someone else wants to give you.

The things to shop for in a contractor is compatibility with you, understanding of your project goals, knowledge of the trade to accomplish your goals, at a price that is acceptable to all parties involved, IN THAT ORDER! Do not hire someone based solely on price, ever!

Wall framing = studs, yes. And, the noises you hear when you hear when you're pounding on your walls are the "keys" breaking and falling off the back of the plaster where it is squished (keyed ) between the lath slats, which is what holds it in place. You want to be very careful of doing this, as it will lead to cracking and failure of the plaster.

Re: Should I forget my dream of a kitchen pantry?

If you get a contractor that says he can not do the shelves the way you want, call another contractor. Almost any competent wood worker could build those shelves including making the corbels. I would go with the suggestion of using 3/4" banded plywood, 1/2" will sag with little weight.


Re: Should I forget my dream of a kitchen pantry?

If we are talking canned goods or heavy appliances, I would either beef up the thickness of the plywood, or make sure that there is a support at every stud. Regular plywood would start sagging with a 32 inch span. Heavier duty multiple ply cabinet grade plywood would have more strength over longer spans. It would have better veneer on the surface and take paint or stain better too.

Re: Should I forget my dream of a kitchen pantry?

I think you were asking the wrong people. If you were asking the folks for "shelving" at the home improvement store, remember, they make their money selling standard, "off the shelf" items like wire shelving and particle board (with genuine simulated woodgrain vinyl!), so they're not going to be interested in (or even have a clue about) selling you custom shelving (which is what you are likely to need).

As for the boards you looked at, you were looking in the wrong place in Home Depot -- that 1+1/2" stuff was framing lumber not suitable for fine cabinetry. Most HDs I've been in have one super wide aisle in the middle of the lumber section (and most stores have a similar layout). If you go down that aisle toward the back half of the store, then turn toward the center of the store, you should find an aisle or two with finish trim and the wider 3/4" thick boards you're looking for (in the back half of the store). You'll find a few different species of unfinished wood (probably oak, pine, maybe hemlock, and some other miscellaneous species they call "whitewood" such as poplar). They may also have some prefinished particle board of MDF shelving, which should be avoided like the plague as it will sag faster than a wet cat on a furnace vent.

3/4" thick cabinet grade plywood finished with edge banding can provide a nice shelf at a much lower cost than solid wood boards. Placing a ledger/cleat along the wall under the back side of the shelf can help prevent sagging.

Re: Should I forget my dream of a kitchen pantry?

I redid my kitchen and cupboard last year, I hired a designer, even tho i have been in the trade for 40 years. she suggested a cupboard with shelving on rollers that slide out two feet. we have several shelves some a foot tall others more and other less
I do a lot of cooking what a joy to to cook in this kitchen. i can get to all my spices and tools very easily.
My advice hire a designer they can see stuff us grunts cant.

Re: Should I forget my dream of a kitchen pantry?

my daughter just had a new kitchen installed and had two slide out spice racks installed. Very nice. I agree a kitchen designer can give you a lot of ideas you may not think of or know about. Still love a pantry to store stuff in though.

Re: Should I forget my dream of a kitchen pantry?

Remember that those corbles will eat into your usable storage space.

Will your pantry have a door on it? I know you don't like wire, but I have found the chrome restaurant-style shelving units on wheels to be very useful. They come in different heights and the shelves are adjustable. You can even get baskets that hang off the sides to collect smaller things. I have put shelf lines on some of the shelves where 'fall thru' is an issue.

I also had a free-standing pantry made by a local cabinet maker. The shelves are 10" deep so that things like canned goods don't get lost behind anything.


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