It’s time for our pantry makeover reveal! We transformed our poorly-designed pantry into a storage wonderland with floor-to-ceiling shelves!
If you haven’t already, check out the pantry makeover plan and first steps!
This pantry makeover project was marred by insidious betrayal.
And from one of my most trusted tools, no less!
Indulge me while I set the stage for this colossal bamboozling.
After painting the pantry walls with Swiss Coffee, I was ready to lay the foundation of this entire project – namely, the wall supports that will be holding up the shelves. Now, as I mentioned in the previous post, these wall supports were to be made from 1×2 primed pine boards. Can I just say (and please excuse the aside) how frustrating it is to pay 3 times the price for 1/3 the product these days? For what I used to pay for three 2x4s, I now pay for one 1×2! It’s almost enough to make one give up the DIY life and go work for IKEA!
Anyway, back those 1x2s…
Since six shelves were planned, I’d need six rows of 1x2s on each of the three main walls plus the little piece of wall next to the pantry door. Now, any dim-witted dolt with access to even the most rudimentary level should be able to make quick work of this. He or she needs merely to measure up from the floor to the desired shelf height, slap the board against the wall, plop the level on the board and screw the board into the wall.
You don’t need a PhD in Advanced Topography or even a Masters in Civil Engineering to know this.
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So obviously, when I tackled this project with my pre-primed-and-over-priced 1x2s and self-leveling laser level, I felt about as confident as Mike Tyson squaring off against a 5-year-old in Aquaman Underoos.
But like any good craftsman, even though I was wielding advanced weaponry on a pre-industrial battlefield, I still checked my work with an old-fashioned torpedo level. No harm in validating your superiority, amirite?
But, here’s the thing: I checked and re-checked and then re-checked again, and my pre-historic torpedo level disagreed with my alien-made space laser! Now normally, I’d snort and tell my torpedo level to bugger off, but I know that laser levels are delicate instruments, and this one had just been through two moves. I searched online, and sure enough, laser levels need to be calibrated every so often.
Well, nuts to calibration. It sounded like a long and complicated process, and my kitchen was looking like Kabul on a bad day. That’s okay though. I still remember my humble roots, back in the days before space-aged laser levels. If I could do the job with one, I could do it with the other, so I put my full faith in my little DeWalt torpedo level and carried on with the work.
Mounting the supports was a straightforward affair. I first pre-cut the boards to the lengths I needed.
I must say, I do love working with power tools outdoors! It’s so nice not to be cooped up in a dank and windowless basement when cutting wood!
But then things got plain weird. I’m talking Twilight Zone weird.
My trusted DeWalt started acting funny – like giving me different readings along the board (even though it wasn’t warped). And weirder still, I’d get a different reading in each of its four possible orientations!
This was interdimensional vortex stuff!
I checked the DeWalt against my my 4-foot-long Johnson beam level. They may as well have been different tools playing by different laws of physics!
What the heck was going on?
Could it be..?
I cast a slanted eye at my “trusted” DeWalt.
“Et tu, DeWalt?” I said and grabbed the yellow monstrosity for a closer look. I grabbed my keys and headed to solve this conundrum.
I bought two new torpedo levels – a blue Kobalt for $10 made of plastic and aluminum, and a red Craftsman for $20 made of painted steel (or lead-infused iron – it’s heavy).
Back home, I tested all three on a problematic board. I put the DeWalt in one spot, and it assured me the board was not remotely level.
I then put the Craftsman on the board.
And lastly, I checked the Kobalt.
My suspicions were confirmed: my DeWalt torpedo level was a snake whose betrayal led to hours of delay in this pantry makeover project.
Like a jailor walking the condemned, I solemnly strode from the pantry towards the trash can. “Dead man walkin’!” I said to the empty house, and Penny’s and Pepper’s ears perked up at the spectacle.
I deposited the yellow traitor into the bin and turned back to my work.
Armed with two fully-functioning torpedo levels, I made quick work of the remaining supports. The right (and functioning) tools make all the difference!
Here’s a rundown on how I attached the boards: after measuring up from the floor, I put a pencil mark on the wall and then put the top of the board on the pencil mark. With the torpedo level on the board, I adjusted it until level and then shot three brad nails to hold the board against the wall.
I then used a stud finder to mark three studs in which I pre-drilled screw holes.
I followed with a countersink bit, and then I drove in 2 1/2 inch decking screws to firmly secure the board to the wall.
I like decking screws for all sorts of construction projects. They have star heads instead of Philips, so they won’t ever strip, and I’ve never had one break on me – both common occurrences with Philips-head screws.
