Planning and Building a Pantry (Part I)

A few months ago Adam and I finished our master closet, which became the first finished room in the house. It was so organized and amazing that we decided to skip some of the bigger projects we had planned and instead pick another tiny room and finish it 100%. We debated doing a bathroom, the office, or the pantry, and eventually landed on the pantry.

The pantry is 3 ft by 7 ft and is situated under the stairs, which means one of the walls is shorter than the other. It’s a tiny little room, but to me it feels huge for a pantry…our last one was probably 1/4 this size or less.

Even though that one was small, it was pretty much the only space in our house that was always organized. I spent some time thinking through the organization on that one, and when everything has a place things actually stay organized. The trick for me was getting all the pantry items out of their original packaging and into clear containers that were easy to see and stack.

Anyway, enough about the old pantry…lets talk about this one. Here is a before picture with its temporary shelf and no door….so other words less of a pantry and more of a toddler play area. I can’t wait to be able to shut the door and keep him out.

And here the mess inside …

So Adam and I went to online (to Houzz, mostly) to find some pantry inspiration. The first thing we decided we wanted was counters…

New York Transformation
                                                            Photo by Crisp ArchitectsBrowse traditional kitchen ideas
Kitchen Pantry w/Curved shelves
                                                Photo by Benvenuti and SteinLook for traditional kitchen design inspiration
At first I didn’t really see the use in making counters (it’s not like I’m going to be doing any cooking or prep in there), but Adam said that with counters I could come in with all my groceries, plop them on the pantry counter and unload groceries right into their proper containers. I thought that sounded a heck of a lot better than going back and forth a million times, and I was sold. Counters it is.
The next thing we decided to add was drawers…
Kitchen for Jonathan Williams Kitchens
                                                     Photo by BMLMedia.ieDiscover traditional kitchen design ideas
They won’t be nearly as fancy as those, but I would like one for breads, one for potatoes, one for onions, and one for bags of chips.
And lastly, we definitely wanted a ladder…
Haha, just kidding! This is the real world, where I will not be swinging from a ladder to retrieve my seltzer water or collection of vases or whatever else is in that fake pantry.

 No, what we got out of that picture was beadboard, we want beadboard. Now beadboard on the back of your pantry wall seems completely unnecessary (and it is…not ladder unnecessary, but still), but I believe it’s the little details that turn an otherwise nice house into something truly unique and special. Plus it only cost like $40, so…worth it.
Anyway, here is what we sketched up as our plan –
Basically lots of shelves, counters, drawers, and that big hole in the center will be a chalkboard for a running grocery list.
So, step one – add beadboard. (I apologize in advance for all the terrible pictures…it’s really hard to photograph a tiny pantry with no natural light.)
 Step two – add floating shelves.
Adam installed them with the Kreg Jig so that they would be “sleek and sexy”. He attached them from the top of the shelves above eye level and the bottom below eye level, making sure each screw hit a stud. The result is super strong shelves that you would think are staying put by sheer determination.
Step three – add face frames.
These are just thin strips of wood brad nailed to the front of the plywood shelves. It not only makes them appear thicker, but also gives the shelf a little lip on the front so that nothing comes rolling off.
Step four – caulk, prime, paint.
This part takes forever, but look how pretty!
Step five – Organize all your food and put it on the shelves. Woohoo!
Like I said before, taking the food out of the packages and into clear containers made all the difference in the world for our last pantry. After I did that things stopped getting pushed to the back and forgotten/lost (and I stopped buying doubles by accident), and the pantry pretty much stayed organized on its own. These clear containers are from Better Homes and Gardens at Walmart and work excellent. I have some canisters leftover from the last pantry that are a different brand, and these work exactly the same and are less than half the price.
The other side is all the stuff you can’t put in clear canisters.
It’s not as beautifully organized as the other side, but there also isn’t that much if it so I don’t anticipate things getting lost or forgotten. It helps that the shelves aren’t that deep (12”)….deep shelves are a pantries worst enemy.
A few more pictures…
(It looks pretty empty from the front view, but the chalkboard will help).
So that is part one of the pantry remodel, now we just have to tackle the bottom section.
Better Homes and Gardens products used in this post –


For even more inspiration follow Better Homes and Gardens at Walmart on Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook.

*This post was sponsored by the BHG Live Better Network. All opinions are 100% my own.

