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Bigger, Better Kitchen Pantries Are A COVID-Inspired Wellness Design Trend

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One of the trends that emerged at the start of the pandemic was people doing more bulk shopping to reduce trips to the store. That led to a rush on chest freezers to store frozen food and to a desire for larger, more functional pantries in the frenzy of remodels that followed lockdowns. The latest trends study from the National Kitchen & Bath Association bears this out.

In its top five list of emerging kitchen ideas for the next three years is a “working pantry,” cited by 60% of the designers and industry professionals who responded to the survey. The pantry’s features should prioritize food storage and working areas for small appliances, including coffee centers, they said. These pantries should also include storage space for serving dishes, pots and pans. And they should have countertops for food preparation, including baking centers.  

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Pantry Enhancements

This doesn’t surprise senior editor Mitchell Parker, who watches what designers post and consumers save on the massive home improvement site Houzz.com. “For those who have the space, pantries are a great solution for people looking to organize.” Pantries help facilitate organization, creating storage and working space out of the kitchen’s sight lines and work aisles, he adds. These are still walk-in spaces or cabinetry-based configurations, but homeowners are equipping them with more sophisticated solutions like roll-outs, specialty organizers and deep drawers.

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, we’ve seen an increase in photos on Houzz that showcase themed storage, like baking, coffee prep or snack stations for the kids, which allows family members to come into the kitchen for specific reasons without interrupting the cook’s flow.

Beverage refrigerators are another example of this,” Parker adds. “They can give family members and guests access to cold drinks away from the main refrigerator and the chef who’s preparing a meal in the kitchen. Nearly one in five renovating homeowners incorporates a beverage refrigerator, up by 5% from last year.”

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Portland, Oregon-based certified master kitchen and bath designer Robin Fisher is seeing her clients also use their pantries for wine storage and keeping food they’ve canned at home, she comments. When meeting with new clients, she asks how they shop and plan their meals, how they entertain, how far they live from their grocery store and what their sustainability priorities include. “I have a client conversation about food waste and sizes of pantries. I try very hard to make the pantry the correct size for the client and fully accessible so that they see everything, and everything is used before its expiration date,” she shares. All of their responses, along with her professional observations about their home’s available space, contribute to how and where she’ll design their pantry spaces.

Chef’s Pantry Tips

Health-focused private chef James Barry, CEO of seasonings brand Pluck, also prioritizes quick, easy access in his pantry space.  “I want everything to be visible. So pantry door shelves are a plus. The deeper the shelf, the harder it is to see everything,” he observes. “If the shelf is wide and deep, a rack that elevates or tiers the pantry items is great.”

The chef keeps his spices and cooking tools close to the work zones where he’s using them, he says, and has his pantry hold gear he uses less. “Small appliance storage is ideal, even larger appliances that are infrequently used. I’m on the fence about built-in appliances in the pantry.” He notes that they’re harder to clean in tighter quarters. “When I look at a kitchen space, I don’t just look at aesthetics, but practicalities.”  

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Pantry Locations

Fisher likes these storage zones to be sited for peak convenience. “I believe that the pantry should be located in the perimeter of the kitchen. You get what you need, then bring it to the cooking center to cook.” 

Parker agrees: “When drawing up plans for a new or renovated kitchen, most designers on Houzz try to place a pantry in the handiest location for the homeowner, within steps of the primary kitchen work zones,” the editor notes. “For that reason, some of the best cabinet pantries are located next to the fridge, sink or range.” Homes with large kitchens might even have multiple pantries. “If that’s the case,” Parker suggests, “it’s important to develop a well-thought out plan for food organization so that related items are grouped together.”

He notes that “Some homeowners opt to include a butler’s pass to their walk-in pantry, which include microwaves and prep sinks in order to be used as a serving station. In those instances, the pantry should be accessible to the dining room, but out of the way of the kitchen’s primary cooking functions.”

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When a pantry is to include working appliances, like the freezers and wine fridges Fisher includes, and the coffee makers cited by NKBA and Houzz designers, they also need power sources. Microwaves, which have recently started trending away from kitchen to pantry placement, also require power. When pantries have sinks, as Parker mentions, the designer also needs to factor in a water source and drainage. These all add cost to the remodel, but functionality and value to the kitchen and home too.

Pantry Organization

If he had his druthers, Barry’s home would have a walk-in pantry, he says, and he would convert a kitchen utility closet to a supplemental food pantry. Bigger isn’t necessarily better though, the chef cautions. “We tend to treat our pantries like they’re storage units. A small, well-organized pantry will make cooking simpler and less stressful. Even though that bulk buy of tomato paste may be five cents less, do you really need 12 cans of it in your pantry? Stick to smaller quantities with a higher turnover. You’ll not only be more efficient with what you buy, but your food items will be fresher.”

