Day 20: The PANTRY! {Oprah voice.}

My gift for Mother’s Day was a promise to redo the laundry room. The horrible, ugly, ancient wallpaper was coming down in curls, the pantry needed a fresh coat of paint, and there was only basic, inadequate shelving.

Last week was Columbus Day which is, at best, a suspicious holiday. Also suspicious: that Mother’s Day gift. Because here it is the 20th day of October and my laundry room looks almost as it did in May, that month that occurred 5 months ago. I pull down a piece of wallpaper every time I scurry into the laundry room and toss a box of crackers into the pantry blind. Imagine, then, the set design for The King’s Speech, except woefully suburban. Because you aren’t getting a picture until I have an “after” to cushion the blow to my ego.

In August the Mister surprised me with a Nook and a smile, a smile that said we’re good on the laundry room, right?

Nope! Not good.

Not good at all.

I almost didn’t clean out the pantry this month because I want the entire laundry room done, and I’m afraid if I clean up one small area, further delays will be rationalized. Then I started looking around the laundry room and realized the plans I came up with in May could use some tweaking, and since that was the case, I should stop being a baby and clean everything out.

For example, the pantry is not original to the house. A washer or dryer used to sit in this enclave. I don’t know what sat where the washer and dryer currently are, but I know there was once a large window. (That window is sorely missed–it’s dark as pitch in the laundry room, as you can tell from the pictures.) If I was patient and waited until we could afford a front loading washer/dryer that can stack and a tankless water heater, I could really change the floor plan of this small room. I could place the washer/dryer where the pantry is now, put back the window, and create banquette seating for an eat-in kitchen. (Does anyone have a stacking washer and dryer? How do you like it?)

Of course, I would have to figure out what to do with the pantry ingredients. Speaking of which:

It’s a tight fit, so I wasn’t able to get a picture of the entire pantry. It looks good, minus the egregious contact paper. (It’s on my list, but not for this month.) I also didn’t get a picture of everything once I pulled it all out, but there was plenty to throw away.

This is all a little temporary, but the bottom shelf has holiday items, like the candy we will be giving out for Halloween, cookie cutters, and old party supplies. I think I’ll move everything but the candy and napkins to the cupboard above the refrigerator. The next shelf is my favorite. It’s where I will now store all my casserole and baking dishes. No more precarious stacking and reaching into deep corner kitchen cabinets, and I can even add another shelf! Right now there are baking supplies on the same shelf, but that’s temporary. I have a spot in mind for that, too.

On the next shelf I have school lunch supplies…and a carton of vegetable broth? Huh. I guess I forgot to put that in place. Oh well. Above that are all the canned goods, the rest of the broth, and some dried vegetables. The top shelf has a few boxes of grains that didn’t make it into my grain pantry, one box of cereal, tea, and a bin of snacks for a little boy with who has Type 1 diabetes in our school-carpool. Since he lives only a couple of doors down, the boys will occasionally have snack together. That bin holds all his snacks, important contact numbers, legal forms for me in case of an emergency, and a chart to help guide me on what snack to give him depending on the time and his glucometer readings. (You work hard, ZDub.)

On the very tip-top shelves I have my cookbooks (which need to be purged) and rarely used small appliances. If you are wondering where all my grains are, well.

(You’re going to have to cut me some slack on the Nico oven prints.)

My spice cabinet is to the right of the oven, as you know. To the left of the oven is another pullout that sat empty for six years. Not anymore.

She’s beautiful. [wipes tear]

I don’t know why I didn’t do this sooner, although I suspect the agony of deciding on the proper canister played a part.

In the end I used quart sized mason jars and I love them. I’m not done. I ran out of jars, so I just put the remaining grains on the bottom shelf until I buy more. I also ran out of time and couldn’t properly organize and label the jars, but I’ll show you when I do. Even half complete I am so very, very happy!

These last two pictures are more medicinal than they are educational. Please see 2Ά, line 4, “an ‘after’ to cushion the blow to my ego.”

New here? For the next 31 days I’m living according to the famous William Morris quote. You can learn more about the project here.

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  1. It looks like a total sea of calm in your pantry now, I feel relaxed just looking at all that order. The grains look beautiful in those jars.

  2. I’m loving this series and will be sad when it ends. Oh, and thank you for reminding me to add tahini to my shopping list.

  3. Don’t you love seeing open space on a shelf? I love it when I organize something and always vow to keep the “clean” look. It never fails, I begin to fill up that space. Great pantry.
    I have had a front load washer/dryer for over 10 years, on my second set now. They are great, easy to use and reach the controls etc. One thing is that the door to the washer needs to stay open so the large gasket does not pick up a funky odor. This would only be a problem if
    the washer is sitting in a place where the door juts into a walking area. Or just for the appearance of the set. Mine is in the basement so I don’t care if it is open.

