We Can Build It. We Have The Technology.

When we moved into our house in May 2013, this was our kitchen:

Note the weird little nook by the back door…it’s not terrible or anything, but it makes the end of the kitchen addition feel kinda afterthoughtish (well, to me anyhow).  I know the silly little half wall is there solely to facilitate a heating duct (yay for heat–that floor gets COLD!), but still.  It’s an odd shape, not really wide enough for a table, and not quite set up for good storage.  We filled it with our little upright freezer and a small oak cabinet (about the same size as the freezer), and then, being our lazy selves, proceeded to pile random stuff on top of these two items at will.  Which made the nook super junky and chaotic looking, and wasted the top half of the space entirely.

As we unpacked and found homes for things, our grocery “pantry” ended up being one of the tall cabinets above the kitchen sink/counter here:

Which was great, but guys, these cabinets are really tall, and I am not really tall.  And John is not really tall.  So things started out nice and organized, but quickly devolved into “I’m too lazy to find a stool to put away this thing that belongs on the top shelf, so I will either A) throw it up there in the general direction of where it belongs and hope it sticks or B) shove it onto a lower shelf“.  You can probably see where this is going.  DEATH FROM ABOVE.  That’s where.  It got kind of ridiculous when I realized I was able to quite nonchalantly pull a can of beans off the top shelf using two rubber spatulas for leverage and grip.

We’d talked about putting in a pantry-type cabinet in the kitchen, and the attack of the killer hot cocoa tin convinced John it should happen soon.  So in late July, we drew up some plans, put together a cost estimate (haha, yes, we totally went there), and picked a weekend in August for construction.  (Hahahaha…one weekend.  Hahahahahahaha.)

It took three weekends, to be honest (because, apparently, you need to factor in time for paint to dry despite rainy weather, as well as the requisite three extra runs to Home Despot because you don’t have a list and/or ran out of screws).  But it is solid!  We made “ladder shelves” (I’m sure that’s not the technical term, but that’s what they look like to me) and used 1x4s as planks across the ladders.  The door is just a cheap(ish?) bi-fold closet door that we spray painted white…I really wanted a louvered door (pantries need good airflow, right?!).  We also decided to paint the interior bits (including walls) white so it wouldn’t be a dark cave–that was a great move!  And we had some fun with chalkboard paint on the plywood we used for the right sidewall.

We had some cookbooks that had been stored in the oak cabinet that still needed a home, so we hung up some πkea shelves we’d had in the old apartment kitchen–lucky for us the shelves juuuuuust fit (like an inch clearance on the side!), and of course, the freezer got to go back in its original corner.  Between the shelves and the freezer, there’s not a ton of chalkboard wall available for doodles, but I love the contrast of the black and yellow, and it’ll still be fun to scribble on our walls once the paint cures!

The whole thing didn’t come out exactly according to plan…apparently there were differing interpretations of my line drawings (just a hint, I suck at drawing, and doors apparently come in standard sizes unless you have a money tree in the backyard, so we had to build an unanticipated header since you can’t just go out and buy an 85.75″ tall bifold louvered unfinished door–I know, right?!).  And we discovered that the nook has absolutely zero square and/or level surfaces (fun!  fun!  fun!!  faen!!!).  I mean, the house is 104 years old, so I’m not surprised, but to illustrate our frustration–over the width of the pantry (34″), the left side of the pantry is 20″ deep, and the right side is 19″ deep.  Big difference!!

Mid-stream adjustments notwithstanding, I do really love how it all turned out.   And it holds SO MUCH STUFF.  All our piddly little appliances, all our pantry/grocery stuff, and even a bin for root veg storage on the floor.  It’s amazing.

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