How to Convert a Closet Into a Food Pantry
Tom Silva gives advice on inexpensive closet organizing accessories
I’d like to convert a shallow clothes closet near the kitchen into a pantry for dry and canned food and small appliances. Nothing fancy; I’ll keep its door closed most of the time. Any suggestions?
—Elizabeth Burkett, Blowing Rock, NC
If “nothing fancy” means inexpensive and easy to install, then it would be hard to do better than one of the metal shelving kits sold at home centers. They usually come with shelf standards—slotted steel bars like the one I’m holding, above—shelf brackets that fit into the standard’s slots, wire shelving, and a hang track, like the one in my left hand. For ease of cleaning and corrosion resistance, the standards and brackets are epoxy-coated and the shelves are dipped in vinyl. All parts are made of steel; four 4-foot-long shelves supported by three standards and a hang track are strong enough to hold up to 600 pounds of cans, jars, kitchen mixers, and the like. If your closet is wider than 48 inches, this kind of shelving comes in long sections that can be cut to fit.
As you design your closet, keep in mind that the brackets—and therefore the standards—have to be placed no more than 4 inches from the end of a shelf and no more than 2 feet apart. It’s also important to know where the studs are so that you can screw the hang track—and the standards, if possible—to them. If you only use drywall anchors to hold everything up, the weight on the shelves will probably pull the standards out of the wall and send your pantry items crashing to the floor. Fastening a hang track to the studs also lets you place the standards where they provide the best shelf support, even if there’s no stud in that spot.
When installing these systems, use a level to make sure the track is horizontal and the standards are plumb. And to stabilize the standards, make use of every fastener hole they have, by driving the screws into either studs or drywall anchors.
Shown: Tom Silva demonstrates how a shelf standard, in his right hand, attaches to the hang track in his left. Because the track is screwed to the studs, the standards hanging from it don’t need to be.