One Room Challenge

Before and After: An “Unstable” Pantry is Remade into an Enviable Butler’s Pantry in Just 2 Days

published Sep 16, 2022
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Before: white doors opening to show a large pantry with four white shelves packed with food
Credit: Lilly Johnson

Anyone who spends time preparing food in a kitchen knows how big of an impact a pantry makes on the overall experience. Having a dedicated storage area in the first place is a luxury to be grateful for. But when it’s disorganized, having a bigger place to store dry goods can be more overwhelming than helpful. 

Lilly Johnson experienced this firsthand and decided to take on her pantry as part of the One Room Challenge. Her pantry was not only disorganized, it was also falling apart. “Our pantry was previously some simple shelves made with some sheets of MDF held up with a ‘pole,’” she says. The whole thing was pretty unstable, and a couple of shelves had fallen down before. The pole made access to the corner hard as well.” 

Credit: Lilly Johnson

Lilly admits that she really “hated the space” and was just waiting for it to fall apart all over again. She decided to draw up plans for the pantry redo months before actually starting the project.

Lilly knew she wanted a “clean and fairly minimalist space” and to make room for a microwave, which she didn’t have in her kitchen due to a lack of bench space. When she was seven months pregnant and deeply in nesting mode, Lilly spent 1,200 NZD, the equivalent of about $735, and put her plan into motion. 

“One long weekend I decided I’d had enough waiting,” she says. “I went on our local hardware website and created a wish list of all the materials we needed, so flat pack cupboards, a bench top, some tiles, and a few miscellaneous items. Fortunately, everything was in stock so we were able to collect the same day.”

Credit: Lilly Johnson

Astoundingly, Lilly and her husband were able to complete the pantry overhaul in just a couple of days. “My husband demolished the old shelving, and I constructed the flat packs. The first night my husband managed to attach the upper cupboards, and the next day we got the lower ones in. I cut the bench top (I’m good at cutting straight), and we got it in. I tiled and my husband cut the necessary ones.” 

She acknowledges that the project “was surprisingly easy and fast” and credits her previous planning with the efficiency. “I think my diligent measuring and designing helped most.” Additionally, Lilly explains that using all off-the-shelf products rather than looking for secondhand items helped keep things moving. “I could have used secondhand materials but it would have extended the construction and been way more stressful.”

Credit: Lilly Johnson

Lilly loves her beautiful new butler’s pantry. “It looks as good if not better than I imagined. I love the space now and it’s super functional and looks great,” she says, adding that she’s “happy to show off the space.”

For those looking to complete a similar project, Lilly encourages them to go for it. “It will increase the value of your property, make the functionality of your space better, and a beautiful space makes you feel great.”

This project was completed for the Spring 2022 One Room Challenge, in partnership with Apartment Therapy. See even more of the One Room Challenge before and afters here.

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