Sunday, August 15, 2010

The (inexpensive, real-life) pantry organization project


My dream house has a very large cook's pantry as well as a beautifully-appointed butler's pantry. Come to think of it, my dream house might have a cook and a butler, as well.

My real house has a small pantry, and I ought to be grateful for it. It's conveniently located in the little hallway that leads from the kitchen to the garage. Instead of being grateful, though, I've been grumpy that the pantry looked like this:

It's hard to get a photo of the whole thing, but that gives you the general idea. Ugh.

Well, I was inspired last week by Beth, who turned her pantry into a cheerful, well-organized space. And I was released from my ordinary wife-and-mother duties when my husband and sons took a weekend trip. So I decided to give my pantry a makeover. The thing is, I wanted to make my pantry look nice, but I needed to keep it real. I have three teenage boys, so it needs to hold a lot of food. I knew that, even though they might be cute, dainty little containers wouldn't work for me. And I needed to do this whole thing without spending much money. So here's what I did.
First I removed every single thing from the pantry. Look at all this:


That's embarrassing. My table is 11 1/2 feet long, for crying out loud!

After a good scrubbing, the pantry already looked better.

Before I re-stocked the pantry shelves, I inspected the foodstuffs. I was a little surprised at how many items had long since passed their expiration dates. The worst was a box of sugar-free Jello that expired in June 2003.

Next I mapped out my new pantry. I re-used some plastic drawers that I already owned to organize some small things. For the shelves, I loved the idea of beautifully woven baskets or antique milk crates to hold things. But I wanted to spend less than $75 on the entire project, and none of my idyllic images fit within that budget. So I found these great plastic baskets at Target. They're available in three sizes. I ended up using a dozen medium baskets ($3.59 each) and four small baskets ($2.59 each). The baskets can stand alone or stack:


Lest I simply end up with a bunch of messy baskets, I gave each one an assignment and made tags for them. I didn't have any card stock, so I made the tags by gluing pretty wrapping paper to an old file folder and then cutting out circles with a paper punch. I used my label-maker to print out the contents and stuck the labels on my tags, which I attached to the baskets with cord.



Some items I left out of containers. I actually like the look of goods lined up on shelves. Maybe that's because I was born in Memphis, Tennessee, home of the first self-serve grocery store, and when I was a little girl my dad worked for a grocery wholesale business. Perhaps a love for well-stocked shelves is in my blood. Anyway, I organized canned and boxed items by type and put labels on the shelves so that it'll be obvious to everyone where things go.


Here's a closer look:


I wanted some of those cool three-tiered shelves for holding canned goods, but they were $8.99 apiece at my Target. I decided I only really needed tiers for canned soups, and I improvised some of my own by using plastic baskets turned upside down. I'd found these for 49 cents each at Goodwill; I knew they'd come in handy for something!


As I surveyed my organized pantry, I was overcome with gratitude for the bounty that God has provided for my family. I was reminded of the prayer that my boys said when they were very small: "Thank you for the world so sweet; thank you for the food we eat; thank you for the birds that sing; thank you, God, for everything." A few weeks ago I found some vinyl letters on clearance at Target for $3.24; I used some of those to post a line from that prayer on the wall of the pantry.

The letters were originally foil, but I spray-painted them black to match my basket tags. Maybe I'll order a cute version of this quotation from one of those companies that makes custom-order vinyl.
And now for some photos of the whole thing:





Again, it's hard to get a photo of the whole thing, but these shots will give you a top-to-bottom idea of the new space:

Total expenditure for this project was $57.58 for baskets; everything else I had on hand. And the best part is that, with everything labeled, I think I'll be able to keep it organized and tidy. The hardest part has been keeping my work a secret from my husband. He's very neat and organized, and the pantry has been a pain in his neck for a long time. He's called several times this weekend, and each time he's asked, "What have you been up to?" I can't wait to see the look on his face when he goes in search of a snack!

Linking to:

Transformation Thursday at Gina's
Feature Yourself Friday at Rachelle's

44 comments:

Paula said...

Wow! What a difference a little organization makes. I'm like you, I like a well stocked pantry. You did a great job on this!

Susiet said...

Your pantry looks phenomenal! I am so impressed with your labeled baskets from Target. Everything looks so neat and tidy!

