Our Pantry Conversion Phase 1

This week was eventful on the home front. A simple 2 hour project turned into a three+ day situation with several trips to the hardware store and a lot of cursing. When all was said and done, the results were fantastic!

I had started the week with the thought of pulling everything out of the kitchen closet, repainting it from a dark pink (which was in style at some point in history) to a clean white and then reorganizing it so I could properly use the closet. When we first moved in, we started putting everything we didn’t want the cats to get into in the closet. At first, it started with stacking things and eventually, we would open the door, chuck something in and close it quickly. When I opened the door to start my project, this is what it looked like.20180107_151113

Hey! Don’t judge me! I have organization issues sometimes…

Nevertheless, I thought– I’ll pull everything out, repaint, organize everything useful and remove what wasn’t.

Then Tim walked by and said, “Hey, whatcha doing?” I explained my plan and he suggested we think bigger. He asked me what I REALLY wanted to do with this space. I said, ideally, I’d like to convert it into a pantry. We started to scheme at this point and we talked about what he’d like and what I’d like and decided to convert this closet into an open pantry.

So, I pulled everything out of the closet. As I did that, I couldn’t believe how many half used cleaning products I had. If I couldn’t find something (and how could you in this mess!) I would purchase a new one– and the wasteful cycle would begin. I also noticed that I’ve gotten VERY lazy with my plastic bag consumption. I get some plastic bags because we use them to clean the littler boxes. Did I mention we have 4 cats? Yep. So plastic bags are necessary to some extent– but this is ridiculous! No more of that! Once I pulled everything out, I could get a good look at the color. Here it is 😉


There is a lot of this pink in the house. Wait until you see the bathroom. And as I said before, this color was very stylish at some point. But if you know me at all, you know I’m not much of a pink person. Plus, if we are going to convert this into a food pantry, I want it to be super clean. You’ll notice we’ve removed the baseboard here. We also removed the shelves, which had partially rotted from some sort of liquid that spilled years ago. And we removed the divider.

Our plan was to scrub the walls down and paint it with Kilz, then calk where the floor meets the wall to prevent critters. Once that was done, we’d put down flooring of some sort to cover the dated linoleum, and add new shelving.

Oh yes, and we wanted to do this for around $50 if possible…

Ok, here we go! Just as we started… the kitchen light blew out. Not the bulb– the light fixture. “No, prob” I thought. I’ll just remove the light and replace it which was something we wanted to do eventually anyway.

Off to the hardware store we went.

We found a light we liked that would go nicely with another light we had installed in our kitchen a few months back. We brought it home. I turned the power off, unscrewed the light which was a big fluorescent light and stood there for a moment. Huh. No junction box. We wanted to see what was going on with the light from the perspective of the attic. Neither of us knew much about lighting but I did know I needed a junction box to get the new light up safely. We both went up into the attic and after a few minutes of crawling around, understood the situation. Whoever installed the light did so by screwing the light into the rafters.

Well, ok, now what.

We got down from the attic and by this point I’m mumbling, all I wanted to do was paint the damned closet. Once I collected myself, I found a video on how to install a junction box on YouTube. Here’s the video I watched. He’s pretty long winded but he taught me what I needed to know.

Back to the hardware store we went.

I had to cut a hole in the ceiling to fit the box. At this point, it’s late afternoon and the sun is starting to set. Tim’s in the attic and I’m on a ladder getting this thing positioned properly. You would think this should be easy but for two newbies, not so much. We finally got the thing tightly installed.

being the logical person he is, Tim suggested we wait until morning to install the light so we could see what was going on. Ah, but I am not logical and I wanted to accomplish at least one thing today so I said, “We can do it! The hard part is done.”

Famous last words.

So picture this, my husband who has sight issues on a stool holding the light. Me on a ladder getting ready to connect the wires. A flashlight precariously positioned so I can sort of see. Oh wait, I need to strip the wires coming from the ceiling first. I do have a wire stripper somewhere from when I installed my car stereo but, of course, couldn’t tell you what box it might be in. I figured I could just take my knife and strip it carefully.

Yes, I slashed my finger open.

Not enough to go to the hospital but enough to get really messy. As I bandaged my finger, Tim found pliers that had a stripper built in and we got back to work. I successfully stripped the wires and we were on our way! It’s pretty dark in the kitchen now. Back on the stool and ladder we go. I get all the wires connected, capped and taped. All we need to do now is screw it to the plate that is connected to the junction box.

I put the screws in the wrong place so they don’t line up.

This doesn’t sound like a big deal except the only way to access the screws is to disconnect all the wires and take the plate completely off the junction box. Tim’s annoyed and I am too. We call it a night. I made brownies in the dark and we ate them while watching Happy Valley. So, at least I made brownies!

Before bed, I painted the closet with it’s first coat of killz. It took about 30 minutes to do and clean up.

The next morning we were reinvigorated! With a fully lit room, we were able to get everything up and working within 10 minutes. Tim suggested we start a YouTube channel called, “Two fools doing home repair.” I think it might be a good idea.

Now that we’ve fixed the lighting situation, back to the pantry…

We did our measurements and hit the Hardware store again. We found a great heavy piece of 3/4″ plywood and had them cut the shelves to size for us. We get 6 free cuts, so why not, right? The cost for the plywood and screws came to $34. Not bad. We looked at braces for the shelves but that would blow our budget, so we decided to make our own braces out of scrap wood.

Once home, I added another coat of Killz to the walls. We had some leftover Killz from a past project, so we didn’t need to incur that cost. We just might be able to get this done for under $50. Tim added the braces to the walls and then we placed the shelves. It looks great so far! I placed all my food items in it to see how the shelves handled the weight. I’m happy with the shelves and now I can finish them off with white semi-gloss paint. I’m also going to add trim to the shelf edges to make them look cleaner.


Stay tuned for the final completion of the pantry next week.

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