We’ve all seen the shows where they create an organized pantry with a rainbow pattern. Sure it’s pretty, but is it manageable?
With a busy household and kids who like to help themselves to snacks, I wanted to make sure that our pantry would be able to function for how we live and be easy to maintain. If you missed how we built our pantry click here.
So let me show you 3 tips for an easy to maintain organized pantry:
Tip #1 – Create Main Categories
When it came to organizing our pantry, we started by figuring out the categories of items that we keep in there.
Our categories included baking ingredients, cooking staples, snack foods, extra paper products, and small appliances.
Once the categories were determined, we could decide where to put the products that made the most sense.
In our case, we made sure snacks were accessible to the kids on the side closest to the trash, while the cooking staples were closer to the stove.
The things we used the least went up higher while the most used items stayed within easy reach.
Tip #2 – Keep Items Frequently Used Together
We found it was easier to keep an organized pantry by having things that are often used together in the same area.
So, instead of having a shelf for dry goods with pasta, rice, bread, and tortilla chips and another area for sauces and canned goods, etc, we looked at how those items are used.
We generally aren’t grabbing alfredo sauce and rice at the same time or lasagna noodles and queso.
Instead, we put the pasta sauces next to the noodles, the queso and salsa are near the tortillas and rice, and the peanut butter and jelly are near the bread, etc. At meal time, we can easily grab all the ingredients at once which saves time and energy.
This also allows us to quickly know what meals we have ingredients for which is a huge win when you don’t feel like cooking.
Grocery shopping is also easier as we can see meal ingredients at a glance.
These baskets have made keeping similar items together a breeze.
Tip #3 – Make it Family Friendly
If you have independent children like I do, embrace it. Create a zone for them in the pantry.
My kids love cereal so we opted to get a cereal dispenser. This makes it quick and easy for my 5 year old boys to get their own cereal without making a huge mess.
We have clear organizers for the kids’ snacks so they can see what is available without rifling through everything. I also can see how much we have of each item with a quick glance (no more empty boxes in the pantry!).
You just need to figure out how your family approaches the things kept in your pantry so that you can determine the best way to store the items. We are a grab and go family, so keeping items used together in the same spot works best for us.
To say that I was excited to have a pantry is an understatement. As a designer, of course I wanted it to be pretty, but more importantly, I wanted our pantry storage to be functional and manageable for our family of 5.
We left off with the bottom portion of the pantry complete. You can read about it here.
I knew that I wanted sturdy shelves that looked built in. I’ve built plenty of shelves before so I was confident that I could build these to my specifications. Since the bottom cabinets are 14″ deep and the countertop would be 15″ deep, I opted to make my shelves 10″ deep to accomodate containers and baskets.
To get started, I attached 2x2s to the back two walls making sure they were level and screwed into the studs.
I then added 7″ 2×2 supports to the side wall and the middle using wood glue and my Kreg Jig.
I then glued and screwed another 2×2 to the front of the supports.
Once the framing was done, I added a 1×10 to the top of the bracing and nailed it in place. I then glued and nailed a 1×3 to the front to give the shelves a finished look.
In full transparency, I made one shelf completely first to make sure it would work and be sturdy enough before I built the other two. Those two I built together at the same time.
I attached 1/4″ white hardboard to the bottom of the shelves with nails to complete the look. Then to make it look polished, I wood filled all the nail holes, caulked the edges, and painted everything white.
Are you ready to see the final result?
Here’s a closer look at some of the different sections of the pantry:
I can’t get over all the pantry storage we were able to add to the space!
When we were in the process of building our new home, one thing I wasn’t willing to negotiate on was having a decent pantry. We ended up with a 5×5 corner pantry and I asked the builder to not install the wire shelves so that I could DIY Pantry Organization to our family’s needs.
I knew that I wanted our pantry to house all of our dry goods as well as some of our small kitchen appliances like our air fryer and toaster. So, I decided to create built in cabinets with a countertop and shelves above.
It’s Week 6 of the One Room Challenge…Only 2 weeks to go! Surprisingly, I actually have some office progress to share today…we may just make it after all.
