A Visit to a Modern, Old-Fashioned Pantry


Wow, am I excited! I had quite the adventure visiting an estate sale today. I did not expect to find what I did! I came home with one good story to tell (what a rickety, country gravel road I was driving on!). The almost mile-long driveway twisted through the woods, finally bringing me to a magnificent and breathtaking rustic home.

Visitors were reverently coming and going in almost hushed silence. The owner was quite the collector of fine dishware, pottery, and art. The experience was more of a museum than a home.

I, being the lover of architecture, was enthralled with the beautiful craftsmanship of the interior, The expansive great room windows opened to a view overlooking a peaceful trout stream. The room’s fireplace soared to the height of the vaulted ceiling.

I know you must be very curious to see what the house looks like. Out of respect to the owner, I kept my picture snapping under control.

Here is one photo of the gorgeous fireplace. That should give you and idea of how amazing the rest of the house was.

I was there to pick up an estate sale find, not find myself in a home magazine cover. I excitedly made my way through the house and all the treasures. To my surprise, I turned the corner into the very modest kitchen and discovered the most remarkable pantry. I really was not expecting it!

Fireplace of the rustic house with vintage pantry.

Fireplace of the rustic house with vintage pantry.

It was everything that a farmhouse pantry should be – we all really need to take notes here. In fact, I am. I’m going to take you through this small walk-in pantry tour and tell you exactly what makes it fantastic!

The details make the difference

This pantry was a feast for the eyes. If you are looking for pantry ideas, it doesn’t get better than this. Each detail serves its purpose for the greater good. If there was a recipe for a vintage pantry, this is it:

  • beadboard
  • door and window trim
  • nooks and crannies
  • specialty shelves
  • non-standard shelf depths
  • pantry window
  • hooks for linens
  • extra cabinetry
  • small cupboard

Here is the first look at the pantry. There is no door, with direct access from the kitchen. Note the beautiful dark trim and mullions of the pantry transom that match the kitchen window.

Old fashioned walk in pantry exterior

Modern “old fashioned” walk-in pantry exterior.

pantry window

Pantry window in modern “old fashioned” pantry

My heads peeks into the all-white interior and turns right – a pantry window! It is absolutely picture-perfect. The only thing missing are some lace curtains. The dried flowers look so natural hanging there. the colored bottles add some whimsey where the sunlight catches them.

Other items attached to the walls are intentional. The vintage potholders not only add charm, but frame a time period for the pantry.

I notice the detail of the beadboard and the window trim. Note the care taken to “step back” the shelving and the little nooks just big enough to place one special jar (maybe a sourdough starter?).

A small cabinet provides a bit of counter space – one could just imagine a fresh-baked pie sitting there, cooling in the open window.

Look at the detail in these pantry shelves! The beadboard runs behind them, continuing the textural theme throughout the small room. Again, the shelves step back. I love the scrolled shelf supports – the shape and feel really makes it feel vintage.

The bottom shelf is designed to be deeper, smartly planned for the wider dishes in the collection. The beautiful hardwood floors contrast nicely with the soft white of the pantry walls, shelves, and cabinets.

Distinctive pantry shelving full of character.

Distinctive pantry shelving full of character.

Detail of pantry door woodwork.

Detail of pantry door woodwork.

This is the view from inside the pantry, looking out and up. One must appreciate the detail of the woodwork. There were many decisions to be made here, and the carpenter got them all right. The small transom ties in with the kitchen windows. The door acts as a portal, transporting the user from one space to another, and becomes an experience unto itself.

The solution of meeting the all-white pantry interior to the dark wood is done seamlessly. This can always cause conflict when meeting white with dark – it looks like everything went quite well!

You can see that the wood ceiling (and also the floor) was carried through to the pantry. It adds continuity, but more important, a little more warmth to the white interior of the pantry.

View from outside looking in through pantry window.

View from outside looking in through pantry window.

This is the view from the outside of the house, looking through the pantry window (the only angle I could get of this view).

The small pantry is actually “L” shaped. When walking through the door and turning left, you see a small space, with a set of miniature shelves across the back wall.

And there is the charm. Unexpected sizes and shapes that do not confine to boring standard sizes and rectangular spaces. If you want to add charm to your pantry, throw in an extra twist or two and specialty shelves sized to fit!

A few more vintage cookware is added to the walls, as are vintage aprons on hooks. Never underestimate the charm and warmth linens add to a pantry.

details of pantry shelf nook

Details of pantry shelf nook.

Just a few more closeup details of the window and shelves. No one can deny the romantic charm of a window in the pantry. Many may ask if it’s necessary to have a window in the pantry. We can talk all day long about ventilation and temperature. What it comes down to is aesthetics. My favorite architect, Susan Susanka, refers to these as “surprise windows.” 

When it comes to adding character and charm to a house, it begins with details like this farmhouse pantry features. For pantry enthusiasts like me, it is a real pleasure to step into this well-done space.

I would describe this lovely pantry as a display pantry. My old budget green bean cans would just ruin the look going on here.

Don’t forget that this is an estate sale, so quite appropriately, the pantry was decked out with vintage aprons, linens, and dishware.

It really does make me want a display pantry, even if it might not be the most practical – we all can dream, can’t we?

Dishes on shelves of modern "old-fashioned" pantry.

Vintage dishes on shelves of modern “old-fashioned” pantry.

Obviously, great care and attention to detail went into all parts of the house (the house was built in 1995). The very best designer creates a home to be one with nature, and this house is. The natural elements of rock and natural hardwood woodwork from the northeast Iowa region make it feel warm and inviting.

It was a true delight to visit this home. It really makes my day when someone gets pantry and house design right. All I can say is, BRAVO!

signature, Renee editor EverythingPantry

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.

Other articles you might like

Page [tcb_pagination_current_page] of [tcb_pagination_total_pages]

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

Pantry Talk for Pantry Enthusiasts!

>