How to Turn an Ordinary Cupboard into Awesome Pantry Organization

Pantry organization for a small kitchen is tricky ~ especially when there isn’t really a pantry! Come see how we turned an ordinary cupboard into our pantry.

Pantry organization for a small kitchen with DIY pull out shelves.

How to Create Awesome Pantry Organization in a Small Cupboard

Can I share a secret with you?

small townhouse kitchen with no pantry

I’ve never really liked my townhouse kitchen.

I can’t believe I just typed that out loud. I don’t want to sound whiny or ungrateful, but honestly, it’s just not ever been my favorite.

I’d made peace with that fact.

However, I determined to take a good look at my humble little kitchen with fresh eyes. I’ve organized that thing about 5 times since we moved in, but it still felt off.

But, the 6th time?

It was a charm.:)

I’m happy to report that after a few days of hard work in my kitchen, I’m actually starting to like it in there.

In fact, I just might love it!

I decided to break down the process in sections ~ like I did in real life. Today is Pantry day.

Let me introduce you. This is it in all its messy glory.

cupboard pantry organization before it was organized

Obviously, I’m using the word “pantry” loosely here. In reality, the kitchen doesn’t really have a pantry. We just decided upon arrival that this odd towering cupboard at the corner intersection of the room would become one.

cupboard pantry organization when it was messy

1.Turn ordinary cupboard shelves into pull-out shelves.

After about 3 days of living here, my husband got tired of standing on his head to find the cans of soup and installed some lovely sliding drawers. They are a life-saver!!

**Here is the tutorial for DIY Slide-Out Shelves that he used when he was building them.

As I begrudgingly began the process of re-organizing it, I first stood back and assessed what was working and what wasn’t.

cupboard pantry with numbers indicating what areas were working well

2. Figure out what elements of pantry organization work for you.

What was working:

  1.  The pull out shelves my husband built right after we moved in.
  2. The microwave perch
  3. The large round plate chargers on the top shelf works dandy, as I can stand on my tippy-toes and reach them.
  4. The cookbooks & recipes I reach for often are easy to access.
cupboard pantry with numbers and areas indicating what wasn't working

3.Determine working systems that don’t work for you.

What wasn’t working:

  • The baskets on top of the microwave for dishtowels and dishrags. (I didn’t like how it looked or functioned.)
  • Using precious drawer space for items I rarely use.

With those positives and negatives in mind, I started arranging and rearranging to try to solve all the problems.

4.Arrange and rearrange so the area is organized to suit your specific needs.

Here’s how it ended up:

cupboard pantry organization after it was organized

5. Add pretty touches.

I kept the things I loved, but tried to improve on them. I finally painted out the drawer fronts of the pantry shelves and added metal label holders (from Lee Valley Tools).

shelves of a pantry cupboard that are ready to be painted
cupboard pantry drawers with grocery items in them

(Font for labels is “Antero”)

The chargers went back up on the top shelf. Beside them, I put extra cookbooks that I want to save but don’t use often.

the top shelves of a cupboard pantry organized

I relocated all my water/ juice pitchers in the back of an upper shelf and placed taller grocery items in front.

microwave area of a pantry cupboard organization system

Everything that was previously in the top drawer fit perfectly in two pretty totes from Superstore, and fit perfectly  above the microwave.

dish towels in an pantry cupboard drawer

Having all that stuff out of the drawer allowed me to lay out the dishtowels neatly, and tuck my rolling pins behind.

All the negatives became positives, and I’m loving my newly organized pantry cupboard.

But the part that makes my heart sing and my eyes twinkle? It’s this:


The apron my sister-in-law gave me hung on the side. I love its pretty stripes and the memory of the day we found it.

It’s one of Joanna Gaines’ from her new line at Target.

It makes me feel like there’s a little farmhouse in my townhouse kitchen…

For More Home Organization Ideas:

Want to Join Us in Decluttering & Organizing your home – in just 15 minutes a day?!

I’ve put together a free Home Organization series just for you! Included in it are:

  • Simple 15 minute organization tasks for each day
  • Additional resources and ideas for more specific spaces – like organizing kitchen cupboards, pantry organization, and how to organize small closets.
  • FREE printable checklists 

Click here or the button below to get started today.

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  1. I love a good before and after! I absolutely love the labels on your drawers and that apron!
    I had to laugh when I saw your chargers above the microwave because that’s where mine are too!
    I really like your series! It gets me motivated too

  2. This is a nice makeover Rita. I like the idea of looking at what works and what doesn’t first. With the silly Covid lockdowns we have much more food on hand which is making organized kitchen pantry space more precious than ever. Love your ideas and the little ties on the front of your white baskets. Pinning

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