"Accent Wall" in pantry?

February 7, 2017

Just finished installing custom shelving in our pantry. It doesn't have a door - opens directly to the kitchen, but you can only see into it when you are standing directly in the kitchen. Kitchen tile is an aquamarine chevron pattern, walnut cabinet fronts. Pantry looks really boring at the moment, am thinking of possibly adding paint or wallpaper to just the area between counter height (3rd shelf from base) and upper shelves. Will be leaving that 3rd shelf mostly as a counter/prep area so back wall will remain visible Thoughts? Paint (what color??), wallpaper (what pattern??), or just rely on displaying some fun dishes or vases?

Comments (49)

  • jansgirl

    Weird. I can't believe there are no doors. Will you use this for storage or just displaying cute dishes?

  • visualizemaven

    wow- nice job!

    I think wall paper will just compete with whatever you are putting on your shelves.

    What will you be putting in there: only pretty display dishes, etc. or provisions?

    Regardless, I can see the inside of the shelves painted the same blue as your awesome back splash tile. Then the trim will read linear and connect the pantry to the back splash.

    Might be very cool.


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    The tile and gray cabinets look great! You did a wonderful job. I would paint that small piece of wall the same gray as the cabinets (top left of cabinets near ceiling) It should make that whole wall look more complete. No red wall. If you paint any of the walls a dark color, it will make your room look smaller. Cheryl's suggestion to turn the refrigerator and put the island next to it is perfect. It will be difficult to not use it as a "catch-all" once it's there. Just remind yourself that it is for food preparation only. You could also add a couple of open shelves above it (as shown in JudyG Designs pic). Use the open shelves for kitchen items only. Like the things you have on top of the refrigerator. Remove the small brown table and everything on it. The key to making this small space look big is to declutter. I once asked my husband to install all of our countertops at an angle so we couldn't throw anything on it! Clutter is a daily battle for most of us. I would paint the 3 walls the same white as the tiles and island. Maybe one simple colorful piece of art over the dining table to bring in your accent colors. I would really love to see the room with the island moved. Even if you don't like it there. That way we could see more of what your space is like. Good luck and have a wonderful weekend.
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  • hollygullickson

    There are electrical outlets on inside of both sides so couldn't put in a pocket door and fridge is in too tight to wall for a sliding/barn type door. I know, not ideal, but you work with what you've got! Original owners had saloon-type wood doors, not wanting to replicate that.

  • hollygullickson

    It will be used as our pantry - food storage, some appliances, and the areas most visible from when you are sitting at our island will have the dishes, vases, etc... pretty stuff. But it's a functional pantry.

  • PRO
    Jae C Company
    Find a very creative custom door guy. They are out there. The door would be an architectural detail. As for the inside. I would definitely bring the color of your back splash into the pantry. Keep it simple. The colors of your appliances and other items will bring in the other color detsils. keep it neat and organized.
  • shari13

    If I had to I would hang a curtain to cover it up! OP, I mean no offense to a practical use of your space - simply not my style to have those objects visible.

  • PRO
    Jae C Company
    a curtain would take away from the beautiful and sleek kitchen design.
  • PRO
    Beth H. :

    paint the back wall a teal color. cool idea. get those storage containers for everything that can be seen. The container store has everything. They might even have colored containers.

    it would have been nice to do a pocket door there. but I certainly wouldn't use a curtain!

  • PRO

    Get some custom swinging doors.!! It will be less a project than keeping the shelving which is HARDLY spectacular,...........neat and orderly. Actually, I'd add some drywall and framing so you only need ONE door. I assume this is attached to a kitchen, so why you'd want to "prep' in there on a shelf is beyond me. You've got a sink and counter in there.................

  • tfitz1006

    I really think you need a door.

  • PRO
    Patricia Colwell Consulting

    A curtain NO!!!! I would paint the wall the same color as the tile in the kitchen to bring it together and IMO if what you see is mostly dishes and small appliances it is nice not to have to open a door to get at storage

  • bradley_amber
    The rest of your kitchen seems to be very nice so this will stick out like a store thumb. if you had a country style kitchen I could see how you could make this work, but not with your style. Find a door solution.
  • acm

    To the question at hand, I wouldn't do anything too elaborate for decor, because once you fill it full of dry goods and appliances, it will be so visually busy that you won't want decoration.

