How to Create Your Dream Pantry on a Cheap Budget Right Now

Dream Pantry Makeover on a Budget, Easy Beginner-Level DIY

In this post we are going to show you how to maximize and modernize your old pantry on a tight budget. No need to hire professionals or take out a home loan. We are going to give you plenty of ideas on how to create your dream pantry by maximizing your space and making it modern and stylish. Your pantry is about to work hard for you, so you can better enjoy your home and your life!

Contrast with dark pantry and white kitchen is on trend and fabulous


This is a quote from a reel posted by Studio McGee revealing her dark pantry about 6 months after I made over my pantry:

“Don’t feel like your pantry has to match the rest of your kitchen. I love to incorporate a few dark and moody spaces in homes. In this pantry (Studio McGee Hilltop Estate) we went dark on the counters, dark on the cabinets. If you have a builder-grade pantry you can do this, have fun, try something new, it’s an easy spot to do it.

I would be lying if I didn’t admit feeling glee when I saw Shea McGee’s dark pantry. Love being in line with a trend setter, not to mention someone whose taste I so admire.

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Pantry makeover with paint and inexpensive organizers.

Modern Pantry Organization

It’s always good to start with inspiration. And by “inspiration” we really mean motivation. When you are inspired you are motivated.

This will help you in those moments when you ask yourself:

  • Why did I start such a huge project?
  • How am I ever going to finish this?

When the entire contents of your pantry surround you, and your family starts giving you looks (aka your husband), you need to be able to stay strong and convinced that this will all be worth it.

Side Note: If you love the gorgeous kitchen runner shown in the photo above, we have wonderful news. We have a savings coupon for you to use across the entire collection of designer rugs, runners, and mats. Use JULIE15 to save. These mats are gorgeous and indestructible. They are built for living beautifully.

Overstuffed pantry needs organizing, decluttering and aesthetic makeover

  • What are your goals? Identify your primary goal and your secondary goals.
  • What is motivating you?
  • Do you need more storage?
  • Is it a better FUNCTIONING space you desire?
  • Is your goal a better-looking room? 

Possibly and most probably it is a combination of some or all of the above.

Once you identify your motivation, try to describe in more detail what your DREAM pantry will be like.

Your Dream Pantry

Take a few moments to dream.

  • How will it function? 
    • Identify your current pain points.
    • Make a list.
  • What does your dream pantry look like?
    • Be as specific as possible.
    • Describe the mood you want to feel as you walk in and as you use it.
  • What does it need to store?
    • Again, make a list.
    • Think about your current pantry. What do you want to remove and store elsewhere?

Answering these questions and knowing what your end goals are will really help you create your dream pantry.

Dream pantry is organized and harmonious

The Story of My Pantry Makeover

My inspiration: I wanted a dark, bold pantry to contrast with my white kitchen.

  • I had been picturing the look for about 2 years but knew painting it would be a big project.
  • I also knew the potential of the pantry was huge and that it currently wasn’t living up to its potential.


I chose Fusion Mineral Paint for its beauty, ease of application, and pigmentation. Just two coats and I was done.

Save 10% on your entire order using our coupon code: JODIEKAMMERER

I used Fusion Mineral Paint in Ash for the walls.

And I used Fusion Mineral Paint in Coal Black for the shelves.

This project required just 2 pints of each. Amazing how far it goes, making this the most economical paint choice around.

Almost empty pantry is revealing potential of the space!

Pain Point: I hated the builder-grade shelves and knew that they were really cheapening the look of the room.

  • I needed a way of dressing them up, or better yet, making them “go away” completely.
  • But I didn’t have the time, money or skills to rebuild them completely. 

Current Pantry Functionality

  • My pantry was already functioning well, so I didn’t need to change the way I stored things.
  • Working toward my advantage was the attention I had given my pantry on earlier reorganizing projects.

Before photo shows potential but also focuses on builder-grade shelves which are pantry's weakness.

Functional but Chaotic Before photo shows potential of pantry.

  • I still needed to clean out and organize what had accumulated over the past couple years.
  • The main goal was to improve the aesthetics. 

Setting My Dream Pantry Makeover Goals

I had my inspiration and my goals set.

  1. Improve on the visual chaos.
  2. Decrease clutter.
  3. Solve the problem of the ugly shelves.
  4. Make my vision of my “dream pantry” come to life.

Before pantry photo in need of decluttering and organizing.

Step-by-Step How to Maximize & Modernize Your Pantry

Step 1. Take Everything out of the Pantry.

  • No matter what your end results, you must start with an empty room.
  • Choose a time frame when other events aren’t happening, and the temporary mess won’t disrupt your family’s life too much.
  • If you’re saying to yourself, this never happens, then we recommend warning family members in advance. Even better, get them to pitch in and help!

Step 2. Clean Pantry 

Now’s your chance to deep clean this space. Take full advantage.

  • Dust and wipe the shelves.
  • Use a grease cutter for anything oily or sticky.
  • Remove cobwebs off the ceilings.
  • Clean the floors.

Step 3. Time to Paint to Create Your Dream Pantry

Black painting begins on shelves and walls in budget pantry makeover

Here is a DIY/Design Fact: Painting is the cheapest and fastest way to update a space.

