Welcome To Our New Pantry

Oh, hi there!  Do I know you?  Have we met?  Oh, right…. way back in December we spoke about fancy wreaths and crafts and such.  Then I kinda bailed for about eight or nine months.  But let’s not talk about that.  No use living in the past.  Today, I’d like to introduce you to my new best friend.  She’s practical and good-looking.  Two very important qualities in a bestie in my opinion.

Ladies and gentlemen (?), let me introduce you to my pantry:

Whenever I walk past I hear Stevie Wonder singing softly in the background.  Yes, Mr. Wonder.  She’s totes lovely.

No ‘reveal’ post would be complete without a horrific ‘before’.

Ummm…. yeah.  I originally didn’t want to show this photo.  It’s full-on Hoarders, I know.  The funny part is that this was only concealed from my kitchen by a a pair of curtains I temporarily (for a year) hung.

People would come over and sit in the kitchen and casually ask what was in there and I’d break into a cold sweat.  It was like the scene from the Wizard of Oz – “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!”   What curtain?  I don’t see anything!  Here! Have more coffee!  Some quinoa salad or something!  Look!  Elvis!

The WORST part was when the boys had friends over.  For some reason, every kid that entered my house insisted on playing hide and seek in that damn pantry.  They’d go running for the curtain not realizing that they were about to run right smack into twelve bottles of ketchup on the floor and six ceramic pie plates I bought on clearance for future Christmas gifts.  Ha.  Joke’s on them.  That’ll learn ’em.

I knew I couldn’t go on like this any longer.  We needed some semblance of organization and it needed to happen STAT.  When we demo’ed the kitchen this past summer (complete kitchen post comin’ atcha), we saved every scrap of 3/4″ plywood we could with the hopes of reusing it later.  Well, later was now.

I started by taking everything out of the pantry and randomly throwing it around the kitchen in the most haphazard way possible.  That always lowers my blood pressure.

We found lots of hidden treasures – like a Tupperware bowl full of peanuts that the boys proceeded to eat off of the floor like a couple of refugees.

Once I had it cleared out, I could assess the damage and figure out my game plan. I’ve been hoarding Adel cabinet fronts from Ikea for a couple years now and I’ve amassed a pretty impressive collection.

I figured out what doors I had, what cabinet frames I needed to buy to match them up and went from there.  One side of the pantry was exactly 36″ wide and I had 36″ drawer fronts already on hand (all but the top, little ones), so I chose the wide, deep drawers for storing things like lunch bags, cooler bags and miscellaneous pantry crap that never seems to find a home anywhere else in the kitchen.  I also had a couple 39″ doors for the upper cabinets, so I purchased a tall wall cabinet to fit above the drawers.

There was a 6″ gap to the left of the wall cabinet, so I built a little bottle holder out of scrap mdf and melamine-covered particle board to fit perfectly in that spot and to add a little storage at the same time.

Once I had that side roughed in, I could get to work on building some storage into the other side of the pantry.  John had the amazing idea to use an old hollow-core door to create the divider down the almost-center of that old closet space.

I opted to cover the doorknob holes with more scrap trim and just started building from there as my guide.  As you can see, I had to work around the hvac duct on the bottom – that posed a little bit of a challenge, but nothing a little scrap mdf couldn’t handle.

The one thing that was causing my psoriasis to act up was that big opening on the back wall and how I was going to get that covered up and looking even with the rest of the paneling.  Up until that moment, my plan had been to paint out all of the fake paneling and give it a bit of a country cottage charmy feel.  In order to do that, I was going to have to buy another piece of ugly paneling (that isn’t even sold anymore around here) for about $27-$35.  I was bummin’ hard because I had my heart set on doing this whole pantry renovation with minimal costs and reusing as much as I could.  Then, John had the BRILLIANT idea to use some old wallpaper that I had been hoarding (just shut up, it obviously pays off) years ago on clearance from Lowe’s.  The poor guy hadn’t even finished his sentence before I was practically running to the garage to scout out a crappy piece of plywood to patch the big ol’ hole in my wall.

I patched up the knots and the unevenness of the whole thing because it didn’t match up perfectly with the wall on either side.  I read up quite a bit on whether I should prime the plywood first, use wallpaper size or just impulsively slap the wallpaper on with paste.  I’ll let you guess what option I went with.  I figured the worst-case scenario was that the wallpaper wouldn’t adhere properly and then I’d just redo it because it doesn’t take a ton of paper in the first place.  So, I got to rollin’ out my paper and matching the pattern.