    • I’m hoping I don’t clutter it up. I have a different mindset now than when I used to purge and declutter, so fingers crossed.

      I forgot about the open door (mil sil has the same washer) and you’re right, it would be in the middle of a walkway.

      • Agreed re: love full sized stacking WD; and agreed re: door open. Ours is in our hallway. I find if I pull the clothes out before bed, I can leave the door AND the soap dispenser drawer open wide all night. In the AM, I can close them both to more of a crack.

        So far, it’s working, but you also have to be the kind of person who does not ‘accidentally’ leave a load of washed clothes in the dryer for long periods of time. We’re working on that part! ;D When I forget (or find my husband’s clothes in there), I rewash everything using both the pre-wash and heavy soil settings, then do a load of whites w/ a bit heavier bleach application than normal.

        Love the grain storage, love this series, and love how you are tackling so many monsters this month! Apropos for Halloween, huh?

  4. I love the mason jars…I really want some for the new house.

    We had a stackable washer/dryer in the last house but it was on the 2nd floor and was really loud. Luckily the doors in the house are like vault doors so as soon as we shut them it was relatively quiet. I think the stackable is a great option for tight spaces though.

  5. the grains are so beautiful! i struggle with little plastic compartments and cereal containers that don’t open/close tightly. the mason jars are perfect! i have a stacking washer/dryer too. they are the kenmore he3 full size. we had them stacked when we lived in an apt. now they are side by side in our basement. very nice! but yes, you do have to leave the washer door open to avoid any odor. they sell those washer cleaner solutions too. you have inspired me. i’ve caught up on all the posts and will be sad to see them go…maybe a new blog section on home improvement/projects?

    • I’ve actually been talking about this on my Facebook page. It will take me a year to do everything I want to do around here (because I won’t be doing something every day like I am now), so I was thinking of changing up the format of my blog. More on what I am really passionate about: simple living, cleaning, organization, healthy eating and of course family life. Of course, I’ll still share my stories. I can’t help myself. Every night I sit down to write these posts and tell myself keep it short, just focus on what you did, don’t go on and on forever and yet, every night, I’m writing about one story or another. Tuxedo bag, anyone?

      • I am new to your blog and absolutely L-O-V-E your series!

        Your blog is about you, so if you and your passions are changing…shouldn’t your blog reflect that too?

        Why feel that your blog has to stick to what it always has? It should grow, as you do.

        Just sayin’….

        Keep writing!

  6. We have a stackable washer and dryer as well. Right now it’s stacked in the basement. We’re moving in a couple weeks to a house where the laundry room is on the first floor where they will be side by side. From my (limited) understanding, if the floor where the appliances are set is not a slab they don’t recommend you stacking them. At least that’s what the delivery guys said when they installed our set a couple years ago. Ditto on what others have said about leaving the door to the washing machine open. You don’t have to buy the cleaning solution though, I just run the ‘basket clean’ cycle on my washing machine with a little white vinegar and it freshens it up. Also, if you use a little less detergent than is recommended on the label the gunk doesn’t build up as quickly. You did ask for a treatise on stackable front loading washers and dryers, right?

    I adore your pull out cabinetry and the mason jar organization system!

    • Ah, this is very good to know! Older home, so no slab foundation here. πŸ™ I’ll double check the requirements, but it looks like my stacking idea just folded. Curses.

        • I’m not! I planned on double checking the requirements. πŸ˜‰

          But is sure is good to know you don’t have a slab foundation and could still stack your machines!

          • Our clothes dryer is attached to the wall on brackets above the washing machine – there is enough space between to fold small pieces of washing. And no slab here, either. Another old house with timber floors. I’m sure you could have brackets attached to the wall so that the space between the washer and dryer were minimal.

          • Fingers crossed that I received bad information from the installers; it looks like others have been able to stack their washer and dryer without a problem. Hope it works out!

  7. Oh my goodness! This is the first (okay maybe second) time I have ever written a comment on someone’s blog. I found you through Young House Love and between both families, I am super inspired to change my house and organize my life. Your kitchen gives me chills and I am amazed with two young boys that the cabinets are as clean as they are. I have DREAMS of a pull out panty, but my 9X9 kitchen won’t have any of that. I hope that this 30 day project just turns into xxx day project until it’s alll done (creating years of material). I wondered – any chance you would give your fans a house tour? I would love to see what you end up doing with the boys rooms so I could get ideas for my son’s room. Thank you for this blog – sweet and savory rocks!

    • I’ll blog everything as I do it as long as I feel people are interested. It’s what keeps me motivated! Cleaning my cabinets was one of my tasks this month, so don’t be too impressed with how clean they are. They were a mess. πŸ˜‰

      My kitchen is a little over 10′ by 16 feet, and the pull outs come out on the short side. I think you would have enough room!

