Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A Pantry Makeover

Two new link-ups for me this week:

First, I(heart)organizing.  I found this blog through BH&G and the beautiful feature of Jen's home. Her blog is what motivated me to tackle the project I did. Thanks, Jen, for the kick in the pants I needed.

The second link needs a little back story. I majored in art history and studied many different eras and artists, some instantly becoming favorites.  William Morris is one of those favorites.  A member of the pre-Raphaelite brotherhood--a group of artists united in their desire to return art to its pre-Raphael roots--Morris was an excellent painter whose skills fathered the Arts and Crafts movement.  I love his art, his papers, his furniture, and especially is philosophy of living a beautiful life. 

I've been reading Jules's blog, Pancakes and French Fries, for months now, and I love her writing, her humor, her honesty, and her love of William Morris and his intentionally beautiful, simple living. I've never left a comment, all stalker-like, but I knew I wanted to link up this week and come out of hiding.  Here is my project for the week:

Once I fixed my curtains, I caught the project bug in a big way.

I put on a hazmat suit, plugged my nose, and ventured into my pantry.  Sadly, there is no before picture, but the lack of a before picture does preserve a little bit of my pride. I will disclose that it was a disaster area--stacks of empty Costco-size boxes, two hidden sandwiches still in their lunch bags (I can't explain that one), many miscellaneous wrappers and papers, and most importantly a fully sprouted bag of potatoes (ah, that was the smell).

For some reason, Hyrum and Evie were all about filling baskets and tubs with the pantry's contents and dumping them into a precarious grand pyramid in the hallway. And I must say they really were helpful--saved me lots of trips walking back and forth.
This project took more than a week to complete, and it was a bit difficult to plan dinner around which ingredients were accessible from this pile. (The rolled-up rug?  Stay tuned for a post on that one.)

When the pantry was empty, this is what I saw:
Five years of abuse.

Five years of exploded spaghetti sauce and dripping syrup and neglected upended molasses had left their marks on the shelves.  I decided a fresh coat of paint was the first step, and I wanted to make sure the paint cured before we replaced the contents, so after I painted two coats of paint, I just let it sit for three days.  Nothing more excruciating than waiting for paint to dry when your family's food supply is on the line.  The pile in the hallway morphed from a great Egyptian pyramid to the Tower of Pisa over the course of those few days as my kids' needs for granola bars became more urgent to them than the possibility of being maimed in a food avalanche.

While waiting for the paint to dry, Brad installed a new light fixture for me, found on Overstock.com for $39. He wasn't too thrilled with the idea since the original fixture was just fine, but that's why it's called home improvement, right? It's hard to tell in this picture, but the light fixture is actually round and it casts the three triangle shadows on the ceiling.  I love it.
 I ordered wall vinyl from Wall Pops in Calypso Blue and Stylin' Green to add a little pizzazz to the walls--pizzazz that wouldn't be permanent.  I don't know how many hours it took me to measure and cut 2" and 1/2" strips from the 6 1/2" strips they sent.  My only complaint about this product is that they should print the reverse side with a grid marked every half inch.  That would save people SO much time. (I am not being paid for my endorsement, FYI.)
Next step was adhering the vinyl to the walls.  
My favorite stage of this project was when I was putting up the stripes and the three youngest kids kept evaluating the progress.  Micah repeatedly told me how AWESOME it looked, even though I was complaining that the lines weren't as straight as I'd hoped they'd be.  He reminded me, "It's going to be filled with food anyway.  Who will even notice that they're a little bit crooked?"  That's my boy.

Finally, on Saturday it was time to restock the pantry, and I took the job seriously.  Brad commented, "Nothing makes you happier than organizing the crap out of something. You've missed your calling in life.  You should have been a domestic organizer."  Ah, flattery my dear.  Pure music to me!
Here it is, all finished.  I'll walk you through a few of my changes. It may sound weird to pick a palette for a pantry, but I used the blue and green with hits of industrial silver wherever I could.
 I wrote on Martha Stewart's office labels in three different sizes instead of cutting vinyl or printing out computer labels because I wanted a handwritten look.
Blue labels for baking ingredients and  . . .
. . . green labels for snacks.  I like how the uniformity of the labels unites my mismatched jars into a cohesive collection.  To the left of the nuts is a stack of small paper trays.  After writing this post about wonderfully handy paper trays, my friend Cindy appeared on my front step with a case of 4000 for me.  They are so nice to use for kid snacks and I love that my measuring cups are no longer being discarded outside once they are empty.

 And yes, we really do eat that many goldfish.
I bought these wire locker baskets at Luckett's over a year ago, and the last two have been waiting to find the perfect home.  Yep.  Perfect.
  Clear tubs and containers for all of Lily's baking beauties . . .

. . . and even a few trays to corral the pantry troublemakers.  Hopefully if the "sticky stuff" stays where it belongs, I will be able to avoid jars stuck to the newly painted shelves.

I have used these large bins for my flour and sugar for years and years and I love them.  They're easy to move around and they hold ten pounds each.
Brad laughed at me as I lined up the labels like it was the grocery store.  I told him it was just until I got pictures of it for my blog, but he still tricked me by turning one can around, pointing it out to me, and when I went into the pantry to straighten it, he locked me in! I guess I was supposed to be alarmed, but I just grabbed a handful of wheat thins and waited approximately 45 seconds until he let me out. (Yes, we have a lock on our pantry.  Why? Because we have kids.  And yes, it does work.)
The floor is now clean, with tubs for water bottles and potatoes (now I should be able to find them before they sprout, right?)
I took advantage of the Tower of Pisa commotion to actually inventory all of our storage and update my list.  Although I haven't fully formatted the list on the computer, I did take the time to make the clipboard cute. That's important too, right?
Here's a better shot of the light fixture.  Cool, right?  My gumball machine broke a few months ago and I've been waiting for my brother-in-law to fix it.  In the meantime, Brad threw away the machine's stand in a purging fit of madness.  That will have to be addressed when the machine works again.

