Moving into our house five years ago, younger and naive, we had plans to renovate the dingy kitchen. Image

We were so clueless about the cost of such a project! I still remember the first quote we received for installation of new cupboards. I’m pretty sure I cried after the contractor left. It became obvious that a lot of creativity and hard work would be in our near future.

And so we painted, scrubbed, and painted some more. One by one, we replaced the old appliances as they quickly gave out upon our arrival. Go figure.

And over time, I began to love my kitchen. Except for one thing…the pantry. In order to replace the broken doors on the pantry, a special order set of doors was necessary due to their unusual size. Total cost? $1,000. Not an option. On a whim one day, I hung a curtain with a shower rod to replace the dilapidated doors. It worked. But we hated it. It looked decent when the curtains were closed…


But the reality is that most of the time they remained open, revealing the monstrous mess inside.

And so one day this summer, I’d had enough. Something had to change, and quickly. But it had to happen on the tightest of budgets. Thus began my challenge!

My plan? I wanted an open pantry. It occurred to me one day that my cupboards were full of things that could be pretty if displayed in an open pantry. Cookware, white dishes, pretty mixing bowls, and glass jars containing the food I buy in bulk. These are the things that I love, and the things I use every day. Why not display those things, and hide the other junk in the closed cupboards?

The first thing I did was rip out the lower two wire shelves, and replaced them with an antique dresser I found on Craigslist.

Then my dad and I spent an afternoon sanding, staining, and painting the dresser. I love my dad!!! We had a fantastic time together, which  makes this project even nearer and dearer to my heart.

The most difficult part of this project was trying to decide how to replace the rest of the wire shelving. I really wanted dark, solid wood floating shelves. However, such an addition came with a cost. Solid wood as thick as I wanted is expensive, and hanging such heavy wood required a professional, adding more cost.

My solution? I purchased a $17 sheet of quarter-inch hardwood, had it cut to size, and stained it the color I wanted. We used a strong construction adhesive to glue the stained wood to the wire shelving. I tell you what…I’m all about improvising around here. Don’t have clamps to hold the glue tight? Simply drag in cinder blocks from your backyard shed to hold the shelves down while they dry! 😉

To solve the problem of still being able to see the wire shelving (which I’d spray-painted black) on the front, we used a nail gun to attach decorative 3-inch trim that I’d stained to match the shelves.

And I’m pleased to announce that I couldn’t be happier with how the project turned out!

For a very small fraction of the cost of a major pantry renovation, I think it turned out well. Total cost was well under $75, with the majority of the cost being the $40 dresser from Craigslist. Not bad!

I once heard popular designer Nate Berkus say that every home should have something you love so much that it sings to you when you walk by it. My pantry now sings to me when I’m in the kitchen. And if Michael Buble is playing on the radio, I sometimes sing right back to my pantry. It’s an odd relationship, I know. 😉

Five years later, with a relatively small amount of money spent, I love what my kitchen has become. I spend most of my day here, preparing food to nourish those I love. While it may not be my dream kitchen, it serves its purpose quite well. And I love it.

And because I can’t seem to NOT have a project going at all times, I’m currently working to re-vamp the little table and chairs in my kitchen. I found a lovely set of antique chairs at an estate sale for $5 each, and they’re currently sitting in my backyard with a fresh coat of polyurethane drying on them. They are dark walnut colored, so in keeping with the white paint/dark stain look of my pantry, I’m hoping to re-do the table soon with a coat of white paint. Here’s hoping I can make it work!