  8. Someone, buy this lady a cape, she is an organizing hero! Or a guitar, and you can be a rockstar. Either way, wow. Also, i wonder if i can make my husband build me pull of storage…

  9. I hope this doesn’t sound like an odd question, but are those guampas and bombillas for drinking mate that I spy on the top shelf of your pantry?

    • Yup! Except in Argentina we call them mates…for drinking mate. I double checked with my mom–I’ve never heard them called guampas before!

      • In Paraguay they are guampas, and when they drink the yerba cold it’s called terere! I’ve never come across a blogger with mate equipo in their home before–what a fun surprise today! And I also really love this series you are doing!

  10. Do you have flour and sugar in mason jars? Wondering if the jar size is too small, but thinking those 2 big canistaers of mine are really taking up room in my cupboards.Thoughts please? Looks great!

    • I have sugar in there, but it’s because I use very little of it so I don’t need a large bag. My flour I keep in the freezer. It stays fresher that way and keeps the bugs out. Would anyone like to see my system for that?

    • I have sugar in there, but it’s because I use very little of it so I don’t need a large bag. My flour I keep in the freezer. It can last for years that way and kills the bugs that hide in there when you bring it home from the market. (Gross, but true.)

  11. Kudos to you for “sucking it up” and cleaning up the pantry even though you don’t yet have the laundry room of your dreams! I think you will enjoy the progress – it looks super! My pantry is on my list to purge/clean this month – and I got some ideas from this post! I like your mason jar idea and think I have some spares. I thought of you this morning as I cleaned out 2 drawers in my kitchen and put new shelf liner in. (Also thought of you when I saw up close how nasty my cabinets are! πŸ™ Better add that to my list!)

    Love your blog – I, too, will be sad when this 31 day series ends!

  12. I love those quart sized mason jars in that space!

    As for the appliances – I know it’s daunting, but please do make sure to check Craigslist regularly! My Nana had a stackable washer/dryer and when she passed away we listed it over and over for less and less money and eventually ended up giving it to a thrift store. I think there are some great appliance deals on CL, from people who are upgrading or moving, but not everyone remembers to look there first.

    Also, I think the main drawback to her stackable was that it used a ton of electricity? But I’m not sure about that, so don’t take my word for it.

    • I was just on CL last night looking at washers and dryers! I saw plenty of good models–some still with warranties!–at very good prices. You are so right; everyone should check CL first. I’m not ready to buy yet, but it’s on my list for the new year. πŸ™‚

  13. Looks great! That pull-out is just SOOOO fabulous!! I’m jealous. πŸ™‚

    I hate to be Debbie Downer, but let me put this out there about the tankless water heater: When we bought this house (in March), we fully expected to replace the run-down water heater with a tankless version, to leave more room for the washer and dryer. The very nice, very smart guy who came out to install a new water heater for us laid it out – it wasn’t going to happen. Why? Most people don’t know this, and all the Save Lots of Energy & Money! ads don’t mention it, but most homes have the wrong size pipes for it. We would have had to replace the pipes running through the house from the water source, to the tune of several thousand dollars. Oh, and the size of tankless water heater we’d need for 3 bathrooms? Also extremely cost-prohibitive. Sigh…

    (I feel horrible posting something so negative in the middle of your fabulous William Morris spree.)

    • Weird. It didn’t come up for us when we did our house reno (1944 bungelow) and we did a tankless no problem. Plus there are pipe adaptors in about every size I think. I’m no plumber, but worth checking into still, IMO.
      We only have 2 bath & kitchen, so only needed one (not sure what size). The kitchen sink is the furthest, so takes the longest to get hot, but the endless supply of hot water is great! When my husband gets back from his cavediving weekends, he loves to just stand under the water & soak for as long as he wants. And it doesn’t make a difference if I’m running the washer, dishwasher, or whatever.

  14. We live in a 1947 beach cottage (a lot like a Cape Cod style). We have a stack washer and dryer in what used to be our pantry. It looks just like the space you have. I do love my washer and dryer, but I would give anything to have the pantry space back!! All my food and cans are stuffed into the kitchen cabinets – they’re deep and it’s pretty much a black hole effect. I find (stale) stuff I forgot about all the time because stuff gets lost in them.
    Love your blog and have enjoyed this series very much!

  15. I have serious storage space envy! Our teeny washer-less apartment is so cramped, I store toilet paper under the bed! We run a “one in, one out” policy around here and organized spaces really help me with inventory. I am so jealous of that pull out drawer by your stove!

    Bravo on the organization, and that rose contact paper is so retro-chic ( hipster even?)….I swear they sell it at Anthropologie!

    Great series!


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