When it comes to functional essentials for every room, budget, and décor style, there's one Scandinavian retailer that manages to reign supreme. We consistently find ourselves pointing to IKEA for everything from affordable furniture for starter abodes to expensive-looking décor for first apartments. Blame it on our social media feeds (where we're constantly double-tapping images of pristinely-lined canned beans and sleek jars of pasta and cereals), but one organization overhaul we're finding ourselves embarking on is one that involves our kitchen shelves. It's a daunting undertaking if you're starting from scratch, which is why we tapped Jen Robin to share her top IKEA pantry organization ideas.
Meet the Expert
Jen Robin is a Los Angeles-based professional organizer and founder of Life in Jeneral.
"Every space is different, and we really like to focus on our clients' personal needs and how we can set up a space where function and aesthetics cohesively meet and make sense for their lifestyle," says Robin. "When embarking on a pantry overhaul, think about your routine: What is grabbed most often and least often? Keep everyone in the household in mind, too. The goal is to create a functional flow and systems that are easily maintainable, making sure everything is visible, and that everything has a home." Robin shared her guide to reorganizing your entire kitchen pantry, as well as her top IKEA product picks for getting those sundries sorted—your 'grammable pantry awaits.
Have a Game Plan
Nobody ever said embarking on a complete kitchen pantry overhaul would be easy—or quick, for that matter. You may already have all of your favorite pantry designs pinned, but first, you'll need to have a concrete concept of the actual space you'll be working with. "Measure your space to help decide what bins will work for your area," Robin says. "And don't forget to measure the depth and height of each shelf as well as the overall space."
Edit Your Pantry
Just as you would KonMari your closet, it's also key to edit down your pantry to ingredients and items you'll actually use. "Categorize all like items together and toss expired items," says Robin. If you're tight on storage space, this is the time to give away or donate any canned goods and other foods that you have more than enough.
Put Everything in Its Place
Once you've cleared off and measured your shelves, it's time to get your pantry in order—but don't start restocking just yet. Robin recommends labeling sticky notes to represent each category, then placing them on shelves so you can get a better idea of where everything will go, as well as how many extra bins you'll need and which organizational accessories you should buy.
As you're planning the placement of pantry items, Robin explains that "most-used items should be at eye level," while least-used items can be stored higher up or down low. Keep in mind that large heavy baskets should be lower, and glass jars and less bulky items should be higher up. And don't forget to consider the height of everyone in your household when considering the placement of everything.
Label, Label, Label
You've got all of your organizing bins, your spice rack's in order, and your favorite breakfast munchies are perfectly displayed in a row—so what's next? Among Robin's top IKEA kitchen pantry organization tips is to "label bins, jars, anything that can be labeled. This will help everyone know where things belong and be easier to maintain," says Robin.
Robin recommends using the same jars to elevate your spices to the next level.
"This bin is great for categorizing snacks, breakfast, grains, and more," Robin says. "We love a simple bin that makes everything really accessible." You can use a dry erase marker and label straight on the bin, too.
These whiteboard markers are "great for labeling," especially when you want to write directly on a plastic bin or glass container, says Robin.
This compact mesh basket offers the right amount of ventilation for storing fruits and veggies outside of the fridge.
Ditch Bulky Packaging
Robin also suggests taking items out of bulky packaging: "This will save on space and be more aesthetically pleasing," she says. Not only will your attractive pantry be easier to access, but ditching the cardboard boxes will also give you a better visual idea of which foods and ingredients are in need of a restock.
"These jars make nuts and snacks accessible, keep food fresh, and [make it] easy to see when it needs to be refilled," Robin says.
Use Every Corner
You don't have to stuff every inch of your kitchen pantry with a mason jar—but you should think about how to use your space as efficiently as possible. Remember, the goal is to make it easier to reach for ingredients and supplies, not clutter your shelves with unnecessary bins and containers (or play a game of pantry Jenga in the process).
Use a lazy susan for oils, cans, and in hard-to-reach corners.
"These are great at maximizing vertical space and eliminates stacking," Robin says. Use them for cans, bins, plates, bowls, and cups.