Like it? Share it!Pin on Pinterest300Share on Facebook0Tweet about this on TwitterShare on StumbleUpon45Share on Google+0Share on LinkedIn0


  1. First comment! I think the pantry is great! Your husband seems like a pretty awesome guy. You’re so lucky to have him. I think he deserves a day off from his diet, maybe you could bake him a cake or something… just spitballing as a totally indifferent impartial third party with no vested interest in your situation. All the best to you and your super handsome husband!

    • My husband IS an awesome guy….so awesome that I bet he would be pretty bummed if I baked him a cake and ruined our joint new years resolution that we are 2/3 of the way finished with. That’s just the kind of guy he is. Dedicated. Loyal. Loves to give massages and watch all the kids while their mom enjoys a nice hot bath.
      Ashley recently posted..Four Boys and a Man on a MissionMy Profile

  2. Jan Elizabeth says:

    That’s beautiful! Are those the counters that wrap around on the bottom, or are they going in the next phase? And what about that gorgeous door?

  3. First off, HEB!! My favorite! Second, do those clear containers keep it pretty fresh?! Cause I hate to make a bowl of cereal with milk to find that it is stale!!!

    • HEB really is the best! I’ve never have any problems with things going stale in these containers. Although, the cereal has always been in those rubbermaid ones on the bottom shelf, but everything has always been fresh.
      Ashley recently posted..Industrial Pipe Kitchen ShelvingMy Profile

      • I don’t remember what my life was like before moving to Texas and having H-E-B :-) it was definitely worse, that’s for sure! Are the links to the containers affiliate links that you get paid for? I’m considering picking some up because they are so much cheaper than the Oxo ones and I’d love for you to get credit!

        • Haha, I thought the same thing when I was living in upstate NY, sad and HEB-less. The links to the products are not affiliate links so I won’t get any credit for them, but Better Homes and Gardens pays me to use some of their products in a post every other month, so I’m being taken care of :) I’d buy these even if they weren’t though…actually I’m about to order another set on my own dime because I need a few more.
          Ashley recently posted..Planning and Installing a Closet SystemMy Profile

          • Good to know! I’ll just buy them in-store then! I have serious pantry mess anxiety. My kitchen is literally the only part of my life I keep consistently organized… your new pantry looks like it is going to be a dream come true!

  4. Maria from Oz says:

    Looking great! The bench idea to put swags of groceries on is an idea I hadn’t thought of. I am planning my new pantry and that is something you can tell Adam I think is a terrific idea! My pantry at present is too shallow to store much at all, and too many shelves, so things get missed or fall out!
    Can’t wait to see the rest of it!

  5. Have you considered drawers for canned goods? I am told by friends that they are the BEST for rotating the products. The trick is to move everything already in the drawer forward and then to put the newest cans in the back. (This works best if the canned goods are arranged in rows by product.)

  6. thanks for share information

  7. Oh this is just lovely. We are going to start building our house in the next few months (Lord willing) and I’m thinking I’ll have to go look at your old blog posts for inspiration! I’m also getting a pantry for the first time in my life, woohoo! This looks really nice and great organizational tips! It took me a sec to see that the little pot was holding chalk, I thought you might keep your secret stash of cigarettes in there. :^D

  8. It looks like you used 3/4 plywood. How much weight do you think each shelf can hold?

    • Yes, it’s 3/4 plywood. I asked Adam how much he thinks they could hold and he said maybe 100 lbs or so for the short ones (they are in studs on three sides).

  9. Tracy Serno says:

    Wow, that’s some inspiration for us! My only thought is, how long do you take to complete this project? From planning to finish…

  10. Hey Ashley….Open shelves are easy and affordable solution for this both did a great job.

  11. kelly gundersen says:

    I really enjoy you blog and come here a lot to see if you’ve posted! :) Have been thinking a lot about re doing our pantry and was wondering what you’re doing for a door on the pantry? It looks like maybe an antique, unfinished door on regular hinges is what you’re using? Is that so? And where did you get the door? Thanks so much!

    • Hey Kelly! You are correct, the door is an old antique door on regular hinges. I bought the door at an antiques fair and had a doorframe made for it. I have a blog post coming up about the finished pantry and door in the next week or two, I’m just having a hard time keeping up with posting these days.

      • kelly gundersen says:

        Ummm, I’m SO impressed you even replied to my comment, and SO quickly too! Give yourself a HUGE break! The 4 little people (and 1 big:)) that you take care of are more important than posting, in my opinion, at least. Invest and enjoy, the days go by so fast when they’re small and snuggly!

Thank you for your comments!

CommentLuv badge