Last week I wrote about the survey results on the question of supplying organising supplies for our clients.

The question brought up various answers and various methods of supplying goods as well as how, and whether, clients are charged for those supplies. It doesn’t surprise me to hear that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to this aspect of an organiser’s work, because organising is never a one-size-fits-all service.

Every client is different. Some strive for an Insta-worthy look and are willing to pay top dollar to have everything looking perfectly matched. Others are on a tight budget with limited funds to pay for new products. There are plenty of clients who want things to function well but don’t much care how they look. And as every organiser knows, many clients have already been buying up big on organising products in the faint hope that having the “right” product will magically make them more organised.

Reflecting on this has turned my mind to client needs and priorities and managing a client’s expectations on the “picture-perfect” look, and whether it is achievable or even desirable.

To explore that point, let’s look at the pros and cons of the “picture-perfect pantry’.

not so picture-perfect pantryI think we can all agree that this pantry is neither organised nor functional. Items are hard to reach, especially with things on the floor obstructing access. The shelves are crammed and reaching for one item is likely to cause an avalanche of produce toppling over. There appears to be no system for where things belong. This could easily represent the “before” photo of an organiser’s work (although you know my opinion on those).

We can see that something needs to change. We can help a client with this kind of pantry to gain easy and safe access, to find things easily and quickly, and be able to easily and quickly put things back again, ready to be found and used next time. But is a “picture perfect pantry” the answer? Maybe and maybe not.

In doing my research for the “picture-perfect pantry” I found many photos of pantries with matching containers of decanted produce, like the one below. But there are pros and cons to be said for decanting.


  • It looks good.
  • Things may stay fresher. If a household takes three months to get through a box of cereal, decanting may keep the cereal fresher for longer than leaving it in its original box.
  • It can be space saving when containers stack well together.
  • Decanting keeps pests away from the produce.


  • The additional cost.
  • The habit of decanting can be hard to maintain.
  • It can be time consuming and requires effort.
  • Topping up containers with new produce buries the older produce at the bottom of the container. Not great for things that have a short life.
  • There will be times that the whole packet doesn’t fit into its designated container. The packet needs to be stored in a “waiting room” portion of the pantry.
  • Having all containers look alike will not work well for people with low vision or memory loss.
  • Instructions, nutritional value information and use by dates are lost when decanting. Some people cut those from the original packet and insert into the container of stick it on the back.
  • When replacing a container or adding to the collection, the style or colour may no longer be available.

Picture-Perfect Pantry?

Personally, I do a bit of both. I have a small pantry and have to make use of every single nook and cranny. I decant into Tupperware Modular Mates, which stack neatly together, for most of my baking foodstuffs. Cereals and snacks stay in their original boxes.

I asked some fellow organisers about their preferences. Lauren Jackman from Serene Spaces for You said, “I decant for baking items, dried goods such as pasta and rices, plus herbs and spices. If you get in a routine with decanting it can save you money as you’re not repeatedly buying items that get lost in corners.”

Britta Reinecke from The Urban Organiser said, “I’m a decanter. I love the neat and tidy aspect of it. I also find it keeps foods fresher for a bit longer and when I prepare my shopping list, I can easily see what I need. As for the bits that don’t fit in, that’s what I use first.”

Nathalie Ricaud from Get Organised & Beyond is in the no decanting camp. She said, “I don’t. Too much work for me, plus need extra space for back stock that I can’t afford.”

Apart from the decanting debate, there are other things to consider when thinking of a picture-perfect pantry. This article on Houzz explains about five different pantry systems and the pros and cons of each.

Now it’s over to you. Do you prefer a picture-perfect pantry? Does it involve decanting?

  1. Kathy 2 years ago

    My own pantry is all decanted, but that’s because we have 7 or more adults in the house, and I can fit far more variety and amounts in my very small pantry by using the Modular Mates and other container solutions than by leaving in the original packaging.

    • Avatar photo Author
      Angela 2 years ago

      Thanks for sharing Kathy. 🙂

  2. KH 2 years ago

    I do a bit of both too. It all depends on the space the client has and their expectations. I saw an amazing pantry on insta the other day, where even the biscuits in the jars were delicately placed. This is fine, but it won’t look like that once 4 or 5 biscuits are removed!

    • Avatar photo Author
      Angela 2 years ago

      Insta has a lot to answer for with unrealistic expectations.

  3. Kerry 2 years ago

    I have found that rather than buying special containers I buy the product first in a container that is supplied by the company which often has a picture of the product and it is a larger container. Then as time goes on I will fill this with new product in cheaper packaging. I also use baskets in cupboards with containers of similar products.

    • Avatar photo Author
      Angela 2 years ago

      Thanks Kerry. That sounds sensible. 🙂

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