Modern homes have fairly functional kitchens, but most of them miss an important element: the pantry. Yes, the good old pantry your grandma probably has is an essential element in any kitchen, helping you keep lots of cooking ingredients and kitchen utensils at hand without overloading your main cooking area.
To build a corner pantry in your kitchen from scratch, all you need is whitewood boards and shelves, drywall, studs, screws, a few power tools, and a few other materials. Alternatively, you could buy a corner pantry kit from your local home improvement store and mount it.
Is a Corner Pantry Cabinet Outdated?
Corner pantries are not outdated. Actually, the contrary is true. Over the past ten years, corner pantries have been a hot trend in new home builds and home improvement projects. Most homeowners prefer walk-in corner pantries, although corner pantry cabinets are also popular.
Like everything else, corner pantries come with pros and cons. Since they take up a corner in your kitchen, corner pantries minimize the available counter space.
However, the pantry gives you valuable storage space for an array of cooking and cleaning essentials, and you won’t have to bother with unpractical corner kitchen cabinets. Moreover, corner pantries break up the kitchen cabinets, adding a beautiful visual element to your space.
Building a corner pantry isn’t complicated, even if you only have minimal skills. Thus, you could save money on the contractor. However, there are some other things you should budget for before beginning your project.
One of the things many homeowners don’t know is that building a corner pantry requires you to pull out a permit – unless you’re building a cabinet pantry that is incorporated into your kitchen cabinetry.
However, if you’re dreaming of a walk-in pantry, building it without a permit can affect your home’s resale value and put you in trouble with the law.
Depending on where you live, a permit to build the pantry can cost you anywhere between $400 and $2,200.
The larger your pantry, the more it will cost you. While the final cost will depend on the materials you choose and the area you live in, you can expect to pay between $500 and $2,000 for a small, 5 by 5 feet pantry.
Electric wiring costs about $6 – $8 per foot to install. The fee includes the cost of labor and materials, but you might have to pay more if you need more than one outlet (for instance, a ceiling outlet for a light bulb and an outlet for a wall socket.
Are you happy with standard shelving only, or do you want to add lazy susans and pull-out cabinet organizers? Lazy susan sets cost about $100, but they are a great addition for corner accessibility. Pull-out organizers cost between $100 and $300 on average.
Not all pantries have insulation, but adding it can help keep the pantry cool even in the hottest summer months. Basic foam board insulation costs about $3.95 per square foot. Top-quality insulation costs almost twice as much – $7.20 per square foot.
Lastly, work into your budget any decorative details and add-ons you might want. For instance, you could add a wine cooler or a kegerator to your panty, but that would cost you anywhere between a few hundred and a few thousand bucks.
If you want the pantry door to match the rest of your kitchen cabinetry, you might also have to order a custom door, either from the kitchen cabinets brand or have it made by a carpenter.
Crown molding, extra lights, drawers, and other add-ons will also drive up the final costs.
On average, a corner pantry will cost you between $750 and $3,500, but you could pay much more depending on the area you live in and the actual pantry you build.
If the costs above didn’t put you off, it’s time to gather all the materials you need and get down to business. Here’s a list of things you’ll need to build a basic kitchen pantry.
- 12 2” x 4” lumber
- 12 1” x 2” lumber
- 6 1” x 2” x 8’ boards
- 2 1/2” x 4’ x 8’ boards
- Drywall screws
- Wood shims
- Door jambs
- Drywall primer
- Drywall paint
- Wood primer
- Wood paint
- Trim nails
In addition to these supplies, you’ll also need:
- Drill bits
- Circular saw
- Tape measure
- Safety glasses
Building Your Own Corner Kitchen Pantry in 9 Easy Steps
Step 1 – Draw your corner pantry plans
While building a corner pantry isn’t complicated, a plan can help you throughout the project. Start with measuring your space, then use paper and pencil (or free software) to sketch your future pantry. Include any shelves and their layout in the project.
Step 2 – Build the corner pantry frame
The frame of the pantry will allow you to fix the drywall panels and attach the shelves.
For a corner pantry with a size of 3’ 4-1/2” x 3’ 4-1/2”, you will have to create two straight walls with a width of 1’ 2-5/8”. Each wall will be installed perpendicular to your kitchen walls. A diagonal board with a width of 3’ 10-5/4” will connect the sides of the frame and create the wall for the pantry door.
Use 2” x 4” lumber to cut all frame pieces, including the upper and bottom frames that will be fixed to the ceiling and floor, respectively.
Step 3 – Install the frame
Start with the upper frame and fix it to the ceiling with masonry screws. Do the same with the bottom frame, securing it to the floor. Then, place the other boards to complete the frame and secure them with screws.
Step 4 – Add wood strips for the shelves
Using 1” x 2” lumber, use the pantry plan you draw to cut wood strips for your shelves. Cut as many pieces as needed, then mount these strips on your kitchen walls (not on the frame you just built).
Use adequate screws to secure them properly. Before mounting the strips, use a level to make sure they are straight. If you don’t know how to mount shelves, it is recommended to ask a contractor for help.
Step 5 – Mount the drywall
Your new corner pantry needs walls, and this is where drywall steps in. Use a circular saw to cut the drywall panels to dimension, then fix them to the frame with drywall screws.
