Elsie’s Pantry Makeover

I shared at the beginning of this year in my goals post that our pantry was needing some major help. I spent a lot of time the past few years trying to visualize a creative way to renovate for a much larger pantry, but in the end I never found a way to make it larger. Sometimes it’s just not possible and you have to work with what you have.

So, I decided to make the absolute most of the small closet pantry we have—by completely reworking it! I wish I would have taken a proper before photo, but you can imagine it. What we had before were 3-4 veryyyy narrow, but deep shelves. Inevitably, things got buried in the back and misplaced. It was cluttered and packed full. Under the shelves, it was just open to the floor. Before Nova, we used to store our workout water bottles and some tupperware down there. But since she came home, it was too easy for her to reach anything down there, so we no longer wanted open storage that she could access below. To put it simply, it was a mess and we weren’t getting much use out of it.

I had some other areas in the kitchen, like a metal cart, where I was storing a bunch of smoothie powders. But with a toddler it was no longer a good idea to keep them so low.

Our goals with our new system were to 1. be able to use the full pantry and 2. store things in a more “child proofed” way.

The other huge change we made is that since getting home with Nova, we are eating at home at least 1-2 meals a day now … and a lot of the time we eat at home for all three meals. This is a lot more cooking than we did before becoming parents. So another goal we had was to store our things in a way that was inspiring, so we’d be more motivated to branch out and try new recipes!

Here’s how it’s all laid out.

There’s five shelves that pull out and one bin at the bottom. In the five bins, there are five different categories (I decided not to label them until I have used it for a while, in case I need to move things around). The top shelf is all our cheat food (this is basically for Friday nights and really bad days—haha). I like that it’s so high up you don’t really see it unless you are on the step stool. I also keep our pastas up there because the containers are so large. On the second shelf down are all our baking things. We don’t bake a lot, but there are some things there I use a lot like chia seeds and xylitol. On the next shelf down is the “healthy” shelf, which is pretty much devoted to smoothie making ingredients. One of my big motivations for building this was that I was previously storing all my colorful smoothie powders in the bottom of an open cart in our kitchen. Since they are in glass jars, it was just a matter of time before Nova broke a huge jar of beet or turmeric powder, and so I had to move those FAST. On the bottom shelf are all our grains, legumes, oats, quinoa … things like that. They are stored in plastic containers from Ikea. Nova can reach these, but it’s not nearly as scary as the glass containers. The bin at the bottom is where we keep our clean, reusable cloths for cleaning up messes (we use these instead of paper towels).

I like these dry food jars for storing things we’ll buy over and over. They’re not too big and they make our collection of oats and lentil pastas so much more visually pleasing … haha! I like to use an old school label maker to label all our food.

Here’s how it looks from the side when the shelves are fully pulled out. It is SO easy to reach all the way to the back now and I can see everything we have, which makes grocery shopping so much more efficient.

And here’s how it looks when they are all pushed in.

Here’s my smoothie things. I use this stuff to make golden lattes, matcha, smoothie bowls and sometimes little treats like homemade Lara Bars. Anyway, I’m happy to now have all this stuff in a location where Nova can’t reach it since it’s breakable and potentially super messy.

On the next shelf up are some baking things. This is where we keep things like regular sugar and flour, chocolate chips and honey.

And on the veryyy top shelf is our “cheat night” stash. It is usually full of things like chips and Oreos. I love that it’s out of sight unless you climb up on the step ladder because I don’t want to look at it when it’s not cheat night—haha. I need to refill this stash, but you get the idea!

I am SO HAPPY we took the time to make this little closet more useful! It’s been about a month now since this project was completed and our pantry still looks just as good as the first day I organized it (which is more of a testament to the system than to my own upkeep, I promise—haha). It is one of the most USEFUL projects we’ve ever done in our home!

Thanks so much for reading! Let me know if you have any questions. xx – Elsie

Credits//Author: Elsie Larson. Project (built by): Collin DuPree. Photos: Elsie and Jeremy Larson. These are iPhone photos edited with Golden from A Color Story!

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