Are Corner Pantries Outdated?


Have you ever asked yourself, "how do I use dead corner space in a kitchen?" Naturally, a corner pantry comes to mind. Corner pantries are built out of regular wall materials and framed into a corner with a door installed at an angle for entry.  

Corner pantries have been a quick and economical solution to provide pantry space in a spec home. Many homes have them, but their popularity is not as great as they used to be.

This article is not about foo-fooing corner pantries, they still provide storage and serve a purpose. Before discussing the pros and cons of a corner pantry, let's answer your burning question if corner pantries are still in style.

If you're trying to figure out size and dimensions for a corner pantry, don't miss "What's a Good Size for a Corner Pantry?" - I've included four useful and creative corner plans.

Is a corner pantry outdated?

A corner pantry is a distinctive mark of a 1990's kitchen, and falls into the category of outdated. The real reason that corner pantries are falling out of favor is that their placement breaks up the kitchen workflow and are now seen as bulky obstacles, taking away from the design aesthetic.

Some home owners may choose to pull them out of a remodel because they prefer a new pantry arrangement. Corner pantries still do their job, and are an acceptable solution for storage within the kitchen zone. 

Below is a brief and to-the-point video of corner pantry problems. Slow Home Studio frankly summarizes, "Corner pantries only provide the illusion of storage and we don't recommend them in kitchen design." In addition the company deems them awkward and lacking of space to circulate in. In reality, the space that it amounts to isn't all that useful.

Kitchen owners love pantries, there may be no such thing as a pantry "going out of style." Slow Home Studio presents reasonable arguments that corner pantries are not effective pantry solutions.

Why corner pantries became popular

The rise of built-in corner pantries was seen in the 1990's and 2000's. It was a ground-breaking concept - popular among tract-house builders and favored by homeowners. Pantry themselves were enjoying a comeback in the 1990s. One could say this was due to the establishment of "big box stores" AKA "mega stores" in the 1980s. Buying in bulk was almost an athletic event and those extra groceries had to go somewhere!

One could also say that the rise in popularity was due to the Internet. Prior to the world wide web, home enthusiasts were limited to design ideas being delivered only once a month via magazines in the mail. Suddenly, there was instant access, and direct consumer-to-consumer sharing of ideas, including pictures inside privates homes

1990s corner pantry

GardenWeb, a hugely popular online forum for home and gardening enthusiasts was established in 1995. There, the sharing of ideas wildly flourished. Houzz, a site that attracts 40 million visitors a year, acquired GardenWeb in 2015.

I highly suspect that if you were to trace the origin of the corner pantry idea, it likely would have had its birth on GardenWeb. Someone shared a pictures of a corner pantry closet, and the idea rocketed into kitchen design history.

This content was originally posted on EverythingPantry.com. If it appears on a website other than EverythingPantry.com, it is a copyright violation owned by EverythingPantry.com.

There's no getting around that anything in a corner is a design challenge. A corner pantry can solve some of those issues, but create more in the process. Following is a list of some of the pros and cons of corner pantry design.

ADVANTAGES OF A CORNER PANTRY

Benefits of a built-in corner pantry include:

  • can open up the door and see everything
  • functional and holds a lot
  • conveniently inside the kitchen zone for easy retrieval of ingredients when cooking or baking.
  • can store small kitchen appliances as well as the kitchen broom
  • it’s less expensive to build a corner pantry than filling the space with cabinets and countertops

DISADVANTAGES OF A CORNER PANTRY

  • they disrupt the design flow and counter space
  • corner pantries take away from continuous counter space used for food prep between the sink and range
  • the walls of the corner pantry take up space and stepping into it takes up space
  • visually unattractive and blocky; have a "tract" builder feel to them
  • takes away feeling of openness, dominates the room
  • door swing is often problematic, can conflict with adjacent appliances, cabinets, or island
  • the door is often left open and can look messy
  • may not be the most efficient storage space

How big is a corner pantry?

A corner pantry is about 4' x 4' - amounting to less than 16 square feet of storage. This seems like a lot of storage, but space is used up to step into the closet. Some would argue that corner pantries waste space. In addition, the shelving is really only on two of the walls.

What can you do with a corner pantry?

A corner pantry is in the heart of the kitchen. For some people, it is their primary pantry space. Some might choose to turn it into a "baking" pantry - stocking with baking items such as flour, sugar, spices and small appliances like a mixer might be found there. Others prefer to store canned food and other ingredients for cooking.

Because corner pantries are in a corner, homeowners will inevitably have to deal with dead corner space. Creative and helpful solutions include jumbo-size lazy susans in the corner recesses. In the photo below, you can see the "tower" of lazy susans used for optimal storage.

Lazy Susan in Corner Pantry

Corner pantry features attractive glass door with words "Pantry" etched; closeup of organization of corner pantry closet.

How do you remodel or update a corner pantry?

A corner pantry is difficult to update or remodel. People choose to leave it and work around it. This could amount to repainting cabinets or replacing them. Others choose to completely remove the corner pantry cabinet, clearing the way for a more modern design layout.

Corner pantries are still being built into new homes today. They do serve a purpose, especially getting pantry space into a small kitchen. Anyone who has never had pantry space before would feel lucky to have it.

Everyone has their pet peeve, and some new home owners may decide they really do not like the corner pantry and want it removed. Here are some options for living with or changing a corner pantry:

  • repaint or reface to update the look of the kitchen
  • add more moulding, remove moulding
  • add a screen door
  • remove doors and live with it open
  • remove the corner pantry and replace with countertops
  • turn the pantry into a "hidden" pantry

FEATURED PHOTO CREDIT: Sherwood CC, Sherwood Country Club, Flickr.

are corner pantries outdated?

About the author 

Renee Matt

Renee is a former kitchen designer, home remodeling enthusiast (having lived through several DIY projects), and an Iowa farmwife. Renee is passionate about preparedness, garden skills, and knowing where her food comes from. Years of being a stay-at-home mom and supporting the family farm with hearty meals has been key to Renee's pantry readiness. She uses her professional IT background and expertise to bring the Everything Pantry website to life.

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