Built-In Pantry Cabinets For Your Kitchen

Pantry cabinets can get as fancy as you need them to be. Watch out – there can be some serious Swiss Army action happening in a swinging, fold-out pantry cabinet. Built-in pantry cabinets are a cousin to baking cabinets featured in the “Baking Station Cabinets” article.

Pantry cabinets details

Some people may refer to a pantry cabinet that includes storage on the inside doors, as a “bat-wing” cabinet, fold-out, or swing-out. The most simple form of a pantry cabinet is no storage on the door. The cabinet can include drawers as well and counter. For the sake of this article, we are referencing deeper pantry cabinets.

Adding shelving or racks to the inside of the cabinet door starts complicating things. For one, clearance. Some pantry cabinet doors can be up to 8″ deep to contain assorted bottles, baking, and cooking supplies.

The cabinet installer and kitchen designer must pay extra attention to the swinging of the door clearance as well as enough margin to the left and right on the cabinet sides to accommodate the swing of a deeper door. You don’t want to compete with your refrigerator opening up!

Let’s consider the depth of a standard kitchen base cabinet of 24″. If you plan for a back inside shelf of 16″ (12″ is the sweet spot) – this leaves 8″ for a rack on the door. The math is not exact, considering the thickness of the back of the cabinet box. Actually, a 6″- 8″ door storage rack is probably more common.

Pantry cabinets can get very complicated very fast. When deeper depths are built, the pantry cabinet can contain more upgraded storage, such as two layers of fold out shelves, even a top-to-bottom turntable or lazy susan.

Pros and cons of built-in pantry cabinets

Built-in pantry cabinets are spectacular, but are they all they’re cracked up to be? To be fair, the pros and cons list considers the more complicated and more expensive versions of a swing-out pantry cabinet.

PROS of a fold-out pantry cabinet:

  • abundant storage in a tight footprint
  • wow factor

CONS of a fold-out pantry cabinet:

  • daily use and continuous need to swing shelves out quickly becomes frustrating to the user
  • “layered” swing-out shelves hide food from view, resulting in constant searching
  • wasted space to accommodate all the special hardware for swing-outs
  • need for additional clearance to open doors and use
  • expensive

The cons outweigh the pros. When I was a senior in college, I was lucky to land an internship at a kitchen design service. Fancy pantry cabinets were just becoming all the rage – if you could afford it. I remember standing around the showfloor with the employees, oohing and ahhing at the fantastical contraption.

The salespeople quickly confirmed that it was a very expensive unit. They did have a few high-end kitchens that used them. The craftsmanship and hardware was reinforced to handle the weight of heavy food cans that challenged the hinge work.

Built-in fold-out pantry cabinets are not that common. I might have seen one in my entire lifetime in actual use. There are plenty of other options that are just as efficient and less expensive. For example, step-in pantries allows a view of the entire space, as well as using all  of it, too. This includes all the way up to the ceiling and on the floor.

Don’t rule out a swing-out pantry if it comes down to space. A built-in, swing-out pantry cabinet may prove to be the best option in your unique space.

Built-in pantry cabinet inspiration

A pantry swing-out cabinet is really something that you have to see to understand. Below are some examples.

There is a lot of flippin’ going on here. Some fold-out pantry naysayers argue that is merely expensive, wasted space.

A similar fancy fold-out built-in pantry, but with drawers on the bottom. The deeper drawers would be nice for trays or tablecloth storage.

A fold out, built-in pantry cabinet in white. Most of the action in these types of cabinets happen in the lower section. In this example, the top is left for display.

A built-in, fold out pantry cabinet with more shallow doors. This one incorporates a small workspace/counter. Deep pantries like this are ideal to center, with less deep cabinets gracing the sides.

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