As bespoke furniture makers we are asked to make lots of pieces, from straightforward kitchen base or wall cabinets to more complex items that may have to hide pipework or strangely angled walls. One of the tasks we enjoy very much is creating a pantry, often inspired by traditional designs and requirements of grander period houses.
We define a pantry as a ‘walk-in’ food storage area; it can be a large cupboard or a proper room, but the general idea is that there is space to walk in and survey the contents. In years gone by a pantry was usually a small room that had an outside wall with an air brick or small opening window with pierced mesh rather than glazing. It was literally ‘the cold room’ before everyone had a fridge. There was usually a marble countertop too – called ‘the slab’ where items like cooked meats would be stored. Often these pantries were later turned into mini-utility rooms with the washing machine slotted in below the cold slab. The floor was always tiled with stone or quarry tiles to help keep the room cool.
Kitchens today are often large, open-plan spaces which may be ‘zoned’ into specific areas, such as cooking, dining and relaxing. If two or more rooms are opened up to create a multi-purpose space, there is often an opportunity to create a pantry between rooms. As a popular layout is to have an extra WC and even a shower room on the ground floor, often as the result of an extension, that area can become a utility room as well – it will have the necessary plumbing for a washing machine and sink. A separate pantry needs to provide logical and perfectly planned storage opportunities. We suggest a combination of open shelves, perhaps some floor-standing base cabinets and maybe a bottle rack or even a wine fridge. Shelves don’t have to be terribly deep – in fact less-deep shelves are easier to use and keep an eye on ‘stock rotation’. The pantry is also a useful space for storing items that aren’t used all the time – so we could perhaps create a slot to store all the trays and platters that are only brought out a few times a year. And don’t forget, a pantry can also be the place to store bulk-buys and gadgets that aren’t in everyday use.