From black hole to kitchen pantry

kevinw1August 15, 2011

Back when I bought my current house in 2005, the first thing I did was rip out the bathroom completely, so I needed somewhere close by to store tools. Just outside the kitchen was a sort of black hole closet built out over the top of the basement stairs, which was shallow at the bottom and deep at the top, lined with waferboard, and shelved with unfinished pieces of cedar siding. Perfect for tools. So it became the tool pantry.

Once the bathroom was (almost) finished and I was joined by a new partner, it became obvious that the tool pantry needed to become a food pantry. So we bought an IKEA cabinet which would fit near the current center of remodeling operations (it never ends when you have a house built in the 1930's), moved all the tools into that and organized them much better, and emptied everything out of the pantry, including all the shelves and shelf supports.

While the picture is pretty boring, you can see the odd angles of the walls, the strange varnished waferboard interior (partial - the inside of the door wall was just studs) and perhaps the dinged-up state of the door. You can't see the horrid baby blue peeling paint on the door frame. Lucky you!

Because we wanted a vertical back wall to hang shelves on, I cut the back panel part way up, pulled it out, added vertical studs, and refitted the panel. I ended up with a strange angled join because of the non-rectangular nature of the space, but never mind. We won't see it when everything is painted and the shelves are in... will we?

As you can see I caulked around all the joints since everything was very badly fitting and I wanted to keep out bugs migrating from the attic above or the basement below. Well, I can hope, yes?

As well as rebuilding the back wall, I finished off the inside of the door wall as well. You may be wondering why the wall is that horrid pink color. And is that ceramic tile above the door? No, it's sponge-painted faux tile on masonite paneling that came out of the bathroom, which was that color when I bought the house. It's an improvement on raw studs, but wait: there's more!

It looks a lot better with everything painted white inside, but those funny angles still make you feel a bit seasick, eh? I kept assuring my partner that we wouldn't see it once the shelves were in, but I'm not sure I was believed!

The next stage after painting (3 coats all over everything) was to clean up the door (you can see I've started filling holes in the picture above) and scrape the loose paint off the frame. That was not a fun job as, while the various layers weren't sticking well enough to each other in many places to be painted over, they still held well enough that it took a carbide scraper to get them off!

Here's the inside with the first set of metal standards installed, and the unfinished plywood shelves installed to test for size before we painted them. Door frame scraping in progress.

And now, the completed pantry!

The shallow shelves on the right are 3-4" deep and just fit against the door frame. They are so we can store as much of our canning there as possible just one jar deep, and be able to see what we have and eat it rather than leaving it in the basement and forgetting about it!

Finally, here's the completed pantry full of food.

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What a great use of useless space. I am not a DIY'er (you lost me on the second picture) but I am always in awe of the imagination and talents of those that are.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2011 at 12:44AM
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That sure turned out nice! I bet you get real satisfaction every time you open the door. I love how you made it cute and not just standard....

    Bookmark   August 15, 2011 at 12:55AM
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Great transformation! Enjoy.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2011 at 12:58AM
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you had me a bit scared there at first. it was looking a lot like how I 'diy' things... but then you put it in gear!

looks great! looks like someone's been doing some canning...

I do think shallower shelves are often better - less likely to lose food never to be seen again...

is there a LIGHT in there? sorta looks like it... that'd be a big plus!

having a pantry is a great thing!

    Bookmark   August 15, 2011 at 1:10AM
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At first, I was thinking how cool to have a pantry for tools. But food is good too :). So where are the tools now?

    Bookmark   August 15, 2011 at 8:03AM
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Thanks all, it is very satisfying to have finished it. I sometimes open the door just to admire it :)

I kinda wish we had gone with shallower shelves all round, but it wouldn't be all that hard to change if we decide we should.

Yes, there's a light - a bare CFL bulb, but you can't see it till you step right inside so I'm pretending it's OK. At some point a nicer fixture will go in there.

At one point we talked about painting all the shelves different colors, for fun, but decided against it and I'm glad we did. The food packets give us plenty of varied color.

It was cool - and useful - to have a tool pantry :) They have migrated to what will eventually be the utility closet by the back door, handy for the deck railings which I have just finished (2 years after building the actual deck) and the kitchen itself (maybe this winter).


    Bookmark   August 15, 2011 at 9:43PM
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Fantastic job! Can you tell us the dimensions of the interior space? I've been thinking about how I might be able to improve my own pantry, which currently has too-deep shelves, but I don't know if it's quite big enough to work with this sort of arrangement.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2011 at 11:16PM
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Hm... My post from last night has disappeared!

Kevin, I wouldn't be surprised if you had many more enthusiastic responses that have gone poof. It's a fabulous transformation and masterful reuse of materials.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2011 at 3:08AM
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That is a great use of space. We used to have a space just like it and never could find a use for it that worked for us... If only I'd known!

Congrats on a great job!

    Bookmark   August 16, 2011 at 8:14AM
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Dee850, the space is 40" wide by 38" deep. The door is offset towards the right, so the shallow shelves on the right are only 3-4" deep and those on the left are 12" deep.

pllog, thanks for the kind words. If there were other posts that went poof, that;s a pity, but it's nice to get all the good feedback anyway :)

    Bookmark   August 16, 2011 at 12:54PM
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What a great transformation of that space! And a beautiful pantry. I'm glad to see you included it in the pantry thread in the gallery.

Here is a link that might be useful: Pantry thread in the gallery

    Bookmark   August 25, 2011 at 1:56PM
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That looks great! Good job. I think that different colored shelves would have been awesome, though.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2011 at 3:40PM
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I already had a bad case of pantry envy, and this didn't help. Nice work. Enjoy!

    Bookmark   August 25, 2011 at 5:27PM
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Adrienne, I'm glad we didn't paint all the shelves different colors because it would have taken *forever*. Painting 24 shelves both sides with 3 coats of red on top of primer, already felt like it did!

    Bookmark   August 26, 2011 at 12:41AM
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