It only took 15 hours to install all the hexagon tiles and grout the whole floor. I love how it turned out!
This was the first floor that I’ve ever tiled and I made sure each tile was level with the tiles next to it. This made grouting so much easier and faster!
Not only did I finish the floor, I was also able to install the two small side cabinets and the countertop in between.
We painted the walls Sherwin-Williams color Repose Gray and the window trim with Benjamin Moore Advance Paint.
There’s still a ton to do (build the bookcases, paint the built ins, install hardware, hang the curtains, wire the lights, add baseboards, etc), but I couldn’t help myself and had to start styling one of the corners.
We are officially half way done with the Fall One Room Challenge! Based on that fact, you would think I would have the major components of the room done…or even started. But if you’ve been here a while, you know better.
At the end of last week, my only progress was cutting my countertop down and adding the Ditra XL to the floors in preparation of tiling.
While this week’s progress isn’t amazing, it still is forward momentum, especially considering that I’ve never installed a tile floor before. Most of it was done after the kids went to bed by the glow of a work light and warmth of a ceramic heater as we didn’t have power or heat.
To get started, I dry fitted some tiles to see where I wanted the cuts to be. I had been debating on where the tile should end, but once I marked where the doors would go, I realized I could have a full tile when I walked in and on the opposite back wall.
Once I figured out the placement from entry to the back wall, I found the center of the back wall and the the doorway and marked them. I also marked the center of my first tile and laid it. I used my laser to make sure that my first tiles were lining up straight with the doorway.
You wouldn’t believe how long these six tile took me to lay. I utilized the QEP LASH Flat Floor Leveling System (it’s two parts and a tool) to make sure my tile were evenly spaced and level which I verified with my small level.
I decided to install all the whole tiles and fill in the cuts later on. I completely lucked out and a whole tile fit perfectly in front of the cabinets. I’m pretty sure I couldn’t get that lucky again.
Between the construction crew working on the nearby basement stairs and the front porch, I wasn’t able to work on the floor as much as I would have liked. I made it about 2/3s of the way done with the whole tiles and will be wrapping up the rest of the floor this upcoming week.
If you also follow along on Instagram (@boxwoodathome), you saw that I also made some purchases for the room! I’ll show you those next week!
Dont forget to check out the other amazing transformations here.
I am so excited to be participating in the Fall 2022 One Room Challenge. The challenge encourages participants to renovate a space in 8 weeks. You can follow along with other participants here.
When I signed up originally, I was planning to do our new laundry room, but we are several weeks away from the framing and inspections being complete.
So, what room did I choose instead?
I opted to renovate my new home office which is a blank slate. I have been running my own businesses for over 15 years and this is my first ever home office.
The space itself isn’t huge (it’s 8.5 feet deep by 14.5 feet wide), but I’m thankful for every square inch. The office is located right off of our main entry so one of my goals was to create enough storage to keep it clean and manage all my design samples, client files, reference books and more.
The design includes built-ins on the back wall, a desk floating in the middle, and an accent chair in the corner. While creating my moodboard for the challenge, I realized that I couldn’t afford most of the items that I love. We will be finding alternatives to create a designer office on a small budget.
To create budget friendly built-ins, I purchased 4 unfinished Easthaven Drawer Bases from Home Depot. I originally planned to use butcherblock for the counters, but then found a faux marble countertop at Lowes that was perfect for my vision.
I started installing the cabinets by screwing two of them together and using shims to level them. I then attached them to the studs with 3 inch screws.
I then cut and installed the countertops leaving a small overhang. At the last moment, I decided to add a small 12” upper cabinet on the inside of the other cabinets to help support the long stretch of countertop.
Next week, we will be working on the built in shelves and adding lighting as well as picking up the tile for the floor.
In the beginning of 2020, we made the decision to build our new dream home on a piece of land that we were already building a shed on. We locked in a builder and designed what we thought was the perfect home for our family. It was a 3,100 square foot 4 bedroom, 3.5 bath, ranch with a three car garage.
Little did we know, the entire world was about to be turned upside down. Lumber prices were going to skyrocket, the lead time for supply chains would be extended, and more.
