When you are a first time homebuyer, it is inevitable that you will have to compromise on a few of your wish list items for a house. One item that fell by the wayside for us? A pantry. We suffer from pantry envy at many people’s homes, especially houses with a walk-in pantry. At 1600 square feet, we do not have a walk-in anything at our house. We currently smash our typical pantry items into a look-in cabinet. While it is incredibly annoying, it does help us keep our extreme couponing in check since we don’t have room for a box of cereal let alone a lifetime supply of mustard for our whole neighborhood. However, we recently found a way to expand our pantry into a slightly larger and much more functional space.
Let me start by clarifying something…..this is not our dream kitchen. It came with the house. Other than removing some very dark floral wallpaper from the bottom of the walls and eggplant colored paint on the top and painting it all in a lilac color (which we are also not in love with), we haven’t done a single thing in this room. The cabinets are way too old and the linoleum is unfortunate. Regardless, it’s what we have for now. Here’s a look.
As you can see, it is small. We’ve had bigger kitchens in apartments. It is certainly not a “chef’s kitchen,” which is probably why we don’t cook very much. Or because we are lazy like that. One of those.
As you can see, most of the appliances are white (except for the dishwasher that we replaced). If we were to design our dream kitchen, it would look nothing like this. Our hesitation in remodeling it is that we think a prospective buyer (if we ever sell) would tear down our little house and build a McMansion type, since that is the trend in our neighborhood, and we have a great lot for it. And that might be something we actually do down the line if we decide to stay here long-term. So we can’t justify spending the money to redo this little kitchen just quite yet.
You may be thinking to yourself, where do you keep your food? What food? Oh you mean like our one can of tuna, the peanut butter and the rice? And all of the spices and baking supplies that we rarely use? Look no further than these cabinets.
What’s behind doors 1, 2, and 3?
A crap heap. And while it is totally embarrassing, this is what we have been using as our pantry. So you can see why we needed to make a change. I’ve been nagging Dain for awhile to help me with this project, and he finally gave in. So we decided to move the “pantry” over to here.
This tiny closet has always been where we keep our trash can and recycling. I’m not sure why, but I think we fell into the trap of just doing what the previous homeowner did. Luckily, this closet already has a metal shelving system in it so all we had to do was to make another shelf or two, clean it thoroughly, and find a new place for our trash and recycling. Here’s everything that we took out.
Once it all came out, I scrubbed down the entire closet. It was an improvement, but it is really just old (like where there are two big holes in the drywall on the back wall).
Then we went to the Home Depot to buy melamine shelves and a few more metal clips. We bought one sheet of melamine, and Dain cut it into two shelves sized to our needs.
We also bought some iron-on edging so that the edges of the shelves would look finished, unlike the shelves we had when this was our trash/recycling alcove. It basically comes in a roll and you cut it to the length of the edge you are working with before ironing it on. You put something between the iron and the edging to protect your iron, and the iron melts the glue of the edging onto the melamine.
To ensure that it sticks, they recommend applying pressure to it, which Dain did using a wooden block.
Then Dain cut off the excess after it had cooled.
And finally, he sanded the edges. Then we were left with four possible shelves for our new pantry closet (two new ones and the two old ones that we added the edging to).
We only ended up using three, and here’s the finished product after adding the shelves and our few pantry items. We clearly need to go grocery shopping, but it is such a huge improvement from our jumbled cabinets.
We moved the trash can over to the side of refrigerator. It’s not ideal to have the trash can out in full view, but it’s a worthy compromise to have a functional pantry. We ended up getting a nicer trash can a few months ago thanks to a gift card that we won from Ace Hardware during a lucky streak in May. It has been sitting in our laundry room ever since, but now it is upstairs and ready for action.
We also stopped at the Container Store over the weekend to pick up two low profile recycling bins. The bottom one will hold all of our glass, plastic, and aluminum. The top one is for paper products, which is why we took the top off so that we could have the first shelf as low down as possible.
Also on our errand list over the weekend was a stop at Ikea, where we picked up some glass jars to corral our pantry staples like flour and sugar. We also purchased the larger white bin to organize smaller items.
As you can see, we all of a sudden have room for food. It’s amazing that we waited so long to do this. And now we have an empty cupboard to work with that we are going to move our storage containers to.
It’s not much to look at, but we are planning to paint the back of the pantry door with a little chalkboard paint since our chalkboard bottles have inspired us. We could have painted the inside, but we figure we’ll wait until we repaint our kitchen. We are thinking a light gray color. For now, we are just happy to have a little more organization since that is the key to living a small(ish) home. What about you? Are you lucky enough to have a spacious pantry? Or are you just working with what you have like we are?