How To Turn Your Hall Closet Into a Pantry + Price Guides!

Thinking outside the box and looking to turn your hall closet into a pantry? If you love to cook or need to feed a large family, having a pantry is essential. Just because you don’t currently have a pantry, doesn’t mean you have to build a custom home or live without it! One thing that many American homes do have is a hall closet directly adjacent to the kitchen. Only a few feet away. it’s precious extra storage space. Of course, it’s a closet, not a pantry…

If you’d like to turn your hall closet into a spacious location for your food, you’re in luck! We’re going to tell you exactly how to do it, and approximately how much it will cost too. When you’re done, you’ll have a pantry extraordinaire for preparing yummy meals with more joy and less stress. Oh! And if you’re looking for other ways you can use your hall closet, check this article out.

How to Turn Your Hall Closet Into a Pantry

Step 1 – Clean Out Your Closet

Here’s the thing; most hall closets are severely underutilized anyway and the only way to make them work is to create a custom hall closet solution. Off-season coats, boots, sports gear, and more are usually stored there but can easily be stored in another closet or storage unit. You’ll want to do that, emptying everything, and relocating it to a different part of the house. Next, remove any shelves, rods, and so forth so that the closet is completely empty. Lastly, use spackle to patch any holes in the closet walls.

  • Time- 2 Hours
  • Cost- Less than $15.00 for spackle and a spackle knife
Shot in front of an empty hall closet

Step 2 – Paint the Inside of the Closet

This is where, if you like, you can add a splash of color. It’s going to be your new custom hall closet and pantry, something you’ll use every day, so why not make it bright and fun? Or go traditional and stick with eggshell white. Now, truth be told, you may not even need to paint. Your closet’s paint may already look just fine, especially if your home isn’t too old. On the other hand, if you want to make your new hall closet turned pantry extra special, a couple of coats of paint will help.

  • Time – 2 Hours (Plus a few hours to dry)
  • Cost – About $40.00 for 1 gallon of paint and a decent paintbrush or roller.

Step 3 – Measure And Install The New Shelves

The main thing you need in order to turn your hall closet into a pantry need is lots of shelves to store all that extra food. There are two ways to do this, depending on your budget (and your DIY skills). Whichever system you choose, wire shelves or wood shelves, you’ll need to measure where they’ll be hung. To do that, you’ll need:

  • A Carpenters Pencil
  • A Measuring tape
  • Painters Tape
  • A Stud Finder
  • A Level

Using the measuring tape, measure the shelves starting from the floor. (Use the average shelf height and width numbers below). With each measurement, make a mark on each side of the closet. (You should have six marks in total for each shelf.) Then, use painter’s tape to connect the marks for each shelf. (Use the level to make sure the lines are level.)

If you’re installing wood shelves in your hall closet turned pantry, you’ll need to cut a ‘runner’ to support them on the back and sides. That means measuring and cutting them to the correct size. Then, using the stud finder, find studs to screw in the runners on the closet’s back and sides. Make marks on either side of the stud above your painter’s tape. That way, when you go to screw in the runners, you’ll know exactly where the studs are located. Be sure to use your level to ensure all of the runners are perfectly level as you install them.

There’s no need for a runner for wire shelves, but you still need to find the studs with your stud finder. Then, depending on the specific brand of wire shelves, you’ll need to attach the shelf supports. (It’s recommended you use one every 12 to 14 inches.) There are usually different supports for the back and the side of wire shelves. Once your supports are in, you can insert the wire shelves and attach their supports. (You may need to cut the wire shelves to fit first, which would mean using a hacksaw.)


  • Shelves on the bottom should be 16 inches deep and 18 to 24 inches apart. This will accommodate larger items.
  • Shelves at eye-level should be 12 to 14 inches deep and about 14 inches apart. That way, cereal boxes, and other medium-sized items will easily fit.
  • At the top of the closet, shelves can be 6 inches deep for canned goods, spices, and other dry goods. If you like, you can also make them closer together, about 10 inches apart.
  • Here’s an additional guide to walk you through mounting shelves

ALTERNATIVE IDEA – Skip Putting in Shelves and Buy a Wire Storage Rack

If your DIY skills aren’t excellent, you might want to skip installing shelves and buy a metal rack instead. They’ve got shelves too, but a rack is much easier to set up and install. There’s no need to measure, cut, drill, hang, etc. You simply put together the metal rack and put it in the hall closet. Voila, you’ve got an instant pantry! Plus, with a wire rack, you can adjust the shelf height yourself for pantry perfection.

  • Time – Wood Shelves, 4 to 6 Hours 
  • Cost – About $150.00 for wood and screws
  • Time – Wire Shelves, 2 Hours 
  • Cost – About $100.00 for 5 or 6 wire shelves and their hardware
  • Time – Metal Rack, 30 minutes
  • Cost – About $80.00 for a large, 5-shelf rack.

Step 3 – Painting The New Shelves

If you decided to install wood shelves in your new hall closet turned pantry, you have the choice to leave them ‘bare’ or paint them. We recommend that you paint them so that, if any food spills, it won’t seep into the wood. (It also makes them a lot easier to clean.) For that, you’ll need more paint and possibly a new brush.

An easy trick is to paint the shelves the same color as the closet. That way, you don’t have to use any painter’s tape on the closet walls to protect them while you’re painting. If you decide to paint them in a different color, though, you’ll need painter’s tape to protect the walls while you do. We recommend using a quality wood primer first, applying one coat. Then, once it’s dry, apply two or three coats of semi-gloss paint. (It’s easier to wipe down, and it resists stains.) Also, make sure to let the paint dry between coats. It will be stronger and last longer if you do.

Of course, if you put in wire shelves or purchased a wire rack into your new custom hall closet, no painting will be necessary. (Lucky you!)

  • Time – 90 minutes (plus time to dry)
  • Cost – About $25.00 for a quart of paint and a decent paintbrush.

Step 4- Hang Some Hooks

One thing you want your new hall closet turned into a pantry to be is functional. To do that, purchase a few large hooks and install them inside the pantry. (They come in many different and trendy styles, so do look around before you buy.) The hooks can be installed on the runners you used for the wood shelves. If you didn’t install wood shelves, use your stud finder to find some studs. That way, you can screw the hooks right into a stud for added safety.

You can hang as many hooks as you see fit in your custom hall closet. They’re excellent for aprons, oven mitts, pots, pans, mugs, and much more. They will allow you to store a lot more items than shelves alone. Plus, they look nice and will add some personality to your new pantry.

  • Time – 30 minutes
  • Cost – About $20.00 for a dozen attractive hooks

Step 4 – Hang A Door Organizer

One last thing you can do to turn your hall closet into a pantry with awesome storage is to hang an over-the-door rack. Most pantry organizer racks are super-easy to hang since they just go over the door’s top edge. They’re very shallow, but most come with eight shelves that can store lots of cans, boxes, and jars of food. Some door organizers are made explicitly for spices or other food items. In fact, there are so many different types it can be hard to choose. We recommend shopping around before you make your final decision. 

  • Time – 5 minutes
  • Cost – Between $50.00 and $200.00 depending on the rack you purchase. (Some are plain, some are specialized.)

Congrats! You’ve Got a Custom Hall Closet & New Pantry!

Whichever method you decided to use, you now have a lot more food storage for your kitchen! Your new pantry will make cooking less of a chore and more enjoyable for everyone! Plus, you’ll be able to stock up on things you love when they’re on sale! More space and savings on groceries, now that’s a winning combination!