These days, most of the kitchens that we build feature an open floor plan, with few, if any, walls separating the kitchen from the home’s living space. Clients say that everyone ends up in the kitchen anyway, so why not make it a part of the living area? There’s logic to this argument, but on the other hand, the absence of walls means that the kitchen will have fewer upper cabinets for storage, and any clutter in the kitchen that can’t be hidden behind a door will always be in plain view.

The practical solution for most of my clients is an upgraded pantry. Traditionally, pantries have been small back rooms with utilitarian shelves for bulk storage of food and maybe a place to store a mop and a broom. But now, I like to think of the pantry as an extension of the kitchen, with work surfaces and better storage options, along with cabinetry and finishes to match. It’s an easy upgrade to sell, even for homes without an open floor plan; 85% of home buyers consider a kitchen pantry “essential” or “desirable,” the National Association of Home Builders reports.

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