Then, I drew a level vertical line on the wall, slopped on a crapload of paste and got to work.

Oh, man.  What a difference that made.  I wasn’t sure how John would feel about the floral wallpaper but he seems to dig it just told me that it looks like “giant grandma curtains”.  Let’s be honest,  ANYTHING is better than what this pantry looked like before.

Keeping with the spirit of reusing what we have, I grabbed some shelves that were originally in the pantry/closet and some scrap boards to make the countertop for the drawer cabinet.

Once I got some trim sliced and diced and slapped some more wallpaper (beadboard style) on the ceiling tiles, this puppy really came together.

I have a couple more bits of trim and hardware to add and I’m still waiting for the top drawers to come in, but as of now, I think it’s looking pretty sweet and way less hoardish.  It’s been really nice to be organized for the back-to-school rush and routines. And for all of the hide and seek.

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DIY Butcher Block Kitchen Island (Before and After)

I just spent 72 hours writing the LONGEST post ever about this kitchen island and I lost. every. single. word.  Every last one.

I think Jack’s most recent school photo accurately sums up how I feel right now.

So, let’s take that as a sign to just skip to the before and after, yes?

Before:

 

Not cool, Blogger.  Not cool at all.

And Then There Was One

This post is brought to you by the man of the house, John.  
Let’s give him a warm, Elephant Buffet welcome!  




With a deathly level of seriousness, Carol tells me she has something to confess. 

“I did something stupid today, and it’s been killing me trying to figure out how to tell you,” she says.  She takes a deep breath, “I drywalled your levels into the bulkheads above the cabinet today.”


I laugh, relieved it’s something so small, but then a little detail nags my attention.  “Wait.  My lev-ELS?” I ask.  “Not just my level?”

“No,” she replies, “There’s two of them up there.  But not your good one.  That’s still in the garage.”

I let it sink in; my trio of levels had turned into a solo act with one stroke of a putty knife.  And though my “good one” was more expensive, it wouldn’t have won the Sophie’s choice of levels, had that scenario ever been raised.  A little voice tells me to look on the bright side.  It could be worse.  All three of my levels could be stuck above the cabinet, forever silently ensuring the alignment of that one wall.

I look up at the bulkhead, considering the necessary search-and-rescue.  Nothing short of a hole in the drywall would do.  And after all her work, I’m just not prepared to ask Carol for that.

So.  There is not one, but two levels up in the bulkhead above the cabinets.  Adding to the stories which makes the house a little more “ours”.    

Thirty Minutes And Nine Bucks – Open Shelving Tutorial

Thirty minutes and nine dollars.  That’s it.  That’s all you need to build some functional open storage for your kitchen.  And probably to get a questionable massage in a questionable neighborhood.  But let’s talk about shelves today.

We’ve officially opened up a can of whoop-ass on the kitchen and I’m not taking any prisoners.  My goal is high-end looks on a low, low, low, low budget.  In order to achieve that, I’m planning to DIY the ENTIRE thing.  I’m reducing, reusing and recycling, baby.  And that brings us to today’s project, which has me particularly excited.

A little backstory for you:  We started this whole-house reno last August.  One of the first things that had to happen was gutting the pantry since that was going to be where the staircase went.  I still remember the morning that the builder told me I was going to have to clear it out.  I think I knew at that moment that things were going to get real up in here.
And then we tore the wall of cabinetry down in order to expand the kitchen.  So, everything in those cabinets got relegated to the basement, along with the contents of the pantry.

