This morning (not unlike most mornings) there is a pile of to-dos on my desk. Sipping my coffee and staring at my many tasks for the day is usually a great way to induce a morning headache, so instead I rearrange the piles into one larger pile and smile at the fact that I can actually see the top of my desk for a few seconds. If only it were so easy. Side note: you know what’s helpful these days? A mini notepad right next to my computer so that when a must-get-done shoots into my brain I can immediately annotate it. Better yet, separate lists in my iPhone for work projects, grocery lists and so on. Those little nuggets that suddenly ding above your head seem to disappear too quickly these days.
Speaking of overwhelming, you know what’s not so crazy and messy and overwhelming right now? My pantry.
Woot woot! Little by little each nook and cranny of my life will start to look like this. It’s a self promise that keeps me going during the craziest of days :).
Last I left you Kevin had installed the pallet, cork floor and rope lights:
And then I took some time to hunt down a few boxes and bins and whatnot to begin making her operational.
Let’s start with the goods… canned, bagged and jarred goods, that is.
Forgive the dark pictures, lighting in this
dark cellar space is terrible.
I’ll preface that this isn’t the only space that we keep food in in the kitchen. Up until the birth of this pantry our food storage was solely a two cabinet operation. I like the confined quarters because it keeps our *extra purchases* down, aka not too many erroneous cans of garbanzo beans or jarred marinara, just what we needed for the week or so. I’m trying to keep that alive by keeping most of our daily food in those two cabinets. Baking supplies for example take up top shelf real estate in a convenient spot above the countertop.
So this pantry is fairly sparse in the food world. Where it has made a world of a difference is in our cleaning and need-on-hand home improvement stuff. Here’s where I can stock up on paper towels from Costco, where I can store the extra rolls of foil and boxes of gallon-sized baggies. I have a box dedicated to light bulbs in the house because those are nice to have on hand when a can light or lamp flickers off in the evening (I have no idea why I’m changing out light bulbs so much…).
My broom and swiffer sit to the left out of sight from the pantry door, a couple of hooks hold the dustpan. Of course Liv has her versions too :).
Because she is a very good helper:
My original inspiration for the pantry came from here:
And then I browsed and shopped around a bit with my iPhone – do you ever phone shop?
Measuring, price comparing with Amazon (you can actually scan the bar code directly on the product in the Amazon app), until I had a plan that I thought would work.
When it came to food storage I both splurged and scrimped. I splurged on OXO containers for dry goods and saved on wire baskets and canvas bins that I’ve slowly amassed over the past two months.
I scooped up the red wire baskets in the new pantry from an antique booth that had marked all merchandise down 50% – I think they were maybe $8 each? They were also yellow prior to recruiting my baby brother for a quick painting.
I have had my eye on a few beautiful canvas bins but was attempting to keep my costs low… so when I came across this huge chevron canvas bin at Beverly’s Fabric while shopping for window treatment fabric for the nursery, I swooped it up (and one for towel storage). A 40% off coupon from Joanns brought it down to about $15.
All purpose cleaning solution, swiffer refills and rags? Check.
I rolled the towels only because you’re looking ;).
Let’s get back to those OXO containers… back in college my girlfriends and I had a terrible outbreak of Indian meal moths in our house (have you ever experienced those? they often come with tainted bags of flour or sugar) and it was a nightmare. We had to throw out every single dry good item in our over-sized pantry (12 girls = lots of food). When Kevin and I moved into this house together I began storing every bagged food in tupperware. About a year in though I recognized one of those terrible little critters on our ceiling followed by another and another… shortly after all dried food had to go. Breadcrumbs left in their plastic container ended up being the culprit. I splurged on OXO and now I won’t go back. They’re expensive but they last a life time (just don’t wash the lids in the dishwasher – lesson learned) and they’re worth every penny in keeping food fresh and clean.
When Kevin goes to Trader Joes or Whole Foods he tends come home with bags of unnamed grains. You know the type – you scoop them out of larger bins and label them with a part number on a twist tie. And then they’re used right away and are delicious! or die a slow death in your cupboards because you can’t identify the striped rice looking grain that has been there for months. I spotted this roasted bean storage at Starbucks a couple of months ago and a light bulb went off… (sneaky iPhone pic)
I reinvented the solution for our pantry with a wine rack (which I modified a bit to fit in this space) and these round OXO glass canisters. Now striped grains and lentils and split peas have a place to live. The goal is to use what can fit on this rack and then replenish with another unusual find when the canister is empty without trying to stock up on bags of unknowns.
Pretty bins are nice on several levels. They’re calming on the eye when you open a closet space (aka you can’t see their contents) and they corral loose bits that I’d likely misplace if left out on their own. But baskets and bins can get pricey. You know what aren’t so pricey though? Fabric China storage containers like these ones. That’s the aforementioned light bulb bin.
The white box to the left is from Ikea ages ago – it should have failed by now since it’s made of cardboard, but it has held up well. It houses my cake decorating supplies so that I can work on projects like this.
On a sturdier level, these plastic bins below in the upper left corner are inexpensive and great for holding foods that can be ‘thrown into the pantry’. Foods like bags of cereal out of their boxes that are wrapped up with a rubberband. I couldn’t find the link online but I’m pretty sure they were $6 at The Container Store.
I’m not sure I’m sold on being able to see the canned goods right through our glass pantry door, but for now I’m using this expandable shelf to see what we might have on hand (so that it can be used up! all space if valuable space).
I found these glass jars at the grocery store on clearance and scooped up a handful. They are regularly filled with cereal, goldfish, pretzels and other snacks that we eat on a regular basis. These are special treats for Liv so we try to keep just a couple in circulation at a time, but this lower shelf space is officially reserved for snacks.
I ended up purchasing the square version of the round metal and chalkboard canisters that I mentioned in the pantry plan, they’re currently housing everything celebration such as sprinkles, cupcake liners and candles.
I’m really excited about the corkboards that I added to the walls! I can’t wait to pin recipes, pesto printouts and coupons and all of the other fun stuff that is kitchen related but doesn’t need to take up room on the countertops. I think these guys will be useful.
And the red frames from Ikea tie it all together :).
Speaking of cork, I shared on the floor install here. It’s a neat use of up-cycling materials (and it’s squishy on the feet).
There we are! We are one pantry finished over at the Spenla casa and I am really happy with the results. Do you have any pantry secrets or tips??
* OXO round glass canisters
* OXO plastic square food storage
* Chevron canvas bin
* Eco-Fabric China dinner plate case (great alternative to pricier fabric bins)
* White KASSETT box for cake decorating supplies
* Canned goods expandable shelf
* White plastic bins (Container Store, but can’t seem to find them online)
* Metal and chalkboard square canisters
* Rolled cork
* Red frames for corkboards
PS start from the beginning and catch up on the building of this space right here.