Before and After: A $500 Pantry Redo Turns This Dingy Space into a Beautiful Butler’s Pantry

published Jul 27, 2022
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Before: entry to pantry with shelves

Anybody lucky enough to have a pantry to call their own knows that pantries can play out their own Dickensian version of, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” A well-organized pantry can make even something as mundane as storing food or getting a can of tomato paste a pleasant task. A helter-skelter pantry, on the other hand, can cause stress and frustration every single time you go to put groceries away or cook. 

Christina Riley (@thechrisrileyproject) experienced this firsthand and not only made her pantry functional, but also a thing of joy and beauty. She describes the impetus for her project: “Five kids and two years of mostly being home made me realize that this space did nothing for me. No one could find anything. It was always dirty. There was way too much junk. I finally just had enough.”

Although her pantry was a great size, Christina says that “the 30-year-old particle board utility shelving showed its age (and a lot of other gross things).” Additionally, while the “endless shelves” were great, they “were so deep that things got lost, couldn’t be moved up or down to allow for different organizers, and the extra deep, dark corners meant anything pushed back into them was forgotten.”

And that wasn’t all. “The unfinished bottom meant appliances were placed on the floor and also allowed crumbs and dust bunnies to collect. The extra space ended up becoming a catch-all for all the things that didn’t have a designated home,” says Christina. In short, the pantry felt like a disaster. 

To address the pantry’s issues, Christina used her budget of $500 to turn it from a dingy space into a dreamy butler’s pantry — all in just three short weeks! Her goals? “I had two requirements: a beverage fridge and counter space. I wanted a clean and organized space, everything labeled, and I also wanted an appliance tower.”

The most difficult part of the project was the demolition. “Two-inch nails were everywhere,” she recalls. “Once the pantry was cleared out, the hardest part was figuring out a plan that gave me the most useful layout and met all of my requirements. Because lumber is so expensive, we reused everything we tore out. Particle board was cleaned, sanded down, primed, and painted. I reused a cabinet base that we had in storage and I built new faces for the drawers.”

They used leftover lumber from other projects too. “Once we started building, the process went very quickly,” she shares. Christina also reached out to VT Industries and was graciously gifted a marble-looking countertop. 

Her favorite part of the project was “organizing the contents and labeling the baskets. I love organized spaces and I don’t know why I didn’t tackle this sooner!” She also appreciated the functionality brought on by the appliance tower and turntables: “The lower shelves of the appliance tower pull out for easier access. I also organized all of my spices alphabetically on what was a wasted wall space. All of the baskets are labeled and hidden Lazy Susans are in every corner.”

For those completing a similar project, Christina offers this advice: “The hardest part is getting started. So I always say, just start, just begin and do something and you will figure it out. Nothing gets done by pinning to your Pinterest board — and an organized space that works for you is worth the couple of weeks of mess.”

Asked if she’d do anything differently, Christina responds, “I can’t think of anything I’d do differently. I spaced the bottom shelf for a canned goods organizer and I took what had taken up an entire shelf now only takes up a small space. These little details make me so happy. I also love that my kids know where everything is without asking, which means they also are more intentional in putting items back.” 

In the end, Christina’s pantry revamp gives her so much happiness and helps keep her pantry organized, just like taking on any DIY should do. Great job, Christina! 

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