    I'm in the camp that would bend over backward to get a curtain or door that work with your nice kitchen. Maybe you could get slick aluminum doors like might be used for a modern appliance garage, or frosted glass.

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    You could get two that swing, or do a bifold solution (which you could keep open half the time, if you don't care).

  • Melissa R

    I'm in the camp voting for some type of "door". Not sure what is to the left of the pantry but what about one of those Ikea curtain panels?

  • nea007

    I agree with the others, you need a door. Leaving it open ruins your kitchen's sleek look. A curtain or barn door would be too country looking. If your kitchen cupboards are new, you could see if they could make a door to match, maybe a bifold with frosted glass in the door, and the same gorgeous handles as your cupboards. Just paint it the same color as your kitchen walls.

  • dyliane

    curtain it

  • groveraxle

    If you can't close off the whole pantry, just add doors to the shelves, or at least the ones where you will keep the less attractive stuff.

  • PRO
    Glo European Windows & Doors

    ...and I'm sitting over here selfishly wanting to see more pics of your gorgeous kitchen!

    hollygullickson thanked Glo European Windows & Doors
  • groveraxle

    No curtain. That would be tacky. I'd sooner see the cans and cereal boxes than a curtain.

  • groveraxle

    Here's what it looks like painted teal to match the backsplash. I think painting it darker will just make it gloomy.

  • hollygullickson

    Thanks for the comments - both on topic and off! I think we'll try painting the same color as backsplash tile just between that deeper and shallower shelf and see what we think. As for the dang lack of door, appreciate the concern, but we'll be ok!! If I post follow up pics, please don't tell me to get a door again. :)

  • skmom
    Looks like a very nice kitchen... I trust you can make the storage look great too. We painted the inside of our little walk in pantry even though it has a frosted glass door on it. (We painted it blue, one of the main colors in our home) and we like having that little pop of color when we open it up. (Plus we have lights in there and when on and door closed you can tell there's a color in there.) you don't notice the color as much because of the stuff stored, but it's still there and helps make it look special.
    In your situation I would totally paint the walls the color of your wonderful backsplash and then invest in attractive storage solutions... then I would sit back and marvel that my OCD tendencies were satisfied. :D
  • drdeb1234

    Houzz commenters are great at many things, but staying on topic isn't one of them!!!

  • ninigret

    the dark paint does look gloomy.

    i'd say matching baskets and bins for everything smaller than a slow cooker and your eye will attach to them and not a disarray of objects.

  • KK Johnson
    I love it! I think as long as you get basket to and other items to organize the food stuff with then there won't be any issues. The teal will be a fun pop of color
  • PRO

    Hmm, in order to have this opened you need to be incredibly organized in there and better lighting. I would recommend a door of there is space. Maybe pocket door or sliding door.

  • houssaon

    I would not paint the shelving teal, just the walls. Use a satin finish so it is easy to wipe down. I think it will look great!

  • drdeb1234

    I think you should consider painting everything the colour of your cabinetry, so it disappears as much as is possible without a door. I think as long as those shelves are either white or painted something that draws attention like the blue, it will be too distracting

  • PRO
    Glo European Windows & Doors

    I had some time and threw your pic into photoshop. Here's a rendering with the walls painted to match your backsplash:

    Hope this helps your decision either way!

  • janedoe2012
    I would go ever so slightly darker and more blue, less green than what Glo did. And I would use a semi gloss.

    One suggestion - If there is any chance of you moving within the next ten years, consider buying two large cabinet doors or appliance panels that match your cabinetry and are sized to be one half the size of your pantry opening. So that you can tell buyers they can install the doors. You might even want to install them and take a few photos while you already have people working in the house. Then you can take them off.

    You must be more organized than Martha Stewart. I am guessing that you have thought through how YOU will use this pantry. But you can tell from the responses you have gotten that most people would utilize it differently.
  • chloebud

    holly, has anyone mentioned you might want a door there? Just kidding!!! There are some great suggestions here that don't involve a door. Baskets and other nice things in view sound good. Play with it awhile to see how it works for you.

  • gustaviatex

    I would so keep it open! In fact, I might take the door off my pantry in solidarity :-)

  • visualizemaven

    classic HOUZZer's at work! And done with good humor! KUDOS

  • PRO

    Door. Repeat.............