We had already sold the home we were living in so we focused on finishing our shed that we were in the process of building. Then came the news that our build was being delayed until spring/summer 2021 and that the cost had increased by almost $85,000.
It was at that point, that I started researching whether we could make changes to lower the cost or if we should go another route. One option was building a modular home.
While our home we had just sold was a modular (we didn’t know when we bought it), we had been mostly happy with it and it was very energy efficient. I looked at so many floor plans, but couldn’t find what I was looking for. We had decided to still go the traditional route when we came across a local company that could customize a modular home for us.
We met with the modular company in November 2021 and this is what we learned:
The first thing we learned was how quickly a modular home could be built. Because it is built inside a climate controlled warehouse, there arent weather delays and they can control the humidity for drying times. We were told that our new home could be built in about 6 months based on the amount of other homes ahead of us.
With prices steadily climbing, we were surprised to discover that building a modular home was quite cost effective. Because of the number of houses they built each year, they received and passed on savings on materials, etc.
Some of the upgrades we decided on were:
9 ft ceilings instead of the standard 8ft
Adding more windows throughout the house
Building a 6’x32′ front porch with a dormer
Adding in-floor heat to the basement, garage, and approach
Quartz countertops and an oversized kitchen island
8 ft ceilings in the full basement
Oversized dormered 32’x32′ garage with 10′ doors
The price of our stick-built design was over $100,000 more than our new modular dream home.
While designing the stick build floorplan, I had to be constantly aware of what a change would do structurally. With the modular floorplan, I was able to move things around easily based on how the home is constructed. We did have one wall that we had to be conscience of as it is the seam of the home where the pieces attach during assembly.
When I say we customized the layout, that may be an understatement. We basically moved everything around to fit our needs. A few must haves were:
Great Room facing the backyard – We have small kids that love to be outside and this allows us to keep an eye on them from our main spaces
Split layout – The 3 kid bedrooms are on one end of the house and ours is on the other
Dedicated Office – The original floor plan called for a Owner’s Retreat, but we decided an office for my business would be better utilized
Owner’s Suite with Dual Closets – I’m so excited to have my own closet area as I’m weird and color coordinate all my clothes by type and my husband definitely does not
Half Bath -We wanted a half bath for guests so that they wouldn’t have to use the kids’ bathroom
Mudroom with Garage and Backyard Access – I’m hoping if they have a space for muddy shoes and coats that they won’t be throughout the house
Is a modular home right for you?
This will depend on your expectations and the builder that you choose. Our builder has been very flexible in allowing me to put my own spin on things, however, there have been a few things that I couldn’t change. You need to make sure both you and the builder are on the same page and that they can accomodate your wants and needs.
Once the caulk dries, paint your entire panels your base coat color. We chose a charcoal color to complement the colors of our shed and our stained concrete floor. Don’t worry about the grout lines, just paint the entire panels with a solid coat of your base color.
Customizing the Faux Brick Panels
After your base coat has time to dry, you’re ready to get creative.
We used a basic kitchen sponge cut to the height of a brick and some acrylic paint. On a paper plate, we added some white, black and some of our base color paint. You could pick to any color or even add more white for a whitewashed appearance.
We started by dipping the sponge in the paint lightly and dry brushing it on with the sponge (blot on a paper towel if necessary to remove excess paint).
On some bricks we worked side to side, others we worked up and down, while on others we swirled the sponge. The goal was to apply the paint lightly so that it highlighted the texture of the bricks.
To make the brick look more textured with varying color, we added in lighter bricks and darker bricks emphasizing the natural texture.
If you accidentally get some paint on the grout lines, just use your base paint color to touch it up.
It took two of us about 2.5 hours to paint the top halves of 6 panels of brick.
It was such a fun project and I love how it out. We have gotten so many compliments on it from family and friends.
See other ways we’ve used the faux brick panels here.
I will be honest, we don’t buy a ton of gifts for our kids at Christmas time. Instead of focusing on how many gifts are under the tree, we focus on making memories with family and friends…with a few gifts sprinkled in (4 plus a gift from Santa to be exact).