Meghan said...

Great makeover!
I am impressed.
Feel free to swing on by my humble abode & makeover my pantry.
It's microsmall so it should take no time at all :>)

Gail @Victorian at Heart said...

Thank you so much for your inspiration. I need to do exactly what you just did. It looks great and I know you feel much better so I'm going to find the time also. Thanks again for sharing your inspiring post.

Lorie said...

It looks great. But your 11 1/2 foot table is amazing!!

More Entertaining Women said...

I just did what you did only a few weeks ago. It made me feel so much better, and I threw away a LOT of stuff. I used baskets and those plastic lazy susans and clear plastic square jars with lock down lids,and clear glass jars with lids I found on clearance at Crate & Barrel for raisins and nuts. It looks so nice now, and I can find what I'm looking for. Love the lettering on your wall. We are blessed to have pantries and the ingredients within. Thanks for your inspiration to go even further in my organization! Great job! Also love the tags! Come by More Entertaining Women sometime. Love to see you.

marty (A Stroll Thru Life) said...

Great walk in pantry. Mine is just a closet. It looks fabulous and what a ton of organized containers you have. I am so impressed. Hugs, Marty

Handy Man, Crafty Woman said...

very nice! I keep re-organizing my pantry, I just can't seem to get it right (just yet).

Anita said...

You did a great job!! It looks so neat and orderly! How nice that everyone will be reminded to be thankful when grabbing something. I used to have a great pantry in another house, but not here. I'm with you on the butler's pantry too. I would LOVE to have one of those. Maybe someday. The butler, probably won't be happening, lol!!

Southern Lady said...

Wow, what a difference! I know you are very proud of your accomplishment! I don't have a pantry at all. I would love one like yours! Carla

Sue said...

Looks fabulous!! Don't you feel great when a big job like that is finished? I think my new year may begin September 1 and I may attempt to do that to my whole house. Now if I could just take those "before" pics!!

Terri at Finder's Keeper's said...

It takes time and determination to get a pantry to look that good. I am so impressed. Next time it rains I think I will tackle mine:)

Deanne said...

Lovely, a well organised pantry is a real blessing. You did a great job- I really like those labels. I also cleaned out my pantry this week
http://fivebrothersonesister.blogspot.com/2010/08/pantry-overhaul.html

Amanda @ Serenity Now said...

Wow!!! I don't know whether to be more impressed with the awesome makeover or the fact that your table is 11 feet long. ;) Love how you improvised and used baskets for stacking the cans. Genius! I like your quote on the wall too. :)

Denise said...

Wow, you have inspired me Richella, I think I will have to re-organize my pantry very soon. I might add yours looks huge compared to mine! This is the biggest house we've lived in and yet it has THE smallest pantry :( Half my tinned goods sit on a shelf in the spare room upstairs because it's that small. I've cleared it out a few times but it's in need of another tidy up. Thanks for the motivation. Yours looks great. :)

Nadir @ Hodgepodge said...

LOVE IT! Looks great & organized now. I love the wall quote too! :-)

Melissa Miller said...

Gorgeous pantry makeover Richella! You did great. Love the inspiring wall quote. Very nice! :)

Jo said...

This project is on my list of things to do so finding your blog was perfect timing!

Love the lettering idea. Everything looks so neat and tidy.

Thanks for the inspiration ~
Jo

Manuela@TPOH said...

That's a thing of beauty! You did a fabulous job on your pantry!

LOL! My dream house comes with a cook and a chaffeur!

Manuela

Jennifer Juniper said...

This really turned out great. My pantry gets away from me from time to time, and the only way to get it together is to clean it all out and start over!

I think I will put this on my list to keep me busy and stop the flow of tears when my kiddos go back to school!

HeathahLee said...

Wow, girl! It looks great! You inspire me to clean mine out! My problem is that I have a great deep pantry, so I "lose" things in the back. I need to figure out a way to organize it so I can see everything. You sure did a great job on yours! Your hubby will be happy! : )

HeathahLee said...

Oh, and by the way, you need to visit your hometown, and SOON! :D

Dawn said...

oh you are brilliant, ya know?! what a great makeover! and my favorite part... is the prayer on the wall. one of my favorites!

