Pantries Are Making a Comeback

Pantries were nearly extinct, but now they're back. Why you might want one and how to get it.

An American Institute of Architects Home Trends survey revealed pantries of all kinds are on the rise in new and existing kitchen designs. According to the survey, a pantry was the most popular kitchen feature.

The survey reported the size of kitchens continues to grow, with additional food storage and prep areas like butler’s and food prep pantries. We turned to two experts to find out why pantries are in demand.

What Is a Pantry?

Some may remember their grandparents’ pantry, often a small alcove or closet off the kitchen or in the basement where canned goods and nonperishables were stored. But as refrigerators got larger and more efficient, the availability of fresh foods and takeout increased. Pantries shrank or disappeared altogether.

Chris Alexakis, interior designer and founder of CabinetSelect, says a modern pantry typically contains cabinets, shelves, drawers and other features to maximize space and functionality.

“To be considered a pantry, it must have at least one door to close off the room and should have counter space, sink, shelving, drawers and possibly electricity,” he says.

Alexakis notes that when creating a pantry, it’s important to tailor the space to fit the client’s specific needs. “For instance, if you plan on using the pantry for food storage and preparation, you may want to include additional appliances, such as a refrigerator or microwave,” he says.

What Is a Butler’s Pantry?

A butler’s pantry is a separate room between the dining room and kitchen, Alexakis says. Typically larger than a regular pantry, it includes features such as counter space, a sink and cabinets for food and dish storage.

These pantries are often designed for families who entertain a lot. He says the extra space can be a staging area for food preparation and serving prior to bringing it into the dining room.

Why Are Pantries Making a Comeback Now?

Aaron Jerez, CEO and founder of Home Bar Select, says, “With the rise of healthy eating trends, pantries are increasingly popular because they provide the extra storage space needed for healthy dry goods such as grains and legumes.”

Butler’s pantries may be more popular now due to homeowners spending more time at home and entertaining more since the pandemic began in 2020. Also, butler’s pantries keep main kitchen areas cleaner and better organized.

Some homeowners want a multi-purpose pantry that doubles as a space for crafting, painting or studying.

Another reason for pantry popularity? “A pantry adds an element of luxury and sophistication to any home,” Jerez says. Pantries can be customized to fit any decor style, from bare bones to total decadence.

If you have family members with strict dietary restrictions, a panty gives you more space to keep foods separated. This can be especially beneficial for large or intergenerational households.

Ways To Add a Pantry To Your Kitchen

If you want a pantry but can’t figure out where to fit one into your kitchen, Jerez suggests these clever ideas:

  • Take some space from a garage.
  • Convert an outdated built-in desk area.
  • Adapt unused kitchen cabinets or counter space.
  • Convert a hallway closet.

Alexakis suggests:

  • Open up an entryway and add shelves.
  • Mine unused spaces, like under the stairs.
  • Add a cabinet system to create efficient storage in a small space.
  • Install a sliding barn door on a nook or cranny to create pantry space.

Katie Dohman
Katie Dohman is an award-winning freelance writer who has written about home, design, and lifestyle topics for more than 15 years. Her work has been featured in Artful Living, Midwest Home, Star Tribune, and Teen Vogue, among many others. She is currently living her own how-to story as she and her husband work through a complete gut remodel on their 1921 home—while parenting three tiny tots and dodging their dog and cat, who always seem to be underfoot.