Monday, August 10, 2009

Pantry Overhaul

We've lived in our new house since the week before Thanksgiving of last year, and this is the first time I've reorganized our pantry. Considering the way it looks, you probably won't be surprised, but I usually reorganize a little more quickly after we move into a new place when I figure out how the space is working. Or not working, as the case may be. I suppose I didn't feel any pressure since I knew this move was permanent and we wouldn't be moving again. Whew!

I should also tell you that when I reorganize one thing, I usually end up reorganizing another area too. Somehow two areas will become related, space will need to be shared differently, and that causes a reorganization of the second space. In this case, it was the top of the large walk-in closet right off of the laundry room.

Here are a few facts before we get started:

1. Our ceilings on this first floor are nine feet, including inside the closets, pantry closet included.

2. Although I am very thankful to have this separate pantry closet, I in no way like the sliding doors. It makes it very difficult to access many parts of the shelving. I wish I had door knob French-type doors.

3. I would love to store my canned goods in a separate cabinet in the garage, but since it gets so cold here in the winter, there is no way I could (they would freeze). The only place they could be kept is in the basement, and I'd just as soon keep them where they are now in the pantry.

4. It's very difficult to keep things on this much shelving without baskets or something to keep order. Things just seem to end up everywhere and are difficult to locate.

5. The tall empty space at the top of the shelving is actually a hindrance instead of a benefit. It's there and you want to fill it up, but if you do you actually can't access your stuff, at least not very easily.

The first thing I did was get all of the large serving platters and plastic Tupperware from the top shelf and take it to the walk-in closet. I had a really hard time getting it down from there, so other than having to get the stool to take it down from the shelf, it will be much easier now. I tidied up the shelves, which was made easier by moving all of the gloves and scarves. Here's how that all worked out:

That corner where the shelves meet is fairly deep, so it worked well to put the stack of platters and large plastic stuff there. The smaller white Sterilite basket contains all of my Swiffer things, and the larger one on the other shelf contains all of our light bulbs.

This shoe rack was hanging inside our coat closet in Illinois over three years ago serving this exact same purpose. It never got used in Virginia, and I wasn't sure I'd have a place for it here since there is no door where you enter this closet from the laundry room, but there is a door that closes off the laundry room from the rest of the house.

So I hung it on the back of that door. There are six rows of pockets, and each row is for one person in our family, oldest to youngest, top to bottom. When you walk out that door you would be in what will someday be the official mudroom but is now just blank space. There's also a door to the half bath if you need to take a potty break.

Well, that was the secondary effect of my pantry overhaul. Here's what the pantry closet ended up looking like when I was done:

One of the primary changes was to the top shelf. I put my stash of paper towels up there since they are something I can stack higher without being difficult to access. They were also taking up space where I could put food that the kids could reach more easily. I stacked my boxes of cookie cutters up there, and then I used one of the white Sterilite baskets to contain other odds and ends (popcorn serving baskets, ice bucket...weird stuff).

I analyzed very carefully what I would be putting back into the side recesses of the closet. That can be difficult to access as well unless the right thing is there. I put one basket that had just our boxes of Mac & Cheese, and on another shelf I tucked a basket with bread, etc.

I used the label maker to label some of the white baskets, but not all of them. I do love to use my label maker, but when you label a box "Pop-Tarts" and that's all that's in there, ever been in there, and ever will be in there, that's just a little too much for even me.

You can see in these last two pictures not only did I not use my label maker for these white baskets, these are tucked in the side recesses. The box of Nutrigrain bars that we currently have opened has the top torn off so we can just grab one out without having to mess with opening and closing it. In the second picture, that basket contains all of my baking restocking items (flour and sugars). I can easily look before I go to the store and see if I have used my last bag and need to replace it.

I had so much fun I have a couple more projects in mind already!


Betsy said...

It actually does look fun. I enjoy doing this kind of thing very much...and have to peek back in the areas several times later and enjoy the neatness! :) It looks great! I do agree with you on the inconvenience of the sliding doors. I bet two accordion style doors wouldn't be very expensive and may even run on the same track. Love it!

Mari said...

I like re-organizing! Doesn't it make you feel good when the shelves are clean? And - yours look great!

Ronnica said...

Love your organization! My pantry is a bit of a mess, but I don't have a ton of different items, just a bit of everything on 1 shelf and 2 small carts. The important thing is that I know where everything is!

Bonnie said...

Looks fantastic !! I loooove looking in other people's pantries ... especially super organized people like you !!! Thanks for sharing !! :)

Lora said...

I really need to reorganize my pantry already. It is a major source of frustration for me. I feel like there's lots of wasted space and everything is just thrown in. I love your baskets & labels! I think I'm inspired:)

sez said...

All this organisation is just making me happy! ;)

Love Bears All Things said...

I have added you to my 'blogs I follow' list. I hope that is alright. I am going to take some ideas from this post. I like that you put the cans and bottles in baskets. I need to do something like that.
Like you, I moved in and haven't really organized some of the closets yet. I'm still unpacking. Thanks for doing these organization posts.
Mama Bear

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