DIY Pantry Project

Chelsea Curran April 27, 2023

 
If you come over to my house and can’t find me, I’m probably hanging out in my pantry. It was at the top of our list to have one, having had NO main-level storage space in our previous homes, and I am so in love with this fun design that we ended up with.
 
The original layout of our kitchen only had a pantry closet, but we had big visions of a walk-in with countertop space. We had our contractors eliminate our hall closet and steal space from the office/playroom area to make this happen.
 
View from the original hall/hall closet into the playroom.
 
View of the newly framed out pantry from the kitchen

The Layout

We knew that the actual build-out of the pantry storage was something we wanted to do ourselves, so we spent a lot of time planning the layout. Stacy’s Savings was probably our biggest inspiration from a visual perspective, but the most helpful thing you can do is jot out exactly what you plan to store to help accommodate your own needs. We planned for:
-tall cleaning items, like our Dyson handheld, broom, mop, etc. -medicines and first aid -bulk paper goods -small kitchen appliances like our kitchen aid mixer, air fryer, crock pot, etc -kids snacks -everyday dry and canned goods in tall and short storage containers-fruit basket -microwave.
 
This drove our layout. We planned for 2 tall anchor cabinets that we purchased from Lowes. The tall lower portion of the left cabinet would be for the cleaning tools, the upper for sprays/dust cloths, and a medicine shelf. Both were high enough that the kids couldn’t reach them, which was a huge plus. The right cabinet would be fully shelved to house all of the appliances.
 
In between, we wanted a countertop that we could use for our microwave, bread, and sugar/flour canisters. We wanted that to sit at standard counter height, with a row of shelving below and upper shelving starting at upper cabinet height above the counter. We also knew that we wanted the highest shelf to sit level across the tops of the pantry cabinets.
Knowing that each anchor cabinet would be 18 wide x 24 deep, we measured out the remaining space and assigned materials accordingly. We also had the electrician wire for outlets knowing what the layout would end up like. We added one at counter height, and one in the anchor cabinet to plug in the vacuum.
 
Use painters tape to mark out the footprint, shelf height, counter height, and upper shelving rows
 
First, Mike installed nailer panels to the walls, finding a stud. Then he installed the tall anchor cabinets to those nailers. Once those were set, he built a base frame for the lower shelving using 2x4s.
 
 
He then added sheets of 3/4 in pine plywood to those frames to create the surface of the bottom shelf. He repeated this same process to make the middle lower shelf, and the upper shelves. Each frame piece gets secured to studs, and then each other in a box-style, so that the pine plywood sheets are reinforced from within but give the appearance of floating shelves.
 
 
He then added sheets of 3/4 in pine plywood to those frames to create the surface of the bottom shelf. He repeated this same process to make the middle lower shelf, and the upper shelves. Each frame piece gets secured to studs, and then each other in a box-style, so that the pine plywood sheets are reinforced from within but give the appearance of floating shelves.
 
Here you can see the top shelf cased out in the plywood. Eventually, Mike added pine boards to the face as well, to give everything a finished look.
 
Once all of the plywood was nailed to the tops and bottoms of the shelves, Mike added pine trim to the faces of each shelf for a complete appearance. We then caulked, puttied, and caulked some more. Then we primed everything including the cabinet exteriors with Kilz primer, to protect the wood and also to get our paint to adhere evenly to the surfaces. You’ll see the counter frame got a nicer finish, which we added last.
 
 
I then painted the shelves and cabinets of Martha’s Vineyard by Benjamin Moore. I found a fun removable wallpaper and this was the perfect green to complement the print. After 2 coats, I wallpapered.
 
 
Finally came the countertop. Originally we planned for butcherblock, but realized 1. It would be so expensive 2. It would be way too thick to sit on the frame we had built. So, we opted for red oak 3/4 plywood. It has a nice grain which is what we had envisioned, so I stained it with leftover floor stain (50% Minwax Driftwood, 50% Pickled Oak) and sealed it with a matte clear poly.
 
That’s the jist of it! It took about 2 weeks to complete, and cost, all-in, around $1100 to build out.
 
 
 
 

Things We’d Do Differently

If we had to do this again, I would have used Ikea 90” cabinet frames as the anchors. They were out of stock when we built, but it would have been since to have flexibility with shelf spacing. The cabinets we used have one fixed shelf that restricts the height of what you can store in the lower section.
 
We also would have planned for some undermount lighting, as the shelves are darker within and harder to see.
Finally, I would have sanded the anchor cabinets down much better before I painted. Even with the primer, it was very difficult to get the paint to stick. We fully anticipate needing to touch up the shelves over time, since baskets and boxes will be sliding in and out over the years, but they’re holding up well so far.
 
Overall, we are so proud and in love with this DIY!

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