Some of my favorite memories involve the small traditions that I love doing with the kids. Over the years, they remind me of the things we need to be doing and that is so reassuring that they love the traditions like I do. I also feel like by having these traditions, it takes some of the emphasis off of gifts and allows us to focus on other fun things.
Wondering what we do?
***Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.***
After Thanksgiving Tradition – Santa Bags and Elves
We kick off the season the morning after Thanksgiving when Sam, our Elf on the Shelf, brings a “Santa Bag” for my kids to fill. Basically, it is a large, fabric bag with ribbon and bells on it. You could also DIY one with a red laundry bag and a tag.
They put all the toys that are in good working order that they no longer play with in it and Sam takes the filled bag to Santa’s workshop where the toys can be loved by other kids. In reality, the toys go to our local rescue mission or shelter. I love that we are able to donate things that someone else can use.
Sam, our Elf, also just hides in fun spots, but isn’t the type of Elf to make a mess or destroy things…thankfully, we have enough of that without extra encouragement.
Leading up to Christmas
Some of our favorite traditions include writing Santa letters, watching Sam the Elf move each day, and making holiday treats with our families. I no longer question my tight pants at Christmas, we do way too much baking and eating.
Also, a few days before Christmas, my kids open a box with Christmas pajamas, a Christmas book, and some holiday popcorn. We enjoy watching holiday movies at night leading up to Christmas Eve. It’s so fun to hear them talk about the movies, what they hope they are getting from Santa, etc.
The 4 Gift Rule
We don’t go crazy buying gifts for our kids…and they don’t notice. Between gifts from grandparents, aunts/uncles/cousins, etc, the kids were ending up with so much that they didn’t even know what to play with or where they got certain items. It was too much, we were all overwhelmed.
Then I heard someone say they did the “4 Gift Rule” for gifts in their house and I loved the idea!
Basically, our kids get a gift from Santa and then 4 gifts from us:
Something they WANT
Something they NEED
Something to WEAR
Something to READ
This year, the kids are getting some travel items because we are taking a family vacation to Florida and will be visiting Disney. In part, we can go on fun trips or do excursions like waterparks (as well as reward them throughout the year with small things), because we don’t spend thousands of dollars at Christmas time.
As an example, here is what my kids are getting this Christmas just from us:
WANT: We picked something off of each kid’s list to get them and tried to keep the dollar amount the same usually around $50
NEED: Carry On Suitcases in different colors – when they open them they will find out about Disney
WEAR: A custom Disney shirt from Etsy in their favorite color as well as a new bathing suit
READ: We picked out a few books based on favorite characters, shows, etc
Christmas Eve Tradition
On Christmas Eve, my parents, my brother, sister-in-law, and their kids generally come over to our house for an early dinner, gift opening, and candle light church. It is one of my favorite traditions.
Also, since the kids only opened a few gifts, they aren’t so upset to leave their new things to go to Church. After church, it is Christmas pajamas and setting out the milk and cookies for Santa then off to bed.
Christmas Day Tradition
Who would have ever thought that you can enjoy Christmas more as an adult than when you were a kid? Seeing my kids wake up with such excitement and wonder is one of the best feelings in the entire world.
Once everyone is up, we take turns opening gifts. Each kid will have 4 gifts from us and 1 Santa gift under the tree. I love that there aren’t 100 gifts under the tree for them to open. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve seen kids open something they really want and then not want to open the rest. Thankfully, with only 5 gifts, it isn’t too bad and they appreciate them so much more.
After we open our gifts, we head to my in-laws where the kids get to tell Grandma what Santa brought them and what Mom and Dad picked out. Again, they are really good about going to the next function because they aren’t so overwhelmed gifts. We enjoy the rest of the morning with family while the kids open a few more gifts from grandparents, aunts/unlces/cousins.
Our afternoon is spend visiting with extended family and eating tons of good food. When we finally get back home, we enjoy watching the kids play with their new favorite things while a Christmas movie plays in the background.
Make your own Christmas Traditions to cherish
I truly believe that the gift of family and friends is what makes the holiday wonderful. It isn’t about the number of presents under the tree or the amount of money spent, it is about the memories made.
Just remember to enjoy your traditions, make great memories, and do Christmas how it works for your family!