When Elaine and Bob Rose described what they wanted in their new house plans, one of the first things they asked their builder to design was a big pantry in the kitchen.
The back wall of what became the pantry originally was designed to be the back wall of the kitchen."But we didn't need that big a kitchen, so my husband suggested making that area a pantry," said Elaine Rose. "That way we didn't need as many cabinets."
The Roses, who were building in Evansville, Ind., are typical of many homeowners these days who are incorporating old-fashioned pantries, sometimes called larders, into brand-new houses.
Pantries can be as simple as shelves in a closet or a cabinet attached to a wall or as elaborate as a separate walk-in room with additional refrigerator, freezer and specialized storage.
According to a report in the trade publication Today's Realtor, 85 percent of 200 women who were heads of households looked for pantry storage when searching for a house.
The Roses' pantry is spacious, with five shelves and ample open storage underneath the shelves for larger items such as a card table.
The Roses store canned goods, box mixes, spices and other staple food, plus other household items such as cleaning supplies, plant food, paper products, extra dishes and a silver chest.
"We should have probably made it even bigger and wrapped it around the whole kitchen," Elaine Rose said.
Ron Dauby, owner of G&L Home Builders Inc. and president of the Metropolitan Evansville Homebuilders Association, said clients building a house almost always ask for a pantry. "If they are buying a house in the $100,000 or more range, then they definitely want that kind of storage."
Dauby, who has been building houses for more than 30 years, said he first noticed the trend toward pantries in new-home design about 10 years ago.
"We've always had pantries in the large, upper-end-priced homes, but in the past, buyers of smaller homes never said much about pantries. If they didn't see it in a model home, then they didn't ask for it."
But in the past decade, Dauby said, homeowners building smaller houses are requesting more upscale features, including fancier trim work, cathedral ceilings, extra storage and pantries.
Dauby offers pantry options in his house plans, and most stock house-plan books found in the library offer pantry ideas, too, he said. "You'll see really quick that any home of 1,500 square feet or more can have a built-in pantry.
There are pantry options for existing houses, too.
Rhonda Nash, a designer for Cabinets by Design, designs add-on cabinet pantries to coordinate with the rest of the kitchen. A chef's pantry, 36 inches wide by 24 inches deep, often suits many homeowners by adding just enough extra storage for kitchen staples.
"These cabinet pantries are fastened against the wall and generally have two racks of shelves attached to the doors, two more in the middle and 12-inch deep shelving," she said. People like shallow shelves so they can get to their (supplies) quickly. Pantries can be installed to get a lot of additional storage without taking away from counter space."
Jim Mitchell, a designer with Kitchen Interiors, said smaller add-on pantries are available, too.
"We can use an 18-inch pantry unit that's 24 inches wide with five roll-out shelves that are adjustable," he said.
Some of the shelves are adjustable; they can be moved up or down. Some of the shelves roll out for easy access.