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Plain Pantry Made Awesome


As I’ve mentioned here

                                               and here,


we renovated a small cottage last year and moved out to a lovely lake. It’s the oldest man-made lake in the state and, since it’s surrounded by numerous hunting clubs, each covering 1000s of acres in private hunting grounds for their members, it’s managed to remain quieter and less trafficky than other lakes nearby.

Those other lakes are beautiful with strings of McMansions and more than a few real mansion neighborhoods along the shores. The dirt alone can cost a half million dollars or more for a small lake front lot.

As a matter of fact, I know of one couple who purchased a house on one of those lakes years ago for $170,000. He did trim work on new construction, or something. They later sold this house for over $700,000.

And took the money with them to Panama. And not Panama City Beach, but Panama Panama. The canal Panama. I don’t know if it was actually in their suitcase when they left, but they didn’t tell the IRS. Who felt left out of all the fun and invited them back to the U.S.—to live in a group home for runaways. Gave them a special little anklet to wear, too!

True story. It was in the news. With pictures.

Actually . . . I’d met the wife once through a mutual acquaintance. That’s why I noticed it in the paper. There’s another six degrees of separation, I guess.

At our lake, while we’re only a half hour from Columbia or an hour from Charlotte, we’re more rural. If we were in our 20s, this probably would not be where we’d want to raise kids. The local school system is not so good. Internet service is less than 3 mbps (whatever the hell that is we don’t have enough). Verizon is the best cell service locally, but if I want to talk to someone clearly, I have to get in the car and drive 3 miles down the road. I make as many of my calls as possible when I’m in the car on the highway driving to town.

Back to this cottage. It had a bi-fold door pantry in the kitchen. I should have taken a picture, but remember, we were pretty sick during the beginning of this reno. Just think a mid-70s bedroom closet  . . .  right in your kitchen. It had three shelves covered in grease, dust, and unidentifiable spilled stuff. Twenty-year-old ick.

We pulled everything out. There was much cleaning, cutting of boards, adding recepticles, fitting in bead board, painting, and the ordering of a stainless steel cart.

The picture below is after everything was installed. Not quite finished, but I put out a few things for a preview.

See the black crack in the corners? That still needs to be caulked and painted. I painted the bead board after installation with a latex enamel in a greenish-blue. Annie Sloan (A high-end chalk paint brand I told you about here.) has an identical Duck Egg Blue–which I used as my sample to find a similar color at Home Depot. Her color would have been fine, but it’s chalk paint. At $40 a quart, way too expensive for the back of a pantry.

The white is latex enamel. Both the blue and the white are basic, good-quality, latex paints, closer to $40 a gallon. The stainless steel cart cost about $170 from Home Depot. I had the electrician install two 4-plug receptacles on each side wall. That white plate you see at the bottom right is the access panel to plumbing for a bathroom on the other side of the back wall. I later painted it blue.


pantry redo 1


Let me tell you a little about bead board. If you look at the porch ceiling on a real Victorian house (or for that matter, any house built in the early 1900s or before) you’ll more than likely see it covered in tiny strips of wood painted blue.

First, the blue color. Porch ceilings were painted blue to ward off haints — restless spirits of the dead who haven’t moved on from their physical world. Painting it blue was supposed to protect the living owners from being “taken” by these evil spirits. How they went from just restless to evil, I don’t know. It’s referred to as a Southern superstition, but you will find blue ceilings on porches everywhere. It was more of a Victorian thing.

There’s another thought on the blue. It was supposed to keep bugs away. Or wasps would see the blue ceiling and think it was the open sky and not build their nest. There’s no credible evidence this works, although paint back then was made with lye which is a known bug repellent. 

Now, the strips of wood. Genuine bead board is made from real wood planks about 3/4″ thick. You can get it in 3″, 4″, 6″, or 8″ wide pieces that are 8 feet or 12 feet long. And it can be expensive. $5 or more a square foot.

Then, there’s bead board sheets or paneling. It’s fake. It’s made from MDF or plastic or fiberboard. It’s typically in 4′ x 8′ sheets. Like thin plywood. Side by side against the real thing, there’s a world of difference. IMHO, it’s not good for large spaces like ceilings. But, it’s cheaper. More like $0.50 – $1.00 a foot. For this 8′ high pantry, with shelves and all of my stuff covering most of it, the cheap stuff was perfect. 

Bead board, real or fake, is a pain in the neck to paint by hand. Use a roller for the large areas and cut in the edges with a brush. I painted this three times before all of the crevices were covered. If you can spray it outside and then paint a few touch ups after the installation, would be much easier.



I added cup hooks for coffee cups and magnetic strips and containers for spices on each side. I bought the white metal strips and stainless magnetic containers at the Container Store.

I’m pleased. Space is at a premium in this house, using every square inch to its best has been a major focus on each decision we made.


pantry redo 3


I added a string of white Christmas lights under the bottom shelf above the stainless steel cart. I put them on a timer so they’re on between 7-10 am and again 5-11 pm.

Here’s a helpful hint — buy LED Christmas lights. These were just ordinary, cheap, Christmas lights on white wire I picked up at Hobby Lobby. They worked great. But only lasted a year. Right now, they’ve blown out. I’ll replace them with LEDs that last much longer.


pantry redo 5


I put the magnetic spice bar on each side, but only one knife bar on the left side. The magnetic knife bar I bought at the Container Store, but later, I saw IKEA’s magnetic bar and liked it better. The magnetic-ness of the ones I bought are not that strong.

I caulked all of the seams, touch-up painted various spots, and now there are no black cracks between the wood on the shelves. I tacked a few nails on the inside of both ends to hang an apron, a fly swatter, yard stick, and skewers to roast marshmallows.


pantry redo 4


These are the three shelves above the cart.


pantry redo 7


And this next pic shows you my mistake. I should have asked my carpenter to take a belt sander and sand down each door facing at the point the cart’s top shelf hit the frame. It would have bowed slightly, but no one would have noticed.

The stainless steel cart was 48″ — exactly — and my opening was 47 1/2″. If I’d had him take a belt sander and sand a slight curve at the point the shelf hit the sides of the door facing, then we could have repainted it, slid in the cart, and no one would have noticed. If doors were ever reinstalled, there would have been a bow, but that’s not likely to happen. Who would ever undo all of this awesomeness?


pantry redo 8


That sack is a bag of treats for Mary Weather and Payton. That gray skinny sack thing is a sleeve holding a gun barrel my guy’s got to take to the gun shop for repair.

This is how it looks most days.

Lights on.


Pantry redo 9


Lights off.


Pantry redo 10


There was a temptation to clean it up and clear away clutter. I did move a box of crackers and wipe up a coffee spill, but we use this every day, I wanted you to see it unstaged. I love it.

Gotta fix that right door facing soon.

Until next time. Be sweet.

Full BA Signature













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