Organize: Making a Pretty Pantry

This time last year we had our pool opened and we were beginning the laborious work of cleaning and prepping for the summer. This year, I am looking out my window at a sleet/snow/rain mix that has been falling steadily all day. And the wind…the wind keeps pushing through the yard causing the weather covers on our outdoor furniture to billow up like a ladies skirt.

Ok, I promise that’s all I’m going to say on the weather.

So, show of hands, who here is naturally an organized genius?
It’s probably worth noting I am not, in fact, raising my hand.
I am definitely not naturally an organized genius. Not ever. I have memories as a child of being told I couldn’t play with friends until my room was clean and feeling an overwhelmed despondency of ever being able to leave as I looked around my cluttered floor. Things didn’t really improve much as I got older. And I was kind of known for it too.
But it didn’t prevent me from filling Pinterest boards with inspirational organized bliss. Or from re-posting photos of the most gorgeous (albeit probably impractical) pantry shelves, linen closets and junk drawers. And my hubby and I loved watching Marie Kondo help families find happiness and when The Home Edit came around…I was drooling, everything was just. So. Pretty.

I tried the rainbow method with the books my girls own. It looked every bit as amazing as they promised. And actually, the girls did a pretty good job of putting books in the right color zone. You know who didn’t? Dad. I love my hubby but when he cleans, watch out. It’s a bit intense. And sometimes details are missed like, this is a purple book that goes with the OTHER purple books. And once dad broke the seal on book colors being mixed, the girls followed suit. After re-organizing the books for the millionth time only to have them shuffled around by the end of the week…I gave up. It didn’t seem like the greatest use of my time. Now I’ve moved the books downstairs to the playroom in the basement where I don’t have to look at them.

But I was not deterred.

So when my parents announced they were moving out and my hubby and I decided to buy the house (we were already living in) I thought it was a great opportunity for me to flex my new organizational muscles. (Confession: these muscles didn’t actually, technically exist but I believed in their existence).
I started with the front closet. I didn’t walk through The Home Edit method for this project because I didn’t really know it existed. But as I’ve learned more about their method I see that a lot of the tools they talk about I was putting into place for this project, I just didn’t have a name for them.
The closet turned out great and I was on a high. It was organized. I could get the vacuum out without pulling someone’s winter coat with it and all the cleaning supplies were clearly labeled.

This is the moment when I discovered The Home Edit in all it’s beautiful glory. I had heard of them before (i.e the rainbow method attempted above) but now I had stumbled across a book of theirs and a workbook. Now, if there is one thing I LOVE it is office supplies which means I also really love a good workbook. So I scooped both up at Amazon (you can find them here and here) and set to work on my kitchen. It was ambitious but other than the hall closet, it is one of the most used spaces in our home.

So far I’ve done the fridge (which I wont talk about or show today) and the pantry which I will 100% show you today because otherwise that would be the WORST anti-climatic blog post ever and I would never read a blog that did that to me personally so I wont do it to you.

Kitchen pantry after I did “the Edit” but before I had made it look pretty.

The Home Edit has 3 steps:

2. Assemble
3. Upkeep

I love these steps because they are very approachable.
First step was to pull everything out of the pantry and as I worked I threw out anything that was expired or…gross. I also pulled anything that was still good but not opened and not likely to be consumed by anyone in our home. Those items I donated to my local food shelf. I am slightly embarrassed by the kinds of things I found in my pantry. To give you a rough idea:

3 jars of yeast, an entire zip-lock bag of nuts for the top of salads that hadn’t been opened in at least 5 years and fruit cups that expired in 2019. I also found 2 bottles of lemon juice (which doesn’t include the opened one in the fridge) and many, many others.

Once everything had been touched and gone through, I cleaned the shelves and got them to sparkle. Before I purchased any of the fun stuff like pretty containers and labels, I spent a couple of days watching how my family interacted with the pantry.
As I observed my family, one thing I noticed was my girls couldn’t reach the snack drawer which was great when they were smaller but now that they’re older and can get their own food, it was problematic. The other thing I noticed was I was constantly bending down to the bottom shelf to get ziplock bags, aluminum foil, cling wrap etc. and I didn’t like having to bend over all the time to get those items. It was clear we needed to re-arrange some things.

After a few days of watching things happen, I used the Home Edit workbook to set up how I wanted everything stored.

You probably aren’t interested in all the details of how things ended up where and why so I’ll spare you the details. Once I had identified where everything would go, I sorted items into my “zones” (i.e bread zone, snack zone, pasta and rice zone etc.) and began putting it all back into the pantry to see how it fit in their new homes.
Now came the fun part. Because once you’ve identified exactly HOW you are going to store your items, you get to decide how to make it look pretty. If something looks pleasing to the eye, you are more likely to keep it looking that way. It’s science.

This is where all my Pinterest boards came in handy. I also scoured The Home Edit insta account. I made a list of the containers I needed and I took my husband on a romantic date to the Container Store…probably one of my favorite places to shop EVER.

Thankfully, for my husband, because I had already made a very detailed list of what kinds of containers I needed, I didn’t overspend (because I wasn’t impulse shopping) and the trip didn’t take long so I was also able to enjoy a nice dinner with my hubby before we had to relieve the babysitter.

I could hardly WAIT to put everything in the pantry into their new containers and label them. And I am so so happy with how it turned out. Not only can the girls reach their snack drawer, but everything looks so nice and neat and organized and I find that I have fun putting new groceries away. (You can find some of my favorite pantry containers under the Slow Living tab or by clicking here)

As a side note, as I was doing the pantry I decided to put together a “to-go drawer” for my family. Using a drawer in a new way is something The Home Edit recommends in their workbook and a snack drawer is something they suggest. I had an extra drawer and because Jon is always in a rush when he leaves for work in the morning I decided to fill the drawer with items he could quickly grab and snack on as he drove into work. It’s also a great spot for my girls to grab something on our way out the door to dance, gymnastics or church. We don’t need to dig in the pantry for what’s available and I can easily see when I need to re-stock something. It is now one of my favorite spots in the kitchen to be sure.

If it was possible to climb in this drawer with a cup of tea and a good book…i might

One of the first things The Home Edit says is that having an organized space will save you money. I was skeptical at first because my preferred containers were definitely not the dollar store variety, but I’m a believer now. How? Because when I am cooking I can see exactly what we have and what I need to replace and there is a smaller chance we’ll end up with 2 containers of lemon juice or 3 jars of yeast.
I’d like to say we’ll never go back to how it was before and I’m feeling pretty confidant that’s true.

Time will tell.

I can say I am obsessed with labeling everything and as long as it’s not a piece of furniture it’s in immediate danger of being labeled.
I think I’ll tackle the spice cabinet next…which is only one step away from becoming an organizational genius I’m sure.


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