  1. Of course, this applies to updating a pantry.
  2. It will give you a new look and a clean look.
  3. Painting your shelves the same color as your walls will also help HIDE the look of shelves that you might not want to draw attention to.
  4. A unified look is seamless, minimalistic, and clean, all aesthetics that are desirable in a pantry, especially a modern pantry.

Why is this a universal truth?

  • Because the nature of a pantry is stuff! Tons of stuff.
  • It can look cluttered, messy, and overwhelmed quite easily.
  • So, we need our design aesthetic and all our organizing efforts working toward the opposite.
  • Design in a pantry needs to be about less is more.

Shop Fusion Mineral Paints and save 10%. I used Ash for the walls and Coal Black for the shelves.

Outdated unorganized pantry is updated on a budget with black paint all over

Problem: Builder-grade (ugly but functional) shelves.

  • Solution: Paint the shelves a dark and same or similar color to the walls to camouflage them.
  • The result: Now the shelves all but disappear into the room and are no longer an eye sore. They simply vanish!

Problem: Looking into a pantry and seeing chaos.

  • Solution: Choose bins that are labeled to organize like items but also hide unsightly packaging from view.
  • At the same time the bins will make good use of pantry shelf space.

Black and white trending pantry is organized and sleek on a budget

Can we pause for a moment of silence at the beauty and functionality of these totally affordable black fabric bins? What? Seriously. I’m so happy with these.

Step 4. Measure & Purchase Organizers for your Dream Pantry

  • You’re ready to prepare for your new pantry.
  • Begin with measuring all your shelves.
  • Decide now what types of items will go where.
  • Look at how much you have and begin to estimate how many products you need.
  • Shop our favorites below.


Every high-functioning pantry will make use of a variety of products to organize and store a variety of food, products, etc.

I used and now recommend the following:

Spice Jar Set – (This is the set Julie has and recommends. My set is unavailable.)


Glass canisters – Extremely versatile and affordable. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Classic style.


Fabric Bins – I chose black with sleek white striping. It was the second-best decision I made just behind my decision to paint everything black! Extremely affordable. They come in a variety of colors and sizes. You can see how amazing they look. Enough said 🙂



Airtight Plastic Containers – Essential. Come in a variety of different packages. Stackable and completely airtight.

Baskets – I love how these add texture and warmth to the space. I have included some more affordable options and a more expensive choice. The expensive one from Pottery Barn I’ve owned for 18 years, and they still look just like new.


Extra Large Pantry Labels Set – These are so cute and so versatile. Love them. 

Metal Pantry Basket Labels Clip on for Storage bins w/ White chalk markers – Simple to use. You can change them up effortlessly. 

3-Tier Spice Pantry organizer

Black Lazy Susan


Step 5. Sort, organize & throw away.

  • This is my favorite step because it’s just so essential.
  • If you’re anything like me, you are going to find a lot of expired items. Oops. 
  • No shame. It happens to all of us living busy lives!
  • Don’t forget to recycle 🙂

Step 6. Fill Containers

  • It’s time to fill up all your containers.
  • Remove as much packaging as possible and fill your airtight containers.
  • Fill your baskets with sorted items.
  • Continue to recycle as much as possible during this process.
  • Finally, add labels to everything.

tiered shelves and labeled jars look organized and sleek in new black pantry.

Step 7. Restock Your Dream Pantry

  • Now it’s time to bring everything back into your pantry.
  • Take the time to think through how you use your space. Make sure kids’ items you want them to reach are nice and low for them.
  • Make sure your organization and placement make sense for usability and not just aesthetics.
  • The best pantry takes both elements into account at every step.

Black walls black shelves and black bins look elegant, organized and harmonious.


Step 8. Enjoy your organized Dream Pantry.

Contrasting black pantry is a statement room next to white kitchen.

Shop our absolute favorite vinyl mats and runners here.  Aren’t they gorgeous? Jodie and I both have these fantastic, stain-proof (read spill proof, pet proof, kid proof) rugs in our laundry rooms, outside on our patios and in our kitchens of course. They have all kinds of gorgeous designs, and you can even create custom sizes. We’ve seen especially beautiful rooms with these mats going edge to edge giving the look of seamless flooring. Whether you have a floor you want to hide or just an area that needs definition, protection, beautification, or all the above, you need these mats in your life. And you can SAVE using our coupon JULIE15.


You’re done. Well, you’re done for now.

But remember all that work? Was it worth it? Heck yes!! But you don’t want to have to go through that AGAIN!!!

Survived the heat wave and the power outage and all the challenges of a huge organizing project to make over the pantry.


Want to maintain your beautiful organized pantry? Of course you do. Read our blog post for lots of tips.

Here are our best tips to maintain your dream pantry:

  • Give your eager family a fun tour! This is essential. They need to be able to find everything. Most importantly they need to understand your system of organization so they can help keep it organized.
  • Check in every week or so. Don’t let things get out of hand.
  • If necessary, have a “check in” with your family to get their help.
  • Also, if you find something isn’t working don’t be afraid to make some adjustments. Real life comes first.

Enjoy, Friends!

jodie & julie


How to Create Your Dream Pantry on a Cheap Budget Right Now
Article Name
How to Create Your Dream Pantry on a Cheap Budget Right Now
How to turn your old pantry into your dream pantry on a tight budget. We have design tips as well as how to organize to maximize your space.
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The Design Twins
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