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How To Create A More Functional And Organized Kitchen

Open Shelving Pantry with Mason Jars for Storage

Well, guys and gals, I finally did it.

I’ve been going back and forth with the idea of an open shelving pantry for quite a while.

Although I love how open shelving looks, I was worried about dust and clutter and it not looking “pretty”.

But when I came to the realization that function should almost always overrule looks when it comes to a kitchen, I dove in head first.


Here’s what I was working with to start with.

A semi-cheap cabinet with four doors and adjustable shelves.

Pretty standard, but it did the job.

Exceeeeept…it was a mess.

The shelves were so shallow that everything just got crammed inside with no sense of organization whatsoever.

I was constantly buying groceries, putting them away, and realizing that what I had bought was already in there, just stuck in the back corner.

Enough of the money-wasting! There’s got to be a better way.

Open Shelving Farmhouse Style Pantry

And there is.

I introduce to you Open Shelving.

(Cue the dramatic music.)

I purchased some Ikea Ivar shelving systems, painted them, and anchored them to wall so securely that I could do pull ups off the side if I wanted to.

And P.S. I don’t want to. But it’s nice to know that I can.

Store baking supplies in Mason Jars for easy access and an instant farmhouse style decor element.

I’m a bit of a Mason jar fanatic so of course I had to use them all over the pantry.

It actually works very effectively because I can see exactly how much of my baking ingredients I have left.

Before, when they were stored in their original boxes, I had to open them up to check inventory.

But now, I can make my grocery lists much more quickly.

And in my house, time is pretty stinkin’ valuable.

Label mason jars on top instead of in the front to keep the look nice and clean

I considered sticking those cute little labels on the front of the jars, but once I got them all lined up, I knew the labels would take away from the natural beauty of the ingredients.

Instead, I opted to write the contents on the top of the jar.

I can still get the nice clean look of jars with no stickers without the risk of mixing up baking soda and baking powder.

And if I ever need to switch out a jar for something else, a new pack of jar lids are super cheap at the dollar store.

It’s so much easier than peeling off labels or trying to write with a tiny piece of chalk.

Use a variety of storage jars to give your open shelving pantry character and interest.

Along with pint and quart sized Mason jars, I used a variety of other glass containers.

I picked up the pasta jars with bronze lids from HomeGoods for $3.99 each, the gold clasp snack jars from Target for $1 each, and the silver-topped tall jars are actually repurposed popcorn containers from Target.

I made sure to keep each shelf categorized to make things easy to navigate.

Ikea Ivar Shelving Makes The Perfect Kitchen Pantry

Remember how I said I was worried that it would look messy and unorganized?

Having the shelves open actually prevents that.

Now that everything is out in the open, I’ve learned that I have to keep it neat or my surprise houseguests will see a dry goods disaster.

This new pantry has also taught me to be a better grocery shopper.

I can’t just hop along through the grocery store just grabbing whatever I’d like and deviating from my list.

Now I only buy what I actually need and have space for.

I started planning meals and preparing snacks and keeping a binder of cooking times for the pasta and rice that are now in jars.

I’ve become so much more organized through this process.

Put the unattractive pantry items in Ikea Ivar drawers.

Of course, not everything can look pretty.

But that’s where the drawers come in.

I keep snacks, seasoning packets, and quick meals tucked away in the drawers.

Out of sight, out of mind.

Coffee Bar Made With Ikea Ivar Shelving

On the other side of the room, where the old pantry cabinet was, I installed another small Ikea Ivar shelving unit.

I have limited counter space in my very small kitchen so I was more than excited to get the coffee maker off the counter.

Now I have a cute little coffee bar to house all my caffeine needs.

I added another drawer to this shelf also to keep my paper coffee filters and other not-so-cute supplies hidden.

Ikea Ivar Coffee Bar and Cube Storage For Pet Food and Supplies

Another great storage element we added was this six cube cubby shelf.

Our cats love to look out the back window to watch the birds sneak dips in our pool, so I wanted to put a window seat here for them.

But since space is limited, we had to keep their food bowls in that spot.

We picked up this cubby unit from Walmart for about $20 and now they have a place to sit without having to find a new home for their food.

The cube baskets store their food, treats, and grooming supplies.

And our younger cat loves to nap in the basket.

To keep them from accidentally sliding off while jumping up, I lined the top of the shelf with the grippy rubbery shelf liners.

Non-skid paint or liners can be pretty pricey, but I got the shelf liner at the dollar store for one dollar. Score!

Simple Command Center for the kitchen

The final organization addition was this super simple command center.

All of this cost less than thirty dollars.

Yep, it’s true!

The chalkboard/memo board/hook combo was on clearance at Target for $16, the letter holder also came from Target for $9, and the clipboard and notepads are from Michaels for a dollar each.

Target Command Center

Having the Command Center right above the trash can is such a great placement.

When mail comes inside, the ones that need action go in the metal envelope, the ones that need filed go straight to our office, and the junk hits the can immediately.

Southern Living Cookbooks and Ceramic Pottery

I think it’s safe to say I’m obsessed with my new kitchen organization.

Ever since the shelves have been up I’ve been cooking at home more, baking more, and shopping smarter.

This may be my favorite update we’ve made to the house so far!

Related: How To Organize Your Kitchen Cabinets And Drawers

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  1. Yes i would like to know where got the tall organizer with coffee pot and appliances at. What is made of and could it be painted another color

    • Hi, Robin! All the info you need on where to buy is right under the image in that post. The shelf is solid pine and can be painted, but it sucks up paint easily, so be prepared for 3 or 4 coats.

  2. I really like the label holders on the open shelf pantry! Please tell me they are on Amazon….

    • Brad - Admin

      Hi, Trixie! Those label holders come with the Ikea Ivar system itself, so they are not on Amazon, unfortunately. You have to get them through an Ikea store or online.

  3. Alicia McCormack

    Could you tell me where the drawers are from? They would be a perfect addition to my pantry 🙂

    • Lela Burris

      Hi Alicia! The drawers are from Ikea, as part of the IVAR collection. They’re really easy to install, even if you aren’t using the Ikea shelving. The brackets just screw on underneath your shelves and the drawers slide right onto the tracks.

  4. Anne Lewis

    Just found your site and really love your detailed info. I plan on redoing my kitchen and you have given me some great ideas.Thank you.

    • Lela Burris

      I’m so glad this post was helpful! Kitchens are such a huge undertaking, so I’m glad you were able to get some ideas. Good luck! I’m sure it will be beautiful!

  5. I appreciate you actually showing real products and food boxes, instead of a perfectly staged pantry, like you’ll often see on Pinterest. This has been helpful for me in my pantry journey for our new apartment!

    • Thanks so much Holly! Trust me, I’d love to have that perfectly staged Pinterest pantry. But it would honestly only stay that way for a day. I like to keep it real around here. 🙂

  6. Great ideas and guidelines to make the kitchen more functional and organized. It can be a very tough and challenging job to do so, but some storage solutions like shelving, cupboards, cabinets are ideal to store stuff, save space and make the kitchen more functional and organized.

    • Definitely! You said it perfectly, Linda! It’s a tough and time-consuming job, but well-worth it. Thanks for sharing your input!

  7. Cristen Coombs

    Lela, it’s gorgeous and beaut Fully functional!!! ????? Cristen

  8. I love it.

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