I spend about 85% of my time in the house in the kitchen on any given day.  From making coffee first thing in the morning, prepping lunches for everyone, fixing after-school snacks, all the way to making dinner and cleaning up the ridiculous messes that happen in here.
I love being in the kitchen.
I love cooking.
I even love cleaning it.
 I’ve been without a fully functional kitchen for about EIGHT months.  Eight months of feeling sad every time I came into the kitchen to prepare a meal.  Eight months of barking at the kids to not touch certain boxes of construction-related material that were all over the place.  Eight months of not being able to find the things I need because I seriously had no idea where they had been packed.  EIGHT MONTHS.  That translates to about 240 days.  Two hundred forty days of feeling lost in this house.  
Now, I know it sounds dramatic and granted, I wasn’t going to fling myself off of the Ambassador Bridge or anything.  But I’m willing to bet that anyone who has ever gone through a big renovation like this can relate.  Heck, even people who’ve only done their kitchens will tell you how horrible it was.  But the last 240 days in this kitchen…. they’ve been…. not awesome.
And every single one of those days, I thought about how I was going to make this kitchen awesome.  I’ve collected so many clippings of kitchens and one thing that has always stood out was a touch of open storage.  Just a touch.  Not too much.  I don’t like visible clutter (It makes me itch.  Ask John) and if I was going to go the shelf route, it needed to be neat and tidy.
And cheap.
Let’s get started, shall we?
I began by scooping up four of these lovely lads:
Source: ikea.com via Carol on Pinterest

Then, I found a few cabinet doors from the demolition phase of the kitchen and asked John, very nicely, if he would rip them down to a shelf-ish dimension of about 26″x10″.

The boards were in super-pretty shape.  Super-pretty.

I simply glued the boards together and clamped ’em.

Then I added some lattice trim to all of the edges to clean it up and make it look like one, thick shelf.

I took the finished shelf out to the garage and sanded ‘er down.  Knocked down the edges of the trim a bit because I generally don’t like razor-sharp edges on things that I use daily.  I could not – for the life of me – get the tops and bottoms of the shelves to accept the stain.  I sanded and sanded, but the stain wouldn’t take.  However, it occurred to me that only the bottoms would really be noticeable, so I gave them a couple coats for blending.  I got lazy and even left the top shelf white.  No one will ever see that shelf and if they do, I’ll throw a cookie at their head.

Here’s the finished product (and yes, I planked the kitchen walls — more on that later):

Top shelf is totally white.  Totally.

THEN!  I found this while I was searching the interwebz today:

Source: houzz.com via Carol on Pinterest

Those shelves are from West Elm and are $79.00 a piece.  I think my $9 shelves are more than sufficient for me.

Now that I have one spot that’s somewhat manageable, the whole kitchen feels more like home.  And the itching is subsiding.

Linking up to:  Not JUST A Housewife, Coastal Charm

Kitchen Eye Candy

I’m still illin’, but the kitchen reno is creeping closer and closer and I can’t stop thinking about it.  Wanna see some kitchens I like?  I know you do…..  Let’s discuss.

First up is this beauty:

See that ‘X’ detail on the end of that pretty island?  I’ll be doing something similar on the ends of both of my peninsulas.  I’m sure I’ll get annoyed with the dust that collects in the deep, little grooves, but I’ll take my chances.  I don’t know how I feel about the hanging glass pendants or the light flooring.  I’m carrying the dark flooring from the rest of the house through the kitchen and need to keep that in mind when I’m choosing my counters and base cabinet color.

That’s right base cabinet color.

I’m a sucker for darker base cabinets in the kitchen and one of the kitchens that I’m loving HARD is this one:

Can you believe that gorgeous grey on those cabinets?  The finish is unbelievable (check out her blog, she talks about the paint used when she had them sprayed) and the color really does blow my mind.  Again, light flooring, and I desperately want to know if my darker flooring would marry well with that amazing color without seeming too bottom-heavy.

I lovelovelove her kitchen, so let’s take a look at a couple more views:

The silver handles look great with the darker tone and the subway tiles are such a cost-effective way to create a classically beautiful backdrop for the walls.

Now, since I’m all bananas about my dark floor, let’s take a peek at what a dark floor does for a kitchen.

The darker floor really anchors the room and it seems like lighter cabinetry for the base cabs keeps the room feeling spacious.

With the photo above, the darker floors seem to blend in with the dark island, but the surrounding cabinetry stays light.  This definitely helps to expand the room around the center island.

I don’t know.  Any thoughts on a dark floor with semi-dark lower cabinets?  I might have to do some test painting to see how the combination works.

I have a sniffly six-year-old waiting for me in the other room, so I’ll leave you with this gorgeous backsplash image:

I know, right?  The unfinished trim/tile near the window is making my eye twitch a little but isn’t the tile itself pretty?  I have the overwhelming urge to pet it.