This past fall, after becoming roommate-free for the first time, I looked at my life and my choices. Also, I looked at the makeshift pantry in the kitchen of my rental apartment. At the age of 32, I could no longer rationalize using a decade-old shoe organizer to store my rolled oats and canned chickpeas — it was time for something grown-up. I wanted whatever would replace it to be aesthetically pleasing enough to appear in a Food 52 article on pantry-storage tips; but with limited upper body strength, zero will to mount anything onto a wall, and too much social anxiety to enlist help from Task Rabbit, I didn’t want to work for it.
My heart lies with the simple, modern look of Floyd’s modular shelving system, but I’m not ready to commit to investment furniture — a.k.a. the “starts at $425” price point — at the moment. So I headed in the direction of a utilitarian wire-style unit, inspired by the look of a pro chef friend’s home kitchen shelves, and promptly got overwhelmed by the options on Home Depot’s website and imagining how unpleasant they’d actually look in my much-smaller, much-older kitchen.
Thankfully, my mom was on a pantry journey of her own. After recently downsizing, she needed a storage solution for the trendy kitchen gadgets my dad has begun hoarding in semi-retirement, and came across the Origami Rack at the Container Store. After weeks of hearing her gush, “They’re perfect for when you aren’t living in your forever home, Leah!” (laden with “When are you going to move closer to your parents, Leah?” subtext), I bought the four-shelf version from the R5 line, which has ultra-deep shelves and can hold up to 1,000 pounds. It comes in a handful of colors; I stuck with black. I also splurged for a pair of add-on hanging wire baskets to help add some additional structure and storage for smaller, blobbier-shaped items.
Made of commercial-grade, powder-coated steel, the wire shelves have a polished but heavy-duty industrial vibe that says, “This is the kitchen of someone with solid knife skills!” It instantly changed the look of my kitchen. Instead of clutter, I had meticulously structured storage, with ample space for every single bottle, can, and jar in my pantry, along with several of the appliances (stand mixer, slow cooker, blender) that had previously clogged up my limited counter space. And there was room for more — which I find especially helpful in our current pandemic situation, when I’m loading up on pantry staples like never before.
But the best part — and my real reason for getting them — is that these shelves arrive fully preassembled. You pull them out of the box, un-accordion them apart, and swing the top shelf over to lock everything in place. That’s it. I set them up the same night as some small metal cubes from Ikea, and they went from box to finished product in less time than it took to even read the Ikea instructions. Those hanging baskets, which are now home to bags of pasta, rice, and grains, slid right onto the shelves in two seconds. This model also comes with wheels that make it easy to roll the whole unit away from the wall to clean behind it, even when it’s loaded up with heavy items. And when you finally find that forever home your mom’s been not-so-subtly hinting at, it’ll fold right back down again.