Wednesday, August 31, 2011

16 Reader Space: A "Sweet" Pantry Makeover

Pretty pantries.  What can I say, I have a weakness.  They are one of my favorite spaces to organize because they can ultimately save us so much money and the kitchen is where we spend so much of our time.

How does an organized pantry save money you ask?
  • Using clear storage allows you to quickly see what you already have stocked, so you don't re-buy what you already have.
  • Using sealed storage containers will keep your food fresh for longer.
  • Only buying what you have room to store will reduce unnecessary over-purchasing.
I have also received some comments and thoughts on purchasing storage containers.  What works for us is to note the size of the items we typically would want to store in clear storage.  For example, we typically buy cereal that has 12, 1 cup servings which equals 12 cups.  So when purchasing our cereal keeper container, I chose something that could at least accommodate 12 cups {it should say on the container packaging}.  The same process goes with noodles, crackers, granola, etc...  If you ever run into a scenario where your snacks/cereal does not fit into your containers, because let's say you purchased in bulk, you can always make single size snack bag servings for on the go.  Sure, the first time around it takes a little planning, but it is fairly simple to maintain moving forward.  We have been doing it for years and couldn't imagine going back.

So when Oksana wrote and shared with me her pantry, my heart smiled.  She did it exactly right, was resourceful and even took it that extra step to add pretty labels.  Good job girl!

Oksana wrote:

Dear Jen,
I adore your blog and look forward to mid day every weekday when your email usually arrives. 
I made over my little pantry and am so excited!  Perhaps, you might find it worthy of being featured in one of your Reader Editions.  I posted about it on my blog, here is the link:
Thank you for inspiring so many folks out there to find joy in an organized life.  

Best always,

And here is her story as shared on her blog:

I have a small pantry in my kitchen.  It had been terribly neglected.  This is the "before"....

Yep, that’s it.  I was ashamed.  Most of the time, I could find things easily, but that just was not enough for me.  So, I emptied everything out…

And got to work.  The primary issue I had in the pantry was lack of visibility.  I had no choice but to do a bit of editing and some restructuring.  I made a list of the bulky items I keep in my pantry and purchased clear containers in which to store them.  I had to carefully consider the weight increments in which I buy items such as sugar, flour, rice, and other grains in order to source the containers of the right size.  The containers HAD to be stackable because while I have a small pantry, each shelf has a lot of height.  With stackable containers, I could utilize the space in between the shelves to my advantage.  I decided to go with the Click Clack brand and got them at an amazing discount at The Container Store.

These containers feature squeeze-top closures and airtight seals to keep food fresh. Lift-off lids make them easy to open and close.  There are, of course, other great products out there, but I found the Click Clack ones to be functional and very reasonably priced.

After various pantry items are put into clear containers, it becomes somewhat hard to identify what is what.  So, labeling was critically important.  I got a free template for these lovely labels from Better Homes & Gardens.  Aren’t they sweet? Labeling is always so much fun.

{Download Here}

Voila!  The “after” photos…This is what my made over pantry looks like now!

I have pull out drawers in the pantry.  If you look at the top of unmarked containers, it is hard to tell what is inside.  So, I labeled the otherwise hard to identify lids.

I am really pleased with the way the pantry turned out.  Every time I open it now, I do a little mental celebration dance. I can’t help it…organized and pretty does it for me.

What do you all think?  What challenging areas of your house are you working on now?

THANK YOU Oksana for sharing your incredible pantry and your process of taking it from drab to fab!  Your makeover is inspiring and lovely.  
And the before and after one more time, so we can celebrate with her:

That's not all! Oksana is hosting an AMAZING giveaway on her blog for to help you get your space organized as well, with organizing services, a set of labels and a gift card to the Container Store for $50!  Can you believe it?  So much sweetness going on here today!

Who else is just as smitten as I am?  Anyone else been playing with those free BHG label downloads?  Don't you just LOVE?!

ATTENTION!!  Want to be featured in a Reader Space edition?  Have an awesome organizing story to share?  I am looking for projects that have made a positive impact to your life.  Please send your story and photos to and I would heart to feature them right here, on the blog!!  Photos should be high resolution and un-editted.  Please include a description of the project, including any costs, inspiration, and how it has changed your life and routine for the better!  Oh, and no worries my friends, we will NEVER judge "before" pictures because that just wouldn't be nice!  Only love goes on at this blog!  More Info HERE.


  1. That is really awesome! Really awesome, indeed.

  2. I have a very similar pantry, a tall cabinet with pull-out shelves, and I've been trying to figure out how to make it more organized and functional. I haven't been stacking foods up efficiently and taking advantage of the space between the shelves, and it is annoying to pick up several cans in order to see the label on the side. I've been wanting to invest in some clear containers, so seeing it in action is awesome, but I also love the idea of labeling the tops of containers! Looks like I need to invest in a little label-maker also (and I'm glad that this is a place where it would be normal to get excited about that!). :) Thanks for sharing!

  3. The transformation looks gorgeous!My only question is: are the labels removable? I like to keep my containers versatile and ready to use for different foods, perhaps I run out of chocolate chips, so now I want to fill up the same container with flour. Any suggestions on labeling but not permanently?

  4. Jen, Thank you for featuring my pantry today.

  5. yay for featuring a pantry that is a cabinet with pull-outs! so many makeovers are of walk-in or closet like pantries. this is great inspiration for those of us with smaller ones! :)

  6. Awesome! Perfect post for today as I am about to tackle my fiance's pantry!

  7. Thank you for showing us her pantry!

  8. Woo hoo! I finally got my pantry done in March and it makes the biggest difference in the world.

    As far as removable labels, I've never had much of an issue getting the labels off that come from my label machine. If any sticky residue is left behind a little rubbing alcohol takes it right off.

    Another thing I do just as a general "short use" for labels is just cut the sticky part off of the post it. I think Avery now makes an entire sticky post it. And I have found Avery file folder labels (like the ones you would use on the tab of a manilla folder) that are removable.

  9. Awesome makeover!! :)

  10. Love this makeover! I love clear containers in a pantry...I use the OXO ones. Having an organized pantry really makes things run much more smoothly for us.

  11. Love the idea of square containers for my flour and baking ingredients. Sometimes I choose pretty over functional, but it sure is a pain measuring out ingredients in a jar that measuring cups barely fit in. They also look nice being clear. And they stack! LUV IT!

  12. Wow. It is so much better all organized! I need to do this as well with my pantry space. Thanks for the inspiration!

  13. I was inspired to buy two new glass jars to hold both my sugar and flour yesterday after reading this blog posting. My cupboards are a huge unorganized mess, but these new containers are a step in the right direction. After family leaves from visiting this weekend I plan to finish my cupboards so I know where everything is and purging what might be expired. Thanks for the inspiration!

  14. The before looks EXACTLY like my dad's pantry! I think next time I go visit I will be doing something similar!

  15. I have found that instead of the sticker downloads, you can get paint pens and write in fun letters right on the container. It looks really nifty.

  16. Hi Jen,

    I seriously love your blog! I have a question about the pantry. I just moved and I have a cabinet pantry (not a builder's pantry) that is 24"x24". The problem I am having is that each shelf is very deep - 2 feet! How do I make it functional that I can easily reach the stuff in the back? I need the space so I can't just put bulk stuff behind... Ii would appreciate your input! Thank you!


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