Let's Organize: The Pantry Again.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

It's January, again?!  Jeez louise, seriously....January, with the quicker and quicker arrival, amiright?!  But, as it is January yet again, it must be time to organize around the house yet again.  My main target this time?  The pantry.  So I came up with some budget-friendly DIY and not-so-DIY options to tackle nagging issues.

This space has really come a long way.

From its (scary) beginnings to installing some shelves, to creating a one of a kind pantry floor for under a hundred bucks, to an oversized pegboard wine rack plus loads of tweaks between like cup hooks and wine glass racks, I've been busy in there.  Mostly adding more shelves though, haha.

But now it was back to being a mess and chaotic and I was not happy with the mini-shelves I stuffed in to create more usable storage space.

First, I went around and cleared a few things out.  Then I rearranged some items.  Ya know, as one does.

Next, a trip to Menards as the mini-shelves were truly gnawing at me.  Sure, they're functional; zero a fan of how they looked.  

Here's one trick to organizing:  stay focused on the specific issue at hand and solve that particular dilemma.  This prevents over-purchasing of items that may not work in a larger scheme of things.

Granted, mapping out a larger organizational system is a solid plan of attack to prevent mish-mosh cobbled-togetherness but I know me, things change and I can't cram future-me into past-me scenarios.

That day's issue?  Solve the baking ingredients, baking pans, and The Bake Dept prop mess conundrum:  easier storage, more storage, prioritize reachability and tidiness.

What did I end up finding at Menards?  Shoe racks.*  So, handy tip here:  reimagine a product's use and abilities beyond their prescribed purpose.

All told, I purchased five which was more than I wanted to spend but after putting together two and reorganizing a smidge, they made me happy.  Cost justified.

shoe rack pantry storage
Not the sturdiest nor best made shoe racks but they do the job.
Up next was an area of the pantry that has been a wreck since day one:  bags, recycling, dog food, dog collars, etc. etc. and now a few years into it, a giant tub holding a forty four pound bag of flour for all that baking I'm doing.  This is also where I hang a broom and a microfiber mop; I really didn't want to relocate those two items.

pantry before
Oh my gaaaaaaad, how embarrassing.  Peeking through the door, the wall organizer is still up!
What to do?  Customize.  And this is a pro tip too:  if you can't find what you need pre-made at the store to solve an organizational puzzle, fabricate it.  Because, as I've said before, the item you're using to organize has to do its job exactly in order to help you stay organized.

Now, don't panic.  That does not necessarily mean you have to build something.  Maybe it's taking wood crates and sticking them together to form a larger whoo-ha.  Or cutting PVC pipe into pieces, attaching them together to create storage.  Get creative with materials.

Back to this thing here, measuring the height of the bin that holds our recycling then measuring to a specific shelf, I came up with a six foot tall, two foot wide floating wall shelf unit solution.

setting up
Settin' up shop.    
So while at Menards, I picked up more shelving slabs that match the existing.  Two eight foot long pieces and three four footers.  Why three?  Because I miscut the cutoffs from the eight foot pieces, doh.  Of course.

Very simple shelf unit ahead here.

Be sure when you're cutting the horizontal shelf pieces that you measure multiple times and cut once.  With the vertical pieces on the outside, subtract for their thickness (aka 1 1/2" total), therefore the shelf pieces are 22 1/2" wide.

Using my spiffy quick change flip drive drill bit gizmo* with countersink, I drilled out pilot holes that allowed the screws to sit just below the weird MDF-like surface, connecting the top and bottom horizontal pieces to form the blank box.

drilling pilot hole
Think my camera settings were awry, oops.  Pilot hole drilling.  Chi-chi thing I'm trying to get used to with the new screw gun?  That light!

Yes, ok wait, I know, this is strange.  I assembled this project in the kitchen.  I knew it would be heavy, knew it'd be easier for me with my stupid crunchy nerve to move this beast a short distance rather than up a full flight of stairs from the basement.

And yes too, I used a corner clamp* (seeing the ones in that link, hm, I maybe got the wrong type) to aid in assembling the main box since I merely have only two hands.  Finn was no help ("no thumbs, Ma!).

corner clamp shelf unit
This was...helpful.  Am I doing this wrong?
Next, I grabbed the paper bag pile that I planned to store on the bottom shelf, plopped those on the floor, measured for the shelf above it that way, then divided the remaining space between two more shelves.

measuring for shelves
It was definitely handy doing this on the floor, gravity my friend for a change.
Drill, glue,* screw and it was together!

How to ensure those brown paper bags weren't going to spill out?.....

I measured half an inch in on the box sides, an inch and a half up from the very bottom, then 3/4" marks a good portion of the way up.  Drill drill drill those holes out and it was install time.  Hang tight on the bags....

drilling holes in sides
I can drill holes.
For several days I weighed how to hang this weighty piece on the wall and landed on my first attempt at a French cleat.  While I got the math wrong, duh of course, I was able to cut the cleat handily with my new saw.  Yeah, heh, I'm shocked too!

cutting French cleat
Woot, mad skills!  hahaha, uh huh.
With the spiffy laser level (man that thing is helpful, thanks Janette) aligned to that nearby shelf, I screwed the bottom French cleat half to the wall in the wrong direction after measuring down the appropriate distance.  Yes, I then reattached it the right way.

Next time I'll block the light a bit, these pictures leave a bit desired, eh?  Wrong way, dodo!
Stacking a few things, ahem, I wriggled the unit onto the pile then lifted, yikes, setting the thing on the cleat and voila tada wincey butt wiggle!!  The pantry feels smaller but whatev's, butt wiggle, it works.  A new, bright white LED bulb* helps.

floating shelf unit on wall
It's up!  Woot woot!  Yay!  Bright light!  Sorry, these photos aren't too great.
I grabbed the spool of nylon paracord* I randomly purchased at Habitat ReStore one day and strung it through the holes, yanking tight.

paracord strung
A coupla' matching fabric bins* and the look is complete!  

fabric bins on shelves
So tidy, huh?!  Yesss.
Ok, coupla' days later, a coupla' matching bins from Ikea to hold recycling and Finn's chow and now the look is complete!  I should've gotten one more bin for the flour but maybe next time.  Honestly, I was doubtful it would hold it.

custom floating shelf unit pantry storage
Ahhhhhhh, ooohh, soooo much better.  Whewwww!!  See how the floor has yellowed over time?  Mm.  Not real thrilled about that.  That's oil-based poly for ya.
"Whaaaat?  OH," exclaimed Mike when he saw the finished work.  He then immediately shot me the "wait a minute, how did you move this and get it on the wall because this looks heavy" stink eye.  "Oooh, ok.  Yeah.  I see.  I like this," followed by one more stink eye.  "Oooh, you even got it straight and lined up," followed by a guffaw.

I sense somehow my work is not done in here though.  hahahaaa...aaaahhhh

*The shoe racks, quick change flip drive drill bit, corner clamps, wood glue, bright white LED bulbs, paracord, and fabric bins are Amazon affiliate links.  Mwah, thanks!  Please see the "boring stuff" tab for more info.


  1. Just joined this group and am really looking forward to some neat ideas/hacks. Bring 'em on!

    1. Fabulous, big hearty welcome! I will do my best, thank you!


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