After filling all the screw holes with spackle and sanding them flat, I painted the supports with Swiss Coffee.
Next, I turned my attention to the shelves. The original plan was for me to prime and then paint both sides with enamel cabinet paint in Swiss Coffee color. But once we decided to cover the tops with contact paper, I only painted the bottoms.
Okay, so I guess this stuff bills itself as PVC marble self-adhesive counter paper or some such gobbledygook. I’ve been calling it shelf paper and contact paper. Whatever you want to call it, it is thick enough to do the job. Though in the weird lighting below, you can see all the bumps and imperfections of the wood underneath, in the directly-above-lighting in the pantry, those flaws are not seen.
Putting the contact paper on was a two-person job. Handan and I did it together, and I was happy for her help. It would have been a real bear trying to get that stuff on with just two hands! We found a heat gun and a brayer helped adhere the paper to the front edge.
I started with the long and wide side of the pantry. Installation was a breeze. I just laid the board on its supports…
…and shot a brad nail in each corner and one to the middle back.
After the long 16-inch-wide boards, I installed the 12-inch-wide boards on the left side.
Since these boards only had two walls for support, I made angle brackets from the extra pieces of 1×2 I had on hand. I brad nailed the bottoms into studs using the same 2-inch brads I was using throughout the rest of the project.
I swapped out my 2-inch brads for 1 1/4-inchers to secure the top of the angle brackets to the shelves.
Since the back portion of the the shelves would only be supported on one side by a wall support, we used mending plates to support the fronts.
With my babes’ help, I installed mending plates to the small shelves before installation.
I then put the back end on the wall support and lifted the front end until it was flush with the other sides.
And then I drove three more screws in each side, and the shelf was secure.
I painted the top 3 sets of mending plates with Swiss Coffee, and you can barely tell they’re there!
Here are our new pantry shelves before Handan started loading them up.
Now it’s time for the beauty shots of our filled and functional pantry!
Look at all that beautiful shelf space!
You can see the extra shelf I added in the picture above – it breaks up the space perfectly for can storage.
There are 18 inches between the floor and the bottom of the first shelf. This is enough room for all my tall bottles and cans of olive and sunflower oil plus any other tall bottles (like white vinegar from Costco or Sam’s).
We left 15 inches of space between the first and second shelves. This is enough to fit my babes’ beloved Frosties (Frosted Flakes here in the US). The box is back there lurking behind the Life cereal box – her other favorite!
One thing you’ll notice is that we like to keep food in its original container as much as possible. An exception to this would be flours, sugars and certain grains like rice. These are messy foods, and they are more easily handled, scooped and stored in containers rather than bags.
Other exceptions are certain bulk items we buy like Turkish dried apricots and almonds. The bag of apricots we bought from a Turkish food distributor in Atlanta was about as big as a king pillow, so it makes sense to portion it out into a smaller container from time to time.
As for cans – I like mine free-range, not cooped up in a box or some other sort of organizer. I like to keep my can collection accessible and fungible.
You may also note that (besides the aforementioned exceptions) we don’t go in for those rows of identical containers to store things like cereal and snacks. Our reasons for this are many, but it boils down to a few key points:
- It’s more work. Filling and re-filling those containers takes time. Ain’t nobody ’round here got time fo’ dat!
- When does it expire? It’s good to see the date on some packages. Saves a trip to the nose for a sniff test.
- We find those row upon row of identical containers to be a little too clinical looking – like you’re peering into the laboratory at a hospital, not at the food you’d like to consume.
- Last (and most importantly) – we like using our own baskets that we’ve collected over the years.
We’re using everything in this pantry, from the absolute dirt cheap, like these baskets from Dollar Tree (2 for a dollar)…
…to the beautifully-patinaed copper trough bucket shown below that we picked up at a yard sale in Connecticut.
Besides Dollar Tree, we have baskets in here from HomeGoods, Walmart, Goodwill, thrift stores, fruit orchards and countless tag sales.
I guess most of all we like to use our collected and curated baskets, because they are uniquely us. No one else will have a pantry exactly like ours.
And in an age of trend-chasing and social-media homogeneity, it feels good to buck the trends every now and then, don’t you think?
So what do you think of our new fully-utilized pantry space?
It’s allowed me to get a handle on the kitchen – in fact, I should now be able to fit almost everything from Georgia into this kitchen, thanks to this pantry!
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And for our Instagram folks, here’s a pose you may be familiar with. Keep an eye out for more familiar poses with each new project we finish! #bandwagon #trendchaser #InstaFame