• Cheryl Libutti

Week 2, Part B: The Basement Pantry

This was the project I Just. Couldn't. Get. Done.

Until I finally did.

So this Home Organization Challenge started the first week of January, and now it's the third week of MARCH and clearly I am finishing up the Week 2 project. I'm a little behind.

But judging from the posts I read on the Facebook group page that corresponds with this challenge, I'm not the only one. People are discouraged by their lack of progress, are just exhausted, or are daunted by some of the pictures people post of their seemingly perfect and beautifully decorated spaces. And I get that. It's hard to stay motivated. And it feels crappy to covet other people's homes.

I am, however, just going along at my own pace and using these challenges to look at my rooms with a fresh eye towards functionality, organization, and making it look good. And, of course, what I can afford to do.

This "week's" project was one I've been thinking about for awhile: the basement pantry. I have had it for over three years since we finished our basement, and from the picture below, you can see it was getting overrun with extras and just not well utilized for space and function.

It is two stainless steel shelving units from Lowe's placed in an L shape in a corner at the bottom of our basement steps. It holds holiday dishes (I collect Lenox Holiday pattern serving pieces), small kitchen appliances, paper goods, extra food, some party supplies, and other baking supplies.

My goal was to find new places to put the holiday items since I only use them once per year and better use the space as a food storage and paper goods storage space, labelled, arranged and pretty neat.

I started by taking everything off of the shelves and arranging them into categories: food items, paper goods, holiday, appliances, donate, and toss. I found lots of extra dishes that belong to my everyday set of white dishes, and celebrated because I had just complained to my husband that we never seem to have enough cereal bowls. Well, here they were!

(See how wonderful organizing is? If I had a dollar for overtime a client exclaimed, "I've been LOOKING FOR THIS!" when we unearth a lost treasure, I'd hardly have to work.)

After I had my bare bones of items, I started thinking about categories for the food and things I wanted to keep on the shelves. I even made a little diagram on graph paper which my mom shook her head at and told me I was nuts. :)

Once my plan was in place, I hit Target for bins and baskets. I went with a simple white/ navy/ natural color theme- crisp and classic. Here's my haul:

I was also able to score beautiful gold metal wire baskets from Walmart for $1.98 each. I should have bought about 5 more.

I came home and started arranging and placing items in their containers. I had a pretty good sense of my final outcome, but just needed to finish up my labelling. I used clip-on silver metal labels from Target that come three in a pack. You can see them poking out of one of the baskets on the bottom right.

That's when I hit a wall. I got all hung up on how to label them. And my kids were home from school for the week. And I got a phone call from a local newspaper looking to interview me about spring cleaning and decluttering and also take pictures of me and some organizing projects.


That sent off a tailspin of making an emergency hair appointment, picking out an outfit to wear, strategizing how to lose 50 pounds in one week, and setting up some possible areas of my house to be photographed. And carting my three kids around all week. And teaching a vacation Bible School class at my church.

And on top of that, I couldn't mentally commit to a font I liked for the labels.

So the week ended, I got interviewed and my picture taken on front of my almost-done-but-not-labelled pantry. I wish I had just committed to a font.

After looking at it for another two weeks and mulling over options and writing "finish basement pantry" on at least three to-do lists, I actually said "FOR CRYING OUT LOUD" and grabbed my label maker and started making labels. And then my label tape ran out.

So I had to wait another day to buy more tape, then finish my labels.

And now, happily, I present to you my finished Basement Pantry:

Here is my big storage for paper towels, garbage bags, and toilet paper. In the Trader Joe's bag I have extra large paper bags.

Vases and mason jars.

(Don't you LOVE these gold Walmart baskets?? And yes, I have a whole category devoted to various incarnations of mac and cheese... plain, shapes, deluxe, instant, etc.)

The purpose of this basement pantry is twofold:

1. to store the overflow from my kitchen pantry, including items/ingredients I only use seasonally so my main pantry is less cluttered with extras and seldom-used items.

2. to provide space for food storage, allowing me to better take advantage of sales on food staples we use, hopefully reducing our food bill over time. I like to meal plan and start my grocery shopping by shopping my pantry.

And of course it makes me happy every time I come downstairs to look at it. It's just purdy.

Here's the view coming down the stairs... the coloring looks wonky in these pictures, making my basement carpet look pink... it's really just about the same color as the walls in real life.

Below is the view from the other side of the stairway for perspective.

One more before and after... here's the side by side comparison... with a very sexy filter applied:

So glad this is finally done!!!

The Week 3 Challenge is the dining room... stay tuned!

#pantry #kitchen #Organizethyself

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