    That looks like fifty bucks worth of shelving against a ten k pantry. Translation? hide the AFTERTHOUGHT.

  • kayleesmimi

    Odd that so many believe you "have to" have a door. Or that your pantry appears to be an afterthought. I've seen many pantries that deliberately don't have doors. Here are some examples that came up on the first page when I searched houzz.

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  • drdeb1234

    In all those example, though, the pantry blends nicely with the rest of the kitchen. The stark white pantry in this dilemma contrasts so sharply with the the dark cabinetry of the kitchen, and that's why it doesn't look right.

  • visualizemaven

    IIMO it is because contemporary design does not typically lend itself to the look open pantry suggests.

    having said that, could be done if done right.

  • PRO
    Beth H. :

    I like the open idea. could you do some walnut for the shelves? or even get a walnut veneer you could do over the white. I like the idea of the pendant lighting too.

  • A&R
    I'd say paint the shelving fronts in a contrasting color (perhaps orange or even a green) and maybe have fun with color blocking. Maybe do the back of some of the boxes in different colors. One a dark brown (to match the cabinets) a blue, silver, orange...

    Doors are great and all but not having a door means always knowing what's in your pantry.
  • leelee

    Your kitchen is beautiful and fab backsplash.

    What are you thinking? Get doors--sliding barn door to match cabinets or pocket door or some kind of door.

    Sounds like your mind is made up but...

    A fake door that looks like 8 inch deep shelves on the outside but slides away to reveal the pantry behind.



  • sujafr

    I'm shocked by demands for a door and assumptions based on a small snippet of one corner of a kitchen. Kudos on a beautiful pantry and kitchen! I commend your choices, including the lack of a door! Perhaps those demanding it have never seen a well-ordered creative pantry. With your obviously well thought out MCM design, it wouldn't surprise me at all to see a combo of white cabinets with the dark cabinets in the rest of your kitchen, which would totally blow those comments about the white pantry not working because it's different from the dark cabinets out of the water. IMHO it works beautifully.

  • ninigret

    i'm all for functional in a kitchen... a kitchen is not a living room, which i realize is a minority opinion these days. (actually, thats sort of the problem, they ditched their living rooms as unnecessary, as they had moved into their kitchens.) i'd neither highlight it nor cover the pantry up. its in a kitchen. orderly and attractive wins the day.

    i have open shelving on the far side of my kitchen, and i know 95% of the folks who frequent houzz are horrified by it. the fact is you cannot see this side of the kitchen from any of the areas that guest approach from, and i love it to bits.

    love your kitchen to bits, thats all that matters.

  • bichonbabe

    The only way this would look decent was if the shelves matched the cabinets. The white shelves and dark cabinets just don't work. I'd find a way to make a door work.

  • mandy_moo_pants
    How about chalkboard paint for the back wall and even shelves? Then you can write what's on each shelf or favorite family recipes.
  • auntthelma

    I'm totally jealous. I would love a walk in pantry.

    I like your idea of painting the one wall to continue the color of the backsplash.

    I'd love to see a picture once you've 'moved in.'

  • PRO
    Atelier Armbruster

    Hello hollygullickson,

    we suggest painting the interior of the shelves the same color as the backsplash.

    The contrast with the white shelving would be interesting !

    Best of luck,

    Atelier Armbruster LLC,


  • hollygullickson

    sujafr, yes, the island cabinets are white and the whole pantry/kitchen/island coordinates nicely when viewed as a whole. Thanks for thinking beyond the photo! I'll try to post a photo that takes it all in (except that the kitchen is a MESS due to pantry evacuation). And yes, to others who commented, I'd love to have some walnut cupboards or shelves but the budget doesn't allow.

  • micheleschnake

    Hi Holly, yes paint the back walls the color of the chevrons and leave shelving white. I agree with the pro. :) Michele

  • demolition

    Do what you love cuz it's your kitchen. I like the idea above of painting the back walls to match the color of your backsplash & leaving shelves white. Possibly a variety of glass shaped decorative jars to hold dry pasta, granola bars, dry rice, candy, etc would look cute too. Maybe a couple type of baskets to stack cute hand towels in. With the open concept, you definitely will need organization. Loving the photos above that Houzzer's posted for some insight. Best of luck with your project

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