He organizes his own pantry according to need. “Items rarely used are on the top shelf. Items frequently used on the bottom shelf. I have dried pastas in the middle on one side. Cans organized by type on the other. I keep baking items together on the same shelf and oils and vinegars together on an easily accessible lower sheIf.”

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Because Barry can easily see what’s in his pantry with shallow shelves and an organizing plan, he can keep his food fresher, he notes. “I’m someone that will build a meal based on what I have in the cabinet just to get rid of it. Lentils from six months ago? No problem, tonight we’re having lentil soup for dinner.”

Whatever you’re making for dinner, having a pantry optimized for efficient meal prep, whether large or small, can get food to your table faster and with less stress.

***

Author’s Note: Barry, Fisher and Parker will be participating in a Clubhouse conversation on Wednesday, January 19 at 4 pm Eastern (1 PM Pacific) to discuss pantry tips and trends, and answer participant questions. This session is open to everyone. Those who miss the live event can find a recording the following Wednesday on the Gold Notes blog.

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Real Estate

Impressive 140-Acre Estate In The Heart Of Virginia Asks $11 Million

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Eaglecrest is a 140-acre estate in the heart of Virginia that was inspired by such presidential mansions as George Washington’s Mount Vernon and Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello.

Set in Charlottesville, about a 2-hour drive from Washington, D.C., the property has easy access to historical sites, wineries and outdoor recreation including hiking, horseback riding and golf. Nearby are the University of Virginia, President James Monroe’s Highland residence and Montpelier, the home of President James Madison.

“While this home offers seclusion, privacy and a certain – rather difficult to find these days – serenity, Charlottesville’s bustling downtown is a mere 15-minute drive away,” says listing agent Fouad Talout of Long & Foster Real Estate. “The city offers exciting nightlife and honest Southern hospitality. This property truly offers the best of both worlds.”

Completed in 2000, the residential compound centers on a 16,400-square-foot manor house surrounded by lush lawns, fields and woodland. Stately columns define the portico of the red brick mansion, while black shutters frame the windows.

Dual staircases lead upstairs off the wood-clad central hall, which opens to a two-story octagon-shaped living room that features French doors, a fireplace and crown molding.

A wall mural depicting early American life graces the formal dining room. A butler’s pantry sits off the kitchen, which has cherry cabinetry, granite countertops and a center island. A breakfast room opens to a screen porch.

A family room, two offices, a club level for entertaining and two wings, each with its own suite of rooms and conservatory, are among other living spaces.

The main level owner’s suite features a sitting area with a fireplace, French doors, a dual vanity bathroom and large walk-in closets for a total of seven bedrooms and seven full bathrooms.

Herringbone-patterned brick terraces lead to the backyard and the swimming pool. Two natural springs feed a three-acre pond behind the manor house.

Also on the grounds are a four-bedroom guest house, a carriage house that can accommodate 10 vehicles and has an upstairs office suite, a log cabin with a kitchen and a loft bedroom, and a greenhouse with a two-car garage adjacent to the orchard and vegetable gardens.

A covered bridge, more than four miles of roads and trails, two barns or equipment sheds, a pavilion and a reflecting pool with fountains are among other amenities.

Eaglecrest’s many possible uses include a corporate retreat, an equestrian estate, a family compound, a vacation getaway or a farm, according to Talout. The asking price for 741 Woodlands Road, Charlottesville, Virginia, is US $10.9 million.

The estate is a rarity in the current local housing market. “Upper-bracket homes, such as this one, typically fall into their own category,” says Talout, who cites only one other property for sale in the area that could even be considered a comparable listing. But the comp, he notes, “does not enjoy the same well-kept grounds, stately finishes, modern upgrades and five separate compounds/guest homes that 741 Woodlands does.”

Plus, Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport is only about 8 miles away from Eaglecrest.

“One of Virginia’s most impressive estates, there are few buyers who may be fortunate enough to call it home,” Talout says. “The future owner of this property will surely enjoy the decades of memories this home will bring.”


Long & Foster Real Estate is an exclusive member of Forbes Global Properties, a consumer marketplace and membership network of elite brokerages selling the world’s most luxurious homes.



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West Valley leaders working to improve infrastructure to support massive industrial, population growth

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Thousands of jobs and millions of square feet of industrial, office and retail space are in the works across the West Valley. Here’s how city leaders are preparing for the growth.



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Private plane company to invest $40M to upgrade South Florida facility

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The financial promise is in exchange for a new 40-year lease.



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