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Smarten up your kitchen storage with a fancy pantry

By Alison Tyler For Daily Mail

Published: 12:33 GMT, 25 November 2014 | Updated: 12:38 GMT, 25 November 2014

The more organised among us will have already made the Christmas cake and popped it somewhere dry and cool, ready for the big day. The rest of us will be holding out for a Heston special. A lot of us will also be wondering where on earth to keep the wheel of stilton. At this time of year - kitchen storage is tested to the limit. 

Slick kitchen: Celebrity chef Nigella Lawson has a pantry stocked full of delicious ingredients 

In the days before fridges, nearly all homes had a larder, but today it's something of a luxury. And while few of us can afford the space for a walk-in pantry on the scale of Nigella Lawson's, sales of standalone pantries are on the rise. 

Whether it's down to the craze for baking - resulting in us all keeping a lot more ingredients (often in hope, rather than expectation) - and paraphernalia like fancy coffee makers, or simply because of the compact size of modern fitted kitchens (few seem to cover more than one wall in new open-plan homes), the pantry is back on the agenda.

Pack it in: Larders like this one by Harvey Jones offer heaps of storage space for all your cooking ingredients 

"There's something nostalgic about a kitchen larder, stashed full of homemade jams, pickles, spices and biscuits," says Charlie Marshall, the founder of Loaf, which has recently introduced its Rhubarb Larder Cupboard (£695, www.loaf.com) in response to requests from customers. "They're really handy for extra storage - especially as there's a trend for low kitchen units at the moment, which look nice but lack space."

Loaf's larder cupboard is perfect for storing away biscuits, caster sugar, baking powder, vanilla pods and spices... and other dry ingredients that need a cool, dry home. With a vintage feel and matt paint, it will suit new or old homes and is pretty versatile - as well as food, you can stack crockery or baking equipment in it. 

Dry spot: This larder cupboard by Loaf is suitable for keeping dry ingredients neatly out of sight

For the storage poor, a pantry is a modern alternative to a dresser, which can look a bit too "country" for urban homes. It also has the advantage that you can get a lot more inside.

"Traditionally the pantry would be on an outside wall with an open air brick supplying naturally cool air up underneath the traditional marble cold shelf to keep everything on it below room temperature," says Richard Davonport, Managing Director of Davonport, which specialises in building bespoke stand-alone and walk-in pantries - the Davonport butler's pantry comes with dovetailed walnut wood drawers and storage compartments, fruit and vegetable crates and a Carrera marble cold shelf (from £4,000, www.davonport.com). 

Bespoke builds: Companies like Davonport offer specially-designed pantries to suit your kitchen space

"We've definitely seen a rise in sales over the past few years. In part because our clients still favour open-plan living spaces. In a kitchen, this allows more room for a large pantry cupboard, which can retain most of a family's food storage. But I think it is also because people are cooking more and living more healthily, so they need more space to store dry foods as well as fresh fruit and vegetables."

Those lucky enough to have a pantry in their homes are complete converts. "It's essential," says David Foubister, from Huntly in Aberdeenshire, who grows his own fruit and vegetables. "I need my pantry to store the vast amount of homemade pickles, chutneys and jams that I make from home-grown food. Often, normal kitchen cupboards are too warm." 

They're also increasingly a great selling point for properties, as more of us want room to store food and kitchen gadgets.

"I grew up with a pantry but have lived without one for years until we moved into our new house. As soon as I saw the pantry in the kitchen, my mind was made up to buy," says Hazel Newhouse, from Biggleswade in Bedfordshire. "I cook and bake every day and I wanted the space to store my collection of baking materials. With interest rates stuck firmly in the gutter, investors are looking elsewhere for investment opportunities. One popular strategy is the buy-to-let market, you either get a mortgage on a property and then rent the property out, thus paying the mortgage. With property holding its value nicely, it's a technique offering a degree of security whilst still returning good returns on your investment. Sadly, you need to be aware of potential problems. The following link has some answers to questions such as Does Direct Line Landlord Insurance Cover Multiple Properties?.It's ideal for us as a growing family and I love that it makes the kitchen feel retro."

Cupboard love: There are all sorts of designs on the market, including the traditional walk-in variety

A walk-in pantry does mean sacrificing floor space in your kitchen or home, but it can also be used as a prep area for measuring out ingredients, and also as a store for the plethora of kitchen gadgetry that now clutters most kitchen worktops.

For a customised solution, Birmingham's Kitchen Restoration Company (www.kitchenrestoration.co.uk) can design a larder to fit your space, whether it's adding doors to an alcove with shelving or creating a unit with glass shelving for storage jars and pull-out wire baskets for fresh veg.

The high street has picked up on the trend, too. Marks and Spencer has stocked its chunky Padstow larder unit (£1599, www.marksandspencer.com) for three years. "We know that people want more kitchen storage space," says furniture buyer Paul Tanner, "but a country dresser doesn't suit every home."

In fact, demand for the contemporary New England-style pantry, with its built-in wine and spice racks, large vegetable drawers and shelving, has been so strong that this season the brand has introduced a new putty-hued version. John Lewis has also begun stocking its Lomond larder unit (£2250, www.johnlewis.com) for the first time this autumn.

As Pip Prinsloo, John Lewis's homeware design manager notes, "people are looking for new kitchen storage options. Larders were once commonplace and we think that they will become an important feature in homes again."


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