(the always sad part of cleaning out the pantry is what i end up throwing away... i didn't seem like it had been eight years since i bought that...)

Terri said...

Love it!!! The soup can stacker idea is especially brilliant. I had one of those tiered racks for spices, but stole it some time ago to use to display all my paper punches in my workshop! But I have lots of those little baskets you are using under the soup.

When we got word in April that our homeowner was putting the house we lease on the market, my first action was not to start packing or paring down... but to reorganize my pantry! I have a huge pet peeve about open containers, so I finally found affordable, AIRTIGHT containers at Costco. They are Snapware cereal keepers. I got a bunch and have all my dry goods (sugars, grains, oatmeal, cereals, etc.) all organized and labeled. It feels good to have an organized pantry! {And now the homeowner has taken the house off the market and we have another year's lease!} Blessings!!!

momof3girls said...

Love ur levels so thrifty!! Very smart!

Rachelle said...

It looks great! I might have to look into those stack-able baskets! I don't have a pantry but I have a really deep corner cabinet that isn't being utilized very well because it's to deep to see everything without a step stool. Hmm. :)

Louise said...

My last pantry clean up/ re-org ended up with some very similar systems (baskets, labels, cans) as yours. I then took a sheet of paper and made a list of meals that could be made essentially with things already in the pantry. The next few grocery shops were much cheaper and we used up a bunch of things destined for the throw in the next clear out!

jennyandcompany said...

Great job! Now I know what to do with that extra drawer cart that I keep moving between the bedrooms ;)

Rene said...

I love your ideas. Thank you for breaking it all down for us. The label idea was so cute.

-Rene

Emily {Frilly Details} said...

Looks great!! I just cleaned out our pantry and it's amazing what a difference it makes. I feel like I have a brand new pantry!

mustard seeds said...

Your pantry looks great! I have been following you for a while now, but I didn't know you grew up in Memphis. That's where I live. Small world.

Terri said...

This is totally adorable. I love the tags and the quote is a fabulous (and totally stealable) idea!

danae said...

this is fabulous!!!! i love how you were creative when you didn't have something specific on-hand, like with the wrapping paper & file folder. not only does this look great, i think you're right - this will be sustainable. AND the quote is precious!

Traci@ Beneath My Heart said...

Richella,
That looks great! Such an amazing difference for not much money.
I bet you just love it. Has it been easy to keep up with? I love my new pantry and so does my family.
I think I will be less wasteful now that I am more organized.
Thanks for linking up to my party!
Blessings,
Traci

{darlene} said...

Richella,
wonderful job! Loved what you did, but it was this:
"As I surveyed my organized pantry, I was overcome with gratitude for the bounty that God has provided for my family." that made me smile the most
great post. great heart for his blessings.
- {darlene}
www.fieldstonehilldesign.com
www.worthwalkingtoward.blogspot.com

Martha (MM) said...

Wow, what a great pantry makeover! Excellent job! :-)

Ann said...

Love it!! I really like your idea of using the plastic drawers on the bottom of the pantry to store items. I can certainly do that to help my pantry become more organized.
Thanks for sharing!
Fondly,
Ann
@
The Tattered Tassel

Amy said...

I love the lettering! I'm inspired to create a phrase on my pantry wall! Thanks for sharing!

Laura said...

That looks great! What fun to keep it quiet and just wait to see your hubby's shocked face when he gets a snack!

Amanda @ Serenity Now said...

I still love this one! I am always awed and intimidated by those super uber fancy pantries. Yours is so pretty, but without going overboard. Does it still look this fantastic?

corner pantry cabinet said...

This looks great. And your table is amazing!!

The Pennington Point said...

Go Richella! I love a neat pantry. Like you, I have a houseful of teenagers and no dainty storage bins will work here. Those cute cereal containers.....forget it. We'd use up 3 just for one meal.

I love the little reminder to be thankful. So sweet! Lisa~

J.N. Cahill said...

Saw your post on the link party at OMF. You did a great job, and great idea on the upside down basket thing--I thought the tiered shelves were kinda expensive and will definitely try your idea. Looks beautiful and useful!

Kim said...

Im curious what you labeled your pantry baskets as. I reorganize all the time but find that I over simplify or over specify. Then it isn't kept up right.
Love your hard work.

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