Checking off my 2020 project list has officially begun! I’m not entirely done with my pantry yet (there are still shoes in it, lol), but until we do our mudroom, this is as good as it gets. And it was still a beast to get it organized (mainly because it involved a ton of other spaces!) so I thought I’d share my progress so far.
Let me start by showing you the best view (without the shoes 😆):
A far cry from the embarrassing before (when it was hardly used as a pantry):
Yikes! I never ended up organizing this space after we moved in. It just became a drop zone for anything we didn’t want to deal with – except for toys on the top shelf (stuff like toys in “time-out”, and slime and play-doh, so the kids don’t destroy the house).
The first step was to completely clear the shelves, AND the cabinets in the kitchen that are used for food storage. This way I could take inventory and figure out what kind of bins and baskets I needed for the food we actually have. It did NOT look pretty…
As you can see, the mess spilled into the kitchen (on the island and kitchen table), and our den. I started this while I was the only one home, and my poor husband was very confused AND concerned when he came home – just in time to see everything in a million piles. It gets worse before it gets better! 😂
I sorted everything into keep, recycle, donate, and trash piles, then put items from the keep pile away in their proper place. I had to reorganize our old laundry room (future mudroom) to find a home for the displaced toys. The final spot for the stuff stored in there will be in our entryway closet (our coats will move to the mudroom after the new shelves/cubbies are built, which will free up space in the entryway closet).
Not at all glamorous, but these cabinets are getting the job done until we remove them!
And here’s the insane before picture of the kitchen cabinets that hold food:
We started with a general system for each cabinet, but things would get lost in the back of the corner cabinet. Plus, the smoothie ingredients were mixed between the corner and right cabinets because of different bottle heights. And our baking ingredients were in the corner cabinet, but they filled multiple shelves so it was hard to see what ingredients we really had, and we always ended up with too much or too little tapioca flour or almond flour, etc., etc. You get the idea. 😉
I decided ALL of the baking ingredients will live in the pantry. The left cabinet houses all of our kid lunch and breakfast ingredients (except their cereal, which is stored in a huge glass jar, which fits Costco-sized boxes of cereal, on the counter). No more boxes on top of the cabinets!!
The right cabinet stores our medicine, vitamins, dog meds and shampoo (since Winston is bathed in the sink), and dish soap. It looks a little crazy in the picture, but (thanks to corralling our running gels in a box) everything is really easy to see in-person, without shuffling items around:
And the corner cabinet is SO MUCH BETTER! I removed a shelf so I could store taller things on the bottom shelf. I used clear lazy susans (with tall sides, so things don’t fall out) and labeled shoe boxes on each shelf, so that nothing can get lost in the back. The bottom shelf does have extra smoothie items on the left side, and coffee syrup on the right side. But they’re all visible since it’s the bottom shelf, and the lazy susan is in the back (nothing is behind it). It’s incredible having ALL of the smoothie ingredients in one lazy susan, instead of spread across 2 cabinets and 3 shelves! (My husband’s favorite part was that I labeled his snack box, which has pork rinds, “Gross” 😂).
Here’s a picture of the top shelf without the ice cream cones to give you a better idea of how corralled the boxes and lazy susans really keep everything:
And I didn’t get before pictures because apparently I was in such a groove that I forgot, but below are island drawers after reorganizing (flour and sugar were in them before, and my gel colors were in the corner cabinet):
Is it weird that I have a drawer dedicated almost entirely to baking cups and ice trays/molds?
And here’s what the pantry looked like before I got any bins or baskets to corral things:
This was great, because everything was categorized into groups, and you could see everything. But I knew without grouping like items into baskets that my husband would never remember the proper location of things – and I wouldn’t blame him! Plus, I wanted bins and baskets so it would all look pretty! 🤣
I went to HomeGoods, armed with pictures of the updated shelves, and knowing I wanted a mix of lazy susans, baskets, and clear bins. I bought more than I needed, knowing I could return what I didn’t use (pro tip: make sure the cashier scans each duplicate item individually so you don’t end up having to talk to the manager to return unused items – the item numbers can vary for the exact same items… ugh!).
I ended up changing things around a bit, too. I moved the baking ingredients from being stacked on 2 shelves, to being side-by-side, which looks better with the new clear bins.
Well, except for the coconut oil (which we have 3 giant containers of, thanks to the corner cabinet, lol!). But I think it looks fine as-is.
Here’s a close-up of that shelf (filled with sauce staples and miscellaneous cooking stuff):
And the opposite side, which also has 2 lazy susans (filled with syrup, jam, honey, and keto cereal):
Is it bad that we have an entire lazy susan filled with maple syrup?! Yes, we do have an open maple syrup in the fridge… What can I say – we like waffles in this house! 😂
And here’s the bottom, left shelf (with overflow baking supplies, and overflow coffee):
And next to that shelf we have overflow drinks and ziplock bags:
The top shelf has stuff for the grill and candy in the top, left basket. Kid overflow chips and snacks, and adult overflow chips and snacks are in the center baskets. And unopened alcohol is in the wine rack.
I used nails on each side to hang up our marshmallow roasters and plastic bag container (another game-changer having the plastic bags here):
For the labels, I used peel and stick chalkboard paper, a label punch, and a white paint pen I got forever ago – literally, years ago when we were in our old house! But I would use these labels and chalkboard pen to simplify things if I got them today. ☺️
Once the mudroom is done and I can move the shoes out, I’ll store overflow paper towels in here, too. Not sure what else, but it’s nice we have room to grow! I might add peel and stick wallpaper to the back wall, too. Not sure yet…
We’ve actually been living with the pantry like this for a few weeks now (and all of the other cabinets I reorganized as a part of this project), and it’s all working great! I think the key was leaving the baskets (and labels for the cabinet shelves) generic enough that things can vary a bit, and still make sense if we get new items.
And now the best part, a bunch more after pictures!
But let’s pretend those shoes are gone, shall we?
And to really illustrate how easy it’ll be to get used to storing our shoes and coats in the future mudroom, it’s right across the walkway:
Here’s the scary before from the same view:
You guys – this is NOT a hidden area of our home. It’s a MAIN traffic area! How did we have guests over and host multiple parties with that original mess hanging out for everyone to see?! Lol!!!
Look – here’s our den in the background:
And here’s the other side for fun:
We’ll probably eventually install doors since there’s an existing track behind the molding (maybe with seeded or frosted glass?), but maybe not. It’s such a refreshing view seeing the pretty, labeled bins. I might just leave it this way… 😁
Don’t mind the baby girl, she was busy getting her pretty shoes to wear… 😂
Does anyone else have their baking ingredients in clear, labeled bins?! If so, do you find yourself wandering to your pantry area to admire them often, too?! Please tell me I’m not the only crazy person that gets immense joy from organized areas like this! 😂