Once the panels are secure, fill any gaps with caulk, let dry as instructed, and smooth out the surface with sandpaper.
Step 6 – Paint the interior and exterior of your pantry
With the building part almost ready, it’s time to paint the interior and exterior of your pantry. This step is done before mounting the door and shelves to prevent smudging the door and for practical purposes.
You can paint the pantry with drywall paint in any color you want. As a general rule, though, you should pick a shade that matches the one of your kitchen furniture. If your kitchen cabinets have an unusual color, such as green or navy, for example, you could also opt for a lighter, contrasting hue to add a focal point to your environment.
To paint the pantry, start with a drywall primer and let the product dry as instructed (usually about two to four hours) before applying the first coat of paint.
If you’re using latex paint, wait for at least four hours before applying the second coat. Oil-based paints need a longer drying time, generally about 16 hours. However, we recommend you use water-based latex paint in your kitchen because it is more environmentally friendly and it isn’t toxic once dry.
After you’ve applied the second coat, leave it to dry for 12-24 hours before proceeding.
Step 7 – Install the shelves
Use the 1” x 2” x 8’ and 1/2” x 4’ x 8’ to cut as many shelves as you need – follow the pantry plan you drew earlier for reference. Once you have all shelves, use appropriate screws to install them on the wood strips you installed in step 4.
Step 8 – Paint the shelves
Use wood primer and paint to paint the shelves in the desired color. Alternatively, you could simply coat the shelves in waterproof stain or varnish.
Apply the product as instructed and leave it to dry before applying a second coat. Let it dry for at least 24 hours before filling the pantry.
Step 9 – Install the pantry door
While you’re waiting for the paint to dry on the shelves, you can proceed to install the pantry door. Use the door you bought and door jambs to fix it to the drywall. Mount the doorknob as well.
Once you’ve installed the door, you can also install the preferred door trims and crown molding. The easiest and most durable way to do this is with trim nails and a nail gun, although some trims can also be fixed with adhesive.
That’s it! You can now fill your pantry with nonperishables, kitchen utensils, and other essentials you plan to keep in there.
7 Tips for Building a Corner Pantry
Even if you now have a fair idea of how to build a corner pantry, home improvement projects often require a lot of consideration. Here are a few tips to think about before beginning the project.
1. Cut off costs with a half pantry
As mentioned above, corner pantries can be quite expensive to build from scratch. However, you can cut down the costs by building a half pantry.
Half pantries don’t go all the way up to the ceiling and can be easily incorporated into existing cabinetry – meaning that you won’t need a permit. You can also cut in half the material bills, and the project may be easier to carry out for beginners.
2. Use glass instead of drywall
If you’re a DIY pro, build a pantry for your fine china rather than nonperishable food and replace the drywall with glass. Add some lights under the shelves to create an original design element in your kitchen. This solution works beautifully in open-space kitchens.
3. Convert a corner coat closet or bookshelf into a kitchen pantry
Don’t know how to build a corner pantry? If you’re not quite the DIY master, simplify things by turning a corner coat closet or bookshelf into a pantry.
All you need is a closet or bookshelf that fits into your kitchen corner, some paint, and maybe some shelves and a closet door.
4. Build a pantry under the stairs
If you have a small kitchen but have some spare space under the stairs, you can ditch the corner pantry idea and build a pantry under the stairs. The project is similar, even if the pantry will have another shape.
5. Consider accent lighting
Do you have dark kitchen cabinets? Painting the pantry in a matching shade is a must if you want to maintain the elegant aspect of your space, but you can still turn the pantry into a focal point. All you need is accent lighting installed on the ceiling over the pantry. Alternatively, add LED strips under the shelves.
6. Add stainless steel details
Another tip for a dark theme is to liven things up with stainless steel details. Small things such as polished door and cabinet knobs can make all the difference.
7. Opt for freestanding metal shelves
When it comes to shelving, keep in mind that if they aren’t installed correctly, you could risk losing any china, mugs, or jars you want to store in the pantry if they fall. If you’re not sure how to install them, opt for freestanding metal shelves.
These shelves are easy to assemble and fix to a wall with fasteners for a secure long-term solution.
Frequently Asked Questions
How deep should pantry shelves be?
Designers and contractors recommend pantry shelves to be no more than 12 inches deep, although most standard pantries have 16-inch deep shelves. That said, you can make them deeper or shallower based on your space and needs.
How big should a pantry be?
Most walk-in pantries have a standard dimension of 5 by 5 feet and 16-inch deep shelves. This pantry size gives you ample storage space and plenty of room to move around.
What is the best material for pantry shelves?
Plywood is one of the best materials for pantry shelves. This material is relatively cheap but incredibly durable. Metal shelves are a great alternative, or you could opt for other types of natural or engineered wood.
A corner pantry is a valuable addition to your kitchen. Not only will it increase your storage space, but it can even increase the resale value of your home. Building a corner pantry in your kitchen is easy if you have DIY skills, but there are plenty of alternative solutions to consider if you don’t feel like embarking on such a project. No matter your choice, rest assured a new pantry is well worth the investment.