Brad was right. Nothing makes me happier than a newly organized space.  What do you think?  Are you ready to tackle a big project now?


  1. I have always liked to reorganize, too, but I never did it in such an attractive way. Your pantry looks great! (And our two bedroom closets look better because last week I did some reorganizing.)

  2. Oh, MY! I love a clean and organized pantry. Unfortunately, it doesn't stay that way. Good job. Is it because it's your spring? and You are spring cleaning? I have never thought to decorate in there, but it looks so nice. I may come back to this post frequently to just look and imagine that my pantry looks as nice.

  3. wow! that's a beautiful looking pantry. when i grow up, i'm gonna organize mine. i'll have to bookmark this post for when that time comes. well done! great pics too! :)

  4. Hmmm... All this time I have admired your skills Jen.. But now I realize it is an illness. Having a pantry that looks this good is a sure sign. ;o)

  5. i have pantry envy! you have the pantry i dream of...

    our pantry is the size of a walnut so needless to say things are spread all over the house of pantry goods...i told hubs i would like to move the other 2 washers and dryers to the garage to use our whole utility room as a walk in pantry...i hate laundry..just another excuse to leave it in the garage hahaha

    loved the wire baskets...gonna steal that and loved the colors!


    ok i'm done now...loved this post!

  6. Well your pantry re-do has mine beat all to heck! I/we went in a few months ago and purged all of the expired canned goods. There are no kids here 99.9% of the time, so no expired sandwiches in dark corners. We'd actually done a major re-do with new shelving, etc a few years ago. This last thing was just to put some order to what had become a random mess. BUT - I love many of the things you did, and I'm going to incorporate the tub for waters, and I love the wire baskets for things, like Costco pasta packages, baking goodies, etc. Oh, and the soup racks - genius! You did a beau-tee-ful job and I'm very impressed! And inspired. I'm going to The Container Store this weekend.

  7. Great job. I love that you took the time to make it cute. Cute rooms are so much easier to keep clean.

  8. GMTA! I just did that to my personal closet. I happen to love empty spaces in closets and drawers...I too, lost my calling as a professional organizer. great job!

  9. A-MAZE-ZZZZZIIIINNNGGG!!!! i just went to home depot and had all of my wood cut and picked out my paint {which proved to be harder than i imagined--who knew there were so many kinds of "white" paint}. this weekend baby=COAT CLOSET MAKEOVER. can't wait:)

  10. It looks AWESOME! I love that you actually 'decorated" it too. How I WISH I had a space like that. I do love to organize and have clean, organized spaces as well.

  11. It looks AWESOME!! Man, when you do a "project" you really jump in and tackle it....no half you know what going on over there! Love the colors and everything. I like your idea of keeping sugar and flour in those large bins....makes so much sense now that I see it! I am always refilling my smaller canisters...this would be so much easier. Great job Jen!

  12. That is one fabulous pantry! The idea of putting all the stickies into a tub to catch the drips is pure genius.

  13. How LOVELY! I want to cook in your kitchen just so that I can access that pantry. I love the use of baskets and glass jars. Glass jars make the world a better place.:)

  14. Gorgeous. Now I am ready for a house with a walk-in pantry. The dream.

  15. I'm so jealous of all of your space! And you did a GREAT job filling it! Love! Thanks for sharing!


  16. This is awesome! Those vinyl stripes really do make the space fun and cool! Great job! Pinning it :).

    -Chaney (Came over from IHeart Organizing)

  17. Wow this is incredible! I love how you put the stripes around the top - it gives it the perfect pop of color!

  18. Loving that everything is labeled! Great job!

  19. Very impressive! I love the attention to detail and how it looks so 'merchandised'. I'm clicking over from i heart organizing. Here's my new pantry! http://kendallandkeith.blogspot.com/2013/02/new-kitchen-organization-diy-magnetic.html

  20. WOW! You rocked this pantry, Jen.
    Just rocked it.


  21. WOW! It doesn't even look like the same pantry! Love every single last detail and all the color. So bright and happy, I would want to move in! :)


  22. Is this a pantry, or a mini-mart?

  23. I love how your organized your space! We have a huge pantry as well and I'm stumped on how to use it to it's fullest. Did your can racks come with the house or did you install those? Any method to your madness of organization? Like snacks down low or certain foods where? I'm desperate for any advice prior to reorg-ing ours. Thanks!

  24. Theresa--
    I have looked all over for an email for you and can't find one, so I hope you get this answer.

    The rolling racks in the center were built when we built the house. Brad's brother is a carpenter and he built it to my specifications. I did purchase a set of rolling racks that are on one of the shelves, and they aren't too expensive and are pretty easy to find online.

    I did organize food together by how I use it. All the baking goods in one spot, pasta in another, condiments in another.

    And I consciously moved all the snacks up where my little kids can't get them easily. That has stopped some of the thievery but not all of it! Good luck!

  25. OK, I feel so much better that I lock out my kids from the pantry too (my friends think it's crazy, but they can literally eat through a year's worth of snacks in a night)...we have a large pantry that we custom built when we renovated the house and I love it! Thanks for some great storage ideas.

  26. Hi!
    I am contributing writer on the blog I Heart Naptime and I am writing an upcoming post about organizing the home and would love to include one photo plus link to this post.

    I know that we all love exposure and the post will go live next week, but I just wanted to make sure you wouldn't mind the photo and link back. Let me know if you'd rather not be included.

    bloominghomestead AT gmail DOT com

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