Friday, January 6, 2012

Pantry Purge

Maybe it's because the craziness of the holidays is officially winding down, but I have been in the mood to organize lately. And as my mother would advise, I decided to take advantage of that positive energy and just jump right in. There are several closet spaces in my house that need a good makeover. (You may recall this previous burst of organizing energy applied to my master bedroom closet last spring.) But this morning, I decided that the one closet that seemed to need a facelift the most was my often-used (think, daily) kitchen pantry.

In addition, I've also been in the mood to chat here on the good ol' blog (as you've probably noticed), so I decided to document my little project here for you. To be fair, you should stop reading now if you do not care in the least about the contents of my kitchen pantry and other various cabinets. I'm warning's not exactly riveting content you're about to read.

Ok, you've been warned. Moving on...

I took lots of pictures because I love a good before and after comparison. Here was my kitchen pantry when I woke up this morning.

I have always longed for a home with a kitchen pantry. I've lived in lots of homes and this is the first one that actually had one. It was one of the things I was super excited about when we bought this house. But as you can see, I have not been using it to it's fullest potential.

It's a pretty great space — plenty large and far enough away from the rest of the kitchen cabinets, but still right in the heart of the kitchen space. But I do have one complaint about this particular pantry. Well, two actually. The biggest is that there is no light in this closet. ALL of the closets in this house came equipped with an overhead light managed by a nearby light switch. ALL.OF.THEM. Except this one. And I guess the hallway linen closet, too, which is another major disaster area in need of organization, but I'll get to that another day. Seriously, though, of all the closets in the house (bedroom closets, front coat closet, laundry room closet), why would the builder skimp out on a light in the two closets that house the most small and hard-to-find items?

My other complaint is that there isn't a power outlet inside. I would love to hang my wall-mounted hand-held vacuum in this closet (since most of the messes I use it to clean up are in the kitchen), but it really needs to be plugged into a power source so that it stays charged and, unfortunately, that just isn't an option in the pantry. So it lives in my laundry room instead (yet another space that could use a good once over).

But I digress...

Anyway, I'll skip right to the "after" photo and then give you a few details on how it all went down.

Here's a fun side-by-side comparison. just makes me giddy looking at this space now! I do love me an organized closet. (Truly I do, I even wrote about it in my bio.)

A couple of things worth mentioning...

I had a lot of smallish packets that always seemed to get lost on the wire shelves, so I collected them all and stuffed them into this basket (which oddly, was already in the pantry on one of the top shelves not being used for anything at all).

I think it looks nice and cheery when I open the doors. And it can quickly be moved so I can access the items on the shelf behind it.

These two shelves house all of my foodstuffs. I would love to attach labels to the front of the shelves that show how things are divided up so when I come home with groceries I know right where to put everything. I'm thinking of making some small labels — "baking goods," "canned goods," "coffee/tea," etc. — and attaching them to the wire shelves with zip ties or something, but we'll see how ambitious I remain...

I also have a kind of a crazy amount of what I'm calling "baking and cake decorating materials" — things like cookie cutters, sprinkles (LOTS and LOTS of sprinkles!), food coloring, muffin wrappers, etc. I used to have them in a smaller (shoebox size) bin, but they were exploding out of that so I put them into a similar, but larger container.

This will make it much easier to access this stuff when needed.

Then there is this poorly misused cabinet above our microwave that just housed a mish-mash of paper plates and other disposable party supplies (plus one rarely-used tea pot). As a rule, we do not generally use paper plates in our household, even for things like sandwiches or pizza, but it's always good to have them on hand for parties and other times when it's just not practical to wash a bunch of dishes.

I actually had items like this stashed in a number of places (three, to be exact) and never knew what I had on hand. So I took a cute basket that was also already in the pantry (not being used for anything purposeful) and organized all my paper goods in it.

In doing so, I took a quick inventory of our plastic silverware and it made me wonder if everyone else ends up with a disproportionate number of plastic knives as compared to forks and spoons. Seriously, I never need to buy another plastic knife...EVER!

Here are the bottom two shelves that include both of these bins and other miscellaneous, though commonly used appliances and other items.

I also moved our "inside" recycling container (we transfer it to a larger bin in the garage when this one gets too full and on garbage pick-up day) from the kitchen lazy suzan to this adorable basket on the floor of the pantry. (It's woven out of rolled up pieces of recycled plastic. I got it at Michael's a while back.) And I organized the mess of paper bags that used to clutter the closet floor into the faboo Thirty-One bag I got from my SIL for Christmas. (P.S. I anticipate using this bag for other things, but it should be pretty simple to just take the paper bags out and temporarily dump them on the floor whenever that happens.)

I decided to stock the above-microwave cabinet with my various supply of oils and vinegars. I think those things should be OK over a heat source??? I also stashed our pitiful supply of liquor — two bottles of whiskey that Ryan got for Christmas — up there.

There are also two triangular shaped cabinets in the kitchen island that I could never figure out what to do with. As of this morning, one housed the blender (which isn't used often enough to justify taking up precious counter space) and the other had my old coffee maker (which I only use when company comes over since I use my single-serve Tassimo on a daily basis.) Both of those items got moved to the top shelf in the pantry and instead, I decided to put a previously removed shelf back in one of those cabinets and relocated all my cookbooks into it.

The cookbooks used to live in the cabinet above our "deskette" area, but now that it's practically empty, I can use this space for some of the junk that's collecting in and around my "home office," which is just a small desk with my computer and printer. I'll have to tackle that one another day.

Here's a couple more views of the completed pantry.

So glad that I finally got around to hanging this decorative hook (that I probably bought four years ago!) for my aprons. The space next to it is reserved for a plastic grocery bag stasher that I've got lying around somewhere, but couldn't put my hands on today.

There were just a few items that came out of the pantry that I wasn't sure what to do with. I ended up dividing them among some other cabinets for now, but I thought this was a pretty manageable number of items resulting from the major mess of stuff I started out with.

I am lucky enough to have the "problem" of having a few spaces that I just don't know what to do with. I will never complain about having too much storage space. Never. That is another thing I love about this abundance of storage. But this above-the-fridge cabinet is a big question mark for me. Just not sure what to do with it...

And I am going on record to say that I am not a fan of lazy suzan cabinets. Again, I'm not really sure what to put in here, so it sits relatively empty for the time being.

So that's a lot of words and pictures about how I spent my day reorganizing my kitchen pantry (and other cabinets). If you're still might want to think about finding something better to do with your time. Kidding! Thanks...I appreciate your interest in my mundane existence!


  1. I love a well-organized space!

    FYI: I've safely stored vinegars, oils, etc. above my range for years.

  2. Anonymous would be Kat. :)

    Hey from WA!

  3. I am so impressed. You definitely got your organizational skills from your dad. Great job, Mary!