Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A pantry makeover in progess

One of my least favorite areas in our entire house has been our pantry.  It's awkwardly shaped, the shelving is exposed to the kitchen (so I see our mess all the time), it's where our back door is located so people often find themselves in this messy room upon entering our home, and despite being a walk-in room it doesn't provide for a lot of storage.

I've been staring at it every day since we moved to our house last summer at a loss for what to do with the room.  I've even debated if I should nix the whole pantry idea all together, buy an armoire for food storage and make the room a little office nook.  But alas, we really just need it to be a pantry and I was finally motivated after months of simmering on my ideas to do something about it. 

We've made a noticeable change and it's still a work in progress, but here are/were my goals for this space:
  1. Organize and display food in an attractive way.
  2. Hide the area underneath the microwave that tends to collect random things. 
  3. Make or purchase some sort of cafe door to visually separate the room from the kitchen.
  4. Make it cute.
  5. Stick to a minimal budget. 
I feel really good about my goals but I'm not done with the project yet.  Let's move to the before and after photos so you can see why the room had me pulling out my hair and how it looks now.

This was the view from my kitchen.  As you can see, things were just stuffed wherever, with bread and snacks kept in the wicker drawers and our microwave on the top shelf (there isn’t one in our kitchen), it was pretty much a disheveled mess.

Here it is now: 

I cleared the clutter, got rid of old items and sewed a curtain to hide the random things underneath the shelf.  I put fruits and vegetables in these cute metal baskets from Gordman's.  They were inexpensive and a good size for the area.  I picked up a soda dispenser for my La Croix, too.  I wanted the space to have a grocery market type feel and I think these items help accomplish that.

I pulled out my sewing machine for the first time in two years.  Be proud people.  The curtain is even the same length all the way across :)  You can't tell very well but this is just the sweetest fabric that I found at Hobby Lobby.  It's cream with little black polka-dots and I love it so much!  

The orange extension cord plugs our microwave into an outlet in a nearby closet.  Not my first choice but it was what we had to do with no outlet in the pantry.  I don't want to have to hire an electrician to change this and my husband knows a little about wiring so I'm hoping we can get rid of the large orange cord soon!  

Next up is the wall of doom.  This area bugged me so much-- shallow shelves spilling over with boxes.  Can I emphasize how people are regularly coming and going right past this?  Not my idea of a nice welcome.  

Because I disliked this area so much, it ended up being one of my favorite areas after it was all organized and pretty-fied.  

So, goal number one, organizing and display food in an attractive way, was achieved a few ways. I knew I wanted to use clear plastic storage containers for our frequently-used boxed and bagged items (think cereal, pancake mix, rice, flour) but those puppies can be really expensive ($11-$20 each) when you want to outfit a whole pantry. I had seen some at TJ Maxx and went back to hopefully find several in different sizes. Nope. Not TJ Maxx, or Marshall's or Gordman’s or the second TJ Maxx I went to. The options were slim and just weren’t gonna cut it. 

I wasn’t about to go to Kohl’s or Bed Bath and Beyond and spend $200 on a set or two. So, as a last-ditch effort, I went to my least new favorite store, Wal Mart, to see if they would have anything. I think I heard angels singing in aisle 22 (I actually have no idea what aisle it was) when I found the Better Homes and Gardens version of the Oxo storage containers for a much cheaper price. Glory!

I had so much fun putting my food in these containers.  For a visual person, it was such a treat!  So shiny, so lovely.  I still ooh and ahh when I go in the room-- food never looked so good ;)  

We had jars on our counter for flour, sugar and brown sugar, but they weren't sealed on the rim and the sugar was getting hard.  I decided I would put those things in the new BH&G containers and use the jars elsewhere.  I slipped fruit snacks in one and tea in another-- perfect for something you want to grab quick.  These jars were originally purchased at Target for around $5 each, by the way.

Also, for this area, I purchased a few Fridge Binz at TJMaxx to hold things like popcorn, granola bars and oatmeal.  It keeps those items easily accessible in the mornings.  I'd also like something similar for paper napkins.  

Lastly, in the other corner of the room, behind the purposefully placed blue curtain, was this messy area:

It was a nine-foot-high mess.  Deep, narrow shelves make it difficult for me to see what food we have in there.  The main thing I did here was take every single food item out and place it on the counter to decide what we needed to keep or toss. Some items were expired, some were just never going to get eaten.  

Once the amount of food was under control, it was much easier for me to organize well.  A metal shelf on the bottom allows me to put in extra boxed items.  A tiered organizer on the next shelf up is now organized and helps me see my canned goods easier.  On the top shelf, I used baskets for packets (marinades, powdered ranch) and larger bagged items that don't get used enough to warrant their own clear container.  I already had all these baskets and organizers on hand so this was just about consolidating what I needed and putting it back in an orderly fashion.  

This room makes me so much happier now.  I don't know if it's because I am pregnant or what, but it really seriously made me feel sick when I looked at it! I know, I'm weird. Now, however, I actually like looking into this room from my kitchen.  So much so, that when we tried to put up the cafe doors, I wasn't sure I wanted them there anymore (we will see!).

I smile when I look in this room now and that's a good thing when it comes to a space in your home that you are in multiple times a day.  

I would consider this room 80% finished.  There are still a few things I would like to get to eventually: 
  • Get rid of the orange extension cord
  • Hang some art
  • De-clutter the bin on top of the microwave and hang a storage piece with hooks for Jared's keys and things
  • Possibly hang the cafe doors (unless I just decide I like seeing this room after all)
  • Purchase a rolling cart of some sort for paper towels and other paper products behind the cream curtain
Well, if you are still with me, then you are a trooper!  I hope this was useful for you.  What is your pantry like?  Is it organized or in need of a little TLC?  

Until next time,


  1. You could drill holes in the back corners of the shelves and drop the extension cord down it. Then run the cord along the baseboard so it isn't just dangling, Also look for a white extension cord so it blends better into the baseboard.

    Looks good. I organized my pantry and all my cupboards a couple of years ago. I still love it. And Walmart was where I found the stuff I needed!!! Shocker of all shocks!

  2. Ahh beautiful! Are you available for hire? And do you charge for travel? Lol, look at you go girl! This was a huge project to tackle, it looks awesome!:)