Everything You Need to Know About Adding a Walk-In Pantry

The events of 2020 changed our approach to many things, including our eating habits. With a marked increase in “apocalypse shopping” and people cooking more meals at home, walk-in pantries are undoubtedly having a moment.

If you want to add a pantry in your kitchen, you’re not alone. In HomeLight’s Top Agent Insights Survey for Q4 2020, 62% of agents ranked walk-in pantries as one of the most popular kitchen upgrades for 2021, second only to a kitchen island (64%). Moreover, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), 83% of buyers indicated that a walk-in pantry was a must-have or highly desirable home feature.

With help from a top real estate agent, we’ll tell you all you need to know about adding a walk-in pantry: costs, return on investment, project planning, and clever design details.

A pantry in a home.
Source: (MainStreet Design Build and KateBenjamin Photography)

The average cost to add a pantry is $750 to $3,500

The exact cost of adding a walk-in pantry is difficult to pinpoint since prices vary by project size, finish, and location. However, according to HomeAdvisor, a project similar in scope, a walk-in closet, costs between $750 and $3,500 on average.

The space you use to add a walk-in pantry significantly influences the cost. For instance, it costs roughly $300 to $1,000 to remove a non-load-bearing wall. If you add a bump-out to extend your project area two feet past the exterior wall, expect to tack on $5,000. Other cost factors include square footage, required permits, and electrical. Here’s an overview of the average cost to add a pantry:

Size

Small walk-in pantry (5 x 5 feet): $750 – $2,000

Large walk-in pantry (100 square feet): $2,000 – $3,500

Additional cost factors

Cost of permits: $400 – $2200

Cost to repair drywall: $300 – $800

Cost to install electrical wiring: $6 – $8 per square foot

Walk-in pantries add value and marketability

Rick Fuller, a top-selling agent who works with over 74% more single-family homes than the average agent in Antioch, CA, shares that for median-priced homes to luxury homes, walk-in pantries are not optional — they’re mandatory. Buyers at these price points expect a sizable pantry in the kitchen and may not even consider homes without one.

In addition to a major marketability boost, adding a pantry brings homeowners a solid return on investment. The National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) and the National Association of Realtors (NAR) estimate that homeowners can expect to recoup anywhere from 52% to 67% of their investment.

An organized pantry that was added to the home.
Source: (Marchand Homes)

15 tips for designing the perfect walk-in pantry

If you want a kitchen pantry that’s functional and stylish, plan every detail with your contractor. Consider your storage needs and how to make the most of the project area. The devil’s in the details — so heed these 15 tips:

Plan your walk-in pantry upgrade

1. Hire an experienced contractor: Unless you’re an experienced DIYer, you’ll want to hire an experienced contractor to complete the work on time and on budget. Search for a contractor with significant experience designing pantries and closets. You can browse professionals and read reviews on sites like HomeAdvisor and Thumbtack.

2. Pull the necessary permit: Fuller reminds homeowners that they’ll likely need a permit to add a pantry: “You also wanna make sure that it’s done with a permit because when you complete a household project without permits, it can create some adverse impact on the sellability of the property or the ability for it to reach the maximum price.”

3. Evaluate your food storage needs: Once you’ve worked through the logistics, you’ll want to consider what type of shelving and storage will work best for your usual groceries. Consider the weight and height of these items to ensure everything can fit perfectly.

4. Consider electrical additions: Do you want outlets in the pantry for an appliance or chilled wine rack? Let your contractor know in advance so they can add electrical to the project scope.

A pantry that was added to a home.
Source: (Stacy’s Savings)

Design for maximum organization

5. Vary shelf heights: For the most functional design, vary the spacing between shelves. Here are a few items to consider as you plan:

  • Canned goods: 6.5 to 7 inches
  • Cereal Boxes: 14 to 16 inches
  • Large Items: 18 to 20 inches

Plan on leaving about two inches of space above the tallest items. As far as depth goes, don’t fall into the trap of “deeper shelves are better.” Deeper shelves can mean dead space or wasted food in the long run.

6. Increase accessibility: Lazy susans and pull out cabinet organizers are invaluable for increasing accessibility. They’re perfect for organizing spices, condiments, and other small items. If your pantry design includes deep shelving, pullout racks on tracks can help you access items in the back.

7. Mix open shelving and cabinets: Doored cabinets will allow you to conceal messy items and infrequently used items.

8. Splurge on a mini wine cooler: If you love wine, consider adding a mini wine cooler in your new walk-in pantry. Small wine coolers cost between $160 to $1,600 at big box stores like Home Depot.

Add functional features

9. Add LED lighting: For visibility and style, add LED light strips under the shelves and motion-activated lights overhead.

10. Install an insulated door: Consistent and cool temperature (ideally between 50 to 70 degrees) is ideal for dry food storage. An insulated door can help keep your pantry cool and ingredients fresh.

A modern pantry added to a home.
Source: (MainStreet Design Build and KateBenjamin Photography)

Decorative details perfect the space

11. Match the design to the rest of your kitchen: If your pantry is in a visible location, match the design details to your existing kitchen cabinetry. If your pantry is out of view, you can save money on less expensive finishes and fixtures. Custom cabinetry and expensive countertops can drive up the price of your remodel.

12. Paint or wallpaper behind the shelves: In addition to a blend of open shelving and covered cabinets, you can jazz up your new walk-in pantry with colored paint or wallpapering behind the shelves.

13. Incorporate crown moulding: Crown moulding gives your pantry a custom, high-end look.

14. Put up a grocery list board: Designate a spot for your grocery list with a whiteboard, blackboard, or pinboard inside the pantry. This detail adds charm and helps you keep a running list of items you need to restock.

15. Add woven storage bins: In addition to wall decor, decorative baskets can liven up your pantry. Play with an assortment of sizes, colors, and textures.

A luxury pantry inside a home.
Source: (Marchand Homes)

Add a pantry to upgrade your kitchen storage

Walk-in pantries are certainly having a moment, and while this type of upgrade may be a great addition to any home, sellers are encouraged to do their due diligence before ‘breaking ground.’ With a little extra time spent planning on the front end, you can enjoy the fruits of your labor with a great new addition to your kitchen and a good return on your investment when it’s time to sell.

Header Image Source: (Marchand Homes