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Build a Walk-In Pantry for More Kitchen Storage Space

Frame the Walls, Run Wiring, Hang Some Drywall, and Install a Door

© 2010 by Kelly R. Smith

Photo of Kelly R. Smith

A quality kitchen pantry with plenty of shelving

A quality kitchen pantry with plenty of shelving

This article was updated on 09/15/20.

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A common complaint in most homes is the lack of kitchen storage space. In older homes, the trend was to have smaller kitchens. In modern homes, the trend is to open the kitchen up more to the rest of the home; open to the great room is trendy.

While the selling points are amenities like granite countertops and Energy Star appliances, in many cases, storage space is sadly lacking.

One solution that’s on our list of favorite DIY projects is to build a walk-in pantry. This is a particularly good solution when the kitchen connects to the garage. It’s easy to carve out a bit of garage space. The initial task is to pick the best location.

In the best situation, you can locate it in the corner of the garage and extend it just past the door connecting the garage to the kitchen. That way, 2 of the walls are already there and only 2 additional walls have to be framed up and tied in. This is what I did.

Lay Out Your Pantry Walls

Always check your local building code before you start; then you can lay out the walls. The code will probably let you frame with either wood or metal studs. The price is comparable but galvanized steel studs and track is easier to work with.

In most cases, the pantry will be rectangular shaped and for the long wall, you can just snap your chalk line for the bottom plate parallel with the existing wall and then use the 3-4-5 rule or even a framing square for the short wall.

For details of the framing process, refer to this basement framing article. During the lay out process, remember the rough opening for a door into the garage.

Wiring the New Room

Again, refer to your building code. Chances are this is going to be a fairly minimal job. In most cases an overhead light rounds out the requirements. If you need electrical outlets, run your Romex before you hang any drywall or install fiberglass insulation batts.

Since this is utilitarian room, I decided not to spend a fortune on lighting. After looking at the fluorescent fixtures at Home Depot I settled on a bathroom vanity strip light instead (see video above).

I wired it into the garage lights so that I could simply flip one switch in the kitchen. Just another one of those keep-it-simple concepts. Speaking of things to do before hanging the drywall, if there is any plumbing happening, PEX tubing is a good choice.

Hang and Finish the Drywall

When I built my pantry, I found this to be the easiest process:

  1. I hung the inside first to take advantage of the overhead fluorescent lights in the garage. Just common sense.

  2. Next, stuff the insulation batts between the studs from the garage side.

  3. Hang the drywall on the exterior of the pantry.

  4. Attach corner bead to the outside corners. With the configuration described above, that’s just one stick on the outside.

  5. Tape and float the walls. This will take a couple of days since you’ll have to allow time for the first coat to dry before you float it out.

  6. Sand, texture the walls, prime and paint.

Flooring, Baseboards, and Doors

A pre-hung kitchen pantry door
A pre-hung kitchen pantry door.

After the walls are done it’s time for flooring. Since this is a high-traffic area with the potential for spills, I recommend floor tile. As you can see in the picture at the top of this article, I’m almost done with installation.

The next steps are a door (if you need one) and baseboards. In my situation I removed the original door to the garage and finished it off as a case opening. Then on the other side of the pantry I installed a pre-hung exterior door. After installing the door trim, cut and install the baseboards.

That’s about it. The rest of the job depends on what you like in cabinets or racks, home-built or store bought. Did you find this article on building a walk-in pantry helpful? If so, please share the link with friends and social media. And if you have some related ideas please share them with our readers in the comment section below. Thanks for visiting; we’re all in this together!

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About the author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation and financial and energy trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at Considered Opinions Blog where he muses on many different topics.

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