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Are Walk-in Pantries a Waste of Space (Pros and cons table included)

I think that I can safely say that if most people think about their dream kitchen, it almost always includes a walk-in pantry. I know I envision a large, open room within my kitchen, that has seemingly endless storage, organized to a tee, and all of my candy bars are neatly placed on display.

However, if I truly think about it, are walk-in pantries actually necessary? There seem to be so many reasons for why someone should have a walk-in pantry, but there are actually a lot of instances where a walk-in pantry is actually off-putting. This article will outline both sides of this debate.

Walk-in pantries can be a valuable addition to a kitchen, but typically only under certain circumstances. If you have large kitchen, you are an avid cook, or you need to store items under specific conditions, a walk-in is good. If you have a small or galley kitchen or you hardly cook, it is less apt.

Walking Space Needed in a Walk-in Pantry?

The whole concept of a walk-in pantry alludes that you will be able to walk around in one, but there is the question as to how much space is truly required in such a pantry and how much space would be wasted if they are not actually worth it?

The walkable floor space width of walk-in pantries is seldom less than the width of the pantry door, i.e., 32″-36″. This makes sense because the door widths are designed to ensure easy movement and even a bit of room for maneuverability. A matching width inside the pantry should allow you to turn, crouch, and carry items in and out with ease.

In most cases, pantry doors are installed to swing-out. However, for large walk-in pantries, it is possible to install an inward swinging door.

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Please note that this is the walkable area; including the shelving, the actual width of your walk-in pantry will need to be wider.

A lot of pantries are much bigger than this to allow for a lot more storage. If you are going to have a larger walk-in pantry, then obviously you are using up a valuable portion of your home’s footprint.

The amount of walking space in a pantry also needs to be big enough to allow for individuals with walkers and wheelchairs to access their pantry easily, without reduced mobility. There needs to be space for a wheelchair to turn around completely so that it won’t get jammed.

For some, having such a large pantry is deemed unnecessary as the square footage could have been used for a bigger kitchen or larger adjoining room.

Expanding one’s kitchen will make it feel more luxurious and inviting, plus you will have added cabinet space to store your groceries right where you will need them. For example, we keep out tea, coffee, sugar, etc., in some deep kitchen draws right beneath the electric kettle.

Do Walk-in Pantries Add Value to a Home?

Let’s face it, any prospective buyer will jump for joy at the chance of having additional storage space in their home, let alone an entire room where they can easily close a door to mess when guests arrive. Even if they become disillusioned with the walk-in pantry once they have moved in, it is still a selling point.

The current pandemic has also made people a bit more cautious of going to grocery stores regularly, so they need to have a place to store the items that they have bought in bulk.

Woman in kitchen pantry with stored products, holding laptop

Having a walk-in pantry will definitely attract buyers, and the National Association of Realtors has determined that building a walk-in pantry can get up to 60% return on your investment.

Circumstances When Walk-in Pantries Are a Good Option

Having a walk-in pantry can definitely bring its perks. For instance, if you already have a large kitchen, you can definitely afford to use some space to make a walk-in pantry. You will have so much storage and prep space that you probably won’t even know what to do with it.

If you have an odd-shaped kitchen, you might not have sufficient space for cabinets, so having a walk-in pantry will definitely be beneficial in helping this problem, and you will be filling dead space in those awkward corners.

You can also make the most of having narrower passageways between your kitchen and scullery by converting the space into a walk-in pantry.

If you need to store your specific grocery items that require controlled conditions (such as in a dry, cool place away from direct sunlight) then a walk-in pantry will definitely be a good idea.

Non-Negotiable Features for a Walk-in Pantry

There are certain components of walk-in pantries that are just inflexible.

  • You will need to have sufficient floor space to walk around easily and be able to carry things in and out without getting stuck in the doorway or tripping over something.
  • In order to truly maximize the space of your walk-in pantry, you should have floor-to-ceiling shelving. This is great for storing the items you use less regularly right at the top, where they remain close enough should you need them but also neatly tucked away out of sight until you do.
  • You should ensure that there is space to keep a small step ladder, like the HBTower 2-Step Ladder (amazon link), or step stool, like the ECROCY Wood Step Stool (amazon link), to allow you to reach those top shelves quickly and easily.
  • If you find you have sufficient storage space, then you can choose to convert a portion of your shelving into counter space. This can create an additional prep space for you, such as a place to keep party food before guests arrive or your kid’s birthday cake the night before.
  • It is also vital to have different-sized shelves. You can’t expect to keep your cans, large jars, and your vacuum all on the same shelf. Having a variety of large, small, deep, and shallow shelves will truly maximize your space and keep everything organized.
  • It is definitely important to have sufficient lighting in your pantry so that you can easily see all items you have and having additional plug points will allow you to place your smaller appliances in your pantry, saving you counter space in your kitchen.
  • Lastly, your pantry also needs to be well-ventilated to reduce odor, moisture, and heat.

When Should You Not Have a Walk-in Pantry?

Even though you might think you need a walk-in pantry, there are just some circumstances where you might just not benefit from one.

For instance, if you have a very small kitchen, you will be using up valuable floor and counter space to build a walk-in pantry. It is better to just find tips to maximize your smaller kitchen than risk making it even smaller with a walk-in pantry.

Galley kitchens are also not well suited for walk-in pantries. Their unique shape makes it difficult for you to have an easily accessible point to add to your walk-in pantry. No one want’s to leave their kitchen to grab their groceries.

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If you are hardly home for meals or just prefer the convenience of take-out or ready-made meals, a walk-in pantry will definitely be wasted on you. You won’t need the additional storage space for your groceries because you aren’t going to be cooking that often. Rather stick to a smaller kitchen with just the basics so that you aren’t paying for an unused kitchen.

A possible compromise might be installing a corner pantry.

Pros and Cons Table for Walk-in Pantries

Pros of Walk-In PantriesCons of Walk-In Pantries
Tons of storage space for groceries and cleaning productsA lot of storage space means it can be a lot harder to keep everything neat and tidy
You have a central place for all your kitchen goodsThey can take up a lot of space in your house that could be used for other purposes
You can easily tuck away any mess from unexpected guestsYou will need to remove all items you need for cooking at once to prevent running back and forth
Walk-in pantries add value to your homeA large pantry just means an additional room to clean
You can easily store larger appliancesCan be wasted on people who aren’t big cooks

If you are looking for a more detailed resource of the positives and negatives of walk-in pantries, you can visit Walk In Pantry Pros and Cons.


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