Whimsy Meets Function in This $50 Pantry Redo

Simple touches, like chalkboard contact paper, turned this pantry from blah to brilliant.

The redesigned pantry from 11 Magnolia Lane
Image: Christy at 11 Magnolia Lane

As a military wife, Christy Black moves every couple of years. It’s a mixed blessing that forces her to constantly edit her possessions and question each purchase with: Is this something I love, need, and want to unpack?

Frequent moves also guided the way the "11 Magnolia Lane" blogger added kitchen storage by making over the pantry in the 1915 colonial revival her family recently called home. The pantry project had to be:

  • Reversible, for the next resident
  • Functional to accommodate her prized bread machine
  • Whimsical to provide little touches that makes each new rental feel like home

This is what Black’s “before” pantry looked like:

The redesigned pantry from 11 Magnolia Lane
Image: Christy at 11 Magnolia Lane

It was a two-door, built-in cabinet with adjustable shelves. The tallest items only halfway filled the tallest shelves (waste of space). Mounds of boxes and bags tumbled out when Black opened the doors.

“The pantry was the only storage I had for big boxes and small appliances, and nothing was deep enough or tall enough for them,” Black says. “And I hate things on the counters. I hate clutter.”

Pantry Pare-Down

Black started her pantry project by emptying its contents onto floors and countertops.

Pantry reorganization in progress
Image: Christy at 11 Magnolia Lane

Next, Black moved and removed shelves to customize the space to hold that bread machine and her favorite kitchen helper — a snacks rack her kids love and her friends covet. She snagged the rack on eBay, but you can buy one for about $37 online. 

To corral half-filled pasta boxes and sloppy bags of beans, Black bought inexpensive glass canisters. She admits decanting everything into jars takes time, but jars look good, save space, and let her easily see what needs reordering. Of course, her glass canisters couldn’t hold a 25-pound of rice. So she stored bulk goods in the cellar, keeping the pantry for everyday items.

Related: 4 Clever Problem-Solvers for Messy Pantries

Pantry Pizzazz

She glue-gunned a ½-inch wide, polka dot ribbon to the face of each shelf. If the next residents don’t like polka dots, she reasoned, they can easily remove the glue with a short blast from a hot hairdryer.

The ribbon detailing on Christy's remodeled pantry
Image: Christy at 11 Magnolia Lane

Black looked at the inside of the raised panel pantry doors and saw space that could answer her family’s perpetual question: What’s for dinner? She bought chalkboard contact paper ($7 for 18-in. by 6-ft. roll), and cut a panel for each door. On the left she wrote weekly menus; on the right she had a surface for her kids to doodle.  

Chalkboard paint, which is easy to clean, would have worked better than paper, Black says. But paint isn’t reversible, which was a requirement for the pantry makeover

Total cost: $50 (mostly for glass canisters)

The redesigned pantry from 11 Magnolia Lane
Image: Christy at 11 Magnolia Lane

To see more inspiring pantry storage ideas, visit our Perfect Pantry Projects Pinterest page. And don’t forget to check out the other pantry makeover contenders:

Housing And Real Estate Expert Lisa Kaplan-Gordon
Lisa Kaplan Gordon

Lisa Kaplan Gordon is an award-winning, Pulitzer Prize-nominated writer who contributes to real estate and home improvement sites. In her spare time (yeah, right!), she gardens, manages three dogs, and plots to get her 21-year-old out of her basement.