Super Pantries, the Newest Trend in North Shore Kitchen Design

It may surprise you to learn that though we are the registered residential architects – and presumably the ones who “teach” our clients – Elissa and I often learn plenty from the people who hire our firm Morgante-Wilson to build, renovate, and decorate their houses. Case in point: a Texas couple who recently relocated from the Lone Star state to Kenilworth, one of the loveliest communities on Chicago’s North Shore. The house they left behind featured a well-loved kitchen space we’d never even heard of – and one they were eager to replicate in their new home. We quickly embraced the idea, once we learned its amazing practicality. What is this space, you ask? Why, the “super pantry,” of course!


You’ve never heard of a super pantry? Frankly, neither had we. The concept is simple: a super pantry is a secondary “work room” of sorts, adjacent to the kitchen – and about the same size as the kitchen - which contains many of the elements typically associated with kitchens as we know them. For instance, an island. A microwave. A second oven. Open shelving, on which woks, toasters, dishes and glassware, food, and that enormous platter you only trot out at Thanksgiving, are easily visible, and easily accessible. A washer and dryer. Even, in one house we recently designed, a gift-wrapping station!


The benefits of a super pantry are many. First, it minimizes kitchen clutter, freeing precious counter space of congestion-causers such as canisters and coffee makers. Second, it’s easily hidden from guests when you entertain - just shut the door, and leave any mess a secret from your company. Third, because it’s storage-laden from floor to ceiling, it eliminates the need for long runs of upper cabinets in your kitchen, thus liberating wall space for architectural elements such as beautiful windows.


But most important, a super pantry can help you save money on your new kitchen. That’s because it allows you to eliminate large numbers of costly, custom-built cabinets and millwork. Because so much of what you’ll store in your super pantry will go unseen by everyone except your own family, you can really step-down the finishes and materials you incorporate behind that closed door. Open shelves can be carpenter-built, at a fraction of the cost of their custom counterparts. An island doesn’t need to make a personality-filled design statement – it only needs to offer a practical work surface. (Of course, you’re not going to want your super pantry to look as though it belongs in your basement, but the point is it doesn’t require – or even benefit from – the sort of aesthetic attention your kitchen does.)


To unite your super pantry with your kitchen, you’ll want to use the same flooring material in both spaces. Trim the door to the super pantry the same way you trim other doors in the kitchen.  Consider putting your super pantry island on wheels, so it can roll around the room and serve different functions. Whether birthday party craft station or beverage bar during the holidays, an island on wheels can even roll into the kitchen or out to the patio if you need it to do so.

Super pantries are giving all of us at Morgante Wilson Architects a lot to think about – and admire – these days. Along with the rest of their many benefits, super pantries also enable your kitchen itself to become a bit smaller – and therefore, more efficient. The fewer steps it takes to prepare a meal, the faster and more easily that meal will appear on the table.


Since our Texas clients first asked us for one, we’ve begun suggesting super pantries to other clients, several of whom have incorporated the concept in their new homes. It’s an idea we expect will continue to catch on, setting a new trend in North Shore kitchen design. If you’d like to know more, give us a call. We’re full of ideas, and would welcome the chance to share with you.


Fred Wilson
Morgante-Wilson Architects
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Related posts by Residential Architects Morgante Wilson:

Where to save, where to splurge

Trends in North Shore kitchen design

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Morgante-Wilson Architects provides residential architectural services in Chicago, Evanston, Winnetka,  Glencoe, Glenview, Highland Park, Kenilworth, Wimette, Northbrook, Deerfield, Northfield, and Ravinia

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