transformation month

Before and After: This Disorganized, Overstuffed Pantry Gets a Touching $300 Overhaul

published Sep 6, 2022
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Before: a door opening of a white pantry filled with food
Credit: Bianca Delatorre

As someone who enjoys coaxing order out of chaos, I’ve often offered to help close friends and family members organize various spaces in their homes. It’s a bit of a vulnerable thing to let someone into your mess, so whenever anyone lets me in this way, I feel honored. 

It’s such a gift to me to be able to share something I’m good at with others to make a difference in their lives, and I trust it’s a gift to them to walk into a freshly decluttered and tidied up closet full of small-space storage solutions or an organized and functional pantry

Bianca Delatorre (@peonyaccents) shared her organizing talents with her own family when she took on her aunt and uncle’s over-stuffed and out-of-order pantry. She was inspired by the care they show for the rest of the family, and felt that getting their pantry contents under control was the perfect way to give back to them.

“My aunt [and] uncle are big on family and have them over quite often, which typically means … lots of food! So if food and family is the heart of creating memories for them, then I wanted them to have a place that made it easier for them instead of creating stress,” says Bianca.

Credit: Bianca Delatorre

Before Bianca began the project, the pantry “seemed to have a little bit of everything spread out.” Bianca’s goal was “to create areas for items so that they would be easier to find.” 

“My aunt mentioned she would love to walk into her pantry and just know where to go to get what she needs instead of having to search for something every time,” says Bianca. “But she also knew getting something this large-scale in order would require a big undertaking to get a system in place.”

So Bianca did it for her. With a deadline of three days (before the next large family gathering) and a budget of under $300, she set out to turn the pantry into a functional space that served the entire family. 

Credit: Bianca Delatorre

According to Bianca, she performed the following steps to transform the pantry: 

  1. Assess: This involved taking measurements and taking note of what categories of food were in the pantry. During this step, she also made sure to check with her aunt about how high-maintenance she wanted the organizational system to be. “I can dump all the seasonings into clear containers with pretty labels on them and have it look great, but if they do not see themselves keeping that system up, then I would be setting them up for failure,” says Bianca. “It’s important to be realistic.”
  2. Source: Bianca describes what she did next: “I then went straight to HomeGoods to buy turntables, clear bins, large containers for grains, etc. Whatever I did not find there I purchased on Amazon that night so that it could arrive on time.” She bought storage bins with dividers, pantry organizers, baskets, and dispensers, for instance.
  3. Categorize: This step involved emptying the pantry and categorizing items into groups, such as canned food, baking items, sauces, condiments, snacks, and seasonings. 
  4. Declutter: After categorizing, Bianca decluttered expired items. She also cleaned the shelves and lined them with adhesive shelf paper. 
  5. Configure: Bianca’s last step was adding everything back to the pantry in the containers that she bought. 
Credit: Bianca Delatorre

Bianca likes how the large woven baskets hide unsightly items in the pantry. “They are my favorite way to hide large bulky items that may not be the prettiest to look at — large bags of chips, a family pack of red solo cups, a box of plastic cutlery, and even all the overstock of what didn’t fit in the pretty clear containers,” she says.

To anyone who takes on a pantry overhaul, for themselves or others, Bianca has this advice: “Set aside a few days to take this on and slowly chip away at it. You will definitely have a what-did-I-just-take-on moment when all the pantry items are on your kitchen countertops, but it’ll all be worth it!”

In the end, Bianca accomplished what she set out to do. She showed her aunt and uncle love in action by giving them an organized pantry. “I love knowing how much easier their lives will be having this system in place,” she says.

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This piece is part of Transformation Month, where we’re showing off amazing home makeovers, brilliant tiny tweaks, inspiring before & afters, and so much more. Head on over here to see it all!