Pantry and cool cupboard in action

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Our new walk-in pantry, with hand-made kauri shelves

No kitchen should be without a walk-in pantry. We had a temporary pantry in our old extension, and this proved the benefits of storing stuff in shelves, rather than lost in the back of kitchen cupboards.

So a pantry was a key element of the new house design. It ended up behind the rammed earth wall, conveniently off the entrance to the kitchen. We asked Ian Thomson to make the shelves, which are a simple construction out of kauri (the same as the kitchen benches and floors).

The cool cupboard, with doors open

A key element of the pantry is the cool cupboard. This is an idea that I stole from somewhere, but I forget where now.

As shown in the diagram below, the cool cupboard works as follows:

  • cool air is drawn up from under the floor
  • this cools the cupboard, making it suitable for storing potatoes, eggs, drying herbs, etc
  • the air is then expelled out a chimney through the roof
  • the system is driven by the heat of the fridge, which is vented into the upper part of the cupboard
How the cool cupboard works

This is a win-win solution: the cupboard is much cooler without any active cooling or fans. And the fridge runs up to 30% more efficiently, due to the extra ventilation.

Inside the cool cupboard, showing the wire shelves with plenty of space for a big harvest

How much cooler is the cool cupboard? The results speak for themselves:

  • Kitchen –> 23°C
  • Pantry –> 21°C
  • Cool cupboard –> 12°C

That’s cooler than the ambient temperature outside, which is 18°C at the moment in our mild Sydney winter. Not bad!

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7 thoughts on “Pantry and cool cupboard in action

    Photos of our new living room « Lewisham House said:
    August 26, 2012 at 1:27 pm

    […] already shared photos and details on our kitchen and pantry. These are some photos of our open-plan living/dining […]

    Ros said:
    December 31, 2012 at 11:15 pm

    What temperature does your cool cupboard get to in Summer?

    Gary Finch said:
    January 19, 2014 at 4:02 am

    Hi Ya,

    think you may have gotten the cool cupboard idea from David Holmgren – yours looks very similar to his that he’s had for years – DH also in Oz. found your stuff whilst searching for ideas to implement a similar one for the eco retrofit were doing to our family home in the UK, so many thanks for putting your stuff online 🙂 I teach permaculture design over here in the uk

      James responded:
      February 4, 2014 at 9:29 am

      Garry, you could well be right! It probably came up when I was doing my Permaculture Design Certificate.

      That’s the great thing about this space, so many good ideas to steal 🙂

    […] has been peeled and frozen, for long-term use. The other half has been stored in the cool cupboard in a sealed container. We’ll see how both lots go over […]

    Drying tumeric and lemon « Lewisham House said:
    August 17, 2014 at 9:25 am

    […] we’ve frozen, and a lot is stored in our cool cupboard. Following some inspiration from Milkwood, I also decided to dry some, to see how well that would […]

    Drying our own (uncommon) herbs « Lewisham House said:
    February 12, 2017 at 2:22 pm

    […] of these herbs were dried in our cool cupboard, and the biggest effort is plucking off the leaves to store […]

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